Presentation on the Cuban 5 Case

August 21, 2003

Cuba has been victimized by state-sponsored terrorism from the US since it freed itself from foreign domination in 1959.

The killing of innocent civilians has been double that of Sept. 11.

These terrorist attacks include bombing hotels in 1997, blowing up Cuban civilian airliner in 1976, biological warfare, assassination attempts.

Cuba has repeatedly protested to the UN Security Council and to the US government about the terrorist attacks coming from the US. Nothing was ever done.

Because nothing was done, Cuba sent a group of men to monitor, observe, and report on the terrorist network operating in Miami. This men collected information, reported it to Cuba, which later gave much of it to Washington.

Rather than arrest the terrorist plotters in Miami, the FBI rounded up these Cubans in Miami, put them in solitary confinement for 17 months in order to break them, convicted them in a frame-up trial in Miami and sentenced them from 15 years to life.

In other words, they have been locked away for reporting on domestic terrorist threats. They should be given presidential medals, not locked away.

The Miami Cuban terrorist groups do more than threaten Cuba. They were involved in the Elian Gonzalez case, are closely connected with President Bush, were involved in the Nicaragua contra war, and cocaine smuggling.

Remember, too,  the Watergate break-in in 1973. There was James McCord and 4 from Miami connected to Cuban exile groups.

Let me go over what is so outrageous about this case.

  1. After arrest, they had been locked away in solitary confinement for 17 months and longer, without access to lawyers. Mind you, 2 of them are American citizens. This was pre-September 11, under a Democratic President.
  1. Geraldo Hernandez got 2 life sentences for the shoot-down of 2 Brothers to the Rescue planes over Cuba in 1996.

These planes had flown over Cuba 25 times in the previous 12 months, and Cuba had sent warnings to high level US government officials that this would not be tolerated anymore. On February 24, 1996 when these planes entered Cuban airspace and refused to turn around, they were shot down, killing 4.

According to law, it is not illegal to shoot down a plane intruding on your airspace, refusing to turn around. In court the prosecution alleged the planes were shot down over international water.

But former US Air Colonel George Buchner, relying on information from the US National Security Agency, testified in court that the planes were clearly in Cuban airspace, 5-6 miles from the Cuban coast. WSJ, March 21, 2001.

What was Geraldo Hernandez’s role in this? He had infiltrated Brothers to the Rescue and was told by Cuba not to fly those days.

Outrageously, in the trial, the jury said that make him guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.

  1. A third outrage is that the trial of the Cuban 5 who had infiltrated Miami anti-Cuban terrorist groups took place in Miami. It was impossible to get a fair trial there, not only because of the bias of the jurors, but of the implied threats against them. The judge refused to move the trial 26 miles away to Fort Lauderdale. Given the atmosphere in Miami, a non-guilty ruling was virtually impossible.
  1. A fourth outrage is that they are called spies and accused of spying.

In fact the 5 did not collect information relating to the national security of the US. They collected information only on private, anti-Cuban terrorist groups.

Don’t take my word for it:

In the trial 2 US Generals, 1 Rear Admiral, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency all testified the five had not committed any espionage.

High-ranking officials of the FBI testified the 5 were not a “threat to American society, had not sought information relevant to US national security, and did not cause any damage to the United States civil or military installations.”

Despite this testimony, they were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage.

  1. Fifth it is an outrage that they convicted conspiracy to commit espionage and murder. What is conspiracy?

50 years ago, one month before the Cuban nationalists attacked the Moncada barracks, the US government executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Were they convicted of spying? No. Of “conspiracy to commit espionage.”

The Puerto Rican nationalists, who received sentences of 80 years or more, in solitary confinement, were convicted of conspiracy.

Conspiracy means  you agree with others to commit a crime and take one step in the direction of committing it. That mean you can be guilty of conspiracy without committing any criminal acts. That’s what got the Rosenberg’s executed.

Obviously conspiracy is a frame-up weapon the government uses against its political opponents.

What is real spying?

Robert Hanssen, the FBI counter-intelligence official, spied for the Soviet Union and Russia for 22 years, and made $1.4 million selling secrets to them.  His information led to the deaths of at least 2 uncover/double agents in Russia.

He even sold to the Soviets the US government plans in case of nuclear war. Where the President would be hiding, where the government operations would be moved to, and how to target and eliminate them.

He got life without parole.

The Rosenbergs got executed.

Geraldo Hernandez got 2 life terms because he was told not to fly on February 24, 1996.

Besides that outrage is that of this conspiracy to commit espionage in this case.

One of the 5 worked as a civilian at a military base in the part open to the public. He observed the comings and goings of planes to see if there was any changes. This base has a viewing area open to the public for the same purpose. Antonio Guerrero shared his information with two other of the Cuban 5. That was the case “conspiracy to commit espionage.”

6.    A 6th outrage is that they were given 15 year sentences for not registering as foreign agents. Weinglass stated this is the first time in US history anyone has been sent to jail for that. Typically those caught are expelled from the country.

How could the Cubans collect information on terrorist groups in Miami if they first registered as agents of the Cuban government. That would be their death sentence.

In the 1970s a Cuban diplomat to the United Nations was murdered. The anti-Cuban terrorist was caught and imprisoned. 10 years.

Orlando Bosch was convicted of blowing up a civilian Cuban plane in 1976 killing 73 people. 73 counts of murder. He did not even serve 10 years in prison. He is walking free in Miami.  He was pardoned by President Bush number 1. Miami created an official Orlando Bosch Day.

But these Cubans got 15 years for not registering!

7.    A greater outrage was that in June 1998 Cuban government officials met with the number 2 man in our Democratic President Bill Clinton’s FBI to present him with evidence of terrorist activities in Miami.  The FBI brought this information back to Washington, studied it, and after 3 months, made arrests.

Who did they arrest? Not one terrorist, but these five Cubans who collected the information. They then framed up these 5 and sent them to prison.

Obviously the highest levels of Clinton’s government made the decision to frame up these men.

Say someone breaks into your house and steals something. You report it to the police, who then come and make a report. The police then come back, arrest you, put you in solitary confinement, deny you free access to a lawyer, and then sentence you to the maximum possible sentence for armed robbery.

That is what the FBI did in this case.

8.  A greater outrage occurs today about the case of the Cuban 5. The media knows all about this frame-up and won’t say a word. The NY Times knows all about the frame-up, so does the Tribune. Gary Marx is the Tribune reporter in Havana. How can you be in Havana for the past few years and be unaware of the case? How can you be a reporter and be so uninquisitive as to find out what Cuba has to say about it?

The newspapers can report all this garbage about Cuban dissidents being executed and sent to prison. They were paid US agents in Cuba being jailed for actions that violated specific laws, none of which they denied.

But of the case of those 5 in this country framed-up for exposing terrorist plots, the US media is mum.

I should point out that 2 of the Cuban 5 were born here. So they are native-born American citizens like me. Rene Gonzalez was born in Chicago, Antonio Guerrero was born in Miami. What was done to them can be done to me, to you.

This is not like those non-citizens, immigrants victimized by the INS and sent to jail indefinitely without rights, after September 11. They are not native born American citizens. But 2 of the 5 are.

What is conspiracy? Agreeing with others to commit an illegal act. And do one action to move towards that act. For instance, Bush claimed Cuba was making biological weapons, shipping them overseas, biological terrorism. Actually they were medical supplies.

The Bush government said these were supposedly dual use biological weapons – medical supplies that could be used for terrorist purposes. Like Timothy McVeigh’s fertilizer.

Now would Ashcroft find some conspiracy if Pastors For Peace shipped some “dual purpose” medical supplies to Cuba and then met with Cubans to discuss their use? Suppose he thought there was, and decided to have a trial in, say, Miami. This kind of frame-up would be similar to the frame-up of the Cuban 5. Add to that a media black-out of the case.

The Cuban 5 remain in prison because the government and media have sought to black out the case. There is nothing in the press about this case, and so the majority of the American people are unaware of how outrageous the government frame-up is.

This deliberate media black-out plays a crucial role in what will happen at the appeals level in this case. It will be much easier to deny them a right to a retrial if the public is not looking at the judges.

So how is the US government frame-up program doing?

There are Free the 5 Committees in 73 countries, totaling 165 altogether.

In the US we have collected 40,000 signatures so far, to be presented at the appeal.

98 of the 659 British Members of Parliament have signed a letter asking for a retrial.

The National Lawyers Guild has taken up the case, and Leonard Weinglass is now one of the lawyers. We are trying to bring him to Chicago in the fall.

AI, known for their prejudiced statements about Cuba, has sent letters to Ashcroft about their treatment in prison.

The Vice-President of the German national assembly has recently spoken out about the case.

Members of the Mexican Congress recently took up the case.

And most recently, after a 2 month discussion, the Berkeley City Council passed a resolution asking for a new trial for the 5. It passed unanimounsly. A very good and educational resolution on the case.

This caused the Dallas Morning News to write a long article on the case on June 15.

We are working towards getting a retrial of the case. Oral arguments will be heard in the fall and the Appeals Court will decide sometime late winter.

If you would like to collect signatures, help work on a Weinglass tour, contact people of importance to write to Bush and Ashcroft, let me know.

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