US Terrorism Against Cuba and the Five Cuban Political Prisoners
Last October marked the 25th anniversary of the blowing up in flight of a Cuban civilian airliner. 76 people died, including the whole national Cuban fencing team. The culprits were caught and convicted, but due to U.S. government pressure, including the direct intervention of George Bush the first, they were released. Now they walk free in Miami.
In 1997 bombs, or as we now would say, terrorist bombs, went off in a number of Cuban hotels in Havana. One tourist was killed and several were injured. The direct culprit was apprehended and convicted. His controller, however, still walks free in Miami. By no coincidence, this happens to be the same man that blew up the airliner.
In 1998 a boat was intercepted off Puerto Rico loaded with high power rifles. Those on board admitted to a plot to kill Fidel Castro at a meeting of Latin American heads of state. The US government later dropped all charges and released them.
In 2000, in Panama, an attempt was made to blow up Fidel Castro in the middle of a speech to a few thousand university students. Because the Cuban police was keeping tabs on these culprits, the plot was foiled when the Cuban police publicly exposed to the Panamanian government the alias and passports of those involved in the plot. But to this date, they have not been charged with this murder attempt.
In face of the fact that the U.S. government has done nothing to jail terrorists when the target is Cuba, the obvious self-defensive response of Cuba was to infiltrate and monitor these groups so they would know of future attacks.
In actual fact the U.S. government is the organizer and financier of these groups. However, the U.S. government has different faces. There is the legal and democratic facade of laws and Congress which it claims to adhere to. There is also the secret extra-legal rule by police agencies we saw in Cointelpro, with Ollie North in the Iran-contra affair, and now again most recently in Bush the second’s proclamation that a shadow government already exists.
This shadow government, be it the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Homeland Security, and other unelected organs, acts in disregard of the decisions of Congress whenever necessary. Thus these secret agencies organize these terrorist actions against Cuba, and then thwart legal prosecution of the culprits by the facade U.S. government’s legal arm when the culprits are exposed.
In the face of this, the Cuban government has taken measures that any organization would when confronted with attacks by imperialist secret police agencies bent on terrorist attacks on civilians. One such measure is to infiltrate these organizations so as to know from inside, and before the fact, imminent attacks.
Thus, while for more than 40 years, anti-Cuba groups based in Miami have engaged in numerous terrorist actions against Cuba, many have been thwarted. These actions, by groups such as Alpha 66, Brigada 2506, Omega 7, Brothers to the Rescue and Commandos F4, have caused the death and injury of hundreds of individuals. Not only in Cuba, but among Cuban-Americans and others who advocate a normalization of relations between Cuba and the U.S. and an end to the U.S. blockade.
Because these anti-Cuba organizations continue to operate with impunity from the U.S., with full knowledge and support of the FBI and CIA, the Cuban government made the decision to send Cuban security agents to Florida to monitor the activities of the terrorists. They infiltrated the terrorist organizations to inform the island of imminent attacks. The aim of such clandestine operations by Cuban security was to prevent criminal attacks that would endanger the lives of Cubans and others.
None of the 5 ever obtained classified information. Navy Admiral Eugene Carroll testified that far more detailed information than that gathered by the 5 is widely available in publications such as Jane’s Defense Weekly.
Five of these Cubans have now been arrested and convicted to long prison terms. Rene Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez. Prior to their sentencing they had spent 17 months in solitary confinement.
The five were convicted in a witchhunt trial, in which the U.S. government claimed they were engaging in espionage against U.S. military bases and threatening “national security.” The five maintained in their defense that they were strictly involved in monitoring the actions of the Miami-based anti-Cuba groups. In fact, they shared information with U.S. officials when dangerous actions were planned by the terrorist groups they infiltrated. FBI agents even flew to Havana in the summer of 1998 to be informed of activities of violent exile groups in Miami.
Two of the men were accused of a role in the 1996 shootdown of two aircraft belonging to Brothers to the Rescue exile group, which regularly invaded Cuban airspace for years.