Cuba's Challenge to U.S.-Based Terrorism: Court Statements from the Trial of the Miami Five (Socialism and Democracy, Vol. 16, No. 2)

Mike Friedman mikedf at
Wed Jan 8 10:17:14 MST 2003

Cuba's Challenge to U.S.-Based Terrorism: Court Statements from the 
Trial of the Miami Five

[Editorial introduction: In December 2001/January 2002, five Cubans 
who had been doing undercover investigative work within the Miami 
exile community, aimed at protecting their country against Miami- 
based terrorist attacks (such as the bombings carried out in recent 
years at tourist hotels in Cuba), were sentenced to long prison terms 
in the United States. They had been convicted of espionage and, in 
one case, of "first-degree murder"the latter referring to the deaths 
of four members of the exile organization Brothers to the Rescue 
whose planes were shot down in the course of hostile flights into or 
near Cuban airspace (carried out in defiance of clear warnings from 
the Cuban government) on February 24, 1996.

The trial of the "Miami Five"-Gerardo Hernández, René González 
Sehwerert, Fernando González Llort, Ramón Labañino, and Antonio 
Guerrero-received sparse coverage nationally in the U.S. media. It 
was, however, an intensely political event. High-ranking retired U.S. 
military officers (from Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force) testified 
to the purely defensive character of the Cubans' 
information-gathering and to the total absence of any military threat 
to the U.S. from Cuba. The security-related justification for the 
defendants' investigative work was buttressed by extensive evidence 
on the long history of terrorist activity engaged in by Cuban exiles.

But the trial took place in Miami, in an environment in which, in the 
words of El Nuevo Herald (12/2/00), "The fear of a violent reaction 
on the part of the Cuban exile community if a jury decides to acquit 
the five men Š has led many potential candidates to ask the judge to 
excuse them from civic duty." For 17 months pending trial, and for 
another 7 weeks while the trial was going on, the Five were held in 
solitary confinement. Not only was this illegal (since it was 
unrelated to their conduct in prison); it also severely hampered the 
preparation of their defense. With an implacably hostile judge, the 
true nature and purpose of the defendants' undercover work was not 
allowed into consideration, and they were made scapegoats for the 
savage fury of the right-wing exiles.


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