A demonstration at the White House in support of the release of the Cuban Five. Four of the Cubans are still being held in US prisons, one is on parole., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
The Cuban five and Uncle Sam’s brutality
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 00:00
In their 54-year-old effort to bring down Cuba’s revolutionary government and restore obedience in our Caribbean neighbour, US officials have compiled a spectacular record of failure, overshadowed only by the determination to persist in their pursuit of wrong-headed polices, further damaging US interests.
In the 1990s, Washington began to define terrorism as the new peril on the security horizon.
Bill Clinton deemed it reasonable to make informal arrangements with other countries, even Cuba, trying to achieve anti-terrorist goals.
Indeed, Cuban intelligence agencies fed anti-terrorist data to the FBI because they assumed the Bureau shared the same dread as their US counterparts about the death and chaos that would result from allowing terrorists to pursue their goals.
But, in September 1998, the FBI Bureau Chef in Miami perpetrated an act of security illogic.
He ordered his FBI agents to arrest the Cuban intelligence agents who had supplied the Bureau with important data about terrorists operating in Florida.
Havana had sent these men to south Florida to penetrate and stop violent Cuban exile groups whose members had planted bombs in Cuban tourist hotels and clubs, killing a tourist and wounding scores of others.
US authorities knew of the activities the Cuban agents pursued for six years, and did not act against them because the US government did not see these agents as a threat to US security.
They were not seeking classified or strategic US documents, but rather focused on spying on right-wing Cuban terrorists in US soil.
Indeed, the Cuban agents pointed the Bureau in the direction of hidden arms caches in Miami and an explosive-laden boat docked on the Miami River.
In June 1998, when relations between Cuba and the US had begun to improve, Havana shared with the Justice Department even more information obtained by its agents. But, Clinton also confronted Congressional investigations related to his comportment with Monica Lewinsky.
This helped lead to disarray inside the Justice department. During July and August 1998, right wing Cuban American Members of Congress began pressuring Washington to arrest the known Cuban agents.
The extremist exiles feared that anti-terrorist cooperation between the two countries might lead to the arrest of the exile terrorists, also their friends and colleagues, and even contribute to a normalization of relations.
But Attorney-General Janet Reno planned to run for high office in Florida and did not want to antagonise organized Cuban voters in Florida, so she allowed the change in policy to take place.
The right wing exiles exercised enough influence to get Héctor Pesquera appointed as the new Bureau chief in south Florida.
Pesquera, a rightwing Puerto Rican with a mediocre FBI record, but close ties to violent Cuban exiles, destroyed the country-to-country co-operative effort. Within a week of his appointment, he ordered the arrest of the Cuban informants — five of the Cuban agents refused to either flee to Cuba or arrange for a plea bargain.
So, the FBI allowed Miami-based exile terrorists to continue plotting violence against the island.
The powerful members of the Cuban settler colony in Miami used the power of the US federal police to prosecute Cuban anti-terrorist agents (punish Cuba) and in the process torpedo possible rapprochement between the neighbours; and also destroy joint anti-terrorism operations.
By manipulating US government institutions, the Cuban enclave’s elite superseded the larger needs of the American people by replacing anti-terrorism with their own narrow interests.
The Justice Department charged two of the Five Cuban agents with murder, or conspiracy to shoot down two Cuban exile planes (both pilots and co-pilots died) that entered Cuban air space in February 1996.
At the time the pilots of the three exile planes announced publicly their intention to go into Cuban airspace, making known the date and time of the flights.
The Cuban agents, however, got charged with conspiracy to spy despite the fact that the US government formally and by consent received the results of their spy work on terrorism in south Florida!
General James Clapper, then director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and now director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, testified at their trial that he saw no evidence to conclude the Cuban agents were seeking classified or strategic US documents or plans.
They did not conspire to commit espionage.
The US mass media continues to incorrectly refer to them as “convicted spies.”