The Cuban Five Case at 15 Years

The hypocrisy of the U.S. “war on terror” jumps out in how Cuban-exile terrorists are protected in Miami as U.S. officials hunt down Islamic terrorists across the globe. The U.S. even imprisoned five Cuban spies who sought to disrupt terror attacks being planned in Miami, as Dennis J Bernstein and Danny Glover discuss.

By Dennis J Bernstein

In the 1990s during a resurgent wave of terrorism inside Cuba, five Cuban intelligence agents infiltrated Cuban-exile groups in Miami seeking to uncover planned attacks that the U.S. government was doing little to prevent in line with its half century of hostility toward the Cuban revolution.

The five agents were arrested on Sept. 12, 1998; they were tried in Miami, convicted of crimes related to espionage and given harsh sentences, including Gerardo Hernandez getting double life plus 15 years. Despite questions about prejudice at their trials and international appeals for their release, four of the men remain in prison.

In June, René González, the one member of the Cuban Five who finished his sentence and returned to Cuba, has launched an international Yellow Ribbon campaign for his four colleagues. Cubans have covered the island with yellow ribbons in response and displays of yellow ribbons have now spread to support groups in the United States.

During protests and vigils last Thursday, to mark the 15th year of the Cuban Five’s arrest, their supporters gathered in Washington near the White House. With all court appeals now exhausted, and few other legal paths to follow, their Attorney Jose Pertierra said, “It is time to ask Obama to find a solution and send them back home.”

The case of the Cuban Five reflects the profound hypocrisy of the U.S. “war on terror,” which has sent armies to faraway lands to battle al-Qaeda and its allies and has dispatched lethal drones to hunt down and kill suspected Islamic militants. But the same government has ignored the presence of well-known Cuban terrorists who live comfortably in Miami.

Then, when the Cuban government sought to obtain information about planned terror attacks by sending intelligence agents to Miami, those agents were aggressively prosecuted and severely punished, even as Cuban-exile terrorists are treated as heroes by U.S. politicians, including members of the Bush family. [See’s “Enduring Terror Double Standards.”]

The obvious double standard has generated outrage from people around the world, including in the United States. Perhaps the best-known and outspoken supporter of the movement to free the Cuban intelligence agents is actor Danny Glover, who spoke with Dennis J Bernstein en route to the protests in Washington D.C. last week.

DB: Why are you engaged in this case?

DG: The case itself expresses the crux of what the dilemma is with Cuba, which is the U.S.’s inability or unwillingness to honor or respect Cuban sovereignty, the Cuban state, and the Cuban people’s will. The case represents all of that. This is 50 years of failed policy.

This war on terror goes as far back as 1998 and the Cubans were certainly at work with the U.S., the FBI and other agencies to curb the terrorist activity that had gone on for years. Cuban exiles organized, conducted or orchestrated attacks on Cuban people, including the explosion of the jetliner that killed children and the Olympic fencing team over 20 years ago. The Cubans have offered as much cooperation as possible to end the terror. Part of the cooperation was to provide the FBI and other agencies vital information as it was uncovered.

The Cubans infiltrated a group that was planning attacks and had carried out attacks against the Cuban people. One person who died from these attacks was an Italian citizen. The Cuban situation provides us with an opportunity to not only deal with the complexities of the legal situation, but also to address the historic relationship with Cuba. Hopefully it is a relationship that will bring about another way of honoring Cuban sovereignty, self-reliance and independence.

Saul Landau, who just passed away, was such a giant. His wonderful documentary about who the real terrorists are, is another tool we use. Gerardo Hernandez has the longest sentence, of double life and 15 years.

DB: You’ve been visiting him. Can we hear about those visits?

DG:  I can’t recall a more remarkable man than Gerardo. His commitment to protecting his nation comes first. His incredible political sensibility came into this maximum security prison in Victorville, which has transformed relationships so that even the hardened criminals have come to respect him. He shouldn’t be in a maximum security prison. It is a reflection of how mean spirited this process has been.

It is clear that this is a man who would be at the forefront of work on behalf of transforming the relationship between the U.S. and his own country. His infiltration of the terrorist group in Miami was part of that. Creating a situation where we have a just relationship with Cuba is vital. Every country in Latin America has some kind of working relationship with Cuba. It is only the U.S. that doesn’t. All other countries honor Cuban sovereignty, which is the choice of the Cuban people to govern themselves as they see fit. The only country that doesn’t respect Cuban sovereignty is the U.S.

DB: Many Third World countries depend on Cuba for training doctors and creating a medical structure that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Cubans.

DG: The Cubans exemplify the morality of the code that doctors take. They operate in countries around the world, often in situations where they are welcome by some groups and not welcome by others. They go to places that doctors from other nations generally don’t go. Cuban doctors go where there is an absence of health care, like Zambia, rural areas of Venezuela and Brazil. That’s where Cuban doctors go. So they have had an enormous impact on establishing an infrastructure and an idea of health care as a right and not a privilege. Wherever they go, they establish that as a foundation – health care is a right, and not a privilege.

DB: The Cubans represent one of the few counties in this world that has managed to resist the U.S. hegemony. They took a stand against terrible things that happened in their region. The U.S. seems to have it out for them.

DG: My other love is a place called Haiti, and I often look at their struggle in the same way. The Haitian revolution, and the victory of the Haitian slave revolt was unacceptable, and the Haitians are paying for that right now. The Cuban revolution of 1959 was unacceptable to the powers that be and the Cuban people continue to pay for that. What we need is the release of a certain energy, so that in our deepest place, we ourselves would want to honor and respect the energy of these two countries.

DB: What would you want people to do about the case of the Cuban Five?

DG: Continue to mobilize, put this in the public light. We need to get this issue in front of the American people. It has gone around the world. The final action is up to Obama himself. They have exhausted all legal remedies for Geraldo. It is vital to keep pushing forward to resolve the issue and at the same time move towards a just relationship with Cuba and the Cuban people.

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at

9 comments for “The Cuban Five Case at 15 Years

  1. samikkannu
    September 16, 2013 at 09:34

    the corporatocratic US Administration’s double standard VIS-A-VIS THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS hasn’t been taken note of by the enthusiasts of free world; it was this international rowdy who poured tons & tons of AGENT ORANGE on the virgin soil of Vietnam during those years of unjust war on communism . and now they repeat the dirty trick in the name of war on terror !

  2. Terry Washington
    September 16, 2013 at 03:30

    I personally gave the whole case a wide berth, noting the Castro regime’s abysmal human rights record( see Armando Valladares, “Against All Odds: Surviving Years in Castro’s Prisons”, 1987)!

  3. Masud Awan
    September 15, 2013 at 12:39

    There is no such thing as Islamic terrorism. Islam does not condone terrorism, rather, it condemns terrorism in strongest terms: if you kill one innocent person it is like you killed the whole human race.
    Please use your terms carefully.

  4. Ron Harwell
    September 14, 2013 at 10:15

    I read the artticle “The Lie Behind the Five” cubaverdad suggested to read. That is a Far Right paper and writer who is hardcore anti-Castro. He is one of those exiles in bed with the CIA and the US Castro haters, so he is not to be believed. These exiles seem to believe they will get their ranches, farms, mansions, hotels, casinos, etc. back when the US takes back Cuba. Guess what? That won’t happen. Their impact on Miami is evident with all the corruption, lies,blackmail, kickbacks, thieves that exists in those Banana Republics: A way of life. They brought it here, and have done no better for the common, working Cuban. The elites are doing very well with their revolution games in the Everglades, cigars, and fixed elections with one convicted/fired politician being replaced with another fired/convicted corrupt politician. I’m with Mr. Glover here. The US has no limit to its hypocrisy when it comes to Cuba and the Cuban people.

    • Cubaverdad
      September 14, 2013 at 10:41

      Ron, thank you for confirming you can not refute any of the facts posted on the page.
      You are – as so many pro-Castro apologists – reduced to lies, insults and personal slander. The author of the page referred to has no links to the CIA or any “mafia”. He doesn’t live in Miami or the United States for that.
      Now if you have anything to say about lets say the confessions of Marisol Gari or her husband, get back to us.

      In the mean time: you made no dent at all in the facts reported here:
      The lie behind the “5″

      I am with the truth, not your or Mr. Glover’s hypocrisy.

      • incontinent reader
        September 15, 2013 at 10:06

        And I suppose Orlando Bosch (terrorist supreme) is a hero? In the case of the Cuban 5, American justice was to justice as military justice is to justice.

  5. Cubaverdad
    September 14, 2013 at 06:48

    The Cuban “5” were the 5 ringleaders of a larger spy-ring that spied on US military installations, US companies, US organizations and US residents.
    For years the regime denied they were agents. Only later it turned the “5” in to a propaganda myth carefully avoiding to mention the others in the Cuban spy-)ring that had confessed and whose confessions expose the propaganda lies of the regime.

    “The lie behind the “5””

    • Yaj
      September 14, 2013 at 18:54

      And what exactly where the 5 convicted of? Was it being spies for Cuba and spying on/in the US or was it spying on criminals playing terror in Cuba, or was is specific acts directed at US bases in say south Florida?

      To be treated seriously on this point: The link needs to make very clear what the charges and convictions were and then separately that link can make any accusation it wants.

      Look if a CIA spy travels the world spying for the US and then finds a party outside of the US harboring say white nationalists who want to kill the head of NAACP, then reports this finding back to the US, this person is certainly spying for the US and could be convicted of spying by that party/nation harboring the white nationalists. But you claim this hypothetical spy would be a legitimate target for prosecution for any and all spying done anywhere in the world + beyond looking into white nationalist types bent on harm to black people in the US.

      For example: Pakistan convicted the doctor who helped espy the abode of some one named… You’re claiming that this doctor in Pakistan was convicted of doing other spying for the US. Prove it with a simple summary of the charges and convictions. Or do the same for these Cubans in Miami.

  6. Otto Schiff
    September 13, 2013 at 18:28

    It is amazing how our government can persist in such obvious injustice.
    Paranoia fed by ignorance and stupidity.

Comments are closed.