In 1998, the FBI arrested 10 Cuban spies, not five — but for the Cuban regime the five who pled guilty and became prosecution witnesses are unpersons. They no longer exist in the official discourse of the dictatorship.
Not only has the Castro regime erased them from public memory, so has Canadian journalism professor Stephen Kimber in his October 4, 2013, opinion piece in the Washington Post, “The Cuban Five were fighting terrorism. Why did we put them in jail?” At the same time he has ignored the terrorist nature of those arrested, all members of Cuban intelligence and infiltrating the exile community in the United States.
Its both lamentable and disturbing that an article by a professor of journalism could omit such basic facts and necessitate setting the record straight.
The Cuban ten included: Gerardo Hernández (life sentence), Antonio Guerrero (22 years in prison), Ramón Labañino (30 years in prison), Fernando González (18 years in prison), and René González (15 years). All pled not guilty, underwent trial, and were later found guilty. The others now not mentioned — Alejandro Alonso, Linda Hernandez, Nilo Hernandez Mederos, Joseph Santos Cecilia, and Amarylis Silverio Garcia — pled guilty and were sentenced to seven years in prison. The exceptions were Joseph Santos Cecilia and Amarylis Silverio Garcia, who received four and three-and-a-half year sentences, respectively.
These individuals constituted the Cuban “WASP” spy network, and they used coded material on computer disks to communicate with each other and the Cuban regime. The 1,300 pages taken from those diskettes — translated and used during the spy trial — conflict directly with Professor Kimber’s characterization that the “Cuban Five” were fighting terrorism.
What emerges from the content of the diskettes is the criminal and terrorist nature of the Cuban regime’s operation in South Florida. The network’s primary objective was “penetrating and obtaining information on the naval station . . .” The intelligence operatives communicated about “burning down the warehouse” that housed the nonviolent organization, Brothers to the Rescue, and sabotaging their equipment. In addition, the Castro regime ordered the spies to prepare a “book bomb” to evade post office security while phoning death threats to a man they described as a CIA agent. They then planned to kill him via mail bomb in US territory.
The seriousness of these action items would be confirmed by the February 24, 1996, shoot down, when two MiG fighter jets hunted Brothers to the Rescue planes in international airspace. They used air-to-air missiles to destroy two of the planes, killing two pilots and two passengers, based on intelligence supplied by the WASP network.
International organizations recognized that agents of the Cuban government on February 24, 1996 murdered Armando Alejandre, Carlos Costa, Mario de la Peña, and Pablo Morales. A US court sentenced spy chief Gerardo Hernandez, the first of the participants, to be held accountable for his actions. The outcome was life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder, in a court trial with full legal guarantees and protections.
What federal agents broke up in South Florida on September 12, 1998, was a spy network with plans to damage property and kill Americans with the objective of planting terror. The network achieved part of its objective by providing information that led to four extrajudicial killings.
This is not surprising, though, given that the Castro brothers have managed other networks that have engaged in criminal behavior on US soil.
Days after the September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda terror attacks the FBI arrested Ana Belen Montes, who worked in a high level position in the Defense Intelligence Agency. She had been spying for the Castro regime from 1984 until 2001 and was the person tasked during the Clinton Administration with preparing a report assessing the threat Cuba posed to the United States. She drafted a report that portrayed the Castro dictatorship as harmless.
It is ironic because this same woman was providing secrets to Cuban state security agents operating in the United States that in turn were sold to America’s enemies around the world. Officials arrested her and did not wait to grab her handlers, out of fear that the information she was passing on would be used for further attacks on the United States after the 9/11 attacks.
She is not the only US government official to have betrayed the United States for Castro. There have been others identified at the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department, and the Agency for International Development. One should not forget that the East German Stasi trained the Cuban intelligence service.
Advocates for normalizing relations with Cuba’s dictatorship should take a closer look at this abnormal regime that has more in common with North Korea than just a boat shipment of weapons.
The Castro regime, with its “Cuban Five” campaign, declares “Terrorism is Anti-Terrorism, Lies are Truth, and Terrorists are Heroes.” George Orwell could have cited this propaganda campaign as an example of newspeak on the order of “War is Peace.” How sad that it has invaded the pages of the Washington Post and that the author is a professor of journalism.