Bad Math:  Tampa Newspaper Erroneously Claims Just 5 People Served in Massive Cuban Spy Network Reply

By Chris Simmons

The article in yesterday’s Tampa Bay Times, “Florida’s Worst Spies,” is certain to have delighted intelligence officials in Havana. In this poorly researched feature, the Wasp Network – the largest spy ring ever known to have operated on U.S. soil, is never mentioned. Instead, the two journalists focused on five of its failed spies – the ring’s hardcore leaders whom Havana later lionized as the “Cuban Five.” In reality, the Wasp Network consisted of over 40 officers and agents, most of whom fled or made plea agreements when arrested. Led by a Cuban Military Intelligence officer, the spy ring stretched from Key West (Florida) to New York City, southwest to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana (B-52s are stationed here) and then south to Mexico City. Significantly, two military commands based in Tampa – CENTCOM and SOCOM – were major Wasp targets.

How is it possible that this paper, a self-professed winner of 12 Pulitzer Prizes, doesn’t know of key events that occurred in its own city?

 

 

 

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New York City Council Member Lobbied For Cuban 5 1

Mark-Viverito Lobbied on Behalf of Cuban Spies

By Yoav Gonen and Beth DeFalco, New York Post

New York City Council woman Melissa Mark-Viverito, district 8 council member and Democrat in City Hall
ANTI-AMERICAN DIATRIBE: Melissa Mark-Viverito wrote to the United Nations in 2009 on behalf of five convicted Cuban spies, claiming the United States was the real villain.

City Council speaker candidate Melissa Mark-Viverito once lobbied on behalf of five Cuban intelligence agents convicted of spying against the United States.

Mark-Viverito told the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva in a 2009 letter that the so-called “Cuban Five” were “unjustly imprisoned in the United States for trying to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba.”

In fact, the agents had infiltrated a naval base in Florida and were convicted of espionage conspiracy against the United States, records show.

The 2001 convictions were upheld on appeal, and the US Supreme Court refused to review the case.

One of the five, Gerardo Hernandez, was also convicted of murder conspiracy for providing information about the flight plans of two small planes that were shot down by the Cuban government in 1996 — killing four.

In her letter, Mark-Viverito pleaded for more family visitation rights for the prisoners.

Asked Tuesday about the impetus of the request — and its connection to the East Harlem district Mark-Viverito represents — spokesman Eric Koch declined to comment.

The councilwoman’s intervention on behalf of pro-Cuba agents is part of a pattern of support for far-left causes.

In 2010, she generated significant backlash after circulating a petition calling for the release of a jailed leader of the Puerto Rican separatist group, FALN — which had been deemed a terrorist organization by the FBI.

As The Post has reported, Mark-Viverito went to Bolivia in 2008 to support socialist and anti-American President Evo Morales during a recall election.

Mayor de Blasio, whose ideology is also considered ultra-liberal, has been pressuring councilmembers to back Mark-Viverito as speaker, according to sources.

He has maintained that he has only had conversations with council members, but that they will elect whoever they choose — in a vote scheduled for Wednesday.

Asked Tuesday about his involvement in the race — given his prior criticisms that then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg and then-Council Speaker Christine Quinn were too close — de Blasio insisted that the comparisons aren’t valid.

“Michael Bloomberg and I are very different people in ideology and many other ways,” he said. “And I just think it’s a different reality.”

Although Mark-Viverito has already claimed victory with the support of 30 of the council’s 51 members, sources say her battle with Manhattan Council Member Dan Garodnick is likely to go down to the wire.

“They are not throwing in the towel yet,” one City Hall insider said of Team Garodnick, which late Tuesday believed it was getting close to picking off a handful of Mark-Viverito supporters.

If their effort fails, Garod¬nick’s backers are mulling the launch of their own faction to counter the growing Progressive Caucus — which is co-chaired by Mark-Viverito and backed by de Blasio, the insider said.

“After eight years of Chris Quinn and Mike Bloomberg, the members are talking freely about a way to ensure the council remains independent from the mayor,” the insider said

NYC’s Mayor-Elect Long Tied to Cuba & Nicaragua’s Sandinistas 2

Bill De Blasio, the Big Apple’s first Democratic mayor in decades, is an unapologetic Sandinista supporter who later honeymooned in Cuba. Beginning his political career as a minor aide to David Dinkins, the last Democratic NYC mayor, he subsequently served in the Clinton administration and ran Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign.

De Blasio travelled to Nicaragua while in college during the 1980s. Further enamored by his visit, he returned home and joined a Nicaragua solidarity group. Questioned during the campaign about his support of the brutal Sandinista regime, he sounded very much like convicted spy Ana Montes, claiming he was “very proud” of his support of the Sandinista Revolution.

Read the entire article here: The Sandinista supporter who married a former lesbian and rose through the political ranks to become mayor New York

The Cuban Five Condemn Boston Attacks 2

Washington, Apr 22 (Prensa Latina) The five anti-terrorist Cuban fighters unfairly held in US prisons expressed their solidarity with the US people in the wake of bomb attacks occurred a week ago at the end of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding another 180. “With extreme consternation and sorrow we could see the images of the attacks in Boston, which caused the loss of lives of innocent people and considerable material damage,” says a message from Ramon Labanino released today on behalf of him and his four comrades Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez, all known as The Cuban Five and given harsh sentences for monitoring anti-Cuban actions by Miami-based terrorist groups.

Labanino, sentenced to 30 years in prison, said that the Cuban people knows very well the terrible scourge of terrorism and “understands and supports the US people and feels their sorrow.” He said “it is time for all of us to unite and wipe out this terrible evil in our societies. We have always been and will always be against terrorism, all kind of terrorism.”

Editor’s Note: Cuba’s intelligence services have a long history of terrorist acts against the United States, from its failed “Black Friday” attack in New York City and continuing with the support of numerous US-based terrorist groups from the 1960s through the 1980s, for example, the Weather Underground Organization (WUO).

The most dangerous US terrorists sustained by Havana were two Puerto Rican terrorist groups; the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) and the Boricua Popular Army (EPB). In testimony before a US Senate subcommittee, Dr. Daniel James claimed that Havana’s Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI), working through Filiberto Ojeda Rios, created FALN in 1974.

From 1980-1986, Puerto Rican terrorists conducted 55% of all domestic terrorist acts in the US. By the time these groups ceased their terrorist activity and moved to non-violent activism, they had killed more Americans and destroyed more property than any international terrorists in US history, with the exception of Al Qaeda’s 1994 and 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

More recently, after 9/11, Cuba flooded US Embassies around the world with provocation agents whose mission was to degrade and disrupt US Intelligence efforts supporting the war on terror. Details can be found in the Sun-Sentinel article, “Embassy Walk-ins Were Cuba Spies Sent To Mislead U.S., Experts Say,” http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2009-10-20/news/0910190393_1_cuban-intelligence-cuba-experts-cuban-agents

On Eve of Cuba’s 1996 Terrorist Attack on Four Americans, Washington Considers Delisting Havana as State Sponsor of Terror 1

Talk Grows of Taking Cuba off Terror List: Kerry reviewing policy that could pave way for renewed relations

By Bryan Bender, (Boston) Globe Staff

WASHINGTON — High-level US diplomats have concluded that Cuba should no longer be designated a state sponsor of terrorism, raising the prospect that Secretary of State John F. Kerry could remove a major obstacle to restoring relations with the Cold War-era foe, government officials said. Cuba no longer actively supports terrorist groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, or former members of Spain’s Basque Fatherland and Liberty, also known as the ETA, according to State Department findings. And interviews with a series of top administration officials and members of Congress indicate there is a growing consensus in policy and intelligence circles that Cuba’s support for terrorist groups has been terminated and the country should be removed from the list — much like the George W. Bush administration did with North Korea in 2008.

Kerry has met in recent days with officials to review the Cuba policy. The pressure to de-list Cuba as a terrorism sponsor comes as a bipartisan congressional delegation traveled to Cuba this week to discuss how the two estranged nations might find ways to lift a US embargo in place for five decades and cooperate on a host of economic, agricultural, and security matters. But the delegation, which included Representative James P. McGovern of Worcester, left Cuba on Wednesday after failing in its immediate goal: to win the release of an American prisoner, Alan Gross. The nearly four-year standoff over Gross is among a number of matters holding up efforts to improve relations.

But despite that failure, the meetings were constructive, and the tone promising, McGovern said in a phone interview, after meeting with President Raul Castro in Havana on Tuesday. “They are interested in improving relations because it is in their interest. I feel they are really interested in sitting down and engaging, where everything is on the table — the embargo, the travel restrictions, migration, everything,” McGovern said. The Gross case, he said, can be resolved, but it is “going to take some negotiations.” Gross is an American contractor who was arrested in 2009 while providing communications technology to Cuba’s Jewish community as part of a US-financed democracy-building program.

A major impediment to normalizing relations with Cuba, according to McGovern and others, is that Cuba has been listed by the State Department each year since 1982 as a sponsor of terrorist groups. Yet that is a view no longer held by a number of senior US officials. Even North Korea, which the Obama administration has criticized for conducting nuclear tests and making threatening comments toward the United States, is not listed as a terrorism sponsor. That contrast is one reason for calls within the State Department to consider taking Cuba off the list.

“There is a pretty clear case . . . that they don’t really meet the standard anymore,” said a senior administration official with direct knowledge regarding US-Cuba policy who was not authorized to speak publicly. “They have neither the wherewithal nor are they doing much.” In addition to Cuba, the list of terrorist sponsors includes Syria, Sudan, and Iran. Inclusion imposes strict sanctions. For example, it prohibits the United States from selling arms, providing economic assistance, and restricts financial transactions between citizens. Countries that were removed from the list in recent years include North Korea, Libya, and Iraq.

The United States initially cut off diplomatic relations in 1961, and later put in place a trade embargo. Cuba served as a satellite for the Soviet Union and flash point of the Cold War, most famously in 1962 when Russia placed nuclear missiles on the island. The Cuban government also armed and trained Marxist revolutionaries across Latin America and Africa during the 1970s and 1980s.

US officials emphasized that there has not been a formal assessment concluding that Cuba should be removed from the terrorism list and said serious obstacles remain to a better relationship, especially the imprisonment of Gross.

Cuba has said it would release the 63-year-old in exchange for the so-called Cuban Five, convicted Cuban intelligence operatives being held by the United States. The Obama administration, however, has publicly refused to entertain such a trade, and officials said there is unlikely to be significant improvement in the relationship until Gross is released. But Kerry, who played a key role in normalizing relations with communist Vietnam in the early 1990s, is seen as particularly receptive to new ways to change a relationship many believe to be a relic of the Cold War. Recalling his work on Vietnam, Kerry published an article in 2009 in the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, where the Cuba issue remains politically charged. His article called for a lifting of all travel restrictions.

The result of normalized relations with Vietnam has produced a former foe “that is less isolated, more market-oriented, and, yes, freer. . . . Yet when it comes to a small impoverished island 90 miles off the coast of Florida, we cling to a policy that has manifestly failed for nearly 50 years. “While our Cuba policy has largely stood still, reality has changed dramatically. Today, the Cuban “threat” is a faint shadow, change is afoot in the Cuban leadership, and — importantly — Cuban-Americans increasingly seek broad, far-reaching interaction across the Florida Straits,” Kerry wrote. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2011, Kerry also temporarily held up US funding for the democracy-building programs in Cuba, similar to the one Gross was associated with, out of concern that they were not effective and unnecessarily confrontational.

The Obama administration cannot fully restore diplomatic relations with the Castro regime without the approval of Congress because a 1996 law stipulates that the trade embargo cannot be lifted until the nation makes democratic reforms. But Obama could remove Cuba from the terrorist list without congressional approval. “Clearly [the Cubans] are agitated by that and they have been for some time,” said McGovern, who said the issue of the terror designation was raised by the Cubans this week. “That is something the administration could do on its own and they should.”

A number of other big obstacles also block a new approach in US-Cuban relations. A primary one is the Cuban government’s continued crackdown on political dissidents. US officials maintain that while Cuba has liberalized some aspects of its economy and recently lifted restrictions on Cubans’ ability to travel outside the country; it still does not tolerate opposition to its one-party system. As a result, there remain deep divisions over US-Cuba policy. Roger Noriega, who served as assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs in the Bush administration, said “the fact that the Cuban people are systematically denied human rights remains the single biggest obstacle. It is not about us. It is not about Alan Gross. It is not about the terror designation. It is the reality on the ground. Until they dismantle the police state and free political prisoners no unilateral steps should be taken.”

Even the State Department’s most recent reports to Congress have downplayed Cuba’s role in terrorism. Last year, the State Department reported that “there was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training for either ETA or the FARC.”

Editor’s Note: In February 1996, the Castro government murdered four Americans in international airspace over the Straits of Florida. The intelligence component of the mission — codenamed Operation Scorpion — was executed by the Wasp Network, a massive spy ring which spread from Key West north to New York City and then west to Louisiana and Mexico City. The Wasp Network was run by the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) in partnership with the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DIM). All aspects of the downing of the two unarmed civilian aircraft were personally approved by both Raul and Fidel Castro.

Today in History: Cuban Spies Attended New York Conference 1

The New York City-based Center for Cuban Studies hosted the first National Conference on Cuba from November 2nd-4th, 1979. US participants included Congressman Ron Dellums, the Puerto Rican socialist party, union representatives, legal scholars, and innumerable academics.    Havana sent 15 participants, to include at least two intelligence officers: Alfredo García Almeida and Ramón Sánchez-Parodi Montoto.

An America Department (DA) officer, Alfredo Garcia Almeida found himself back in New York within two years — assigned to the Cuban Mission to the United Nations (CMUN) as a representative of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).  According to former DI officer Juan Manuel Reyes Alonso, ICAP was penetrated by a small cadre of bona fide DI officers, aided by a large staff of agents (i.e., collaborators). As a result, roughly 90% of ICAP was thought to be DI-affiliated.

Following his posting as the first chief of the Cuban Interests Section in September 1977, Ramón Sánchez-Parodi Montoto, served in the US for 12 consecutive years. Experts remain undecided as to whether he is DGI or DA.

Editor’s Note: The General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) was the name previously used by the foreign intelligence wing of the Ministry of the Interior. Following a 1989 “scandal” and reorganization, this service was reorganized and given a new name – the Directorate of Intelligence (DI).

The America Department (DA) was the name used by the intelligence wing of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party from 1974 to the late 1980s or early 1990s. The DA was heavily involved in supporting revolutionaries and terrorists, but has since become more focused on political intelligence operations. This service is now called the America Area of the International Department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC/ID/AA).

Today in History: FBI Arrests Triggered Collapse of “Wasp Network” Spy Ring 1

September 12, 1998:  The FBI arrested 10 of the 40+ Cuban Intelligence officers and agents in the Wasp Network.  Additional members of this spy ring, which stretched from New York City to the capital of Mexico, were arrested over the following years.  Most of those arrested accepted plea agreements and testified against their former colleagues.  The five holdouts, many of whom were Wasp Network leaders, were convicted on numerous charges.  Several received life sentences for their crimes.

“Burned” Cuban Agent Moves From Miami to the Big Apple 6

Dr. Lisandro Pérez, formerly a Sociology professor at Florida International University (FIU), has moved to John Jay College in New York City.  Identified as a Cuban Intelligence agent by no less than three separate sources, Perez was first “outed” 32 years old.

In 1974, the trimester Areito magazine was founded, which boasted of its support for Castro’s Cuban Revolution.  Four founders and collaborators of Areito were Jorge Dominguez, Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Lisandro Pérez & Marifeli Perez-Stable.  In 1980, Committee of 75 leader, Reverend Manuel Espinosa, publicly denounced Areito as front organizations for DGI espionage and recruitment campaign in the United States.  In March 1982, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism, that Areito was “DGI propaganda.”  Then, in July 1983, DGI Captain Jesus Perez-Mendez defected to the United States and also confirmed Areito’s ties to Cuban Intelligence.

Background

Pérez was formerly a Sociology professor at Florida International University (FIU) and the founder of the Cuban Research Institute (CRI).  He established CRI in 1991 and developed it into the premier academic center in the US for the study of Cuba and Cuban Americans.  He served as its director until 2003.  CRI has a relationship with the influential Inter-American Dialogue and they co-sponsor Cuba-related events in DC.  He is also a long-time supporter of dialogue w/dialog with Cuba.

Pérez has a lifelong interest in Cuban migration to the U.S., the dynamics of the Cuban-American community, and social change in Cuba. For several years, he was the author of the journal Cuban Studies, which has been published annually by the University of Pittsburgh   Press since 1985. It is the preeminent journal for scholarly work on Cuba.  He has contributed to several edited collections and has written articles for journals such as Columbia Journal of World Business, International Migration Review, the Latin American Research Review, Los Angeles Times, and the Journal of Latin American Studies. He has appeared on PBS’ Frontline, at the Woodrow Wilson Int’l Center for Scholars, at the Inter-American Dialogue, and the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE).

See the full article here:  Burned Cuban Agent Moves From Miami to the Big Apple