Rubio, Díaz-Balart Want Investigation of Raúl Castro in 1996 Shoot-Down of Exile Planes 1


The four Brothers to the Rescue pilots who were shot down by Cuban aircraft in 1996. C.M. Guerrero el Nuevo Herald

By Nora Gámez Torres

Two Florida Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, have asked President Donald Trump to consider an investigation into whether Cuba’s former ruler, Raúl Castro, should be indicted for the 1996 shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes.

The shoot-down by Cuban military planes resulted in the deaths of three U.S. citizens — Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre and Mario de la Peña — as well as the death of Pablo Morales, a U.S. permanent resident.

“We urge you to consider new, additional actions to hold the Castro regime accountable for its crimes. For that reason, within all applicable rules and regulations, we urge you to direct the Department of Justice to review whether Raúl Castro should be indicted for the illegal and heinous act” of shooting down the two civilian aircraft in international waters, Rubio and Díaz-Balart said in a letter they sent to the president on Monday.

Brothers to the Rescue made volunteer flights in the Straits of Florida to search for Cuban rafters who had fled the island by sea. The organization also made flights inside Cuban territory to drop pamphlets denouncing the government of the late Fidel Castro. At the time, Raúl Castro was the minister of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Cuban authorities asked the U.S. government to ground the flights, but they continued and on Feb. 24, 1996, two Cuban military planes shot down two of the Brothers to the Rescue planes.

In 2003, a U.S. federal court in Miami indicted three Cuban officials on charges of murder, but Raúl Castro was not among them. None of them were tried. Gerardo Hernández, leader of a Cuban spy ring known as the WASP network, was sentenced to life in prison in connection with the shoot-down but he was freed by the Obama administration as part of a prisoner exchange.

The legislators also asked Trump to direct appropriate agencies to assess whether Interpol “red notices” should be issued for the arrest and extradition to the United States “of all Cuban operatives responsible for the murders.”

Editor’s Note: “Operation Scorpion” was the codename Havana’s primary service used for their mission supporting the murder of Brothers to the Rescue members. Due to their central role in the shoot down, key members of the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) should be included in any attempt to issue Interpol “red notices.”


Obama Gave Cuba “License To Spy” In U.S. [Belated Posting] 2

Posted by: Javier Manjarres, HSPA Hispolitica, on July 20, 2015

The Cuban-American congressional delegation from Miami, Florida, held a press conference denouncing the opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba,  as well as calling the new Cuban embassy in the United States as a ” base” for the Cuban Intelligence Service.

Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Carlos Curbelo, and Mario Diaz-Balart, all Republicans, each took turns of expressing their anger and disappointment over President Obama’s apparent acceptance of the 56-years of human rights violations and acts of terrorism committed by the Castro regime.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) spoke out against Obama’s normalization of diplomatic relations with communist Cuba, saying that the president has given the regime a “license to spy” on the U.S.

Diaz-Balart stated that Obama’s “failed policy of appeasement, appeasing brutal dictators” has threaten U.S. interests, adding that the “Cuban people have not chosen the Castro brothers” as their legitimate representatives.

The Cuban embassy will represent the Cuban Intelligence Service-Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R)

Corbel didn’t mince his words either, saying that the Obama administration has legitimized Cuba, an “enemy of the United States.”

One of the most reckless foreign policy decisions that we have seen in decades in this decision by the Obama administration to legitimize and embrace a government that has been an enemy of the United States. A government that has abused and repressed its own people every single day of its existence. A government that continues sponsoring terrorism around the world, especially here in our hemisphere.-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R)

Curbelo also stated that the existing and “robust” Cuban spy network in the U.S. now has a base in which to spy from.


Miami Republican Members of Congress Oppose Cuban Embassy in Washington, Citing Spies 6

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC

@PatriciaMazzei, Miami Herald

Miami’s three Cuban-American Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives say they don’t want to see a Cuban embassy opened in Washington D.C. — or a Cuban consulate anywhere else in the country — because it would risk allowing Cuba to spy on the U.S.

There is already a Cuban interests section in D.C., and a Cuban mission to the United Nations.

“We are all too familiar with the Castro regime’s efforts to utilize their diplomats as intelligence agents tasked with the goal of committing espionage against their host countries,” the members of Congress and several colleagues wrote in a letter Thursday to the U.S. State Department. “We believe that allowing Cuba to open an embassy in Washington, D.C. or consulates will further open the door for their espionage activities.”

They also asked to be briefed in detail about the status of the negotiations between the U.S. and Cuba to normalize diplomatic relations.

Signing the letter were Miami Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo, as well as Rep. Albio Sires, a New Jersey Democrat and fellow Cuban American, and Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican whose father was born in Cuba. Cruz is considering a 2016 presidential candidacy.

‘A Couple of Possibilities’ on Alan Gross Case, Kerry Tells Diaz-Balart Reply

By Progreso Weekly

Excerpt from John Kerry’s testimony Wednesday (March 12) to a House subcommittee on the federal budget. Asked about efforts to release USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, now held in Cuba, Kerry said:

“I have been meeting repeatedly, particularly in the last few months, on the Alan Gross issue. In fact, I met with his family just a couple of weeks ago and we — I am not going to go into it here, but I will tell you that we are very focused on a couple of possibilities on how we might try to approach that. We really want to get him back because obviously we don’t think he’s that well, and he’s wrongly in prison as far as we’re concerned, obviously. So, it’s a major priority for us, and the White House likewise. The White House has been very involved, we’re working together in initiatives to try to do this. We hit a stone wall in a couple but we’re continuing to try to do that. And I have a couple of ideas that I hope will work. So, we’ll see what happens.”

Castro Apologist Promotes “Cuba Opening” by Obama 1

Extract from Arturo Lopez-Levy’s article, “The Latin American Gorilla”

Room to Maneuver on Cuba?

Another example of how changes in U.S. Latino groups can change the context of policymaking occurred in Cuban-American Miami. For years, Cuban-Americans have voted Republican for president and sent to Congress pro-embargo legislators like Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, who oppose Cuban-American travel to the island, and Sen. Marco Rubio, who has filibustered presidential nominations in retaliation for alleged “abuse” of people-to-people travel.

But Obama won a record share of the Cuban-American vote (47 percent to Romney’s 48 percent), showing the power of a new bloc of Cubans consisting both of recent immigrants and Americans of more distant Cuban descent. This bloc rejected the McCarthyism propaganda of the pro-embargo right-wing forces, enabling the president to campaign on more liberal U.S. policies toward the island.

For the first time, the election resulted in victories for candidates favorable to greater contact between the Cuban-American community and the island. In one closely contested House race, Democrat Joe García defeated Republican Rep. David Rivera, one of the most fervent supporters of the embargo. The evolution of García, a former director of the Cuban American National Foundation who now supports Cuban-American cultural exchanges, is evidence of the moderation now prevailing among a major component of the Cuban-American elite.

The same tendency was seen in the election to the Florida state Legislature of José Javier Rodriguez, a Democrat who supports exchanges between the Cuban-American community and the island. García will enter the House just as Rep. Ros-Lehtinen leaves the chairmanship of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in line with the Republican caucus’s term limits.

Outside of Florida, the elections had ambiguous results. In Texas, voters elected Republican Ted Cruz, a Cuban-American who will join fellow embargo supporters Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) in the Senate. On the Cuba issue, however, Cruz’s victory is offset by that of Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, who has been the most consistent anti-embargo voice in the U.S. House in the past decade.

All told, Obama owes nothing to the pro-embargo lobbyists who accused his administration of “unilateral appeasement” toward Havana and paid for spurious campaign ads connecting the president with Raul Castro’s daughter and Hugo Chavez. Now it’s payback time. Anti-embargo groups should work to ensure that the virtuous cycle represented by increased travel and the creation of communities who are interested in new ties with Cuba can continue for four more years.

The messages that have been sent out from a more plural Miami, combined with greater flexibility in Obama’s second term, offer the president more maneuvering room for a rational treatment of the Cuba issue. Taking Cuba off the State Department list of terrorist countries would be a symbolic first step in the right direction. Cuba, as the rest of Latin America, was not absent from the election; the voters put it into play.

Arturo Lopez-Levy is a doctoral candidate at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies of the University of Denver.

Read the entire article here: