Cuba Awards Medal to Danny Glover 1

Glover With Convicted Spy Gerardo Hernández

Glover With Convicted Spy Gerardo Hernández

Cuba Decorates Danny Glover, Estela and Ernesto Bravo

Havana (Prensa Latina) — The Cuban State Council granted the National Medal of Friendship Thursday to documentary filmmakers Estela and Ernesto Bravo and US actor Danny Glover for their solidary support to the Cuban government and people.

In an activity held Thursday morning at the host building of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with Peoples of the World (ICAP) Cuban antiterrorist fighter and member of the Cuban Five Gerardo Hernandez stated that it is an honor to watch such a moment to decorated three great friends of Cuba with such a medal.

The decorated friends of Cuba received the medal from the hands of Jose Ramon Balaguer, member of the Secretariat of the Cuban Communist Party, and director of its International Relations Department.

Ernesto Bravo said he felt moved, since as much himself, as Estela Bravo, have strong links with Cuba, where they decided to set their lives for more than 50 years.

Estela Bravo said that in Cuba, she received several surprises, as for instance, to know Fidel Castro, and that the main reason for which she has been doing her work, is for other people to see and live all the things she had the pleasure to live.

For his part, American actor Danny Glover referred to the struggle for the return of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters, whom he recognized for their dedication to the Cuban government and people.

Also, he stressed the role of the new generations in the conduct of the future of the Cuban revolutionary project and recalled the meeting of nearly two hours held in yesterday afternoon with young Cuban at the host of the Asociación Hermanos Saíz.

‘We are here not only to support the Cuban Revolution, but also to support the values that this has taught us, he concluded.

In the event of decoration, there were different political and cultural personalities of the country as the Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto; the President of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, Miguel Barnet; and the Director of the General Direction of the United States of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Josefina Vidal.

hr/tac/lma/vdf

Editor’s Note:  ICAP’s long-term collaboration with the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) dates back over 30 years. That said, ICAP is not a DI entity per se, but is believed to be roughly 90% DI-affiliated due to a large pool of collaborators who serve the small team of ICAP-embedded DI officers.

Career Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal, expelled from the US in 2003, continues to serve under shallow cover as head of the North America portfolio in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX). She is viewed as one of Havana’s premier experts in US affairs.

 

 

 

Leftist Attorney and “Journalist” Eva Golinger Interviews Cuban Spies 1

Cuba's Ministry of the Interior -- home to its security and intelligence services

The Ministry of the Interior — home to Cuba’s security and intelligence services

My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five

by Eva Golinger, Counterpunch

It was nearly nine o’clock that Wednesday December 17, 2014 when I saw a tweet by Rene Gonzalez, one of the five Cuban spies who had been imprisoned in the United States for over a decade. THEY RETURNED! I had to look twice. Could it be true? I quickly started searching in newspapers and digital media for any news about the Five, as they were known in Cuba, but all pointed to Rene’s tweet. Minutes later, in three consecutive tweets Rene presented concrete evidence to allay any doubts. The papers for the release from prison of Gerardo, Ramon and Antonio were signed. They were free.

Previously, on December 4, Gerardo was abruptly transported from the maximum security prison in Victorville, California where he had spent most of his 16 year prison term and taken to a penitentiary center in Oklahoma City. Without knowing why he was there he was put in the “hole”, another term for solitary confinement in a cell with no window or contact with other prisoners, subjected to brutal and inhumane treatment by the guards. He was left there for eleven days. On December 15, he was suddenly transferred to a prison hospital in Butner, North Carolina. He was not even given time to gather and bring the few personal possessions he had accumulated over the last 16 years in prison.

Across the country in Florida, Antonio was awoken at five o’clock in the morning on Monday December 15, in his prison cell in Marianna, a medium security penitentiary. He was only told to pack his personal items, nothing more. He complied, not knowing where he was being taken or why. He was then transported in a private jet to the prison hospital in Butner. There, he thought he’d have to adapt again to a new surrounding and make his life in that prison.

That same day, Ramon, still registered under the false name he used during his intelligence mission in the United States, Luis Medina, was also taken from his cell in Georgia to the prison hospital in Butner. He wasn’t given any instructions or information about the reason for his transfer. It was not until the next day, on December 16, that all three – Gerardo, Ramon and Antonio – met face to face in the same place, and they knew from that moment on they were going home.

They found it impossible to contain their happiness. Between smiles, jokes and hugs, US officials got so nervous that when they brought the three of them to the plane on the early morning of December 17, they forced them to speak English. Perhaps the feared Castro-spies would still be conspiring against the country that had deprived them of their freedom for the past 16 years. In a final blow, as the plane approached their homeland, the authorities covered the windows of the plane. They couldn’t even see the arrival into Cuba.

Feature continues here:  Counterpunch

 

 

Dropping The Mask: Castro Spy Writes Foreword to Canadian Academic’s “Impartial” Book on the Cuban Five 8

By Chris SimmonsComrade Kimber

‘What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five’ is a fascinating piece of fiction by Castro apologist Stephen Kimber. Despite objective reviews which found his research unencumbered by facts, the Canadian writer has long sworn his manifesto is accurate and balanced. At long last, the charade is over. Comrade Kimber is currently in Havana celebrating the Spanish-language release of his work, with a new foreword by convicted spy René González, who described the novel as “the best written treatise on the case.  The Castro regime’s enduring love for Kimber was further demonstrated during Wednesday’s presentation at the University of Havana, when Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada – who served as Cuba’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations for nearly three decades – served as the keynote speaker.

“Cuban Five” Hailed as Heroes in Caracas 1

The Cuban Five played a central role in the murder of four members of the humanitarian search-and-rescue group,  "Brothers to the Rescue" members

The Cuban Five played a central role in the murder of four members of the search-and-rescue group, “Brothers to the Rescue”

By Jim Wyss, jwyss@MiamiHerald.com

The five Cuban spies recently released from U.S. custody spent a second day in Venezuela being hailed as heroes and bestowed with honors.

On Tuesday, President Nicolás Maduro honored the men at the National Pantheon, where South American liberator Simon Bolivar is interred, saying that they helped stop “dozens” of U.S. attacks on Cuba, including the bombing of hotels and the killing of foreign tourists.

Maduro also blamed the media for describing the men as “spies,” saying news agencies, including Reuters, Associated Press, AFP and EFE were “machines of media manipulation.”

“They declare war when there needs to be war and they pardon and turn people into angels when they need to be pardoned and turned into angels, even if that person is the world’s biggest murderer,” he said.

The five men were convicted in 2001 of infiltrating South Florida military installations and spying on the exile community. They were also linked to the 1996 shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes that killed four exile pilots over the Florida Straits.

The last imprisoned members of the spy ring were released in December as Washington and Havana began rapprochement talks. Their release coincided with Cuba’s freeing of USAID contractor Alan Gross. The men are expected to be in Venezuela — Cuba’s closest ally — through Saturday.

Heroic Homecoming For Cuban Agents Brings Speculation About Future in Politics 6

The "Cuban Five," which includes Ramon Labanino (top left), Gerardo Hernandez (top right), Fernando Gonzalez (bottom left), Antonio Guerrero (bottom right) and Rene Gonzalez (center), have become part of the new political intrigue in Cuba. (Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters)

The “Cuban Five,” which includes Ramon Labanino (top left), Gerardo Hernandez (top right), Fernando Gonzalez (bottom left), Antonio Guerrero (bottom right) and Rene Gonzalez (center), have become part of the new political intrigue in Cuba. (Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters)

By Nick Miroff, Washington Post

MEXICO CITY — Since their return to Havana last month after 16 years in U.S. federal prison, the remaining three members of the spy ring known as “the Cuban Five” have been a frequent presence on state television. Wherever they go — visiting universities or attending outdoor concerts in their honor — they are celebrated as “Heroes of the Republic.”

They speak with a confidence and a candor unusual among Communist officials of their generation, who rarely veer off-script or show emotion. Despite their years behind bars, the men are relatively young, at least by Cuban leadership standards.

And with each public appearance, more Cubans and Cuba-watchers wonder what role the five, and especially ringleader Gerardo Hernández, might play in the country’s political future.

Although several of them had not set foot on the island in 20 years, Havana’s ceaseless international campaign to free the men has arguably made them the most recognizable faces in the Cuban government after the Castros. A generation of Cuban schoolchildren has grown up memorizing their names and biographies.

Hernández, 49, was serving two life sentences plus 15 years when he was freed as part of the prisoner swap for a long-jailed CIA mole in Cuba that also triggered the release of Alan Gross, an American government subcontractor.

Sent by Havana to infiltrate anti-Castro groups in Miami, Hernández was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, having passed along information that Cuba used in the 1996 downing of two civilian planes operated by the exile group Brothers to the Rescue, killing four.

“We dreamed about this moment for so long,” Hernández told Cuban television soon after his arrival, choking back tears. “The only thing that lifted our spirits was the thought of coming home, to be with the Cuban people again.”

“It was worth it,” he said.

The agents have said nothing specific about their plans. But when the Obama administration agreed to send them back, it possibly gave Cuba more than a group of intelligence operatives.

“We don’t know yet what they’ll do, but they return with tremendous prestige,” said Aurelio Alonso, a member of the small Havana civil society organization Cuba Posible, which advocates gradual reforms. “So far, they’ve demonstrated an extraordinary level of political maturity.”

Feature continues here:  Cuban Spies

Editor’s Note:  The Washington Post is incorrect in reporting the Wasp Network was created “to infiltrate anti-Castro groups in Miami.” It actually targeted US military bases, the FBI, the Miami Herald, local and national political figures, and other groups.

Contractor Alan Gross Marking Five Years in Cuban Custody 7

Jailed GrossBy Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun

Four times, Alan Gross traveled to Cuba, lugging with him Internet equipment to connect the island’s small Jewish community to the outside world. And four times, he completed his trips to the Caribbean island nation without a problem.

With each trip he made, the Potomac man became more concerned about his work, which defied the Cuban government’s strict controls on the Internet. But at worst, he assumed, if he ran afoul of the Cuban authorities, he’d be held briefly before being kicked out of the country.

But at the end of his fifth trip, in late 2009, police seized Gross. He was charged with crimes against the state, convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Wednesday marks his fifth year in custody.

For his family, Gross’ incarceration has been an unending nightmare. For diplomats, it is a significant sticking point in the long-strained relationship between the United States and Cuba, the communist nation 90 miles from Florida.

Gross’ supporters say his health is declining — once 254 pounds, he’s lost 100 pounds since being locked up — and he’s on the brink of losing hope.

“Five years is far too long for an innocent man to be locked away from his family and his country,” said Gross’ attorney, Scott Gilbert. “Alan is about to give up, and we are running out of time.”

The State Department, members of Congress including Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, and former officials including President Jimmy Carter have campaigned for Gross’ release. Sens. Jeff Flake and Tom Udall traveled to Havana recently and met separately with Gross and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, but returned empty-handed.

A spokeswoman for Van Hollen said the Montgomery County Democrat spoke with Gross by telephone in October and told him he was still pressing for his release.

“Every day that he sits in prison in Havana is another day of injustice for Alan Gross and another day that Cuba is missing an important opportunity to begin to reshape its relations with the United States,” Van Hollen said in a statement.

Cuban officials have proposed a swap: the release of Gross for the return of the three members of a group known as the Cuban Five who are still imprisoned in the United States. U.S. officials have opposed the deal, saying Gross was an aid worker, while the Cuban Five were intelligence operatives who were convicted in federal court of conspiracy to commit espionage and other charges.

Articles continues here:  Gross Marks 5 Years in Cuban Prison

 

LASA Conference Hosted Cuban 5 Event 3

The convicted spies lauded by Havana as the "Cuban Five"

The convicted spies lauded by Havana as the “Cuban Five”

Memorial Day weekend at the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) 2014 Conference in Chicago featured an “Evening in Solidarity with the Cuban 5.” At this forum, Cuban and U.S. academics, as well as pro-Castro activists gathered for a reception where the myth of Cuban spy “anti-terrorists” featured prominently. According to Radio Havana Cuba, the event’s organizers included “the Chicago Cuba Coalition, the Chicago Cuban Five Committee, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five and the ANSWER Coalition, among others.

Freed Spy Rene Gonzalez in Paris to Thank Supporters 1

Convicted Spy Rene Gonzalez Thanking Supporters in France (Courtesy:  PRELA)

Convicted Spy Rene Gonzalez Thanking Supporters in France (Courtesy: PRELA)

Earlier today, Prensa Latina announced that convicted spy Rene Gonzalez was in France, where he thanked supporters of the “Cuban Five.” In a gathering held at the Cuban Embassy in Paris – the historical hub for Cuban spy operations in France, Gonzalez lamented the media’s disinterest in the “Cuban Five” story, but told those gathered “this silence could not prevent you (sic) declare your solidarity with us.” According to PRELA, attendees included “France Cuba, Cuba Si France, activists for the release of The Five, associations of Cuban residents, political leaders, intellectuals, and diplomats.”

In response to a question from PRELA, a media outlet long-known for its collaboration with Cuban Intelligence, Gonzalez recalled that “some of the first letters of support…” came from French citizens “Annie Arroyo and Jacqueline Roussie…” who wrote letters to President Obama every month demanding the release of Cuba’s spies.

Oblivious to his own hypocrisy, Gonzalez also recycled Havana’s time-worn criticism of the US for once paying journalists to write news stories against the Castro regime. Will someone please tell him who pays the staff at PRELA, ACN, Granma, etc?????

Cuba: Rene Gonzalez Eyes Fellow Agent’s US Release 2

HAVANA (AP) — When Fernando Gonzalez walks out of an Arizona prison next week, the “Cuban Five” will be down to three.

Intelligence agents in the employ of Fidel Castro’s Cuba, they were arrested in the United States in 1998 and given terms ranging from 15 years to consecutive life sentences on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents. A federal appeals court upheld their convictions but voided three of their sentences, including Gonzalez’s, after finding they had gathered no “top secret” information.

Rene Gonzalez, no relation, was the first of the Cuban Five to go free in 2011. He was ordered to remain in the United States for more than a year after release. But U.S. officials say Fernando Gonzalez will be immediately handed to immigration authorities upon his release for the start of deportation proceedings.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Rene Gonzalez said he hopes his comrade will soon join him in his new role as the public face of Cuba’s campaign to demand the other agents’ release. “I don’t know how he will feel when he comes. Probably he’ll need some rest, but I hope to see him at my side in this battle,” Gonzalez said on a recent morning in Havana, clad in a smart striped shirt and black pants. “I think he will be a good reinforcement.”

Rene Gonzalez was an unknown young pilot in 1990 when he pretended to steal a crop duster and flew to Florida, using cover as a Cuban defector to spy on targets in the United States. Rene and Fernando Gonzalez, along with the others, were convicted in 2001 of being part of a ring known as the “Wasp Network,” given the job by Cuba’s government of spying on U.S. military installations in South Florida, Cuban exile groups and politicians opposed to Castro’s government.

Havana maintains the agents posed no threat to U.S. sovereignty and were only monitoring militant exiles to prevent terror attacks in Cuba, the best known of which was a series of bombings of Havana hotels that killed an Italian tourist in 1997.

In 2013, Rene Gonzalez finally returned to his country of allegiance, if not birth, when a U.S. judge allowed him to renounce his American citizenship and cut short three years’ supervised release.

He is no longer just an anonymous husband and father of two. His and the other agents’ faces grace billboards across Cuba, where they are lionized as heroes for their clandestine monitoring of militant anti-Castro exiles.

“Now everyone recognizes me in the street,” Gonzalez said.

He has spent the last nine months or so living a relatively quiet existence, readjusting to family life with his wife, Olga Salanueva, and their teenage daughter, Ivette, in a small apartment in central Havana. Their other daughter, Irma, has grown up, married and has a child of her own.

But at a Latin American and Caribbean regional summit last month, Gonzalez was firmly in the spotlight talking to visiting foreign media and arguing Cuba’s case to “free the Five.”

Feature continues here: Cuba: Rene Gonzalez Eyes Fellow Agent’s US Release

Editor’s Note: This AP report contains numerous errors, to include the Havana-created myth that the Wasp Network was limited to “spying on U.S. military installations in South Florida, Cuban exile groups and politicians opposed to Castro’s government.” In reality, the Wasp Network was led by a Military Intelligence officer on loan to the Directorate of Intelligence. As such, it targeted US military facilities from the Florida Keys, north through Florida, and then west along the Gulf of Mexico until it reached Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana (home to B-52 long-range bombers).

The Wasp Network also directed several spies against the FBI, the local Chamber of Commerce, and most importantly – was a key participant in “Operation Scorpion,” – the 1996 murder of four Americans flying a Search & Rescue mission in international airspace.

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