[Marxism] Florida academics arrested for organizing tours to Cuba

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jan 10 07:06:43 MST 2006


http://insidehighered.com/news/2006/01/10/fiu
Husband, Wife Indicted as Cuban Agents

A husband and wife who work at Florida International University were 
indicted by a federal grand jury Monday on charges of being covert agents 
of Cuba.

Carlos and Elsa Alvarez are being held in jail, pending a bail hearing. 
They have not entered a plea, but their lawyer told local reporters that 
they were not guilty. Carlos Alvarez is an associate professor of 
educational leadership and policy studies. Elsa Alvarez is a social worker 
in the university’s counseling center.

A spokesman for Florida International said Monday night that they had been 
placed on paid leave, pending further developments.

The indictment released by the Department of Justice states that the couple 
reported to Cuban officials about actions of the anti-Castro movement in 
the United States and recruited “young people” of Cuban descent to be spies 
for the Castro government. The indictment and press release did not 
indicate whether these recruitment activities involved the couple’s 
university positions, but the Associated Press quoted federal prosecutors 
as saying that Carlos Alvarez had organized exchange trips to Cuba with the 
goal of indoctrinating students.

The charges are less severe than espionage. According to a press release 
issued by the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami, the charge of being a covert 
agent carries with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 
fine.

Mark Riordan, director of media relations at Florida International, said 
that Carlos Alvarez had worked at the university since 1974 and has tenure. 
His wife has worked at the university since 1990. Riordan said that the 
university had no indication until Monday of anything unusual about either 
Alvarez. Leaders of Miami’s influential anti-Castro movement have never 
held back from criticizing people at the university and elsewhere who they 
believe are sympathetic to the Cuban leader, but Riordan said that there 
had never been such complaints about either Alvarez.

The university has retained Roberto Martinez, a former U.S. attorney, to 
provide guidance on how to handle the case.

The indictments come a month after a federal jury cleared Sami Al-Arian, a 
former professor at the University of South Florida, of some of the charges 
he faced related to allegations that he had helped terrorist groups. The 
jury deadlocked on other charges, and Al-Arian remains behind bars. South 
Florida fired Al-Arian in 2003, shortly after he was indicted, and many 
faculty leaders have argued ever since that the university denied him due 
process in stripping him of a tenured position.

Riordan said that Florida International hoped to handle the situation in a 
way that respected the relevant rights of all involved. “Obviously as a 
result of the Sami Al-Arian case, there’s a sensitivity to these kinds of 
issues in Florida, and all across the country,” he said. “In the end our 
actions are going to be measured by the standards of: Did we act consistent 
with the U.S. Constitution and due process while at the same time 
protecting the interest of this government.”

— Scott Jaschik

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