Where is the Justice?
Anti-Castro Terrorist Gets Only 4 Years
By Gloria La Riva
11/16/06 "Counterpunch" -- -- A man like Santiago Alvarez,
who can be heard on a telephone, calling on one of his
underlings to throw C-4 explosives into Havana's Tropicana
nightclub and "do away with all that"--all that being
hundreds of people--a man like Santiago Alvarez who had
machine guns, bazookas and grenades in a massive Miami
arsenal, is sentenced to only a four-year prison sentence
this week in a southern Florida federal court.
Yet, the Cuban Five, five men who were in Miami working to
prevent a terrorist like Alvarez from killing innocent
people, who never possessed a weapon, who never engaged nor
intended to engage in the "espionage conspiracy" they were
falsely convicted of, received 15 years to double life after
their 2001 trial, and the added punishment of being denied
Alvarez and his accomplice Osvaldo Mitat were allowed to
plead guilty to only one charge of weapons possession.
Before their sentencing, federal judge James Cohn said,
"This court recognizes the ultimate objective and goal of
Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Mitat has always been a free and
democratic Cuba. This court does not question the altruistic
motive here. However we are a nation of laws."
The government's and courts' impunity towards the Miami
terrorists is becoming more and more blatant.
Almost every day it seems, more news is coming to light in
Miami of the vast and deep network of rightwing
Cuban-American terrorists and their murderous plots: Antonio
Llama, Roberto Ferro, Alvarez, Mitat, and of course, the
most dangerous of them all, Luis Posada Carriles. Posada's
cohort, Orlando Bosch, gets to appear regularly on Miami TV,
itching to admit his atrocious crime of the 1976 bombing of
Cubana Flight 455 that killed 73 people. Bosch and Posada
worked hand-in-hand in the plane bombing.
Where is the justice?
Last Aug. 9, 2005, an historic and unprecedented ruling was
made by a panel of three judges in the case of the Cuban
Five. With a powerfully-worded 93-page decision granting the
Five a new trial, the 11th Circuit Court judges ruled that
the situation in Miami was a "perfect storm" effectively
denying Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero,
Fernando González and René González the constitutional right
to due process.
Part of that "perfect storm" described by the judges was the
evidence of terrorist plots the Five had gathered while
infiltrating the extremist Miami organizations. The trial
judge Joan Lenard denied much of that evidence as
A new trial outside of Miami for the Cuban Five would have
undoubtedly exonerated them. However, the hand of the Bush
administration intervened last year, when U.S. Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales appealed the Five's victory, to try
to overturn the panel's ruling for a new trial.
Unfortunately, the en banc panel of the 11th Circuit Court
of Appeals set aside the Cuban Five's victory. It ruled
ignominiously on Aug. 9, 2005, that the Five received a fair
trial in Miami, and that Judge Lenard properly denied them a
change of venue out of Miami.
While George W. Bush unleashes bombs and destruction causing
the deaths of Iraqis, Afghanis and U.S. soldiers--all in the
name of a supposed war on terror--he has remained completely
silent about the rightwing Cuban-American terrorists who
reside in the United States.
His actions are those of coddling the Cuban-American
terrorists. U.S. Homeland Security waited two full months
before arresting Luis Posada Carriles after he entered the
United States illegally last year. When DHS was finally
forced to detain Posada on May 17 because of a public press
conference he held that morning, Homeland Security
prosecutors avoided charging him with more serious crimes,
like the Cubana plane bombing.
Instead, Posada's only formal charge to date is illegal
immigration entry. To the extent that federal authorities
may currently be investigating him for his role into several
1997 Cuban hotel bombings, it is probably to avoid
prosecuting him for the plane bombing. That is because Bush
Sr. was CIA director at the time of the Cubana bombing;
Posada was a longtime CIA operative.
It is more than an oversight by Bush or previous presidents
that Miami terrorists have existed, organized plots, and
carried out attacks with total impunity.
The Miami terrorist phenomenon is financed, armed, and given
a green light by the CIA, FBI and other arms of the
There is mounting evidence that proves without a doubt,
terrorism against Cuba is part of U.S. government policy.
If the government won't listen to justice and reason in the
case of the Cuban Five, if it instead chooses to vengefully
prosecute them to keep them locked up for years for daring
to defend their homeland of Cuba, then it is up to the
people to fight ever more for their freedom. The Cuban
Five's mission was not only saving Cuban lives, but
protecting all potential victims of the Miami mafia,
including U.S. people.
The American people would embrace the Five if they were only
aware of their cause and mission. September 11 and Oklahoma
are permanent reminders of the horror of terrorism.
Terrorism against the Cuban people is no less criminal. More
than 3,400 Cuban people have died from U.S.-originated
Justice demands that the Cuban Five anti-terrorist activists
be freed immediately. In addition, Posada should be
extradited to Venezuela or prosecuted fully in the United
States for bombing of Cubana Flight 455.
Gloria La Riva is coordinator of the National Committee
to Free the Cuban Five in San Francisco. She can be reached