Aide to Cuba’s Ricardo Alarcon Sentenced to 30 Years for Spying 9

By Juan O. Tamayo,

A top aide to one of Cuba’s veteran political figures, Ricardo Alarcón, and the aide’s wife, have been convicted of spying and sentenced to 30 and 15 years in prison, according to persons close to the case.

Miguel Alvarez and Mercedes Arce, both former Cuban intelligence analysts in their 50s, were tried and convicted in December, the persons said, 22 months after they were detained in Havana for interrogation on March 3, 2012.

Alvarez was sentenced to 30 years on charges that he leaked secret information to Arce, according to the sources. Arce got the lesser sentence for allegedly using the information to write analytical reports on Cuba that she sold to private companies in Mexico.

Alvarez is the most senior Cuban official known to have been convicted of spying against the communist government in decades. At least three other Cubans are imprisoned on the island for spying, including two former Interior Ministry officials.

The Cuban government has repeatedly offered to swap U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, imprisoned in Havana since 2009, for four Havana spies held in U.S. prisons since 1998. But it has made no mention of the spies held in Cuban prisons.

The island’s state-controlled news media, which almost never reports on politically sensitive crimes, has published nothing on the Alvarez-Arce case. Relatives also have not commented publicly, hoping their silence will lead to better treatment for the couple.

There has been no indication of the seriousness of the breach of security allegedly created by Alvarez and Arce, but the Cuban government jealously guards even routine information such as sugar harvest figures and Fidel Castro’s home address.

Alvarez was a senior advisor to Alarcón on international and political affairs when Alarcón served as president of the legislative National Assembly of People’s Power, sitting in on many of his meetings with foreign dignitaries and journalists.

Alarcón, 77, a veteran specialist on U.S. relations, headed the National Assembly for 20 years but was replaced in February of last year, 11 months after the Alvarez and Arce arrests.

He is believed to remain a member of the powerful Political Bureau of the Communist Party. Alarcón is seen in public now mostly pushing the government campaign to free the four Cuban spies in U.S. prisons.

Former Florida International University professor Carlos Alvarez (no relation to the Alarcón aide), who was convicted of spying for Havana, described Arce in his confession as one of his Cuban intelligence handlers. He and his wife, Elsa Prieto, were sentenced in 2007 to five and three years in prison, respectively.

Read more here:
Aide to Cuba’s Ricardo Alarcon Sentenced to 30 Years for Spying

Havana Continues Pressing For Swap: One Hostage For 5 Spies Reply

Cuba’s Raul Castro Meets with U.S. Congressional Delegation

By Marc Frank | Reuters

HAVANA (Reuters) – A seven-member U.S. congressional delegation met on Tuesday with Cuban President Raul Castro, official media reported, to improve relations that have been strained since U.S. government contractor Alan Gross was imprisoned there in 2009. Members of the group, which arrived on Monday, also met with Gross, said a delegation member who asked not to be identified.

A statement issued by the Cuban government on Tuesday said Castro and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez met first with Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont to discuss “issues of interest for both countries,” then held talks with other lawmakers. Leahy met with Castro, Rodriguez and Gross last year. The senator, who spoke with reporters on Monday, said Gross’s fate and reforms under way in Cuba would top the group’s agenda.

The Cuban statement, released Tuesday with video of the meeting, said the U.S. delegation also held meetings with parliament president Ricardo Alarcon and Rodriguez. Leahy was expected to issue a statement on Wednesday. Other members of the delegation included Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Democratic Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts and Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat who represents Gross’ district in Maryland.

Gross, 63, was arrested in Havana in December 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in prison for installing Internet networks under a secretive U.S. program the Cuban government considers subversive. The case halted a brief detente in long-hostile U.S.-Cuba relations. Cuba has linked Gross’ fate to that of five agents imprisoned in the late 1990s for infiltrating Miami exile organizations and U.S. military bases. The agents, known as the Cuban Five, were sentenced to long terms, ranging from 15 years to life, and are considered heroes in Cuba.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, when he was a senator from Massachusetts, met with Rodriguez in New York in 2010 to discuss the Gross case, according to Foreign Affairs magazine. Former President Jimmy Carter also met with Raul Castro in Havana in 2011. The Obama administration has said relations will not improve while Gross remains in custody. Under the 1996 ‘Helms-Burton’ law, U.S. sanctions cannot be lifted until Cuba’s one-party Communist political system is changed, a demand rejected by the Cuban government.

(Additional reporting by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

Ricardo Alarcon Denounces Government Manipulation of Media…….by US Reply

U.S. Media Hostility on Cuban Five Presented in Pedagogy 2013

Havana, Feb 6 (Prensa Latina) The U.S. government was behind the media hostility toward the five Cuban anti-terrorists convicted in that country shown during the the (sic) trial, said today the president of the Cuba´s parliament, Ricardo Alarcon. Speaking at the International Congress Pedagogy 2013, which brings together more than 3,000 participants from 40 countries, Alarcon said the U.S. administration paid millions for journalists to create a negative atmosphere surrounding the case and harass the jury. According to Alarcon, this way they influenced to guarantee harsh convictions for the Cuban Five, as Gerardo Hernandez, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and René González are known worlwide.

The Cuban Five were arrested in 1998 for monitoring Miami-based terrorist groups planning actions against Cuba and received their sentences after a seven-month trial without supply evidence of the allegations made. Alarcon called on delegates to the event, which will be held from February 4 to 8, to think what they can do from their daily work to contribute to the release of the Cuban Five.

Modificado el ( miércoles, 06 de febrero de 2013 )

The Laughable Hypocrisy of Cuban Propaganda Reply

Ricardo Alarcón, president of the Cuban National Assembly, proclaims his moral outrage against the US in today’s edition of the newsletter, “CounterPunch.”  The focus of Alarcon’s faux indignation is the recycled story of several Miami journalists who, over a decade ago, received monies from the US government.  So, the Cuban government – which owns every major media venue on island and employs countless journalists as regime lackeys, is livid about US-funded reporters?  Seriously?  During its glory days, Havana’s propaganda machine was sophisticated, imaginative, and effective.  Not so much anymore…….

—The Editor

The Cuban Five and the Garbus Memo


The US Government seriously violated the Constitution and the Law to guarantee the unfair sentences of the Five Cuban patriots who will soon arrive at 14 years of arbitrary and illegal punishment. This was not an isolated event, but rather a systematic effort during the whole process against the Five that cost millions of tax payers’ money. There is only very limited information available on the duration, resources used, people involved, and other important aspects of the operation.

Disclosing this behavior would force the authorities – both the Court and the Executive- to arrange for the immediate release of our five compañeros and, consequently, Washington has also conspired to hide what it did thus committing an additional crime:  cover up.

Read the entire story here:  The Laughable Hypocrisy of Cuban Propaganda