The story behind the Cuban Five

Take a glance at any major newspaper and you are likely to read something about terrorist groups based overseas. Perhaps Al Qaida, Hamas, or Black September. You will hear about the appalling actions that they carry out. But what is more appalling is what you don’t get to read about.

For over 40 years there have been terrorist groups based in Miami, Fla. Most are made up of Cuban exiles who are also often ex-CIA agents. These groups have clever names such as Cuban America National Foundation (CANF), Commandos L, Alpha 66, and Brothers to the Rescue. The aim of these groups is to undermine the Cuban government in almost any way possible, including violence. Their terrorist tactics are among the most horrendous used in the world. Most frightening, however, is how complacent the United States government has been toward these groups and their actions.

For example, in 1976 a Cuban American named Orlando Bosch blew up a Cuban airplane killing 73 innocent civilians on board. He was put in prison in Venezuela but escaped to the U.S., where President Bush senior pardoned him. Orlando Bosch is now living happily in Miami and is still active in Miami-based terrorist actions. (For a summary of the main terrorist actions against Cuba, see www.cubasolidarity.com/summary.htm.)

More recently, in 1997 a series of violent explosions rocked several Cuban hotels. One killed a young Italian tourist. The attacks were aimed at discouraging travelers from visiting Cuba, weakening the tourist industry, one of Cuba’s major lifelines. On July 12 and 13, 1998, in an interview with The New York Times, well-known terrorist and ex-CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles publicly admitted that he organized the attacks on the Cuban hotels including the one that killed the Italian tourist. When asked about the tragic death Posada coldly responded, “He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Posada also admitted that the Cuban American National Foundation bankrolled his actions, which included paying another man $4,500 to plant each bomb. No legal action was ever taken by the United States government against Posada or the CANF for those actions.

Realizing that the U.S. had no real intention of holding these terrorists or their groups responsible, the Cuban government took the issue upon itself and launched its own “War on Terror” of sorts. It did not use bombs or guns or even violence. What it did do was send five Cuban citizens to Miami to infiltrate the private terrorist sector of that city. Their work was extremely successful and they prevented dozens of terrorist attacks, several that were to occur in the United States against Americans who were viewed as being sympathetic to the Cuban revolution.

However, the right-wing political machine in Miami proved to be too strong. The five Cubans were arrested on outrageous charges that included espionage for which there was never any evidence, even at trial. The five were cruelly kept in solitary confinement for 15 months before their trial. Recently they were sentenced to extremely long prison sentences by a biased Miami court.

If the U.S. government was at all serious about its “War on Terror” it would release the Five Cuban Patriots, it would disband groups such as the Cuban American National Foundation, Alpha 66 and Commandos L, and it would strongly prosecute anyone that carried out illegal actions against Cuba.

Cuba has never done anything to the United States, it wishes no harm on the United States, and it certainly poses no threat to the United States. Cuba only wishes to live in peace. This wish, however, has seemingly been proven impossible due to the extreme length the Miami right will go to undermine Cuba. Perhaps the five Cubans said it best: “In the four years that we’ve spent here we have never stopped wondering why it is that our two people cannot live in peace, and how it is possible that the mean interest of the extreme right, including terrorist groups and organizations made up of Cuban Americans, can strain relations between two people that are so close geographically and could easily maintain relations based on respect and equality.” Amen.

Teddy Wood is a student in Santa Cruz, Calif. He can be reached at Scsk8er35@cs.com