Join us for an evening with Keith Bolender
who will speaking about his new book
“Cuba Under Seige: American Policy, The Revolutions, and its People.”
development of a siege mentality among island leadership and its citizens. This has affected politics,
economics, culture, and nearly all aspects of everyday life. In a vibrant new look at Cuban-American relations,
Keith Bolender analyzes, through the voices of the powerful and the common, both the positive and negative of revolutionary society constantly under pressure from the world’s greatest powers. Using both historic
and current examination, including comparisons with America under siege since 9/11, the work covers the roots of besiegement, the impact it has had on the Cuban people, and how and when the besiegement will end.
Keith Bolender is a freelance journalist living in Toronto and has written extensively on Cuban matters for a
variety of North American publications, including the Toronto Star, Florida Sun Sentinel, the Council for
Hemispheric Affairs, the Guardian, North American Council on Latin America, Monthly Review, Progresso
Weekly and others. He has been involved with Cuban projects for more than 20 years. He is a member of the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) on their roster of experts for Cuban Affairs. Lecturer on the Cuban Revolution at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Education.
Casa de las Américas
182 East 111th Street – between 3rd Ave and Lexington Ave. Closer to 3rd
Ave. 6 Lex train to 110th Street Station
Hoy martes 29 de Octubre se llevó a cabo el 68vo periodo de secciones de la asamblea general de las Naciones Unidas. Tuve el privilegio de ser invitado por la delegación cubana ante la ONU para presenciar una parte de dichas secciones donde se discutía el tema 40 de la agenda: Necesidad de poner fin al bloqueo, comercial financiero impuesto por los Estados Unidos Yanquis contra Cuba.
Numerosas delegaciones de diferentes países presentaron ponencias favoreciendo el fin del bloqueo, destacándose en dicha demanda los países hermanos de Latino América y del área del caribe, muy en particular Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua y Ecuador. También depusieron Egipcio, Indonesia, Irán e India y un bloque de países africanos. Quienes destacaron lo cruel, inhumano y criminal de tal agresión contra el pueblo cubano. Todos recalcaron sobre los principios de la Carta de las Naciones Unidas, entre otros, los principios de igualdad soberana de los Estados y por ende de Cuba, en la no intervención y no injerencia en asuntos internos y la libertad de comercio y navegación, que lleva a cabo los Estados Unidos Yanquis contra Cuba.
Una excelente exposición del caso fue la del embajador de Bolivia, quien entre otras cosas manifestó: “Estados Unidos impone un bloqueo que intenta socavar el derecho del cubano a su libre autodeterminación, y los esfuerzos de su gobierno para luchar contra la pobreza y la desigualdad”.
También acuso al presidente Obama de ser un presidente soberbio, pues considera a su país algo “Excepcionar”, y por lo tanto un ente prepotente con derecho a intervenir donde se les antoje.
Lo único excepcional de los yanquis e Israel son sus mezquinas pretensiones de gobernar al mundo. No respetan el derecho internacional y además, actúan con la más flagrante impunidad. Hoy recibieron una contundente derrota en el lugar que ellos controlaron por mucho tiempo, LAS NACIONES UNIDAS.
Podría aun dar mucho más de las cosas que sucedieron allí hoy 29 de octubre. Hoy Estados Unidos Yanquis y su único aliado Israel, se han quedado solos en esa criminal postura contra Cuba.
Las ONU hablo, tiene la palabra el señor Obama. Cumpla con su promesa, y sin más prolongaciones levante el bloqueo a nuestra querida Cuba. Así lo exigen las naciones del mundo, así lo quieren los cubanos y así lo pide el pueblo de los Estados Unidos.
188 a favor de que se levante el bloqueo
3 abstenciones, Islas Marshall, Micronesia y Palao.
2 a favor que se mantenga el bloqueo, USA e Israel
Franklin, Casa de las Américas
Viva Cuba revolucionaria!
In a Democracy Now! exclusive, the only freed member of the Cuban Five, René González, speaks out after a 13-year imprisonment in the United States. The five Cuban intelligence agents were arrested in the United States in 1998 and convicted of espionage. They say they were not spying on the United States, but rather trying to monitor violent right-wing Cuban exile groups responsible for attacks inside Cuba. In Cuba, the five are seen as national heroes. González was released in October 2011 and returned to Cuba in April. Joining us from Havana, González discusses why he came to the United States to spy on Cuban exiles, his arrest, and the four other members of the Cuban Five who remain in jail.
Jailed in the U.S. for espionage, the Cuban intelligence agents known as the Cuban Five say they were in fact monitoring violent right-wing Cuban exile groups, not spying on the United States. Ricardo Alarcón, Cuba’s former foreign minister and, up until earlier this year, president of the Cuban National Assembly, has been one of the Cuban Five’s most vocal supporters. Alarcón joins us from Havana to discuss the meetings between Cuban authorities and the FBI in Cuba and the threat posed by militant exiles. “If President Obama is really interested in [projecting] a more positive image of U.S. policy abroad, if he is interested in improving relations with Latin America, he better listen to what many governments in Latin America have been telling him: Simply, free the five,” Alarcón says.
Book Launch Cuba and Its Neighbors: Democracy in Motion.
Casa de las Américas
182 East 111th Street
between 3rd Ave and Lexington Ave.
Closer to 3rd Ave. 6 Lex train to 110th Street Station
Washington Post Opinion
By Stephen Kimber, Friday, October 4, 11:12 AM
Stephen Kimber teaches journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Canada, and is the author of What Lies Across the Wather: The Real Story of the Cuban Five
Consider for a moment what would happen if American intelligence agents on the ground in a foreign country uncovered a major terrorist plot, with enough time to prevent it. And then consider how Americans would react if authorities in that country, rather than cooperate with us, arrest and imprison the U.S. agents for operating on their soil.
Those agents would be American heroes today. The U.S. government would move heaven and Earth to get them back.
This sort of scenario has occurred, except that, in the real-life version, which unfolded 15 years ago last month, the Americans play the role of the foreign government, and Cuba – yes, Fidel Castro’s Cuba – plays the role of the aggrieved United States.
In the early 1990s, after the demise of the Soviet Union made the collapse of Cuba’s communist government seem inevitable, Miami’s militant Cuban exile groups ratcheted up their efforts to overthrow Castro by any means possible, including terrorist attacks. In 1994, for example, Rodolfo Frometa, the leader of an exile group, was nabbed in an FBI sting trying to buy a Stinger missile, a grenade launcher and anti-tank rockets that he said he planned to use to attack Cuba. In 1995, Cuban police arrested two Cuban Americans after they tried to plant a bomb at a resort in Varadero.
Those actions clearly violated U.S. neutrality laws, but America’s justice system mostly looked the other way. Although Frometa was charged, convicted and sentenced to almost four years in jail, law enforcement agencies rarely investigated allegations involving exile militants, and if they did, prosecutors rarely pursued charges. Too often, Florida’s politicians served as apologists for the exile community’s hard-line elements.
But the Cubans had their own agents on the ground in Florida. An intelligence network known as La Red Avispa was dispatched in the early 1990s to infiltrate militant exile groups. It had some successes. Agents thwarted a 1994 plan to set off bombs at the iconic Tropicana nightclub, a tourist hot spot in Havana. And they short-circuited a 1998 scheme to send a boat filled with explosives from the Miami River to the Dominican Republic to be used in an assassination attempt against Castro.
In the spring of 1998, Cuban agents uncovered a plot to blow up an airplane filled with beach-bound tourists from Europe or Latin America. (The plot resonated: Before 2001, the most deadly act of air terrorism in the Americas had been the 1976 midair bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455, which killed all 73 passengers and crew members.)
Castro enlisted his friend, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to carry a secret message about the plot to President Bill Clinton. The White House took the threat seriously enough that the Federal Aviation Administration warned airlines.
In June of that year, FBI agents flew to Havana to meet with their Cuban counterparts. During three days in a safe house, the Cubans provided the FBI with evidence their agents had gathered on various plots, including the planned airplane attack and an ongoing campaign of bombings at Havana hotels that had taken the life of an Italian Canadian businessman.
But the FBI never arrested anyone in connection with the airplane plot or the hotel attacks – even after exile militant Luis Posada Carriles bragged about his role in the Havana bombings to the New York Times in July 1998. Instead, on Sept. 12, 1998, a heavily armed FBI SWAT team arrested the members of the Cuban intelligence network in Miami.
The five agents were tried in that hostile-to-anything-Cuban city, convicted on low-bar charges of “conspiracy to commit” everything from espionage to murder and sentenced to impossibly long prison terms, including one double life sentence plus 15 years.
Fifteen years later, four of the Cubans still languish in American prisons.
Now you begin to understand why the Cuban Five – as they have become known – are national heroes in their homeland, why pictures of their younger selves loom on highway billboards all over the island, why every Cuban school child knows them by their first names: Gerardo, René, Ramon, Fernando and Antonio.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland has stated that the Cuban Five “were all convicted in U.S. courts of committing crimes against the United States, including spying, treason.”
It is true that three of the five men – Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Fernando Gonzalez – did have, in part, military missions beyond simply infiltrating and reporting back on the activities of Miami’s exile groups. But their purpose was not to steal America’s military secrets or compromise U.S. security.
During the 1990s, Cuban authorities believed theirs might be the next Caribbean country to face an American military invasion. It wasn’t a stretch when you consider Grenada (1983), Panama (1989) and Haiti (1994). Then, too, there was the growing influence of militantly anti-Castro lobbying groups such as the Cuban American National Foundation, which were pushing Washington to overthrow Castro and his brother.
Based on its assessments of those earlier invasions, Cuban intelligence had developed a checklist of signals that an invasion might be imminent: a sudden influx of combat and reconnaissance aircraft to a southern military base, for example, or unexpected, unexplained visits by military brass to Southern Command headquarters in Miami.
Agents such as Antonio Guerrero – who worked as a janitor at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West from 1993 until his arrest in 1998 and is serving 22 years in prison – were Cuba’s low-tech equivalents of U.S. spy satellites, counting planes on runways and reporting back to Havana.
Of course, Cuban authorities were eager to vacuum up every tidbit of gossip their agents could find, and Havana occasionally pressured Guerrero to up his game; he responded mostly by sending clippings from base newspapers. No wonder. Guerrero spoke little English and had no security clearance; military secrets were well above his pay grade. And U.S. military secrets were never Cuba’s real priority – it just wanted to know if the Yankees were about to invade.
Seven months after the FBI charged the five with relatively insignificant counts – failing to register as foreign agents, using false identities and, more seriously but less specifically, conspiracy to commit espionage – prosecutors tacked on the charge that would galvanize Cuba’s exile community.
They charged Gerardo Hernandez, the leader of the network, with conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the shootdown three years earlier of two Brothers to the Rescue aircraft.
Brothers to the Rescue, an anti-Castro group that had been rescuing rafters in the Straits of Florida but had lost its raison d’etre after a 1994 immigration deal between Washington and Havana, had been illegally violating Cuban airspace for more than a year, occasionally raining down anti-government leaflets on Havana. The Cubans protested the flights. The U.S. government did its best to prevent further incursions, but the wheels of the FAA bureaucracy ground slowly.
In early 1996, the Cubans sent messages to Washington through various intermediaries, warning that if the United States didn’t stop further Brothers flights, the Cubans would.
So the Cubans did. On the afternoon of Feb. 24, 1996, Cuban fighter jets blew two small, unarmed Brothers to the Rescue aircraft out of the sky, killing all four men aboard.
The Cubans claim that the planes were inside their territory. The U.S. government claims – and the International Civil Aviation Organization agreed – that the planes were in international airspace when they were attacked.
But did Hernandez really know in advance that the Cuban government planned to shoot down those planes? Was he involved in the planning?
My answer is no. During my research for a book on the Cuban Five, I reviewed all 20,000-plus pages of the trial transcript and sifted through thousands of pages of decrypted communications between Havana and its agents. I found no evidence that Hernandez had any knowledge of, or influence on, the events that day.
The evidence instead paints a picture of a Cuban intelligence bureaucracy obsessed with compartmentalizing and controlling information. Hernandez, a field-level illegal intelligence officer, had no need to know what Cuba’s military planned. The messages and instructions from Havana were ambiguous, hardly slam-dunk evidence, particularly for a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
In one message, for example, Hernandez’s bosses refer to a plan to “perfect the confrontation” with Brothers to the Rescue, which prosecutors insisted meant shooting down the planes.
But as Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch pointed out – in her 2008 dissent from a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuitupholding the murder charge against Hernandez – “There are many ways a country could ‘confront’ foreign aircraft. Forced landings, warning shots, and forced escorted journeys out of a country’s territorial airspace are among them – as are shoot downs.” She said that prosecutors “presented no evidence” to link Hernandez to the shootdown. “I cannot say that a reasonable jury – given all the evidence – could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Hernandez agreed to a shoot down,” Kravitch wrote.
A “reasonable jury.” There’s the rub.
By the late 1990s, Miami juries had become so notorious in cases involving Cuban exiles that federal prosecutors in a different case opposed a defense motion for a change of venue from Puerto Rico to Miami for some Cuban exiles accused of plotting to assassinate Castro.
Miami “is a very difficult venue for securing a conviction for so-called freedom fighters,” former U.S. attorney Kendall Coffey explained to the Miami Herald at the time. “I had some convictions, but some acquittals that defied all reason.”
Anti-Cuban militants, in fact, were considered heroes. In 2008, more than 500 Miami exile movers and shakers gathered to honor Posada’s contributions to la causa – as the effort to overthrow Castro is known in the community – at a gala dinner.
His contributions? Besides the Havana hotel attacks (“I sleep like a baby,” he told the New York Times, commenting on the tourist who was killed), Posada is the alleged mastermind of the bombing of Cubana Flight 455. Cuba and Venezuela have asked for his extradition. The United States has refused.
In 2000, Posada was arrested in Panama in connection with a plot to assassinate Castro; he was convicted and served four yearsbefore receiving a still-controversial pardon. That pardon was revoked in 2008.
The closest the U.S. government has come to prosecuting Posada was in 2009, when the Obama administration charged him – not for his role in the Havana bombings but for lying about his role on an immigration form. He was acquitted.
Today, Posada, 85, walks the streets of Miami, a living contradiction in America’s war on terrorism. How to square his freedom with President George W. Bush’s post-Sept. 11 declaration that “any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime?” How to square Posada’s freedom with the continued imprisonment of the Cuban Five, whose primary goal was to prevent terrorist attacks?
It is a contradiction Americans should consider.
For 15 years, the Cuban 5 have endured physical and psychological torture in U.S. prisons! Their only “crime” was protecting their homeland Cuba and the United States from acts of terrorism
Thousands of people around the world will be protesting, picketing, engaging in a myraid of actions in support of the International movement to Free the Cuban 5! Join us as we raise our united voices on the International Day to Free the Cuban 5!
Thursday September 12, 2013 @5pm
Picket at 26 Federal Plaza,
New York, N.Y.
Take the 4,5, or 6 to
Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall
Bring your flags, noisemakers, signs and be ready to chant!
The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5
Fore more information of the Project contact: FreetheCuban5@gmail.com or call the Free the Cuban 5 Hotline at: 718-601-4751. Visit our website: www.freethecuban5.org
Endorsers:The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign, Frente Socialista-Comite de Nueva York, Free Mumia Coalition, IFCO/Pastors for Peace, Radical Women, Freedom Socialist Party, December 12th Movement, New York City Jericho Movement, Fuerza de la Revolucion, Da Urban Butterflies, International Action Center, Justice for Trayvon Martin Peoples Assembly, May 1st Coalition for Worker & Immigrant Rights, Latin America & Caribbean Committee of the IAC, Workers World Party, and The Venceremos Brigade…