Defending Castro's Spies

Defending Castro's Spies
By Patrick Devenny | September 9, 2005

In late 1995, two men, Rene Gonzalez and Juan Pablo Roque, joined
"Brothers to the Rescue," (BTTR) a Miami-based organization which
- using civilian aircraft - patrolled the waters of the Florida
Straits, looking for Cuban refugees who were fleeing Castro's
"socialist paradise" on poorly built rafts.

While claiming solidarity with BTTR and the Cuban exile community,
Gonzalez and Roque were actually spies for the Cuban government,
assigned with - among other tasks - infiltrating anti-Castro groups
in Florida. The two managed to penetrate the leadership of the BTTR,
eventually gaining access to their sensitive flight schedules, which
were then passed on to their handler in Florida, Gerardo Hernandez. In
February 1996, Hernadez relayed the information to Cuban intelligence
headquarters in Havana via shortwave radio, which quickly responded,
warning its agents not to board BTTR flights in late February. On
February 24th, Cuban MiG fighters intercepted two BTTR planes and
destroyed both of them, killing four people. Cuban intelligence
radioed a congratulatory message to its agents, praising them for their
"decisive" role in the murder.

Gonzalez (codenamed Castor) and Roque (German) were both members of the
"Wasp" network, a 14-member unit of Cuban spies based in the U.S.
which carried out a multitude of espionage activities on behalf of
Havana. These actions included compiling dossiers on officers assigned
to the U.S. Southern Command, along with surveying military
installations throughout Florida. Castro's agents also threatened
prominent exiles and acted as provocateurs, in order to tarnish the
image of anti-Castro groups in Miami. In 1998, the FBI discovered the
spy ring, capturing ten of its members, the other four having fled back
to Cuba. Five of those arrested were charged with manslaughter and
conspiracy to commit murder, along with other espionage related crimes.

The 2001 trial quickly became a circus of pro-Castro propaganda, thanks
in large part to the actions of Leonard Weinglass, lawyer for
"Wasp" ringleader Gerardo Hernandez. Weinglass, a veteran leftist
activist, has a lengthy track-record of defending radical terrorists
such as members of the Symbionese Liberation Army and cop-killer Mumia
Abu Jamal. He had also visited Cuba as a guest of Castro himself in
1968. Due to his hysterical fear of the "anti-Castro bias" which
supposedly ran rampant in south Florida, the jury did not include a
single Cuban-American (imagine the outcry if any other race has been
purposefully excluded from a jury). Not withstanding Weinglass'
abhorrent charade, the five main members of the network were all
convicted, with Hernandez receiving a life sentence due to his part in
the murder of the four BTTR aviators.

However, on August 9, 2005, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
decided, inexplicably, that the trial had indeed been biased against
the defendants, irregardless of the government's extensive - not to
mention racist - "precautions" taken to ensure an impartial jury.
Joining Weinglass in elation over the circuit court's finding was the
Cuban government, which had been funding a massive international
campaign to engineer the release of its agents. The faces of the five
men adorned T-shirts and Havana billboards, while news of their
successful appeal was deemed newsworthy enough to break into regularly
scheduled Cuban TV programming. On August 14th, Castro contacted the
five men by telephone, telling them "Stay firm. You are heroes among

Also expressing solidarity with the convicted murderers was the
familiar cohort of pro-Castro acolytes who seem ever-ready to tow
Havana's party line. Their opinions were best expressed in an August
31st letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. In
the joint letter, the over 600 signatories did not argue with the fact
that the men were Cuban agents, but suggested that - despite the
reams of evidence to the contrary - the five were simply
"infiltrating the extremist Cuban American groups in the south of
Florida in order to obtain information about terrorist activities
directed against Cuba." The signatories also complained that "for
the past seven years, these five young men have been held in maximum
security prisons," conveniently ignoring the fact that officials
consider them high risk inmates because of their extensive training in
explosives and other small arms. Finally, the communiqué calls for
the "immediate liberation" of the Cuban agents.

The letter is signed by - in addition to the hundreds of lesser known
Castro apologists - Noam Chomsky, Danny Glover, Howard Zinn, and
Harry Belafonte. The links between these four veteran leftists and
Fidel Castro are as extensive as they are disturbing. Zinn, during his
lengthy career as a historian, has had little to say concerning the
political oppression experienced by Cuban's living under the Castro
regime, even suggesting that Cuba "had no bloody record of
suppression." Glover is a public admirer of Cuba's communist
government, while Chomsky has led efforts to better publicize Cuba's
"wondrous" health care system. For his part, Belafonte often brags
of his personal friendship with Fidel, frequently visiting the island
and escorting its officials on international trips.

Less well-known but no less delusional signatories included Ramsey
Clark, Tariq Ali, and Desmond Tutu. The letter also featured the
signatures of five Nobel laureates, including Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian
writer who met with Castro in 2001 and praised his "passion for
Africa and Cuba." Oscar Niemeyer, a world-renowned Brazilian
architect who admires the written works of Stalin and felt the fall of
the Soviet Union was a "tragedy" also signed, along with
Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Alice Walker, who once compared the
civil rights movement to the 1959 communist revolution in Cuba.

The fact that these figures would express solidarity with a pro-Castro
cause is hardly a surprise, as their ties to Cuba's communist
government are long-standing and well-documented. What makes this case
particularly troubling, however, is that this support is proffered on
behalf of five men who, at the very least, violated the critically
important espionage laws of the United States.

In their letter to the Attorney General, the signatories state that the
imprisonment of the five Cuban agents is "extremely painful for them
and their families." Such sympathetic comments were never extended,
however, to the families of Mario de la Pena, Carlos Alberto Costa,
Armando Alejandre, Pablo Morales, the four members of Brothers to the
Rescue who were brutally murdered by Castro on February 24, 1996.


Relevant Pages

  • Re: Plane may help overcome Cubas `news blockade
    ... those that critocize Castro it seems). ... It recommended that the Cuban Government carry out a full ... relatives of the victims, and take steps to recover the bodies and the wreck ... >> that is a mere quoting of the data from Genocide Watch. ...
  • Fidels Flatterers
    ... While every other country in the Western Hemisphere moved towards democracy, Cuba has remained a one-party state under dictator Fidel Castro, who held power without free elections from 1959 until health problems forced him to step aside in 2006. ... Castro's communist regime has executed hundreds of political opponents and driven tens of thousands more into exile; hundreds of dissidents today languish in Cuban prisons. ...
  • Fidel Castro
    ... Ever since President Fidel Castro underwent abdominal surgery last July, ... Cuban officials have promised that the country's leader would one day return ... corrupt governments that had plagued Cuba since independence. ...
  • Cuba after Fidel Castro
    ... The announcement that Cuban President Fidel Castro has temporarily ceded power to his brother General Raúl Castro has raised all manner of speculation about Cuba's future. ... The United States has its own plans for a Cuban transition which does not include either of the Castro brothers, but in reality dares not to pursue its goals too vigorously for fear of a migration crisis. ... While the Cuban people are known to anticipate some sort of improvement after Fidel Castro has left the scene, their precise aspirations are vague and unknown, and no match for the efficiency and singlemindedness of the regime. ...
  • Fidels Flatterers: The U.S. Medias Decades of Cheering Castros Communism
    ... Cuba has remained a one-party state under dictator Fidel ... Castro, who held power without free elections from 1959 until health ... connections and the wonderful achievements of the Cuban revolution. ...