Washington Post OP/ED: The Cuban Five Were Fighting Terrorism. Why Did We Put Them in Jail? 3

By Stephen Kimber, Contact the author at 902.422.1271 ext 150 or via Stephen.kimber@ukings.ca

Stephen Kimber teaches journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Canada, and is the author of “What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five.”

Consider for a moment what would happen if American intelligence agents on the ground in a foreign country uncovered a major terrorist plot, with enough time to prevent it. And then consider how Americans would react if authorities in that country, rather than cooperate with us, arrested and imprisoned the U.S. agents for operating on their soil.

Those agents would be American heroes. The U.S. government would move heaven and Earth to get them back.

This sort of scenario has occurred, except that, in the real-life version, which unfolded 15 years ago last month, the Americans play the role of the foreign government, and Cuba — yes, Fidel Castro’s Cuba — plays the role of the aggrieved United States.

In the early 1990s, after the demise of the Soviet Union made the collapse of Cuba’s communist government seem inevitable, Miami’s militant Cuban exile groups ratcheted up their efforts to overthrow Castro by any means possible, including terrorist attacks. In 1994, for example, Rodolfo Frometa, the leader of an exile group, was nabbed in an FBI sting trying to buy a Stinger missile, a grenade launcher and anti-tank rockets that he said he planned to use to attack Cuba. In 1995, Cuban police arrested two Cuban Americans after they tried to plant a bomb at a resort in Varadero.

Those actions clearly violated U.S. neutrality laws, but America’s justice system mostly looked the other way. Although Frometa was charged, convicted and sentenced to almost four years in jail, law enforcement agencies rarely investigated allegations involving exile militants, and if they did, prosecutors rarely pursued charges. Too often, Florida’s politicians served as apologists for the exile community’s hard-line elements.

But the Cubans had their own agents on the ground in Florida. An intelligence network known as La Red Avispa was dispatched in the early 1990s to infiltrate militant exile groups. It had some successes. Agents thwarted a 1994 plan to set off bombs at the iconic Tropicana nightclub, a tourist hot spot in Havana. And they short-circuited a 1998 scheme to send a boat filled with explosives from the Miami River to the Dominican Republic to be used in an assassination attempt against Castro.

In the spring of 1998, Cuban agents uncovered a plot to blow up an airplane filled with beach-bound tourists from Europe or Latin America. The plot resonated: Before 2001, the most deadly act of air terrorism in the Americas had been the 1976 midair bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455, which killed all 73 passengers and crew members.

Castro enlisted his friend, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to carry a secret message about the plot to President Bill Clinton. The White House took the threat seriously enough that the Federal Aviation Administration warned airlines.

In June of that year, FBI agents flew to Havana to meet with their Cuban counterparts. During three days in a safe house, the Cubans provided the FBI with evidence their agents had gathered on various plots, including the planned airplane attack and an ongoing campaign of bombings at Havana hotels that had taken the life of an Italian Canadian businessman.

But the FBI never arrested anyone in connection with the airplane plot or the hotel attacks — even after exile militant Luis Posada Carriles bragged about his role in the Havana bombings to the New York Times in July 1998. Instead, on Sept. 12, 1998, a heavily armed FBI SWAT team arrested the members of the Cuban intelligence network in Miami.

The five agents were tried in that hostile-to-anything-Cuban city, convicted on low-bar charges of “conspiracy to commit” everything from espionage to murder and sentenced to impossibly long prison terms, including one double life sentence plus 15 years.

Fifteen years later, four of the Cubans still languish in American prisons.

Now you begin to understand why the Cuban Five — as they have become known — are national heroes in their homeland, why pictures of their younger selves loom on highway billboards all over the island, why every Cuban schoolchild knows them by their first names: Gerardo, René, Ramon, Fernando and Antonio.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland has stated that the Cuban Five “were all convicted in U.S. courts of committing crimes against the United States, including spying, treason.” It is true that three of the five men — Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Fernando Gonzalez — did have, in part, military missions beyond simply infiltrating and reporting back on the activities of Miami’s exile groups. But their purpose was not to steal America’s military secrets or compromise U.S. security.

During the 1990s, Cuban authorities believed theirs might be the next Caribbean country to face an American military invasion. It wasn’t a stretch when you consider Grenada (1983), Panama (1989) and Haiti (1994). Then, too, there was the growing influence of militantly anti-Castro lobbying groups such as the Cuban American National Foundation, which were pushing Washington to overthrow Castro and his brother.

Based on its assessments of those earlier invasions, Cuban intelligence had developed a checklist of signals that an invasion might be imminent: a sudden influx of combat and reconnaissance aircraft to a southern military base, for example, or unexpected, unexplained visits by military brass to Southern Command headquarters in Miami.

Agents such as Antonio Guerrero — who worked as a janitor at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West from 1993 until his arrest in 1998 and is serving 22 years in prison — were Cuba’s low-tech equivalents of U.S. spy satellites, counting planes on runways and reporting back to Havana.

Of course, Cuban authorities were eager to vacuum up every tidbit of gossip their agents could find, and Havana occasionally pressured Guerrero to up his game; he responded mostly by sending clippings from base newspapers. No wonder. Guerrero spoke little English and had no security clearance; military secrets were well above his pay grade. And U.S. military secrets were never Cuba’s real priority — it just wanted to know if the Yankees were about to invade.

Seven months after the FBI charged the five with relatively insignificant counts — failing to register as foreign agents, using false identities and, more seriously but less specifically, conspiracy to commit espionage — prosecutors tacked on the charge that would galvanize Cuba’s exile community.

They charged Gerardo Hernandez, the leader of the network, with conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the shootdown three years earlier of two Brothers to the Rescue aircraft. Brothers to the Rescue, an anti-Castro group that had been rescuing rafters in the Straits of Florida but had lost its raison d’etre after a 1994 immigration deal between Washington and Havana, had been illegally violating Cuban airspace for more than a year, occasionally raining down anti-government leaflets on Havana. The Cubans protested the flights. The U.S. government did its best to prevent further incursions, but the wheels of the FAA bureaucracy ground slowly.

In early 1996, the Cubans sent messages to Washington through various intermediaries, warning that if the United States didn’t stop further Brothers flights, the Cubans would.
Washington didn’t.

So the Cubans did. On the afternoon of Feb. 24, 1996, Cuban fighter jets blew two small, unarmed Brothers to the Rescue aircraft out of the sky, killing all four men aboard.
The Cubans claim that the planes were inside their territory. The U.S. government claims — and the International Civil Aviation Organization agreed — that the planes were in international airspace when they were attacked.

But did Hernandez really know in advance that the Cuban government planned to shoot down those planes? Was he involved in the planning?

My answer is no. During my research for a book on the Cuban Five, I reviewed all 20,000-plus pages of the trial transcript and sifted through thousands of pages of decrypted communications between Havana and its agents. I found no evidence that Hernandez had any knowledge of, or influence on, the events that day.

The evidence instead paints a picture of a Cuban intelligence bureaucracy obsessed with compartmentalizing and controlling information. Hernandez, a field-level illegal intelligence officer, had no need to know what Cuba’s military planned. The messages and instructions from Havana were ambiguous, hardly slam-dunk evidence, particularly for a charge of conspiracy to commit murder. In one message, for example, Hernandez’s bosses refer to a plan to “perfect the confrontation” with Brothers to the Rescue, which prosecutors insisted meant shooting down the planes.

But as Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch pointed out — in her 2008 dissent from a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuitupholding the murder charge against Hernandez — “There are many ways a country could ‘confront’ foreign aircraft. Forced landings, warning shots, and forced escorted journeys out of a country’s territorial airspace are among them — as are shoot downs.” She said that prosecutors “presented no evidence” to link Hernandez to the shootdown. “I cannot say that a reasonable jury — given all the evidence — could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Hernandez agreed to a shoot down,” Kravitch wrote.

A “reasonable jury.” There’s the rub.

By the late 1990s, Miami juries had become so notorious in cases involving Cuban exiles that federal prosecutors in a different case opposed a defense motion for a change of venue from Puerto Rico to Miami for some Cuban exiles accused of plotting to assassinate Castro.

Miami “is a very difficult venue for securing a conviction for so-called freedom fighters,” former U.S. attorney Kendall Coffey explained to the Miami Herald at the time. “I had some convictions, but some acquittals that defied all reason.”

Anti-Cuban militants, in fact, were considered heroes. In 2008, more than 500 Miami exile movers and shakers gathered to honor Posada’s contributions to la causa — as the effort to overthrow Castro is known in the community — at a gala dinner.

His contributions? Besides the Havana hotel attacks (“I sleep like a baby,” he told the New York Times, commenting on the tourist who was killed), Posada is the alleged mastermind of the bombing of Cubana Flight 455. Cuba and Venezuela have asked for his extradition. The United States has refused.

In 2000, Posada was arrested in Panama in connection with a plot to assassinate Castro; he was convicted and served four yearsbefore receiving a still-controversial pardon. That pardon was revoked in 2008.

The closest the U.S. government has come to prosecuting Posada was in 2009, when the Obama administration charged him — not for his role in the Havana bombings but for lying about his role on an immigration form. He was acquitted.

Today, Posada, 85, walks the streets of Miami, a living contradiction in America’s war on terrorism. How to square his freedom with President George W. Bush’s post-Sept. 11 declaration that “any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime?” How to square Posada’s freedom with the continued imprisonment of the Cuban Five, whose primary goal was to prevent terrorist attacks?

It is a contradiction Americans should consider.

WLRN Apologizes and Re-invites Cuba Book Author 1

By Juan O. Tamayo, jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

WLRN radio station has apologized for canceling an interview with the author of a book that criticizes the Miami trial of five Cuban spies, and has re-invited him to appear on a news show to answer “our own hard questions about his claims.”

“We want to apologize to our South Florida listeners for the decision made this week by Joseph Cooper, the host of WLRN’s Topical Currents show, to cancel an interview” with author Stephen Kimber, said a statement issued by General Manager John Labonia.

An initial email sent by a WLRN staffer to Kimber’s publicist said Cooper had decided that the book, What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five, was “incendiary” and canceled an interview scheduled for Tuesday.

That was “a judgment that I and the rest of WLRN’s management strongly disagree with,” Labonia said. “Mr. Cooper’s decision, in fact, was made without our knowledge, and it in no way reflects — in fact, it blatantly contradicts — who we are and what we do as South Florida’s source for public radio news and discussion.”

The case of the five spies, convicted in a Miami trial in 2001, “remains a highly sensitive matter in Miami, especially within the Cuban-American community,” said Labonia, whose station is the Miami affiliate of National Public Radio.

“But we also realize that the local conversation about Cuba has evolved and become more broad-minded over the past decade — and that it can accommodate opinions today that might have been too uncomfortable to engage a generation ago,” he added.

“WLRN has always prided itself on being South Florida’s communal roundtable — a place where the news and issues that most concern us can be discussed and debated in an intelligent and above all tolerant forum,” Labonia said. “That’s especially true when it comes to the controversial issue of Cuba.”

“We want to do more than express a mea culpa, however. We want to make this right,” he added.

WLRN’s news division plans to interview Kimber, a journalism professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax, on Friday on its weekly Florida Roundup show, according to the statement.

“We will accord Mr. Kimber his say, but we will also ask him our own hard questions about his claims,” Labonia said. “Just as important, joining the show will be an expert to rebut those claims — and that person will also be asked hard questions about the Cuban Five episode.

“WLRN values the trust of its listeners above all else, and we promise to work even harder after this week’s controversy to deserve it,” the general manager concluded.

Cooper told El Nuevo Herald Tuesday that Kimber “was presupposing the innocence of the Cuban Five” in his book, which was published last month.

“In my fiduciary capacity I have a responsibility to the community and [WLRN] and I made the decision after very careful consideration,” he said. “For this community, it just seemed a little too much.”

Kimber argues in his book that the legal process against the five was flawed in several ways and that the trial should have been moved out of Miami because of its heavy Cuban population.

The Cuban government has confirmed the five were spies but demanded their release, saying they were spying only on exiles who might be planning terror attacks on the island. Evidence presented at their trial showed they spied on exiles as well as U.S. military bases in the Florida Keys and Tampa and tried to infiltrate the Pentagon’s Southern Command in Doral.

Convicted spy Rene Gonzalez completed his sentence and returned to Havana in May. The others — Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and Antonio Guerrero — are serving longer sentences. Their appeals have been denied

Cubans Urged to Display Yellow Ribbons for Jailed Spies 1

Agence France-Presse

A Cuban intelligence agent has called on his countrymen to adopt a US custom by wearing yellow ribbons for four fellow spies still in US prison after 15 years.

Rene Gonzalez, who served 13 years in prison in the United States on espionage charges alongside the four, urged Cubans in a televised speech late Tuesday to display the ribbons on September 12 to mark their 15th year in prison. “On that day, may yellow ribbons appear on the trees, on balconies, on people, wherever it occurs to you, on pets — you decide — so that the country is filled with yellow ribbons and can’t be ignored,” he said. He said the yellow ribbon is “a symbol for the North American who waits for someone to return from a foreign mission, who waits for a soldier, a loved one. “And that’s the message we want you to convey to the North American people,” he said.

Cuba has waged a long campaign to win the release of the so-called “Cuban Five,” who were arrested in 1998 on charges of spying on US military installations in south Florida.
The Cuban government later acknowledged they were intelligence agents, but said they were in the United States to spy on Cuban exiles, not the US government.

Cuba’s National Assembly has declared the five “Heroes of the Republic.”

Gonzalez, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison, was released on probation in 2011 and allowed to return to Cuba for his father’s funeral. A US judge then ruled he could stay after renouncing his US citizenship. Three of the remaining four — Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labanino — are serving life sentences. Fernando Gonzalez was sentenced to 19 years.

Cuban Five Art Exhibit Opens September 12 1

By Frank Forrestal, Twin Cities (MN) Daily Planet — Community Voices

The Minnesota Cuba Committee and Obsidian Arts are sponsoring a month-long exhibit of the paintings of Antonio Guerrero, one of five Cuban revolutionaries locked up in U.S. prisons on trumped-up charges. The opening reception will take place on September 12, from 6-8 PM, at the Pillsbury House in South Minneapolis.

The art show, “I will die the way I lived,” features 15 watercolor paintings by Guerrero, who learned to paint and draw from fellow inmates. “After finishing the painting number 15, I made the decision to stop in this number, because it coincides with the number of years that soon will mark our captivity,” writes Guerrero in his introductory note to the exhibit. Most of their time has been in maximum-security prisons, including many months in solitary confinement.

Also at the Pillsbury House, “The Cuban Wives,” an award-winning documentary about the families of the Cuban Five will be shown on September 19 at 7 PM.

Guerrero, along with four other Cubans — Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González — were convicted on frame-up charges, including “conspiracy to commit espionage” and, in the case of Hernández, “conspiracy to commit murder,” and received long prison sentences. René Gonzalez was released in 2011 after serving more than 13 years in prison.

Known internationally as the Cuban Five, these revolutionaries were arrested in September 1998 in Miami by the FBI. The five had been gathering information on right-wing Cuban exile groups in Florida that have a long history of carrying out violent acts against the Cuban Revolution, with the complicity of the U.S. government. Their assignment was to keep the Cuban government informed of these deadly operations in order to prevent as many as possible from coming to fruition. Over five decades, more than 3,500 Cubans have been killed and 2,100 injured in attacks, most originating from U.S. soil.

Guerrero was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years. On October 13, 2009, his sentence was reduced to 21 years and 10 months, after an appeals court ruled that the sentences of three of the five — Guerrero, Labañino, and Fernando González — were excessive. The reduction in the draconian sentences was an acknowledgement of the pressure put on the U.S. government from the worldwide campaign demanding freedom for the Cuban Five.

More than 350 committees in 114 countries, hundreds of political organizations, and thousands of individuals around the world are working to win the freedom of the Cuban Five. Support ranges from the National Conference of Black Lawyers to the National Council of Churches, actors like Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte, 12 Nobel Prize laureates, to several trade unions, and many others.

The painting exhibit will continue through the month of September.

Havana Fuels Influence Operation Marking 15th Anniversary of Spy Network’s Collapse 1

Cuban Hero Urges to Boost Initiatives for the Cuban Five

Havana, Aug 30 (Prensa Latina) The antiterrorist Rene Gonzalez, called today to boost popular initiatives during the journey of solidarity with the Cuban Five to achieve their excarceration.

The Five, as Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez are known, were arrested in Miami in 1998, for aborting anti-Cuban plans organized by violent groups. The Five were given long and severe sentences including more than one life imprisonment.

Only Rene Gonzalez returned to Cuba, after renouncing his US citizenship, a requisite set by North American authorities to modify the conditions of supervised liberty he was supposed to complete after his ex carceration (sic) in October, 2011.

In a meeting with workers of the Cuban Civil Aviation Institute (IACC) González commented that the solidarity movement had to do everything for the return of the other four heroes when they are about to arrive to their 15th years in jails of the United States, reported Cuban TV news.

When Rene Gonzalez referred to this set of activities, he said it is organized by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples from September 5 thru October 6, and should be days of caring and expression of love of the people for them.

Editor’s Note: Prensa Latina (PRELA) and the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) have a long and distinguished history of collaboration with Cuban Intelligence. Use the search icon to review previous coverage of both spy ties.

The Five” remain in prison, in part, for their extensive involvement in Operation Scorpion, the premeditated murder of four Americans flying with a search-and-rescue group known as “Brothers to the Rescue.”

September 12th: Castro Apologists to Mark 15th Anniversary of Wasp Network’s Destruction 1

Activists Call Demonstration for the Cuban Five in Washington D.C.

HAVANA, Cuba, Aug 19 (ACN) Activists in the United States will stage a vigil in front of the White House September 12, marking the 15th anniversary of the imprisonment of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters in US jails, to urge President Barack Obama to release the heroes and allow them to return home.

The activists will stage their action bearing posters and banners with slogans reading “Its Enough,” “End the Injustice,” “Freedom of the Cuban Five Now,” as part of a monthly initiative to put pressure on the US President to use his constitutional power and free Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez who, along Rene Gonzalez, already in Cuba, were arrested in 1998 after they monitored US-based terrorist organizations.

The call to the action was published by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Five, members of which, along other friends of Cuba, will visit Capitol Hill to continue meeting with US legislators, they originally met with in June and ask them to support the campaign for the release of the Cuban heroes.

As part of actions, Canadian author Stephen Kimber is expected to speak in seven rallies that will take place in eastern United States about his most recent book on the Cuban Five. Kimber will be joined by US philosopher and political analyst Noam Chomsky in Boston, Massachusetts, and by lawyer Martin Garbus, who is part of the defense team for the Cuban Five.

Experts have agreed that the sentences given to the five Cubans were irrational as Gerardo Hernandez was sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years, Ramon Labanino was given 30 years, Antonio Guerrero 21 years plus 10 months and a five-year probation, and Fernando Gonzalez was sentenced to 17 years plus nine months.

Rene Gonzalez met 85 percent of his original 15-year prison sentence in 2011 and he managed to have his parole conditions modified in order to stay in Cuba, by renouncing his American citizenship.

The International Committee for the Freedom of the Five has repeatedly called for increasing actions in favor of the anti-terrorist Cubans by stressing that there is no point in waiting for them to be released from prison after meeting their sentences, because one of them, Gerardo Hernandez has no date on the calendar.

A UN panel questioned, in 2005, the illegal and arbitrary arrest of the Cuban Five and concluded that analysis by suggesting the immediate solution to the case; however, the US administration has done nothing in that respect.

Wasp Network Spy-Handler Suffering From Arthritis; US to Blame Claims Cuba 1

Cuban Hero suffers from medical neglect in the U.S.

Prensa Latina News Agency

The Cuban antiterrorist fighter imprisoned in the United States Ramón Labañino trudge (sic) due to lack of proper medical care, said his wife Elizabeth Palmeiro in Abancay, Peru.

Elizabeth Palmeiro said Ramon has walking troubles, as he suffer (sic) from osteoarthritis and has not been treated properly.

However, she stressed the optimism and high morale that keeps the prisoner, who, along with two of his daughters, she recently visited in his prison in Ashland, Kentucky.

Labañino is one of the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters imprisoned for nearly 15 years, while collecting information on terrorist groups and their plannings (sic) of attacks against Cuba, and unjustly sentenced to long prison terms.

Of the five, only René González has been released after serving most of his sentence, and the release of prisoners is one of the main agenda items of the XIV Peruvian Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba which opens tomorrow in Peru with Palmeiro as a guest.

She said in the interview to be the bearer of an appreciation message from Ramón, René and his companions Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez, and their families, by the publicity work that takes place in Peru on the case, mainly by part of the Peruvian Committee of Solidarity with the Cuban Five.

He stressed the need for strengthened international solidarity with the Five, as they has been devoted his people, so they could be released and return to their homeland, and she also advised the Peruvian solidarity to extended they labor about the case to new sectors of population.

She also called the Peruvians to learn about the issue by simply deepen (sic) it online or through solidarity activists to understand that it is a tremendous injustice suffered by the families of prisoners and the entire people of Cuba.

According to Palmeiro, strengthen solidarity with the Five is vital because today it is a decisive stage of the battle for the freedom of the antiterrorist fighters.

She e (sic) explained that the U.S. President Barack Obama, serving his second term, has greater scope for taking action as Cuban prisoners reprieve, so activities such as letters, messages and other means should be multiplied to demand the fighters´ liberation.

U.S. Doctors See American Jailed in Cuba 1

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN

Havana, Cuba (CNN) — Alan Gross, a U.S. State Department contractor jailed in Cuba, received his first visit by American doctors, Gross’ attorney said Thursday.

“A U.S. medical team did visit Alan in early July,” Gross’ attorney, Scott Gilbert, wrote CNN in an e-mail. “The family has received the results and, at least at this time, does not have any plans to release them to the public.”

The doctors’ visit was not previously disclosed.

Gross, 64, is serving a 15-year sentence for bringing banned communications equipment to Cuba as part of a State Department program to increase access to the internet and spread democracy on the island.

Gross’ family has said that his health is failing and had asked that Cuban authorities allow American doctors to examine him.

Cuban authorities had said that Gross was being adequately cared for in the military hospital where he is imprisoned, but in June said they had granted permission for doctors to visit.

The change in course comes as Cuba intensifies its campaign to secure the release of Cuban intelligence agents serving lengthy prison sentences in the United States.

Cuban officials argue that the men infiltrated hard-line Cuban exile groups to prevent terrorist attacks on the island. But U.S. prosecutors called the men spies, and they were convicted in 2001.

Four of the agents remain in U.S. federal prison. The fifth man, Rene Gonzalez, returned to Cuba in May after serving 14 years in prison and on supervised release.

Cuba’s talks of a possible prisoner trade have been dismissed by U.S. officials, who say Gross should be released immediately.

In May, Gross settled with his employer for an undisclosed sum.

He and his wife, Judy, had sued Development Alternatives Inc., and the U.S. government for $60 million, saying that Gross had not been properly trained to carry out his work in Cuba. The settlement did not include the government.

The company hired Gross to fulfill a U.S. Agency for International Development contract to connect private citizens to the Internet in Cuba, a scarce commodity on the island. He arrived in Cuba in 2009.

ESCAMBRAY: The Irishman Who Dreams With the Cuban Five Reply

By Pastor Guzman, Escambray Sancti Spíritus, Cuba

Sean Joseph Clancy came to Cuba for the first time in 1999 in a sightseeing trip with a friend without knowing anything about Cuba or Fidel. Nothing from the Cuban Revolution. Now he fights for the return of the Cuban Five.

Sean Joseph Clancy, an Irish short and strong and close to the average shape (sic), just returned from Washington to his adoptive Trinidad (Sancti spíritus, Cuba) full of experiences-and hopes-after fighting tooth and nail a political battle, during the day Five days for the Five, as a member of the International Committee for the Freedom of those Cuban heroes.

Sean is relatively well known in Trinidad, where he formed a household with his Cuban wife. His tilt to the left, wasn´t bizarre because there in his green Celtic land, he was a member of the pro-independence Sinn Féin Party and suffered with his countrymen the crime committed by the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who in 1981 left 10 activists of the entity to die in prison, on a hunger strike, refusing to recognize their status as political prisoners.

As he explains, he came to Cuba for the first time in 1999 in a sightseeing trip with a friend “without speaking a word of Spanish, without knowing anything about Cuba, Fidel, or Che, nothing. I’m talking about a person who knew nothing of this country or the Cuban Revolution,” he argues.

then you got involved in the reality of the country …

“Not from the beginning, because I came with an idea foreshadowed by the press out there, where it was said that this was a very repressed people, but though I did not speak Spanish, I felt good here, so I was left with the desire to know more and I had the opportunity to return three months later. So I said: No, I’m really here to see how the situation is, and since then, I returned back every time I could. Now I live more here than there.”

We know you are fully incorporated into the battle for the Five. How do you get to become part of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five?</em>

“Well, I had an idea, though somewhat vague, about how the Five should be suffering and there was a background history of my fellow prisoners in Britain. It occurred to me to write a letter of encouragement to each of the five prisoners in the United States, and they all responded, each one with a more beautiful and moving letter.

“I introduced myself as a person interested in their cause and I also wanted to introduce it in my country so I kept writing them, at first more to Gerardo and Antonio, then I had more contact with René. Look what happened: a letter from Gerardo arrived this morning.” Clancy, very touched, shows the letter, written in English, and expressed admiration for the familiarity of Gerardo. “He has to think at a global political level, because he is involved in a global matter, and at the same time he is able to ask about my son, my stepdaughter, my family, how we are here and all those details. I think his political relevance comes from his human qualities, his honesty, his clarity, his firmness.”


The Battle of Washington, also could be called the day Five Days for the Five, was fought in the Empire’s capital by members of the International Committee to Free the Five from different countries; Sean Joseph Clancy was among them.

This event had a special meaning, tell us about your involvement and why it is considered superior to the first one.

“First, I went to Washington as part of the International Committee and I was there for eight days. There were contacts with more than 20 percent of the U.S. Congress, that is, about 45 between representatives and senators, which is very important.

“We talked with them and of all meetings only three were egative (sic), while the rest were neutral or positive, which is a big improvement over last year, when there were less contacts and all of then were negative, I was told, all they were planted in the following terms: ‘If you do not release Alan Gross, don´t even think of talking to us.’

“This year was different, because we were almost 40 people, eight of these were parliamentarians from other countries. There were relevant people, as Ignacio Ramonet and Fernando Morais, who wrote the book The last soldiers of the Cold War …, a very strong team.

“On the papers we had to give to each congressman we met, ther (sic) was included a document with the signatures of over 150 parliamentarians from other nations. And that letter was signed by 125 members of the Parliament of England, which had to get their attention, because these legislators are not communists, do you understand? ”

“All these factors are achieving together a special opportunity and will be very difficult in the future to repeat this ‘cocktail’ of favorable elements. So we have to keep fighting hard, and put it all in terms of that goal until these Cuban heroes are back home. ”

Leftist Author Claims Cuban Spies Prevented Reagan’s Assassination 5

See the italicized paragraph (second from bottom)

August 5, 2013

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

You were born in 1961 so you were not old enough to experience in person the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, and the Anti-War Movement, all flowing together in a beautiful wave of change. You were only six years old (coming up on seven) when came the shocks of the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King and Senator Robert Kennedy, changing the politics of a crucial presidential election that had held the possibility of real change.

If you had been a decade older, I think you, as an African-American, might now be in a position to better understand the Cuban Revolution and why its destruction has been a persistent goal of U.S. foreign policy ever since 1959 when Cuban revolutionaries won their battle for independence and sovereignty.

The State of Siege began under President Eisenhower with the trade embargo explicitly designed to starve the Cuban people into submission and has continued to this day. When invasion failed to overthrow the Cuban Government in 1961, the year of your birth, the CIA and the FBI trained thousands of Cuban operatives for the covert war against Cuba — more armed attacks including the buildup to a planned second invasion timed for October 1962 (Operation Mongoose), infiltration, propaganda, arson, and murders. A network of terrorists continues to thrive in Florida and New Jersey.

I wonder if you know much about Operation Mongoose. It led directly to the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was pregnant with my third child when that happened, and you cannot imagine how it felt to be a mother of two young daughters and an unborn son when the whole world was threatened with annihilation. My five-year-old woke me up one morning to ask, “Mommy, is the world going to end?” You can read all about that invasion plan in my book, Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History, in case you need a reminder.

In order to combat the terrorism, Cuba has spent precious resources on developing an amazingly effective State Security Department and assigning agents like the Cuban Five to investigate terrorist groups. But Cuban intelligence agents were not able to stop terrorists from blowing up a Cubana passenger plane in 1976, the first time in the Western Hemisphere that a passenger plane was used as a terrorist weapon. That didn’t happen again until 9/11. Both the CIA and the FBI knew at that time that Luis Posada and the late Orlando Bosch masterminded the bombing. Yet I’m sure you must be aware that Bosch walked free in Miami until his death and of course you know that Posada continues to live as a hero in Miami despite Venezuela’s request for his extradition for trial on 73 murder charges after killing 73 people aboard that plane. As Venezuelan President Maduro has recently pointed out, it’s hypocritical to demand that nobody give asylum to Edward Snowden while at the same time refusing to respond to Venezuela’s request for extradition of Luis Posada.

Just two months before the arrests of the Cuban Five in 1998, Posada told New York Times reporters that “the CIA taught us everything – everything….They taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage.” He prided himself on his long years of support from the CIA, the FBI, and the Cuban American National Foundation. He bragged about masterminding the bombing campaign that struck Havana hotels and restaurants in 1997 and 1998, killing one Italian businessman and injuring other people.

Cuba charged that those responsible for the Havana bombings were based in the United States. The U.S. State Department responded that it would investigate if Cuba would provide “substantive information” to support its contention. That was in September 1997.

Nine months later, in June 1998, Cuba gave the FBI reams of “substantive information” gathered by Cuban agents. Then in July, a month later, came those confessions of Posada himself on the front pages of The New York Times for two days! Yet nevertheless, with all that information and the confessions in hand, instead of investigating the terrorists, as the State Department had said it would, the FBI arrested the investigators.

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero, and René González were put in solitary confinement for 17 months even before trial. Thus began the long story of their unjust trial and incarceration. You hold in your hands the power to release them to Cuba as lawmakers from around the world have urged you to do.

Think of the carnage if all the Cuban agents had been imprisoned by the U.S. Justice Department. For example, in the year 2000, even as the Cuban Five were going to trial, Cuban intelligence agents foiled a major assassination plot in Panama where Posada and his co-assassins planned to use plastique to blow up the auditorium in which President Castro was to speak. Those Cuban agents not only saved the life of Fidel Castro but saved from danger about 2,000 people who filled the auditorium to hear him speak.

Cuban agents have even saved the life of a U.S. president. In 1984 Cuba informed U.S. United Nations Mission Security Chief Robert Muller that an extreme right-wing group was planning to assassinate President Ronald Reagan during a planned trip to North Carolina. The FBI consequently arrested several people and Robert Muller thanked the Cuban official who had given him information that included the names of the would-be assassins; the date, time and hour of their plan; the location of their weapons; etc.[emphasis added]

The Cuban Five are counterterrorists whose investigations were to expose terrorist plots against Cuba and perhaps even against the United States. Please use your power to release the Cuban Five.


Jane Franklin
Born and raised in North Carolina and now a resident of New Jersey