[Marxism] Spy trial ruling brings the past to life (MH)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Aug 14 07:44:11 MDT 2005

This is the MIAMI HERALD's somewhat half-hearted attempt at 
spin control of the meaning of the federal court's unanimous 
agreement to the appeal of the Cuban Five earlier this week.

This MIAMI HERALD article points to key events in the city's 
recent past in its attempt to explain to its readers some of 
the background to the court's stunning reversal of the arrest, 
trial and conviction of the Cuban Five. It omits some rather 
important events during this period, such as the exclusion of 
Ibrahim Ferrer and the other Cubans who won the Latin Grammy 
in 2003, a further example of the continuing malignant role
Cuban exile militants play in the city's life. 

It omits to mention the history of violent terrorism which 
characterizes Miami over the past five DECADES. Not only the 
organizing of the Bay of Pigs invasion, but welcoming Cuban 
hijackers, beginning with Pedro Diaz Lanz in 1959, and the 
violent terrorist attacks against all who would stray, even 
in the slightest way, from the line of all-out rightist hate 
of Cuba. Remember Pedro Milian's legs? Bernardo Benes?

HISTORY would be good reading to flesh out the rather gingerly 
presentation given here. This helps explain the court's action
and would be a sign of a changed climate were it to be printed
in the pages of the MIAMI HERALD on a Sunday:

The capitalist media has been called the "fourth estate" because
of its role as a prop in the maintenance of the social system.

Not surprisingly, the HERALD leaves out any consideration of its 
OWN role in the city's politics. Providing a platform for Cuban 
exile terrorists THIS VERY YEAR, such as publicizing the views 
of Luis Posada Carriles and even accepting his ground rules for 
participation in Posada's "secret" news conference held in a
Miami warehouse, and posting Posada's arrogant speech there 
speak volumes about the role of the HERALD in Miami's mentality.
I notice now that the video of Posada has been removed, but the
article about it remains. (Registration required.) See more:

Silent testimony to that was proved in recent weeks as we saw 
the Herald firing of its best writer, Jim DeFede, who really
DID represent a different, better orientation for the city.
Read more about DeFede at: http://www.savedefede.com/ 

Democraphic shifts have played their role, primarily the 
declining percentage of Cubans who trace their heritage to 
the pre-1980 period. More recent immigrants tend toward a 
softer approach toward their homeland, and less political 
objections to the island's benefits, like the free health 
care and free education.

They tend to visit their families in the island and have thus 
been most harmed by the Bush-imposed travel restrictions and 
have begun to vote for politicians opposed to the harshest 
blockade measures. The politics of Miami ARE indeed changing, 
but by no means are they remotely enough for revolutionary
Cubans, accused by Washington of acting on behalf of Cuba, 
could even remotely imagine there could be a fair trial in

This article, considering that it's published in the Herald, 
is trying to explain and soften this blow to the reputation 
local officials wanted the city to have, but which Miami is 
far, far from deserving. Any doubts? Ask Jim DeFede!

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews

Posted on Sun, Aug. 14, 2005 


Spy trial ruling brings the past to life


A federal court decision to throw out the convictions of five accused
Cuban spies is forcing Miami to relive some of its most painful days.

adriscoll at herald.com 

When a federal appeals court last week ordered the retrial of five
accused Cuban spies, the ruling resurrected some of Miami's most
painful recent history.

The Brothers to the Rescue shoot-down. The conviction of a
high-ranking Cuban-American immigration agent on espionage charges.
And Elián.

In great detail and with hundreds of footnotes, the ruling by the
11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals laid out the judges' grounds for
the unusual reversal -- and brought back to life memories barely laid
to rest in a city that has been buffeted by overseas politics and
fraught with frustrations for 45 years.

''This city is like no other in North America,'' said defense
attorney Paul McKenna, who represented accused spy master Gerardo
Hernández. ``At the time, there was so much anger about Elián, so
much anger directed at Castro. How could you ask the jurors to put
that out of their hearts and minds?''

The appeals court judges called it a ''perfect storm:'' widespread
anti-Castro sentiment, extensive publicity before and during the
trial, plus improper comments by both the prosecution and witness
José Basulto, founder of Brothers to the Rescue, who implied from 
the stand that one of the defense lawyers worked for Castro.

The panel concluded that the five admitted Cuban agents did not
receive a fair trial in Miami. It ordered a new trial elsewhere, a
decision that revived some of the old anger and triggered fears of

''The community has changed, but the hate for Castro hasn't,'' 
said Sergio Bendixen, a Democratic pollster who studies Miami's
population. ``The Cuban-American community has evolved from what it
was even five years ago, but in the interests of justice and so the
decision of the jury isn't questioned, it would be better to have the
retrial somewhere else.''

Ninoska Perez Castellon, head of the Cuban Liberty Council, a
hard-line group that split from the Cuban American National
Foundation, takes the opposite view. The case should be retried in
Miami, she said, and the judges' ruling was insulting to Cuban


''There were no demonstrations, nothing that could constitute an
atmosphere where a trial could not be held,'' she said. ``We had
faith in the system. Then to read all those things -- it's a very
racist report.''

The five men -- Hernández, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero, René
González and Ramón Labañino -- were arrested in 1998 for their
alleged roles in La Red Avispa, the Wasp Network, an alleged Cuban
spy group uncovered by U.S. agents.

The trial lasted six months in 2001. Jury selection started in
November 2000 -- seven months after Elián González was seized by
federal agents in a predawn raid and returned to Cuba.

Other unprecedented events also preceded the trial. In 2000, Mariano
Faget, a 34-year-old federal immigration department employee and
Cuban American, was convicted under federal espionage laws for
disclosing classified government information.

At one point that spring, tensions escalated so much that someone
left bananas on the steps of Miami City Hall, an action interpreted
by many as an offensive reference to the city as a "banana republic."

The Wasp Network case also had a direct connection to the shooting
down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes in 1996, an attack that
remains an open wound for many Cuban Americans.

Hernández was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for his
alleged role in providing the Brothers' flight plan to the Cubans.
Four people died when a Cuban MiG shot down the planes over the
Florida Straits as they searched for rafters. A third plane, piloted
by Basulto, returned safely to Miami.

Prosecutors said the network gained access to exile groups, spreading
disinformation, spying for Castro and trying to steal military
secrets. One defendant, Guerrero, became a laborer at the Boca Chica
Naval Air Station near Key West.

A 12-member jury decided the case. Five were Hispanics, but none were
Cuban American. During the trial, family members of those shot down
in the two planes sat vigil in the courtroom.


In 2002, as part of the appeal, Dr. Lisandro Pérez, professor of
sociology at Florida International University and then-director of
the Cuban Research Institute, prepared an analysis of survey data and
other information for defense lawyers.

According to last week's ruling, he concluded that ''the possibility
of selecting 12 citizens of Miami-Dade County who can be impartial in
a case involving acknowledged agents of the Cuban government is
virtually zero,'' even without any Cuban Americans on the jury.

And Perez, who is Cuban American, says he hasn't altered his opinion
much in the intervening years.

"I just don't think a lot has changed since then, certainly not
since that trial,'' he said last week. ``Some of the parameters are
broader, to be sure, but there is a continued predominance of the
hard-line view."

But others say that just isn't so. Bendixen, who studies the
community, notes that the case of Cuban militant Luis Posada
Carriles, now in custody on immigration charges and suspected in
several acts of anti-Castro terrorism, hasn't provoked an enormous,
overt outcry.

"In the past, his case might have caused demonstrations and actions
and rhetoric, but the case has gotten a slack reception in Miami.
There's been no discernible reaction from Cuban exiles," he said.

And Kendall Coffey, who represented Elián's Miami relatives, said
"revenge and payback" are things of the past for the city. People
haven't forgotten Elián, he said, but they have learned to move on.

"The court opinion seems to chronicle the view that Miami doesn't
tolerate free speech or free decision-making within the domain of
Castro, but I fundamentally disagree," he said. "I don't think it
was a factor that contaminated the ability of jurors to be impartial
in judging a spy case that was fundamentally unrelated to the issues
surrounding Elián. . . . I certainly don't think this is a community
that wanted to punish the innocent for Elián."

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