El Salvador President Meets with Two Cuban Spies Convicted in U.S. 1

Salvador Sanchez Ceren celebrates election results / AP

Salvador Sanchez Ceren celebrates election results / AP

  Experts concerned about his willingness to work with U.S. on anti-drug, anti-gang efforts

By Daniel Wiser, Washington Free Beacon

El Salvador’s purportedly moderate new president met this week with two Cuban spies convicted in the United States, raising questions about his willingness to work with U.S. officials on anti-gang and anti-drug efforts.

Salvador Sanchez Ceren met with the spies as well as Cuban President Raul Castro on the communist island, according to a Salvadoran news outlet. The two men, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez (no relation), were members of the “Cuban Five” that were convicted on charges of conspiracy and espionage in the United States and later released to Cuba.

The visit received scant media coverage but could be a sign that the new president will govern as more of a hardline leftist. Ceren, a former Marxist guerilla leader in El Salvador, promised to govern as a moderate before narrowly winning the presidential election in March.

The other three members of the Cuban spy ring are still serving prison terms in the United States. One of them, Gerardo Hernandez, was linked to the deaths of four Cuban exiles in 1996. The exiles were pilots in the Brothers to the Rescue group that aided thousands of Cuban rafters fleeing the island.

Roger Noriega, former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs during the George W. Bush administration, said in an interview that Sanchez Ceren’s pledge to work together with the United States as a moderate leader now appears to be “pretty hollow.”

“He’s also sort of aligning himself with a failed [Cuban] model obviously in terms of economic policy and totalitarianism, and unrelenting hostility to the United States,” Noriega said. “It bodes very ill for where he wants to take El Salvador.”

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on Sanchez Ceren’s visit to Cuba and referred the Washington Free Beacon to the Salvadoran government. “We continue to work with the government of El Salvador on our many shared interests, including regional security,” the spokesperson said.

The direction of El Salvador’s government has important implications for U.S. security.

El Salvador is “a major transit country for illegal drugs headed to the United States from source countries in South America,” according to the State Department’s 2014 report on international narcotics control. Illicit drug shipments cost American taxpayers about $193 billion in 2007 for the health care and criminal justice systems, the latest data available.

Article continues here:  El Salvador President Meets with Convicted Cuban Spies

 

Obscure Group Honors Cuban Spy-Trainee Adriana Pérez 3

The husband-wife spy team of Adriana Perez and Gerardo Hernandez

The husband-wife spy team of Adriana Perez and Gerardo Hernandez

Prensa Latina (PRELA) announced that Adriana Perez, wife of imprisoned spy Gerardo Hernandez, “was awarded the Silver Dove international prize” for her efforts in support of the Cuban Five. The honor appears to have been bestowed by a little-known group called the Central Council of the International Union of World Leaders.

The award ceremony was held in Moscow at the headquarters of the Russian presidency. According to PRELA, other honorees included citizens from Russia, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, India,  Ukraine, Poland and Macedonia. PRELA reported that the awards recognize contributions to “social, cultural, moral and spiritual traditions.”

Editor’s Note:  PRELA failed to report was that Adriana Pérez O’Connor was in training as a Directorate of Intelligence (DI) asset when the Wasp Network (La Red Avispa) was brought down in September 1998. She and her children were deported and permanently banned re-entry visas. Her mission had been to courier messages and material between Havana and Miami.

 

 

 

BREAKING NEWS: Alianza Martiana to Host Miami Pro-Castro Conference on Sunday 4

The Prensa Latina (PRELA) news agency – a long-time Cuban Intelligence collaborator – announced earlier today that the Alianza Martiana announced plans for a Sunday forum demanding the immediate release of Havana’s three remaining incarcerated spies. The two intelligence officers — Gerardo Hernandez and Ramón Labañino — as well as their agent, Antonio Guerrero — were part of the Wasp Network, a vast espionage operation run jointly by the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) and the highly secretive Directorate of Military Intelligence (DIM). The spy ring’s main focus was US military targets from Key West, Florida to northwestern Louisiana.

Alianza Martiana planners also intend to again bemoan Cuba’s alleged difficulty in working with US banks and call on President Obama to end the US embargo. Held in central Miami, the gathering has become a quarterly event of South Florida’s tiny but vocal community of pro-Castro supporters.

 

 

Cuban Spies “Testify” in Show For Castro Supporters in London Reply

From March 7-8th, an “International Commission” was held in London as part of the “Free the Five” campaign. In a grossly bigoted piece of political theater, alleged expert witnesses, pro-Castro attorneys, and family members of the five spies provided “testimony” before an audience said to number roughly 250 persons. Only claims supporting the immediate release of the failed spies were permitted.

The absurd proceedings included Lawyers for the Cuban 5 parroting their long-running denial that their spy-clients had no connection to the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down. Even more hypocritical was the “testimony” of expelled spies Olga Salanueva, wife of René González, and Adriana Pérez, wife of Gerardo Hernández. Completing this 3-ring circus was the appearance of senior Cuban Intelligence officer, Roberto Hernández Caballero.

I will give them credit — what regime supporters lack in credibility, they certainly make up for in chutzpah!

The highly entertaining Press Release from “Free the 5” can be read here: International Commission in London calls on Obama to free the Five

UN Human Rights Commissioner Meets Cuban Spy 4

"Former" DI officer Adriana Perez

“Former” DI officer Adriana Perez

Radio Cadena Agramonte has reported that UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Flavia Pansieri, met in Geneva with “former” Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Adriana Pérez. She is the wife of Gerardo Hernández, the Military Intelligence officer “loaned” to the DI to run the Wasp Network. It was under his supervision that the massive spy network conducted Operation Scorpion. This mission supported the Cuban Air Force’s murder of four search and rescue crewmen flying with Brothers to the Rescue.

During yesterday’s meeting, the “former” spy asked the UN to urge Washington to release Havana’s three remaining jailed spies. She also told the UN official that her husband and the others, physically and mentally, are not doing well in prison. Speaking for myself, that’s probably something they should have considered before they spied against the US and engaged in a conspiracy to commit murder.

Editor’s Note: Hernández’s wife, Adriana Pérez O’Connor, was still in training as a Directorate of Intelligence (DI) asset when the Wasp Network (La Red Avispa) was brought down in September 1998. She and her children were deported and permanently banned re-entry visas. Her mission had been to courier messages and material between Havana and Miami.

Castro Apologists Nominate Spy-Terrorists for Human Rights Award 1

Cuban Anti-terrorists Nominated For Human Rights Award

WASHINGTON (USA), March 5 (BERNAMA- NNN-Prensa Latina) — The International Committee for the Freedom of the Five has nominated the Cuban anti-terrorists for the Human Rights People’s Choice Award 2014, which acknowledges the work of people or institutions in defense of human rights.

The organization said that it had nominated Gerardo Hernandez, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez, known internationally as the Cuban Five, because they fought to protect the Cuban people as well as citizens from the U.S. and other countries from terrorist violence.

They risked their lives to protect the lives of thousands. Instead of honoring them, the United States has sentenced them to long and unjust penalties.

In spite of that, the Cuban Five stand tall and face their sentences with dignity. This nomination is yet another way to make U.S citizens aware of the case, the organization added.

The Cuban Five were arrested while they were monitoring anti-Cuban groups based in Miami, whose actions have left more than 400 victims over the last 53 years in Cuba.

Gerardo, Antonio and Ramon remain in jail despite the international campaign for their immediate release.

Rene Gonzalez was released on Oct 7, 2011 after 13 years in prison, a period of supervised release and the renunciation of his US citizenship, while Fernando returned to the island on Feb 28, 2014 after serving the final day of his sentence in an Arizona penitentiary in the United States.

The Committee has called on the international community to submit supporting votes for the nomination until March 21.

The Human Rights People’s Choice Award Contest is part of the annual award ceremony organized by the California-based social activists group Global Exchange since 2002.

– BERNAMA-NNN-PRENSA LATINA

Editor’s Note: The Cuban Five and the remainder of the Wasp Network spied against the US government, its military forces, and Cuban exile groups. The spy ring also provided invaluable support to Cuba’s murder of four Americans during the February 1996 shoot-down of two Search And Rescue (SAR) aircraft flown by “Brothers to the Rescue.”

Another “Cuban 5” Spy Released From US Prison After More Than 15 years; Will Be Deported 1

By Curt Anderson, Associated Press

MIAMI — A second member of the “Cuban Five” — the spy ring whose arrests and convictions have caused repeated tensions between Washington and Havana — was released Thursday from a U.S. prison after spending more than 15 years behind bars.

Fifty-year-old Fernando Gonzalez, known to U.S. authorities by the alias Ruben Campa, completed his sentence at 4 a.m. local time a prison in Safford, Ariz., Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said.

Now the Five, as they are sometimes called, are down to three.

Gonzalez was turned over immediately to the custody of immigration officials, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez. For security reasons, she said she could not disclose exactly where he was being held or when he would be returned to Cuba, but a deportation order has already been issued.

The five men, who are hailed as heroes in Cuba, were convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S. They were known as part of the “Wasp Network” sent by Cuba’s then-President Fidel Castro to spy in South Florida.

Trial testimony showed they sought to infiltrate military bases, including the headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command and installations in the Florida Keys. They also kept tabs on Cuban exiles opposed to the communist government in Havana and sought to place operatives inside campaigns of U.S. politicians opposed to that government, prosecutors said.

Havana maintains that the agents posed no threat to U.S. sovereignty and were only monitoring militant exiles to prevent terrorist attacks in Cuba, the best known of which was a series of bombings of Havana hotels that killed an Italian tourist in 1997. Cuban leaders regularly call for the men to be released.

Cuba announced a concert Saturday night at the University of Havana in honor of the five men, though it was not immediately clear whether Gonzalez would be in Cuba by then.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma published interviews Thursday with two of Gonzalez’s friends back home. Rafael Hojas said the two knew each other as young students and crossed paths on international missions in Africa.

“I hope he spends as little time as possible in an immigration jail and can enjoy as soon as possible his mother, his wife, his family, and we’ll see when we might be able to meet,” Hojas was quoted as saying.

Gonzalez‘s mother, Magali Llort, told The Associated Press that she sometimes thinks her son’s release is a dream “but luckily it’s a great reality. But we can’t feel satisfied with Fernando arriving and Rene having come. We have to keep up the fight so that the rest, their brothers, are here,” she said.

The Cuban Five have sometimes been linked to the case of American Alan Gross, who has spent four years in a Cuban prison after he was arrested while working covertly to set up Internet access for the island’s Jewish community. He was working as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which Cuba considers bent on undermining its government.

Cuba has suggested it might swap Gross for the Cuban Five, but Washington has rejected any such deal.

Gonzalez was originally sentenced to 19 years but had his prison term reduced after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said he was wrongly labeled a supervisor of other spies for certain activities. Two others also had their prison sentences reduced by that same court order, including 55-year-old Antonio Guerrero, who is set for release in September 2017.

Rene Gonzalez, who is not related to Fernando Gonzalez, finished his prison sentence in 2011 but spent more than a year on probation in the U.S. until a judge allowed him to return to Cuba. Rene Gonzalez, a Chicago native, had dual U.S.-Cuban citizenship, and he renounced his U.S. citizenship after returning to Havana.

One of the five, Gerardo Hernandez, is serving a life prison sentence for murder conspiracy for his role in the 1996 killings of four “Brothers to the Rescue” pilots whose planes were shot down by Cuban fighter jets. The organization dropped pro-democracy leaflets over Cuba and assisted Cuban migrants trying to reach the U.S.

Hilda Cardenas, a 47-year-old Cuban civil engineer, said people on the island follow the case closely and Fernando Gonzalez‘s release marks another step forward.

“What we the people of Cuba want is for all of them to be here. They deserve it,” she said.

Penitentiary Home to One of “Cuban Five” 2

Supporters say Hernandez, four others wrongfully convicted

Rebecca Howes, Staff Writer – Victorville (CA) Daily Press

VICTORVILLE • An inmate housed at the United States Penitentiary-Victorville has drawn support from a wide range of dignitaries as he serves a double-life sentence at the maximum security facility.

Gerardo Hernandez, 48, was arrested by FBI SWAT team members in 1998 along with four other men: Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez.

The men, who have come to be known as the Cuban Five, were Cuban intelligence agents who were tried and convicted in Miami on numerous counts including failing to register as foreign agents, using false identities and conspiracy to commit espionage. Hernandez, the leader of the network, was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder for his alleged involvement with shooting down two Brothers to the Rescue aircraft.

Hernandez was convicted in 2001 and was transferred after his trial to Lompoc U.S. Penitentiary. In 2004, he was transferred to Victorville.

Supporters say Hernandez is innocent and is the victim of political persecution by the U.S. government. “The idea that anyone could live through this and maintain a sense of dignity is remarkable,” Hernandez’s attorney, Martin Garbus, said in a telephone interview. Garbus, a New York-based civil rights attorney, took over representing the Cuban Five after the death of attorney Leonard Weinglass in 2011. Garbus, who has visited Hernandez at the Victorville prison a half-dozen times, said he has a deep respect for his client. “I knew Nelson Mandela. There is the same kind of serenity with Gerardo — this extraordinary quietness and awareness,” Garbus said. “The ability to withstand his incarceration and to stay positive is extraordinary.”

Within days of Hernandez’s 2001 conviction, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five was formed, according to coordinator Gloria La Riva. “Gerardo had nothing to do with the planes being shot down,” La Riva said, claiming that media-created hysteria led to an unjust conviction. According to La Riva, dozens of Miami journalists were covering the trial of the Cuban Five in a “highly prejudicial manner.” “Gerardo was on a mission in Miami to save lives,” La Riva said. “He never had a weapon, nor did he harm anyone.”

The Cuban Five are supported by former President Jimmy Carter and Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Feature continues here: Penitentiary Home to One of Cuban Five

Small Number of Leftist Celebrities to Support “Cuban 5″ Rally 2

Havana’s Prensa Latina has identified 15 celebrities who support the third annual 5-Day Rally for The Cuban Five, to be held in Washington from June 4-11. Noted leftists include Angela Davis, Danny Glover, Noam Chomsky, Ignacio Ramonet, Alice Walker, Gilbert Brownstone, Tom Hayden, Dolores Huerta, Ramsey Clark, Miguel D’Escoto, John Cavanagh, Jane Franklin, Piero Gleijeses, Stephen Kimber and Fernando Morais.

Directed by the International Free The Cuban Five Committee, the event will once again call for the release of convicted spies Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, and Antonio Guerrero.

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Case Officer Fernando Gonzalez will be released later this month while Cuban agent Rene Gonzalez is already in Cuba after giving up his US citizenship.

Gleijeses on the Cuban Five 3

By Miguel Fernandez

Piero Gleijeses, a professor of U.S. Foreign Policy at the Faculty of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University, has launched a far-fetched self-promotion campaign using the Cuban Five.

For selling his latest book: Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria and the Struggle for Southern Africa (University of North Carolina Press, 2013), Gleijeses has written a letter to President Obama calling for the immediate release of the Cuban Five. His point is that they are “political prisoners” sentenced by an “operetta court” for “a crime” committed by Fidel Castro: the humiliation of the U.S. You can easily guess what follows: a summary of Gleijeses’s book focused on Castro’s intervention and its impact on the survival of Angola, the independence of Namibia, and the demise of the apartheid in South Africa.

It has nothing to do with the case of the Cuban Five, but Gleijeses devoted more than three quarters of his letter to “the struggle for Southern Africa.” He simply abstains from dealing with the case beyond deeming it as a judicial misjudgment full of well-known juridical flaws. Thus, Gleijeses has wrongfully applied the so-called method of “ascending from the abstract to the concrete.”

What’s really well-known is that Castro ordered his intelligence services to infiltrate the U.S. and the Cuban Five were part of a network trying to gather intelligence from Southern Command (Miami) and the military bases at Boca Chica (Key West) and MacDill (Tampa). They were detected and their communications intercepted and deciphered. This provided the prosecution a prima-facie case of conspiracy to commit espionage.

Instead of a viable defense, the defendants attempted to justify that two unarmed small planes Cessna were lawfully shoot down over Cuban jurisdictional waters by a MiG-29 jet fighter. There wasn’t a quantum of proof and the incident had nothing to do with conspiracy to commit espionage, but two third of the time at the trial were used by the defense for such a frivolous purpose.

Only after the conviction, the counsel of Gerardo Hernandez — the only defendant charged with conspiracy to commit murder because of the shoot down — realized this charge should have deserved a separate trial. Let’s see how long would it take for Gleijeses to realize that using the Cuban Five’s agitprop is an intellectually destitute manner for promoting an academic work.