conference by Foreign Minister of the Repúblic of
Cuba, Felipe Pérez Roque on the mercenaries at the
service of the empire who stood trial on April 3,4,5
and 7, 2003. Havana City, April 9, 2003
José L. Ponce
Good afternoon to all our colleagues. Welcome to
this special presentation by Foreign Minister Felipe
There are here 82
journalists from the international accredited press,
representing 59 media from 22 countries, and the
entire national press is represented as well.
Without further delay, I will leave you with
Minister Felipe Pérez Roque, who will make a
special presentation and then we will proceed to a
round of questions and answers.
F.M. Felipe Pérez.–
Good afternoon to all the foreign press
correspondents accredited in our country and the
We have convened this meeting to give you
information on the trials of the last few days and
their background, as well as commenting on some
other issues of interest.
In the first place, I should like to make it clear
that the government and people of Cuba have a very
clear understanding that they are currently waging a
hard struggle for their right to self-determination,
for their right to independence.
people and government of Cuba have not lost sight
for a minute of the fact that what is at stake in
Cuba is the future of our country as a nation and
the full rights of every citizen of our country.
more than 40 years of an ironclad economic,
financial and commercial blockade, of aggressions,
terrorist acts, more than 600 assassination attempts
on the life of the Cuban President; after decades of
incitement to subversion, illegal emigration,
sabotage, activities by armed groups whose acts of
terrorism against our country have been tolerated in
the country where they originate; after all that
history, which our people know only too well having
suffered the loss of many lives and considerable
material losses –the blockade alone has cost Cuba
more than $70 billion USD– on top of all that, our
people have had to contend with the obsession of
U.S. governments to fabricate an opposition in Cuba,
to fabricate an organized dissidence in Cuba, to
foment in Cuba the emergence or strengthening of
groups responding to their interests, with an
evidently annexationist vision, those who would be
responsible some day for propitiating Cuba’s
annexation to the United States, in the supposed
scenario of the defeat of the Cuban Revolution. That
has been its obsession and the purpose of the laws,
the funding, the incitement and the role of the
plan after another has foundered against the unity
of our people, against the moral authority of the
Cuban Revolution, against the unquestionable fact
that the overwhelming majority of the Cuban people
support and defend the Revolution, against the
unquestionable historical moral leadership of the
Cuban Revolution. They have come up against all of
that, but they have not overcome that resistance,
which has elicited international admiration.
I must give this background information, because
recent events in Cuba cannot be examined without
taking into account that there is still this
historical dispute with Cuba over its right to
independence and the struggle of the Cuban people to
preserve that independence vis à vis a historical
ambition and concrete plans for Cuba’s annexation
to the United States. It is that which is at stake
in Cuba today. Thus, in analyzing the Cuban reality
and what is occurring in Cuba today, that element
should be kept in mind.
is well aware that international law is on its side.
The United Nations Charter recognizes the right of
Cuba to choose its own political system, it
recognizes respect for the principle of equality
among states and it recognizes the right of peoples
to self-determination. Thus, the blockade, the
aggressive actions and pressures on Cuba are
attempts at violating our people’s right to
exercise its self-determination, create its
institutions, and found its political and economic
system of its own free will.
is what is at stake in Cuba today, that is, if a
small country, in the vicinity of a great
superpower, can be an independent country, can be a
country that follows its own path.
International covenants on human rights approved by
the United Nations and much referred to in these
days, state, and I quote: "That all peoples
have the right to self-determination", and as
Cubans, we have given ourselves that right. We have
approved a constitution, we have amended it, we have
laws, we have institutions, we have more than 2,000
organizations whish are part of our civil society
--including non-governmental organizations and
workers leagues– and we have our own system, our
institutions, and we have chosen our own way and we
demand that it is respected. That is what is at
stake here, that is, whether we can or cannot do
things our own way and exercise that right.
The Charter of the Organization of American States
(OAS), from which as it is known Cuba was expelled
due to pressure from the US government --an issue on
which we have repeatedly made our opinion clear--
the Charter of the OAS, to which the United States
does belong and in which it exercises its full
might, reads: "All states have the right to
choose, without external interference, their
political, economic and social system, and to
organize it in the form that is most convenient for
them, and have the duty not to interfere in the
affairs of other states."
That is laid down in the OAS Charter, which is
supposedly the cornerstone of the Organization of
the Americas, and thus we are fighting in Cuba for
that right, against all the pressure and against the
intensified hostility of a new government in the
United States that, in the exercise of its
unilateral power in the world, has increased its
rhetoric and hostility toward Cuba to unexpected
So, that is what is at stake in Cuba today. We find
it important that these elements are taken into
account as the backdrop of everything we are going
to explain here this afternoon.
It is a fact that there have been more than 40 years
of blockade, of aggression, of armed invasions; it
is a fact that illegal emigration from Cuba has been
incited; it is a fact that a policy has been pursued
by 10 successive U.S. administrations that Cuba has
had to confront and which it has had to survive. But
with the advent of the administration headed by
President Bush, jr. in the United States, hostility
towards Cuba has dramatically increased.
In conjunction with the debt of gratitude that
President Bush owed the extremist groups in Miami
that backed his electoral campaign and played a key
role in his election, the presence of more than 20
Cubans from extremist groups in Miami in key
positions in the U.S. government and the decision to
give central responsibility for Latin American
Affairs, and thus for Cuba, in the State Department
to Mr. Otto Reich, have open the way for a new stage
of growing hostilities towards Cuba.
I should clearly say that we do not blame the
American people for this situation. We have feelings
of friendship and respect for the people of the
United States, and we have given proof of that.
not blame the majority of Cubans who live in the
United States, either, the ones we do not call
"the mafia;" we refer to them as the Cuban
community resident there, whose right to relations
with their families and to visit Cuba we also
respect and defend, we do not blame them. We do not
blame wide sectors of U.S. society, its academics,
its business sector, who understand the need for a
change in policy towards Cuba and the normalization
of relations. We blame for this situation the
extremist Miami groups, which are a minority, and
the sectors within the Administration that have
committed themselves to a policy of hostility
We do not even blame the majority of the House and
the Senate, whose members have given proof in recent
years of their will, their decision, their
aspiration for the normalization of relations
between the two countries, for the promotion of
trade, for the sale of food and medicines, for U.S.
citizens’ right to travel to Cuba, for the
elimination of the anachronistic prohibitions
currently preventing them from traveling to Cuba.
Now, is that the road that the majority of U.S.
society, according to surveys, data, and
publications want it to be followed today? No.
Another road in relation to Cuba has been followed,
a road that has led to a reinforcement of the
blockade, a strengthening of the blockade measures
–later we shall see some of those recent decisions–
a road of greater incitement than ever to illegal
emigration, a greater tolerance of it.
I will simply say that in the last seven months
there have been seven hijackings of Cuban air and
sea crafts, encouraged by tolerance, by the
indiscriminate application of the Cuban Adjustment
Act, by the practice of receiving people who use
terrorism and violence to get there, who use
firearms, something that is penalized in
international conventions to which the United States
is a party; and the terrorist hijackers involved in
four of those cases remain at liberty, and there is
no news of any legal proceedings being taken against
them –the first four of those seven cases, from
August of last year to date.
In four cases, the hijackers that committed acts of
terrorism are freely walking the streets; that is
what has happened. There are people living freely in
Miami who murdered to divert vessels or planes to
the United States, and there has been an increase in
all of that. I will return to this point later.
1200 weekly hours of radio broadcasts against Cuba
are receiving more funds than ever. The U.S.
Interests Section in Havana has been instructed to
practically set up there the headquarters of
internal subversion in Cuba, with the highest
profile of a head of this section in its 25 years of
functioning, in open violation of the laws governing
diplomatic conduct, by openly interfering in Cuba’s
internal affairs, in a tone and behavior totally
inappropriate for a diplomat.
The U.S. Interests Section’s diplomatic pouch is
being increasingly used to bring funds and the means
for the exercise of counterrevolutionary acts in
Cuba to groups created and funded by the U.S.
government. To sum up, we have a situation where
there has been an increase in subversive actions,
disrespect for Cuban laws, and open defiance of Cuba’s
legal institutions, which all diplomatic
representations should respect in their work in our
give you an example of how Mr. James Cason
anticipated his work in Cuba as head of the US
Interests Section in Havana, I will make available
to you a brief excerpt of an interview he gave to
Miami television in December, so that you can hear
in his own words what we are talking about.
position as head of the US Interests Section in
Havana, now given that your are moving about, you
have met with ordinary Cubans and with dissidents in
Cuba. Have you already met with leaders of the
anti-Castro organizations in exile as well?
Yes, two or three times. Every time I go to Miami, I
want to meet and have met with all the groups, the
Cuban-American National Foundation, the Council for
the Freedom of Cuba, independent groups and all the
groups here, because I want to explain what I have
seen in Cuba, what is happening and to hear their
points of view on what we are doing, to see if there
is something we should do that we are not
doing. It is a very amiable dialogue and one
of my messages is that the important thing in Cuba
is that there is an opposition; they are isolated,
harassed, but they are persisting and have a lot of
courage, and the important thing is that they meet,
come together and concentrate on the essentials, on
the rights that they do not have and on the
liberties that they should have; in other words, not
to focus on personalities, on ideological
differences; the important thing is that the
opposition has to gain ground, because the day is
going to come when there is a transition. There is a
transition now, but there is going to be a new Cuba
one day, and they have to take their part in forming
and deciding the future of Cuba. So, they must win
their space, begin to discuss what has to be done
differently to change Cuba; so, it is important that
they focus on the important things, not the
Of the meetings that you have had with the
dissidents –I don’t know if you want to go into
this type of detail– but, where do you see that
the dissident movement is perhaps not going in a
positive direction? What is your message to the
dissidents? I would like to ask you, if you allow me
to, for a message to anti-Castro groups in Miami.
Which is your message to the dissidents in Cuba,
what would you like to tell them base on what you
have already seen?
Well, first that the future of Cuba… as US
citizens we are not going to decide the future of
Cuba, it’s going to be the Cubans, outside and
within Cuba. From my point of view,... my advice is
to focus on the essential, what are the important
factors? Not to become divided, to meet and try to
agree or reach an agreement on 10 points; for
example, points on which all of them agree, and not
talk about issues on which they are not in
agreement; because in a democracy everyone has
differences, there are actions, but the important
thing is that that is a military dictatorship where
if people do not meet, they are not going to have
much chance of prospering. So, they should
concentrate on the essentials and look for points of
agreement, not differences.
O.K., now I’m moving on to the theme of the
dissidence movement. One of your priorities is also
to help that movement in Cuba. How are you trying to
help the Castro opposition?
Well, as I said before, by offering information,
moral and spiritual support, that they are not
alone, that the world knows what is going on inside
Cuba. One manifestation of that is the fact that
many of the leaders, like Osvaldo Payá,
Vladimiro Roca, Marta Beatriz Roque, have
received European human rights awards and from other
parts of the world, so the world knows what is going
on in Cuba, and we are there to tell them about that
reality and help them as much as possible.
giving them anything, it is not what Castro says,
that we are financing the opposition; the opposition
is insisting on the fact that the system has failed
and we are there to offer them the support of the
American people and of the rest of the democratic
world in what they are doing, which is advocating
having the basic human rights that Cuba signed in
the Declaration of Human Rights, in the Universal
declarations, and has not fulfilled in all these
Pérez. - This
is Mr. Cason in December. As you can see his
explicit job is to unify the groups, help them to
draw up a ten-point program.
Mr. Cason, as we can see, came to Cuba with the plan
of creating a single party of dissidents in Cuba. I
don’t know, then, why it bothers him so much that
we Cuban revolutionaries have a single party to
defend the Revolution, since that is what he has
tried to foster with the so-called
His instructions concerning these groups were to
iron out their internal differences, the internecine
"fights" over who shall play the leading
role or over money, and to try to create a unified
group, with money.
I am amazed that he doesn’t talk about the prizes
awarded in the United States, because the
International Republican Institute, one of the
groups that has received money from the United
States, that received as much as $1,674,462 in 2002,
and what for? To help create the bases of
international support to provide the activists in
Cuba with material, moral and ideological support,
even giving them awards and international
recognition. And we know how this institution and
others in the United States have been involved in
the business of giving prizes and for that reason
they have been giving more and more money every
year, organizing trips, awards, tours. We have
information on all of that.
I want to highlight to you the idea that Mr. Cason
marks a time when the anti-Cuban policy, the policy
of subversion against Cuba is become fiercer, overt,
Here he says: "I meet whenever I can with the
Cuban-American National Foundation", the people
who financed the wave of terrorists attacks on
hotels in Cuba which caused the death of an Italian
tourist and injuries to dozens of tourists and Cuban
"I meet with them whenever I can", with
the Council for the Freedom of Cuba which is the
paramilitary wing of the old Cuban American National
Foundation; Martín Pérez, head of the Foundation’s
paramilitary apparatus, the organizer of many plans
to assassinate the head of the Cuban state,
President Fidel Castro, at international events;
people involved in organizing and financing the
attempt to put 40 kilograms of C-4 explosive in the
Ibero-American Summit in Panama to assassinate the
President of Cuba.
So "I meet with them whenever I can to give
them information, to compare notes; I give them hope
that the time is near when they and the groups
inside which we support can finally ensure that
people enjoy their human rights" all those
individuals, Batista supporters most of them,
implicated in the repression and murder of 20,000
Cubans during the Batista dictatorship.
We are very well aware why Mr. Cason has come here,
what orders he brings, what his motives are and what
affiliations he has. Therefore, it is our duty and
our right to defend our country’s independence
using the legal structure in our country strictly
within respect for our laws, for our moral values
and our sense of life and of the convictions that
Now, that interview took place in December. What has
happened between then and now? On February 27, 2003,
Adolfo Franco, a Cuban, one of more than twenty
holding positions in the government, an
administrator who looks after Latin America and the
Caribbean in USAID, the United States Agency for
International Development, a U.S. government agency,
said before a House of Representative Foreign
Affairs Subcommittee that the U.S. Agency for
International Development has invested more than $20
million, $22 million to be exact, since 1997 to put
the Helms-Burton Act into effect in Cuba.
He also said that one of the things done to comply
with this act has been to send materials,
propaganda, to deliver more than 7,000 radio
tuned to receive Radio Martí, among other things.
The USAID itself
has said that these $22 million are just a tiny part
of the funds channeled to Cuba, a tiny part! because
most of the money for subversion does not go through
USAID. The Helms-Burton Act has paragraph 109 which
directs the government to distribute money for
subversion in Cuba through USAID and it has
paragraph 115 which favors giving the money through
secret channels, the special services’ channels.
USAID itself says that the amount they give is the
smallest part and, according to Franco, it has been
$22 million since 1997.
On February 28, the Five Cuban Heroes unjustly
imprisoned in the United States when they were
helping the fight against terrorism, are once again
send to the punishment cells from where they are not
allowed out until April 2.
On March 24, the Office of Foreign Assets
Control —the U.S. government office which
keeps an eye open to see that the blockade is abided
by— issues new regulations which make the blockade
even tighter: travel by Americans to Cuba is limited
even more; the small licenses that had been issued
so that students could come to Cuba, for
intellectuals and suchlike, have been restricted to
such a point that they are virtually eliminated;
educational exchanges are eliminated, no only who
can come here has been restricted in an arbitrary
manner but also who can go there. Visas are
virtually denied out of hand to young people,
students, Cuban intellectuals, athletes, and
scientists to attend events in the United States to
which they have been invited. Travel to Cuba on
trips to supply the groups in their job of internal
subversion has been expedited. Americans are
forbidden to attend seminars and conferences in Cuba
organized by Cuban institutions. That is to say that
on March 24, a new tightening of the blockade took
place, which takes the measure against Cuba
envisaged by the blockade to schizophrenic levels.
On March 26, the Secretary of State Mr. Colin Powell
appears before the Senate Appropriations
Subcommittee and announces that the budget he is
presenting includes $26,900,000 for anti-Cuban
broadcasts on Radio and Television
"Martí"; this is added to the twenty
something millions we already mentioned and is a
violation of international legality, of the
International Telecommunications Union’s
regulations, and acknowledges that they finance a
radio station which violates our radio electronic
space with more than 1,200 broadcast hours to Cuba
every week encouraging internal subversion, sabotage
plans, encouraging desertion, illegal emigration,
that is what that radio and television station spend
their time doing, spreading lies and false
stories about Cuba.
On March 31, the State Department publishes its
report on human rights in the world, which, as we
know, discusses the whole world except for the
United States itself and devotes pages of lies and
slanders to Cuba which are then used as the basis
for submitting the resolution against Cuba, which
the United States sponsors and organizes, in the
Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
This year the resolution will be voted on, on April
16. The United States, because of its inability and
lack of credibility to submit it, especially since
it has been out of the Commission for a year as the
international community felt that it did not meet
the requirements for being a member of the
commission, and after getting back on [the
commission] thanks to Spain and Italy that agreed to
withdraw their candidacies so that the United States
could be elected without voting since it set the
condition of not having to go to a vote because it
feared losing —because voting in the election is
secret and they are afraid of secret ballots whereas
we aim for them— so it is back, but it feels
afraid to submit the resolution against Cuba.
Other countries that previously rendered them this
service are not willing to do it anymore. So
now the United States has sought to have the
governments of Peru and Costa Rica join with the
government of Uruguay, who did it last year. They
have submitted an almost innocuous text which says
practically nothing but meets the American goal of
ensuring that the subject is kept before the
Commission on Human Rights so they can justify
keeping the blockade against Cuba by the censure of
Cuba in Geneva.
On April 2, the Undersecretary of state for Western
Hemisphere Affairs, Curtis Strubble said "the
USAID will invest $7 million from the fund for
economic support in Cuba this year". Note how
money is flowing into Cuba. Here we have seen Mr.
Cason saying that the United States really does not
provide financing. In my view, Mr. Cason does not
read Congress’s minutes, they don’t tell him
what his bosses say because the Undersecretary of
State says that they have allocated $7 million this
year; the Administrator for Latin America says that
they have allotted $22 million, USAID alone. Mr.
Cason doesn’t want to know about these things but
anyway I shall tell you later on how the money gets
here and what is the government’s role and I will
show you here the paychecks and the payrolls that we
have in our possession.
On April 6, the Sun Sentinel, a Florida
newspaper has an article telling how the
counterrevolutionary organization Commandos F-4, a
violent terrorist group tied to sabotage plans, to
armed raids into Cuba are training with heavy arms
—it doesn’t say with handguns and knives— it
says: "Training is with heavy arms to carry out
armed actions against Cuba and for a possible armed
invasion of that country."
The Sun Sentinel calls the terrorist
organization paramilitary and prints statements by
the head of this organization that openly declares
their intention of eliminate the Cuban President by
military force and terrorist methods. They train,
they have a camp over there, located in south
Florida and they feel inspired in this new time in
relation to increase their violent terrorist
activities against Cuba.
This is what has been happening, especially in the
last few months, since the U.S. government decided
to turn up the heat on our country.
Now, what has Cuba done during this time, what have
we done, aware that the majority of the U.S. people
does not have a hostile view of Cuba; aware that
there is a growing current of friendship of sympathy
towards Cuba in the US; knowing that the
overwhelming majority of the American people
supported the return of the little Cuban boy whom
they tried to kidnap in Florida; motivated, as well,
by genuine feelings of respect of friendship toward
the people of the United States?
While all of this was going on, we, after the
terrorist attacks of September 11, which
Cuba condemned offering its sympathies to the
American people, rejecting the practice of
terrorism, offering our air space, our airports,
offering medical assistance, offering Cuban
institutions to provide help for the victims of the
attack, after we had offered to the US medicine to
fight against anthrax in the United States, we
offered to produce 100 million tablets for them,
free of charge, but received virtually no reply. We
expressed our willingness to provide medical
equipment developed in Cuba, scientific equipment
that, in a time of terror in the United States,
could help with research to fight against anthrax.
On 29 November
2001, we sent a note to the Head of the US Interest
Section in Havana which officially proposed the
draft agreements for both countries to co-operate in
matters concerning the fight against
drug-trafficking, the fight against terrorism,
co-operation to eliminate the smuggling of persons,
the illegal immigration which we have submitted on
previous occasions and which have been reiterated
afterwards, receiving a negative reply.
Why is the U.S. government not interested in
co-operating with Cuba in matters concerning drug
trafficking, the fight against illegal emigration,
boat and plane hijacking, people smuggling and the
fight against terrorism? Why isn’t it interested?
These are subjects of interest to the U.S. society.
On December 20, 2001 we passed our law against acts
of terrorism in which we set penalties for anyone
using Cuban territory even to organize or finance
acts [of terrorism] against other countries
including the United States.
When the news about the Nile virus broke out
we made an offer to the U.S. government to
co-operate in scientific research. While this was
going on what was going on over there? Cuba was
falsely and unjustly accused on being a country that
sponsors terrorism, of being a country with a
program to develop biological and chemical weapons
that we had to prove wrong when the time came. They
tried to boycott President Carter’s visit to Cuba
by making those accusation to coincide with his
visit to our country.
We have, nevertheless, kept on with our fight
against terrorism, we have given drug traffickers
tough sentences, we have struggled to ensure that
drugs don’t travel close to Cuba so that Cuban
territory is not used to ship drugs to the United
The U.S. people must have plenty of examples of the
feelings of respect for Cuba, proved by the hundreds
of US farmers who have come to Cuba, who have
defended their rights. And it was while they were
defending their rights that the purchase of more
than one million tons of food was purchased from the
United States, worth almost $250 million, something
significant for U.S. farmers.
In other words, while all this was occurring and
Cuba was making gestures of good will, the response
was all this policy of harassment and provocation
Now well, I should give a brief timetable of the
days leading up to the criminal trials, which we
shall explain later.
On February 24 this year, the head of the U.S.
Interests Section in Havana, Mr. Cason, in a meeting
organized by him with a group of those mercenaries
who, organized and financed by the U.S. government
cooperate with the power that attacks their country,
at that meeting Mr. Cason made unheard of
statements, words never before spoken by any
diplomat in any part of the world, offensive words
against the government and people of Cuba, words
that infringe the basic rules on how diplomats
should behave, interfering words, words aimed at
provoking the Cuban government and people. That was
On March 6, the President of the Cuban Council of
State, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, in his
remarks to the National Assembly gave due response
to these provocations, called these words a
shameless and defiant provocation and suggested that
perhaps the numerous U.S. intelligence service
officers who work in the USIS could explain to Mr
Cason that Cuba could easily do without the U.S.
Interest Section in Havana; a warning, a clear
message that he should stop his provocations, should
temper his behavior, which is becoming truly
intolerable for the authorities and the public
opinion in Cuba.
On March 7, the U.S. State Department confirmed that
the five Cubans held political prisoner in U.S.
jails had been in the punishment cells for nine
On March 10, we delivered a diplomatic note to Mr.
Cason, Note 365 in which we replied to the
statements he had made on February 24, we asked him
once again to cease his openly provocative actions,
his interference with Cuba and we let him know about
decisions we had taken concerning his subversive
movements in our country which violate Cuban law. It
seemed to be our final warning, our final effort at
persuading Mr. Carson about his irresponsible and
openly provocative behavior.
On March 12, that is, two days after our note,
seemingly as a response to our appeal, to our
diplomatic note, Mr. Cason organized a new
conspiratorial meeting in his own residence, the
place where he lives, setting yet another record,
now he was not only offering his offices but also
On March 14, two days later, he again organized
another meeting —it was so quickly organized that
we perceived an obvious decision to reach a
confrontational stage with Cuban authorities— it
began at 10:00 in the morning, ended at 5:00 in the
We have been patient. I am telling the whole story
to provide evidence that we have been patient, that
we have been tolerant. But, in fact, Mr. Cason’s
latest decision to turn the U.S. Interests Section
in Havana and his residence into a sort of
headquarters of subversion against Cuba, is sending
a message to all these mercenaries which is that of
believing that they can count on impunity, that they
are protected by a powerful ally who encourages,
finances, organizes, and directs them and having
created this situation, Mr. Cason implementing his
government’s aggressive policy against Cuba at
unsuspected levels has compelled us to apply our
law, and these trials must be understood as Cuba’s
behavior when no other option remained given the
path of confrontation and provocation that the U.S.
government has chosen to pursue in its
relations with Cuba and in which the Head of its
diplomatic mission in Havana has played a leading
Our patience was no longer justified; our tolerance
was no longer justified. Things had reached an
untenable point for our country which lives under
aggression, harassment and blockade and which has
laws to defend itself and has made sovereign use of
its laws to protect its sovereignty, to punish those
who co-operate with the power that tries to subvert
order in the country and tries to crush and deprive
Cubans of the right to enjoy independence and self-
Mr Cason and his irresponsible behavior exhausted
our patience. He is the main responsible for what
Therefore, after all this, on March 18, the decision
was taken to arrest a group of the mercenaries who
had been at the meetings on December 24, March 12
and 14. Thirty-two mercenaries were arrested that
On the following day, March 19, another 33
mercenaries were arrested. They had, and have, been
involved and received money and given distorted
information so the Helms-Burton Act could be
implemented, so that the blockade could be
implemented. They have contributed to the U.S.
policy of condemning Cuba in Geneva to legitimize
the blockade, to give a cloak of respectability to
the blockade that is rejected by the international
On the night of
March 19, a DC-3 was hijacked the result of years of
tolerating, of encouraging plane hijackings, of
welcoming those who commit violent acts to emigrate
illegally to the United States as heroes.
And I really want to stress this, because, when I
say that it was the 18 and 19 of March I am
underlining that this decision was taken and these
arrests took place before the war in Iraq began and
before the two planes and the ferry were hijacked.
The decision was taken before and the arrests took
place as a result of the unbearable situation we had
been placed in by Mr. Cason’s provocations and
Now, with the DC-3 hijacked, the hijackers in the
United States, the plane confiscated, the news
leaked to the press that the authorities were
willing to grant the hijackers bail —which
finally, it seems, is not going to happen but it was
leaked to the press and where there’s smoke there’s
fire— all this created new encouragement, as we
warned, and again on March 31, the AN-24 was
hijacked. On April 2 the ferry was hijacked.
Curiously, with the ferry hijacking there was a
change in the behavior pattern that U.S. authorities
had showed until that time. Because in compliance
with the Migratory Agreements they intercepted at
sea all the small craft that were trying to reach
the United States, they stopped the boats and were
committed to returning those who were trying to
reach the United States illegally. They didn’t
return all of them, they took between 10% and 12% of
those intercepted to the United States, under one
pretext or another, but still they did return about
On the day of the hijacked ferry they said that they
were not willing to act in this case as they had
always done and so we took action and solved the
In other words, there has been a wave of plane
hijackings, an attempt to use illegal emigration to
destabilize the country, to create a situation in
Cuba that was really complex. Then, on April 3
the trials began.
Now that I have spoken of the immigration issue I
want to add a piece of information that I think is
important for what I am about to say. I want to say
that we believe that the increase in hijackings —I
already said there were seven hijackings in seven
months using firearms, knives, violence against
passengers, grenades-- our opinion is that these
hijackings, these numerous plans for hijackings, for
illegal emigration to the United States are actually
part of a deliberate plan to encourage illegal
departures from Cuba, to encourage people to commit
acts of terrorism on boats, and on planes that fly
to and from Cuba, to encourage the hijacking of
Cuban boats and of Cuban planes, to create the
conditions which will allow them to tear up the
We believe there is a deliberate plan whose final
goal is to tear up the immigration agreements which
have been working between the two countries for
almost a decade and to realize the dream of the
groups of Cuban-born extremists, of the Cuban-born
terrorist mob living in Florida that have always
opposed these agreements and put continual pressure
on the U.S. government to break up these agreements.
It is worth now casting a brief look at the text and
commitments in this agreement. This is the joint
communiqué of September 9, 1994, signed by both
governments and it reads, "migrants rescued at
sea attempting to enter the United States will not
be permitted to enter the United States." It
goes on to say that "both countries pledged
their cooperation to take prompt and effective
action to prevent the transport of persons to the
U.S. illegally," this is signed; it also says
that "the two governments will take effective
measures in every way they possibly can to oppose
and prevent the use of violence by any persons
seeking to reach, or who arrive in, the United
States from Cuba by forcible diversions of aircraft
and vessels." This is the commitment
entered by the United States Government. It also
says that "the United States ensure that total
legal migration to the United States from Cuba will
be a minimum of 20, 000 Cubans each year."
I will dwell here on this table I am showing: the
U.S. government’s commitment is to give visas to a
minimum of 20,000 Cubans a year so they can
emigrate. This does not include immediate relatives
of U.S. citizens, therefore, not including that, a
minimum of 20,000 should emigrate.
This table shows the true situation five months into
the ninth year of the agreement. Each year of the
agreement begins on October 1.
Between October 1 and February 28, in these first
five months of the agreement in the year we are now
in during which the United States should grant no
less than 20,000 visas, with five months gone, they
have issued 505 visas. Last year there were 7,237,
in 2001 there were more than 8,300, in 2000, 10,860
and in 1999 back then, five months into the year,
almost 11,600 Cubans had received their visas and
were emigrating to the United States.
What does this
abrupt reduction in issued visas mean in overt
violation of the Immigration Agreement? Why is the
U.S. government not meeting its commitment?
Why, after five months have gone by are we not even
close to 10,000 Cubans with visas and they have
issued hardly 2.5% of the visas agreed to?
Last year there was already a violation; in 2002
they did not issue 20,000 visas. They were short by
2,000 visas since they granted just over 18,000
visas. That was a breach of the agreement last year,
which ended on September 30.
Then, from October 1 until now, look at the curve
(he points to the graph). What are we dealing with?
We are dealing with a deliberate plan to make those
who want to emigrate lose hope, so that they have no
alternative but illegal emigration. Why don’t they
meet their obligations? Why has the Interests
Section, with the extensive consular apparatus they
have working in Havana, with all their facilities,
given out barely 505 visas? It’s the same in
March, six months into the year.
So, at the present pace there will be a
flagrant violation of the Immigration Agreement that
commits the U.S. government to hand out at least
20,000 visas. We are witnessing the implementation
of a premeditated plan to encourage illegal
emigration, to leave those who want to emigrate from
Cuba no other option than to hijack boats,
planes. What we want is that migration takes
place in a legal and orderly fashion.
There are people who want to tear up the immigration
agreements. There is a list of people we know quite
well who don’t want any immigration agreements,
who want to create an incident between Cuba and the
United States, who are asking the United States to
use aggression against Cuba.
Therefore, I think that this is the right
opportunity to warn about this new provocation and
On May 2, 1995 both governments issued a joint
declaration, which was annexed to the previous
communiqué, and reads:
"From this moment on Cuban migrants who are
intercepted at sea by the United States will be
returned to Cuba.
"Both parties reaffirm their joint commitment
to take measures to prevent dangerous exits from
Cuba which could mean a risk of loss of human life
and both commit themselves to opposing those acts of
violence associated with illegal migration".
This is the agreement in force between our countries
and we see how they dangerously breach the
Immigration Agreement and issue a really minimum
amount of visas to migrate legally from Cuba.
Now, I will offer you some information about the
criminal trials, having looked at the background and
explained their causes and the conditions that have
brought us to this point.
Twenty-nine trials have been held in Cuba, in just
about every province in the country. Charges were
pressed against 75 people, 74 of them men, and the
courts have handed down appropriate sentences of
between 6 and 28 years in jail. Therefore, it is not
true that there have been death sentences. It is not
true that in these cases life sentences have been
handed down, which the law allows for and the
behavior of some of the defendants merit. Actually,
even longer sentences than they were given are
provided for their crimes in most legal systems
around the world.
The criminal trials were arraigned on an expedite
basis as per Law No. 5 of 1977, the Law of Criminal
Procedure. And here I want to make a side comment.
A summary trial is an institution that is not new
and is far from being a Cuban invention and
something only used in Cuba, far from it. It is in
the body of law of more than 100 countries,
including the United States and was, in fact,
brought to Cuba by the Spanish colonial government.
Summary trials did not arise in Cuba in the
Revolution; they date back to the 1888 Law of
Criminal Prosecution so that it was the Spanish
colonizers who brought this to Cuba, the Spanish
colonial government. The Law of Criminal Prosecution
of 1888 was in effect in Cuba as the Law of Criminal
Procedure until 1973 when new regulations were
adopted, but they took a lot from that law. Just as
the present Cuban Commercial Code is still the
Spanish Code from colonial times. And the
interventionist U.S. military government from 1900
to 1902 used summary trials. So, we have inherited
this institution, which is also used
A summary trial
means that the President of the Supreme Court is
empowered to shorten the time for holding a trial,
but under no circumstances does it mean a limitation
of guarantees. Therefore, I strongly reject the idea
that a summary trial is a trial without guarantees
or that a summary trial is an institution invented
Summary trials also existed in the pseudo-republic,
under Machado and Batista’s bloody dictatorships,
which U.S. governments supported and financed giving
them military and political support, although they
were not often used or they were used but they were
not the only measures because they resorted to more
expeditious solutions such as murder, disappearance
and crime against their opponents.
In Latin America the United States backed
military dictatorship that disappeared and murdered
hundreds of thousands of people. They too used more
expeditious procedures such as murder and
disappearance, which the Revolution cannot be
accused of. No one can come up with, nor will ever
be able to come up with the name of a missing person
in Cuba, the name of a murdered person, or of
someone arrested in the early hours of morning with
a hood placed on his or her head who was never seen
again. However, there are hundreds of thousands of
cases on those lists of missing people in Latin
America that have yet to be resolved. No one can
accuse Cuba of any such thing! Just as it cannot be
accused of having the new institutions created by
U.S. legislation such as the Secret Military Courts.
Therefore, I maintain that there has been absolute
respect for due process and that all defendants have
had their full guarantees respected in accordance
with Cuban law and with the principles generally
recognized and accepted throughout the world.
I will be quoting them in the six arguments I will
First, all of the defendants knew of the charges
brought against them and had the opportunity to
contest them before the trial began. They could also
set forth anything they considered relevant. It is
not true that they only learned of the charges
during the trial. They were informed in advance and
just like any other defendant in Cuba they had the
opportunity to give their views on the charges.
Secondly, all of the defendants exercised their
right to have legal counsel, a defence lawyer who,
according to Cuban law, can be either retained by
the defendant or, if he or she fails to do so,
appointed by the court as assigned counsel.
I will make clear that 54 defence lawyers took part
in the 29 trials; some lawyers represented more than
Fifty-four took part, of which the defendants and
their families appointed 44. I reject the notion
that some of the defendants were not properly
defended in their trial; that is untrue. Those who
say this are lying. Of the 54 lawyers, the
defendants retained 44, that is, 80% and the courts
Thirdly, all of the defendants exercised their right
to be heard by previously established courts. No
special ad hoc tribunal was set up to try them. They
did not go before a military court set up in an
expeditious way; that is not true. They were brought
before previously established provincial courts, as
our law provides for, and judges appointed who were
already there and working in those courts. No judges
were appointed on any especial basis nor courts
specifically set up; that is untrue.
Therefore, all of them, each and every one of them,
exercised their right to be heard in public hearings
by courts and judges that already existed. Oral
proceedings were held with the defendants where they
exercised their right to speak, where they answered
questions from the defence and the prosecution,
where witnesses were called, experts were called,
where the defence lawyers examined the witnesses,
including the experts. There were oral hearings
because our law does not allow a court to make a
decision without a hearing, as it is the case with
the U.S. and other legal systems where the
defendants can plead guilty or cut a deal, and
sentence can be passed without a trial.
Here in Cuba a
hearing is required and hearings were held. In other
words, nobody was judged on paper or without being
given the chance to express his opinion and make his
statements and those of his lawyers.
The oral hearings
were open to the public. I reject the notion of
secret trials. On average, about 100 people per
trial attended the hearings. Almost 3,000 people
attended all of the hearings, mostly family members,
witnesses and expert witnesses —hundreds of
witnesses and expert witnesses— and on average
about 100 people almost 3,000 at the 29 trials.
Therefore, I reject the notion of the defendants
brought to trial in a place with no guarantees and
with nobody in attendance; that information is
I must now here make clear the following: it has
been said, "Foreign diplomats in Havana were
not present at the trials." Some foreign
diplomats, I should say from a small number of
countries, were especially interested in these
matters, I don’t know why. And this has been used
as an example of the lack of guarantees.
Who can say that a foreign diplomat has any right to
attend a trial if someone from his country is not
being tried? If there had been a citizen from his
country, the trial would have been held without the
presence of a diplomatic representative. That is how
things works in Cuba in those cases where foreigners
must stand trial because they have committed a crime
in our country, drug trafficking, crimes of
terrorism and other crimes. There is always
diplomatic and consular access and representation
from the defendants’ country of origin.
Why should a foreign diplomat attend a trial where
Cubans are being tried by a Cuban court, with Cuban
accusers, Cuban defence attorneys and Cuban
relatives? What monitoring job does he or she have
to do there? If they want any information they can
address the Foreign Ministry and we shall decide
what information we offer. We do not have to grant a
special right that we are not granted. The courts
are empowered to decide who can and who cannot
I want to make it clear that we have not ignored any
prerogative of some foreign diplomats in Havana.
There is simply no reason for foreign diplomats to
attend a trial unless one of their nationals is on
The courts decided that they would not be open to
the press, that is their prerogative and we respect
it. They decided for security and organizational
reasons and to avoid any incidents to limit access
of hundreds of thousands and millions of
revolutionaries who, angry at the unpatriotic and
mercenary attitude of those individuals would have
liked to attend those trials but couldn’t go
either. But those trials were held with all
guarantees for the physical and moral integrity of
the accused and with due order and respect for their
relatives and for all involved.
I stress that these were oral, public and
adversary proceedings, that is a principle of law,
which allows for the defence to present opposing
views. Therefore, I strongly reject the idea of a
trial in which these rights were not guaranteed.
Fourth, all of the defendants and their
defence lawyers exercised their right to introduce
evidence in their favor, which was examined the same
as that produced by the police investigation, which
was introduced by the prosecution. They exercised
their right to call their witnesses. The defence
lawyers called 28 witnesses who had not been
previously called by the prosecution, of whom 22,
the overwhelming majority were authorized on the
spot by the courts to act as witnesses.
All of the defence
lawyers had prior access to the list of charges.
What happened to the defence lawyers of the five
Cubans unjustly sentenced in Miami did not happen
here, that still today, all this time after the
trial, they have not been given access to 80% of the
documents submitted by the prosecution because the
U.S. government has declared them to be secret. That
did not happen here.
What happened to the five Cubans in Miami who were
not able to read the charges against them in order
to prepare their defence did not happen here. That
did not happen nor did the defence lawyers have to
argue their cases without having seen 80% of the
prosecution’s charges. That was not the case here.
Neither have any of those defendants in Cuba been
put into solitary confinement to prevent them from
preparing for the trial.
Fifth; all have the right, and they were
notified of this during the trial, to appeal their
sentences in a court higher than the one, which
handed down their sentences, in this case to the
Supreme Court. This is a right they have which the
Cuban law respects scrupulously.
And sixth; I said I was going to cite six
arguments. There has been the most transparent and
scrupulous respect for the physical safety, for the
physical and moral integrity of each of the
defendants at every stage of the trial. There is not
here the slightest evidence or the slightest
suspicion of coercion, pressure, threats or
blackmail. We cannot be accused of any of that
because we have morale, because we believe in moral
values and that is what has allowed us to get this
far, and our people know that.
Now on this subject
I’m going to show you the opinion offered, on this
matter of guarantees, by one of the defendants in a
(A video is shown)
... to make a statement or refrain from doing so, Do
you want to make a statement?
Defendant: Yes, I
want to make a statement.
You can proceed now.
suggest you ask me questions, like you did to
Miguel, that the court asks me questions.
You said you wanted to do it freely, that is,
without questions. Well, then I will say the same
thing that if there is any question that you do not
wish to answer you should tell the members of the
court that is your right.
Defendant.- I want
to attest to here, before this court, the proper
treatment that we have been given by the State
Security authorities in the investigation
department. We have been treated fairly, we have not
been harassed, and we have not been mistreated at
We must say that the officials, the high command of
Villamarista and all of the staff there, including
the guards and the service staff, have treated us
very well, or at least me personally. I want to say
this because, well, I have not been in contact with
the other defendants. But, I want to express my
gratitude for this proper treatment, and for the
fact that we have been offered very good medical
care three times a day, and in the case of any kind
of pain, any kind of health problem, the doctors
have come to our cells, they have been there right
with us, if someone had high blood pressure, or
needed to take medication at a certain time, or for
any kind of pain, a toothache, anything. The
investigation department has taken care of us at all
They have allowed visits from our families, we have
been given 15, 20, 25 minutes to see our families,
and we appreciate this, or at least I appreciate
this. I wanted to say that. The visits with our
families have been open, in front of an
investigator, but still, they have been open, we
have been allowed to talk freely. And we have also
had ample contact with our defense lawyers, they
have given us all the time in the world to speak
I want to make it clear here that any false rumors
there may be about the conduct of the investigative
authorities at Villamarista are false rumors, it
cannot be said that they mistreat anyone there, or
harass anyone, or repress anyone.
Felipe Pérez Roque.-
I should add a few clarifications to what you have
seen here. I will say this: There are 37 defendants
who allegedly worked as "independent
journalists". I have seen publications where it
has been said that we have arrested the leading
Cuban journalists, that we have arrested the Cuban
intelligentsia. This is a particularly absurd,
superficial claim, which truly amazes me.
Of the 37 defendants who have claimed for years to
be "independent journalists", while doing
their work as agents of the United States government
in Cuba, only four actually studied journalism and
were journalists at some time in their lives. Is
that clear? Four out of 37. And in Cuba there is no
such thing as a technical degree in journalism, or
anywhere else in the world for that matter. Is that
Four of them
studied journalism at a university and worked at
some point as journalists, four of the 37. Out of
the 37, a total of 14 have had some type of
university studies, including those four, is that
clear? So now you can help me, please, to clarify
things to those who have obviously had misleading
information, though certainly not bad faith.
Please, help us inform them that in Cuba, in
addition to the 157 correspondents who work for the
foreign media –some are citizens of other
countries, others are Cuban, 157 in all, and many
are here now– there are currently, working in Cuba
as journalists, with university degrees in
journalism extended by our universities after five
years of study, and often with post-graduate studies
in other institutions, universities around the
world, 2175 journalists. Please, clarify that all of
you here are the journalists, and them, the 2175
Cuban journalists who are working today for 548
Cuban media organizations –five hundred and
forty-eight!– radio, television, printed
publications, of which 237 have digital versions.
That is the Cuban press and not the mercenaries who
publish in the Miami Herald what their bosses
instruct them to, as we will see later. Because we
have more news for you, all right?
So, please, let’s see if the fact gets across that
there were four who had been journalists at some
point in their lives, out of the 37, and that 14 set
foot in a university at one time or another. And
that here there are more than 2000 Cuban journalists
and 157 foreign journalists who have degrees, who
have worked as journalists, who have recognized
careers. So, we hope they will no longer insult our
professionals and all of you, whose work we
appreciate and respect, all of you who work as
professionals and inform the public and play an
important social role that we recognize and support.
But really, using the title of journalists for these
mercenaries who participate in conspiracies to
subvert Cuba is something that offends our
I should say, on the other hand, that there are more
than 60,000 economists and accountants in Cuba. The
idea that the leading Cuban economists have been
accused is something that insults our intelligence.
There are more than 60,000, and not a single one was
there, is that clear? More than 60,000.
There are more than 700,000 university graduates in
Cuba. When I see certain personalities claiming that
the finest Cuban intellectuals have been accused, it
makes me think about our comrades, our living
legends of classic ballet, music, literature,
poetry, painting, acting, our prestigious
journalists, our authors. It seems to me that this
disregard, this limiting of Cuban intellectuals to
that group of people, among whom there are few
university graduates, few intellectuals, few people
who have worked in journalism at some point, it
seems to me that this is really an insult to the
efforts we have made in pursuit of the education and
culture of our people.
So, please help us to clarify this, that all of the
university graduates in Cuba were not put on trial,
that there are more than 700,000 of them in Cuba.
And although I am saying this, we are not really
bothered by it. You see, we do not allow our
patience to be exhausted, we do not allow ourselves
to be provoked by these statements. But, we believe
that the truth should be said with honesty,
regardless of the positions or views one may have
Lastly, with regard to this matter, I want to say
that the prosecutors have used the following
articles of Cuban legislation, of laws previously
existing in Cuba. No one is being judged on the
basis of a law passed after he was charged. This is
a state of law; this is a country with respectable
institutions that carry out their work.
They have applied Article 91 of the Cuban Penal
Code, Law 62 of 1987, which came, in turn, from the
Spanish Penal Code. This article has been a part of
the Cuban penal law since Cuba was a colony of
Spain, and it is almost exactly repeated in the U.S.
Penal Code. It provides that: "Actions against
the independence or territorial integrity of the
State. He who executes an action in the interest of
a foreign state with the purpose of harming the
independence of the Cuban state or the integrity of
its territory shall incur a sentence of 10 to 20
years of deprivation of liberty or death."
It was taken from the Cuban Social Defense Code of
1936, which in turn came from the Spanish
legislation. Is that clear?
We consider, and the prosecutors consider, and the
people of Cuba consider that someone who receives
money from a foreign power, supports the blockade,
helps to spread biased information to justify the
blockade; commits actions in service of a foreign
power; anyone who provides information to facilitate
the application of the Helms-Burton Act is
committing actions in the service of a foreign
power, and therefore, our laws should serve us to
defend ourselves from such conduct.
That we had not done so before? It is true. We have
been patient, as I said already, we have been
tolerant. But we have been compelled to defend
Additionally, they have applied several articles of
Law No. 88 on the Protection of National
Independence and the Economy of Cuba, the Cuban
antidote to the Helms-Burton Act. And Cuba was not
the only state that proclaimed that it was a crime
in its territory to collaborate with the
Helms-Burton Act, or to obey it. Canada made it a
law. In Canada it is a crime to collaborate or
comply with the Helms-Burton Act. The European Union
adopted a regulation, and in other countries, in
Mexico, in Argentina, laws were passed that make
collaboration or compliance with the Helms-Burton
Act a punishable crime. It is a crime in these
countries to comply with the Helms-Burton Act, as a
result of these antidote laws, which are measures of
legitimate defense from the extraterritorial nature
of the Act. How could we possibly not have a law to
protect ourselves from it? And this law has been
It has been said that these are prisoners of
conscience that they have been charged for thinking
or for speaking and I categorically reject this
notion. What have been judged here are actions and
conducts typified as crimes by the law, we have not
judged ideas. We win battles of ideas with ideas, as
José Martí said, and we are very strong in the
field of ideas. We punish actions and conducts.
I have here the articles of Law No. 88 on the
Protection of National Independence and the Economy:
Article 5.1. "He who seeks out
information to be used in the application of the
Helms-Burton Act, the blockade and the economic war
against our people, aimed at disrupting internal
order, destabilizing the country and liquidating the
socialist state and the independence of Cuba, shall
incur a sanction of deprivation of liberty.
Article 6.1. "He who gathers, reproduces,
disseminates subversive material from the government
of the United States of America, its agencies,
representative bodies, officials or any foreign
entity to support the objectives of the Helms-Burton
Act, the blockade and the war, shall incur..."
It has been said that they are in jail because they
had Mark Twain books in their homes, because they
had The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, or the Bible.
These accusations offend us and insult the truth.
Why would it not be a crime in Cuba to spread
propaganda from the government of the United States,
manuals for internal subversion, texts that speak in
favor of maintaining the blockade against Cuba? Why
should we not be able to defend ourselves from the
longest blockade in history? Why? Our country has
the right, by virtue of the Charter of the United
Nations, to defend its right to self-determination,
to choose its own system, and it has the authority
for its laws to contemplate as crimes any conduct or
actions conducive to an aggression against our
country, that are financed from abroad, and are
therefore a crime.
No one is killed
for this, no one is tortured for this, but we do
punish them, and our people demand that we strongly
defend the Revolution, and we have a public opinion
that sees how airplanes are seized and boats arrive
there; that sees how the groups that train with
heavy weaponry to attack our country can act with
impunity in Florida; who have suffered the deaths of
their loved ones in decades of terrorist actions.
Why should we not defend ourselves?
I am invoking here our right to legitimate defense
established in the Charter of the United Nations,
and we are the victims of an economic, political and
propaganda war. Anyone who collaborates here in Cuba
with those objectives has to know they are
committing a crime.
Article 7. "He who, with the goal of achieving
the objectives of the Helms-Burton Act" –which,
as we have seen, provides money for financing
subversion– "supports the blockade and the
economic war, collaborates by any means with foreign
radio or television stations, newspapers, magazines
or any other media..." And we are not referring
here to foreign correspondents, the law is very
clear about this, but we know that these are
supposed journalists who are financed and who are
told what they have to write, who demand of the
European Union that Cuba not be accepted in the
Cotonou Agreement, as if this were that important
for Cuba –and I will be referring to this later–
as if they could pressure Cuba, which has withstood
more than 40 years of blockade without bending down
before this or that measure.
These are the ones
who have declared it, and written it; those who have
asked for a condemnation of Cuba in the Commission
on Human Rights, which is what is used to justify
the blockade. These who have asked for the blockade
to be maintained, because they say that
"conditions are not yet ripe." The same
who, in addition, receive money to do this, and live
well off of it, something we’ll see later.
So. they have applied these articles of the Law on
the Protection of National Independence and the
Economy of Cuba, Law No. 88, and the Cuban Penal
At the same time, there has been more than ample
proof presented, material evidence, the testimony of
expert witnesses and other witnesses. For example,
expert witnesses from the Banco Central de Cuba
demonstrated to one of the courts the way in which
money flows from the U.S. government and agencies to
their agents in Cuba. The dirty money trail is
clear, we know how it gets here through the
government of the United States’ front agencies,
NGOs and groups and institutes in the United States,
and from there to Cuba, smuggled in, under the cover
of family remittances, it is all known in detail.
This is public money from USAID, we are not talking
here about the special services money, the money
turned over directly here by the Interests Section.
After having provided this information, I will now
move on to inform you of some other very interesting
The government of
the United States plays the main role in the
inception of these groups, the direction of these
groups, the financing of these groups, the
stimulation and protection of these mercenary groups
in Cuba. It is the United States Interests Section
in Havana --and this has been amply proven in the
trials-- that creates, directs, finances, stimulates
and protects the creation and subversive work of its
agents in Cuba. By virtue of what? By virtue of the
fulfillment of the Helms-Burton Act.
Section 109: "Authorization of support"
–it says– "for democratic and human rights
"The President is authorized to furnish
assistance" –in other words, money; money
from the American taxpayers– "and provide
other support for individuals and organizations in
Section 115 of the Helms-Burton Act: "Effect of
this Act on lawful" –isn’t it odd?–
"United States Government activities."
"Nothing in this Act" –in other words,
none of what is said here, that the government and
the president must provide support through USAID–
"prohibits any lawfully authorized
investigation" --look at these interesting
adjectives– "protection, or
intelligence activity of a law enforcement
agency, or of an intelligence agency of the United
This is to avoid any possible confusion, so nobody
thinks that now the only way to provide money and
organize dissidents in Cuba is through the legal
route. The legislators, Senator Helms and
Congressman Burton, ensured that the text made it
clear that one thing has nothing to do with the
other, that is, the intelligence agencies can
continue to provide money, funding and so
forth through secret channels.
This is what they are doing in Cuba. They try to
present this as a movement that has originated in
Cuba, the "civil society" –as they call
it– in Cuba, ignoring the more than 2000 Cuban
non-governmental organizations and associations,
that range from associations of chefs de cuisine to
women’s organizations, environmental groups, think
tanks, youth organizations, students’
organizations, representing the most varied sectors
of social and economic activity in the country,
truly insulting all of these organizations and their
tens and hundreds of thousands, in some cases even
millions of members.
What are they doing here? They are presenting this
as the emergence of an opposition movement in Cuba,
while it is actually an attempt to fabricate an
opposition financed from abroad, in compliance with
the Helms-Burton Act.
We, who have had to defend the Revolution for more
than 40 years, we have heard Mr. Cason declaring in
Miami, "The future of the Cubans is up to
themselves; we want them, those inside and those
outside Cuba to come to an agreement." He means
those who think the same way as the Batista
supporters, that they will come back here to claim
the wealth that they stole from the people and that
the Revolution nationalized.
We recall that this is exactly what they said to the
patriots who fought for Cuban’s independence, and
declared that "Cuba must be fully and truly
free," through a resolution of the U.S.
Congress, and then the country was militarily
occupied and the Platt Amendment was imposed and the
natural resources of the country were stolen.
When we hear Mr. Cason, we remember that they are
also saying now that "the future of the Iraqis
is up to the Iraqis," including, perhaps, the
management of the oil wells and the new oil
contracts, I guess.
We have much experience in the defense of our
sovereignty and we do not believe in such fairy
tales. We know that subversion is fabricated from
abroad, that they are attempting to create a Trojan
horse here. Thus, we are exercising our sovereign
right to legally confront it, abiding by the law and
ethics, never resorting to such things like
kidnapping and assassination, never creating death
squads, never violating anyone’s physical and
Now, I have said that the United States Interests
Section in Havana creates dissident groups,
organizes them, and I maintain this. Here is one of
photographs presented in one of the trials. (He
shows it) Hundreds of photographs were presented.
Here is Mr. Cason at the moment when he, a foreign
diplomat accredited in Havana, is founding the youth
branch of the Cuban Liberal Party. It is
inconceivable, the founder of a party in Cuba. A
foreign citizen founding a party in Cuba, it’s
amazing. There is no legislation in the world
that allows foreign citizens to form parties within
a country. Well, here he is, captured by the camera
at the moment when he was founding the youth branch.
In other words, not only the party, he was creating
here the youth branch, or rather, the next
generation, those who will try to overthrow the
Revolution in 2080 or 2091. By the looks of things,
it is going to be a long war.
Here he is at a meeting, at the moment when the
organizing committee, there are four people, the
four members of these new group that is being
founded. Here he is with the full membership of this
new movement, an assembly, there are the four of
them and there is Mr. Cason right there, looking
very elegant. You can see on the living room table
there, trays of ham, some glasses over there, surely
there was a little something to quench their thirst,
right? There he is.
The United States Interests Section creates these
groups in Cuba. I maintain this, and it has been
proven in the trials.
I want to repeat, I am not in any way confusing the
actions of the government, of some of its agents, of
a U.S. diplomat in Havana; I am not confusing this
with the attitude of the people of the United States
towards Cuba. I distinguish very well between the
two, and an anti-American bug has bitten none of us,
nor do we cultivate hatred or chauvinism. We do
defend our right to independence and our homeland
with the same passion that we put in our solidarity
with the world and our respect for all of its
peoples, including the people of the United States.
I have something else here that is very interesting.
Free access passes, open access at any time of the
day or night for some of these mercenaries to enter
the United States Interests Section in Havana; all
they have to do is show their pass.
We Cubans cannot enter, because there are mechanisms
of protection. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly
difficult for Cubans to enter: They are taken their
fingerprints, they are searched, frisked.
Well, there are some who do not have to go through
all of this. As we can see here, there is an Open
pass for Mr. Oscar Elías Biscet, for any time of
the day or night. An Open pass for Mr. Héctor
The new restrictions imposed by the Department of
Homeland Security, which have reinforced the
protective measures in U.S. official buildings that
have made it more difficult to get across the border
–which is a logical reaction to the terrorist acts
of September 11– do not apply to these people,
because they have the status of officials there.
They can walk right in like Mr. Cason, just show
their passes and walk right in. I think that, in
time, since they are already known there, they will
simple be told, "Come right in." That is
Now then, how is it possible for an ordinary,
everyday Cuban to have unrestricted access, with an
official pass signed by the Section Chief, to enter
any part of the United States Interests Section in
Cuba at any time of the day or night? It seems that
you would have to be someone on very intimate terms,
because I have never had this kind of pass or
possibility. When I go to an embassy, the ambassador
is informed in advance, and authorizes the people at
the entrance to let me in. Even the Cuban security
personnel who protect the embassy itself are
Here is another moment of celebration (he shows a
photograph). Here is Mrs. Vicky Huddleston, and
everyone is full of smiles, wishing her the best of
luck on her new mission in Mali, where she has been
appointed an ambassador. They wished her the best
for her work and her surroundings. They were the
conversing, a meeting had concluded, there are also
a few other officials from the Interests Section.
Thus, we are very much aware of the responsibility
of the Interests Section in the creation of these
Here is another one –I do not want to bore you–
here is another interesting one. You can see a
table, numerous photographs and a table. There are
the little American flags, it looks like there was a
reception, and here there is a bottle, which looks
to me like a bottle of Baccardi rum. I am almost
certain it is a bottle of Baccardi. Well, there are
the bottles, there was a celebration, and there are
photographs. This is the way plans are made to try
to overthrow the Cuban Revolution.
Mr. Cason should know that we know, he should know
that before he arrived in Cuba, we were already
dealing with these kinds of things. And, well, he
will probably persist in his efforts to achieve his
goals, but he should know that it will not be easy,
because he is not dealing with naive people,
inexperienced in defending their sovereignty and
Now then, I have said that the government of the
United States directs these groups. Now I will say
that it finances them. The money for these groups is
official money from the United States government.
This is only the program of the United States Agency
for International Development, USAID; as they have
said what they give is the smallest part.
"To increase solidarity with Cuban activists in
the world," to provide for their trips, prizes,
recognition, the money allocated for the year 2002
was 8,099,181 USD. If the United States Agency for
International Development, in a climate of normal
relations with Cuba, were to devote this money to
the real economic and social well-being of the Cuban
people, Cuba could use this money to build schools,
furbish polyclinics, construct housing; but the
money is given for subversion.
And it is not that
we want that money, far from it, nor do we need it.
We are developing our country despite the blockade
they have imposed on us, and our people know this,
and we have confronted the difficulties.
"To help create independent NGOs in Cuba",
1,602,000 USD; "to give a voice to independent
journalists", 2,027,000 USD; "to plan the
transition in Cuba", 2,132,000 USD; "to
assess the program", how it is working, 335,000
USD. How have they done this? By creating groups in
the United States that receive this money, and that
keep most of it, since business is business, and
then send part of it to these groups in Cuba.
The Center for a Free Cuba received 2,300,000 USD in
2002. It receives information from the human rights
groups, then sends it out, disseminates it,
distributes it; Internal Dissidence Working Group,
250,000 USD; Freedom House, the ones in charge of
the Program for the Transition in Cuba, in other
words, the ones involved in the most strategic area
–Frank Calzon was in on this– 1,325,000
USD; the Institute for Democracy in Cuba... All of
this is in Miami, a few groups are in Washington,
but most are in Miami. There are always plenty of
quick-witted Cubans there who know that part of this
money does not have to be justified, so it goes
directly into "representation costs", and
the rest they send it here.
Republican Institute, one of the organizers of the
prizes and the tours abroad, one of the financers of
the trips made by some of the
"illustrious" patriots who have been
awarded prizes around the world; Dissidence Support
Group, 1,200,000 USD. They have been spreading it
around. Basically, those are the groups.
Cubanet receives news reports and publishes them,
98,000 USD, their budget has been cut; American
Center for International Labor Solidarity –look
what they are devoted to, working to "persuade
foreign investors not to invest in Cuba," that
is their declared social goal– they get
168,575 USD from the United States government
That is where the money comes from and, of course,
from the special services.
How does it get here? For example, Frank Hernández
Trujillo, head of the so-called Dissidence Support
Group, based in Miami, naturally, received 400,000
USD in 2001 – that is, from USAID alone– and
1,200,000 USD in 2002, they tripled the money they
gave him. This is published in the official websites
of the United States government. What did he do with
the money? He sent things to Cuba by smuggling or
sending them with people who were coming.
I have here one of his lists, because he has to
justify his expenditures --this was seized during
the investigations for the trials– and this is one
of his lists, explaining what the money was used
for. So, here we have: computer, series number,
really, all very professional. Here are the names of
the people in Cuba, these "patriots" who
are going to bring about a transition and fight for
"democracy" in Cuba, and next to each name
is the money they were given and what they have used
it for here. In other words, over there Frank has to
say, "I gave him the money, and the money is
for such and such." Here we have the list of
things that were being smuggled into the country, a
number of containers, violating customs regulations:
So-and-so, two lamps. Lamp, VCR, VCR, two lamps.
Lamp. Special package for Armando Villar. Electric
stove for Angel Jiménez. Telephone, telephone,
telephone. For Marta Beatriz Roque, Kit No. 1.
There are a few
packages, like "gift bags", with a variety
of things inside, and this one is referred to as Kit
Ana María Espinosa Escabillo, set of pots and pans
(Laughter), to fight for democracy in Cuba. Lamp,
television set, VCR, package, package. Packages of
food and medicines.
Because it must be said that one of the cruelest
ironies of the work of these groups has been that
the government of the United States has facilitated
their access to food and medicine, so that in the
neighborhoods where they operate, they can take
advantage of the shortages, and the need, and the
desperation of a parent who is looking for a certain
medication during these years when we have not been
able to guarantee its supply, despite all our
efforts. And they use this to do their recruitment
work, as a way of getting people to owe them favors,
and they have set up so-called "distribution
centers" to give people food and medicines that
they would not normally have access to, precisely
because of the U.S. blockade, which they help to
So, it is truly ironic. Here you have it: money,
money, television set, lamps, set of 21 pots –it
does not say for what– baby layette. This is what
Idelfonso Hidalgo received, a baby layette. We do
not know what this has to do with the "struggle
for democracy" in Cuba. This is one of these
groups. Money to live off of this money. They do not
work, the majority of them, they have lived off of
this for years and years.
Here is something else that is interesting: receipts
for the delivery of money; that is, proof that the
money was received. This is money that was
distributed by Héctor Palacios to other people,
money that came from Puerto Rico to Cuba, also
illegally. Here Mr. Héctor Palacios is writing to
the gentleman in Puerto Rico responsible for this
financing operation, his name is Enrique Blanco,
Independent Libraries of Cuba is what it says on the
letterhead of the paper.
Enrique Blanco, August 1, 2002.
"I am enclosing receipts to justify
expenditures, with regard to the money you sent and
your instructions for its distribution." Is
that clear? I am reporting to you on what I did with
the money you sent me and how I fulfilled your
instructions, addressed to this gentleman based in
"There are 160 dollars left in the fund, which
will be frozen until I receive further instructions
from you." A very precise accounting, it
complies with the generally accepted principles,
"Sincerely, Your friend, Héctor
Here are the receipts, bills.
"This is to confirm delivery of 30 USD to
Mr. Iván Hernández Carrillo, coordinator for the
province of Matanzas" –because in Cuba,
30 dollars is a lot of money, since none of these
people have to use these dollars to pay for
healthcare, to send their children to school, to
have a pension when they get old; all of these
people can enjoy a baseball game at the
stadium for one peso, so 30 dollars is a heck of a
salary, these people can live like company
executives in the United States– "provided
as aid for the independent libraries
project..." And so on, there is a long list
of receipts, bills (he shows it), which proves where
the money comes from.
Here we have a gentleman called Oscar Espinosa
Chepe, some of us at the Foreign Ministry remember
that name. This gentleman received, between January
of 2002 and January of 2003, in one year, according
to the receipts and bills, 7154 dollars. I imagine
that this is more than what almost all of the
serious journalists who are here and who work hard
for their money, receive, that is 7154 USD. In his
house, he had hidden in the lining of a suit –who
knows why, it was money well earned, and in Cuba
there is no prohibition against possession of hard
currency, you can put it in a bank and earn interest
on it– 13,660 USD, his savings, in addition to the
7000 USD in a year. He has not worked for
approximately ten years. Where did he get this money
from for submitting what he was told to publish?
He got the money from Cubanet. Cubanet, as I already
said, received 343,000 USD in 2001 and over
800,000 USD in 2002 for this purpose.
Now, here is something really interesting. It is the
record of the money received by Oscar Manuel
Espinosa Chepe, and the dates, January 14, 165 USD;
February 15, 220 USD; March 14, 140 USD; July 23,
1,750 USD; August 22, 1,996 USD; September 16, 1,923
USD. It is a record of all the payments he received.
Héctor Palacios had almost 5,000 USD in his house.
Anyone can have dollars, who knows why he had the
money hidden in a medicine bottle. If it was money
honestly earned, he had no reason to hide it.
I should say that in the work carried out prior to
these trials, tens of thousands of dollars were
seized, but strangely enough, only 1,200 Cuban
pesos. Almost all of these people are unemployed,
they do not work in Cuba, they do not have jobs,
they live off of this, off of "fighting for
freedom and democracy."
As you can see, all of the accounting in the
"struggle for democracy in Cuba" is in
dollars, 1,200 Cuban pesos was all that was found in
the homes of all these people, out of everything
they could have had. I believe I have to say this,
and I try to contain myself and not lose my
patience, you can understand, and our people
understand, how irritating it is to know that there
are people who receive money and live off of this,
in the service of a foreign power that attacks their
people, while in Cuba there are tens of thousands of
doctors and hundreds of thousands of professors who
work in the greatest austerity to bring well-being
to the people, to serve the people, to guarantee
their basic human rights, which are not guaranteed
for millions of people in the world today. To
guarantee them the right to healthcare, which is
denied to 40 million U.S. citizens who do not have
the right to healthcare guaranteed, to guarantee
them the right to education, which is denied to
almost 900 million people in the world who cannot
read and write. And then see these people
"fighting for democracy" is really
Now I would like for us to take a look at the
testimony that was voluntarily given at the trial by
Mr. Osvaldo Alfonso, whose name has also been heard
these last few days, over and over again.
(A video is shown)
The law grants you the right to testify or to
abstain from doing so. Do you wish to testify?
Osvaldo Alfonso Valdés.- Yes, I do.
Do you wish to express yourself freely?
Osvaldo Alfonso Valdés.- Yes.
Presiding Judge.- Go ahead.
Osvaldo Alfonso Valdés.- Can I read my
Presiding Judge.- Yes.
Osvaldo Alfonso Valdés.- I, Osvaldo Alfonso
Valdés, recognize that in our opposition work we
may have been used by officials from the U.S.
Interests Section, which means that in our intent to
undertake a peaceful struggle, we have responded in
one way or another to the interests of the United
We know that the resources we receive for our work
come from funds approved by the government of that
country. I recall an occasion, a meeting with an
official from USAID, in his office, when he had come
to verify if the resources from the office reached
us. At that time a number of alternative routes were
being studied for getting these resources to us,
some were in agreement, others were not, because it
would mean obviously demonstrating that we were
supported by the Interests Section, something we
denied. Some proposed that the money be sent through
representatives abroad, so as not to demonstrate the
direct link between the U.S. government and the
opposition. He asked us about what we were going to
do for the Ibero-American Summit, if any document
was going to be sent. The need for unity in internal
dissidence was also addressed.
On that occasion it was recommended that it was
important for us to meet with people from former
socialist countries, like Poland, Czechoslovakia and
others, since they have experiences that could be
very useful to us in the fight against the socialist
regime currently in power in Cuba.
Participating in this meeting, on behalf of the
Interests Section, was Mrs. Vicky Huddleston, the
visitor, whose last name I do not remember very
well, I think it might have been Muller; and on
behalf of Cuba, among others, Mr. Jesús Llanes
Pelletier, who has since passed away.
I recognize that I have received funds and material
aid from organizations based in Miami, and that
these resources come from the government of the
United States, as a result of which, to some extent,
we have been serving those interests."
Felipe Pérez Roque.- This is the declaration
he made when they said to him at the end, "You
have the right to testify or not, do you want to do
it?" "Yes. Can I read?"
"Yes." This is what he said.
Here is a receipt for money delivered to this
gentleman (he shows it).
"This is to confirm the delivery to Mr. Osvaldo
Alfonso, member of the Todos Unidos rapporteur
commission, of 400 USD, which was sent to him as
humanitarian aid by the brothers of Cuban Democratic
Action," an organization in Miami, which in
2002 received 400,000 USD from the United States
Agency for International Development.
Here is something else interesting.
It is a letter sent by Carlos Alberto Montaner. (He
"Dear Osvaldo:", he says,
"Here you have 200 USD." –January
"Unfortunately there is not much to say, except
for what we all know, that the regime is becoming
tougher and everyone’s horizon is the death of
Fidel. Then, we’ll see. It’s all very sad, but
that’s the way things are. Sincerely, Carlos
Well then, that was January 26, 2001: 200 USD.
March 22, two months later: "Dear
Osvaldo, a friend you know has been kind enough to
get these 30,000 pesetas to you." The euro was
still not the official currency, I suppose.
"Very soon you will receive a call from some
high-level Spanish friends to talk about the Varela
Project. I recommended five names to found this new
idea: Payá, Alfonso, Arcos, Raúl Rivero and Tania
I am going to repeat it: "Very soon you will
receive a call from some high-level Spanish friends
to talk about the Varela Project," March
"I recommended five names: Payá, Alfonso,
Arcos, Raúl Rivero and Tania Quintero. I’m
sending you my best wishes and a copy of Encuentro
magazine. Carlos Alberto Montaner."
Two days later, March 24, 2001: "Dear
Osvaldo, a common friend has been kind enough to
bring you these 200 USD" –that is, two
days after the 30,000 pesetas, there might be cash
flow problems, you know how these things are
sometimes– "and a personal message that
Raúl will give to you. Call me in Spain when you
get this note. Sincerely, Carlos Alberto
Montaner." This is an agent of the Central
Intelligence Agency, publicly recognized and
confessed, in Miami and in Cuba, and in Madrid by
those that know him well.
This is the story behind the financing. I said that
they create them, I said that they direct them, I
said that they finance them, and I say that they
stimulate and protect them.
Now I’m going to read this bizarre letter, it’s
something really quite astonishing. We found out
about it first through a television report from
Miami. It turns out that Luis Zúñiga, a terrorist
and a member of the military branch of the
Cuban-American National Foundation, involved in the
financing of the bombs planted in the hotels in
Havana, linked to the plots to assassinate President
Fidel Castro, this gentleman, who has been the
representative of the Miami-based groups at the
Commission on Human Rights over these last years,
pulls out and reads a letter to the press in Miami.
Take a look at how Channel 51 in Miami reports it:
"Despite being in the midst of a war" –this
was on March 27, 2003–
"President Bush has sent a strong backing in
the form of a letter to a well-known opposition
leader imprisoned in Cuba, which demonstrates that
the White House has not forgotten the dissidents.
Juan Manuel Cao says that this has not been the only
sign from President Bush".
I think this coincided with his visit to the South
Command and, well, just imagine, with all the mob
gathered there, he had to do something with them.
Juan Manuel Cao says, "A bell of hope has
rung out for dissidents in Cuba. The president of
the United States, George Bush, has made a stop on
the road to Baghdad and written a letter of
solidarity with Cuban prisoner Oscar Elías
Biscet," something truly moving.
Then Luis Zúñiga takes over, reading an excerpt
that says: "...Your effort and your example are
the incarnation of democratic values, including
self-determination..." President Bush talking
about democracy, self-determination; Kafka pales in
comparison. Our curiosity led us to seek out the
full text of the letter, which is right here (he
Letter dated March 26: "Dear Dr. Biscet."
Signed: "The President of the United States,
"Congratulations for the recognition you have
received from the International Republican
Institute," the one that we saw had received
1,600,000 USD for the year 2002, the one that
creates awards with this money by arranging prizes
in Europe and trips to receive the recognition.
"Congratulations for the recognition you have
received from the International Republican Institute
with the prize awarded by them, the popular
democracy prize. Your effort and your example are
the incarnation of democratic values, including
self-determination (...) Laura and I continue
praying for you... Sincerely, George Bush."
I have never seen a letter from President Bush
congratulating, for example, Dr. Concepción Campa,
also known as Conchita, the head researcher and
leader of the team that created the Cuban vaccine
against meningococcal meningitis, the only one of
its kind in the world, thanks to which not a single
child has died of this disease in Cuba in years and
of which millions of doses are used around the
world, and who has earned an international prize
from the World Intellectual Property Organization,
the most prestigious organization in this field. Has
anyone seen a letter from President Bush
congratulating Conchita? I have not seen one.
I have not seen a letter from President Bush
congratulating any of the Cuban athletes who have
become world champions or Olympic champions and have
now reached the time for retirement. Instead, I have
seen how they denied visas to our national wrestling
team, keeping them from participating in the World
Championship held in the United States, after two
years of training for this competition.
So, I am rather taken aback by this letter that
President Bush wrote to that Cuban, while he has
never written to any scientists, writers,
journalists, outstanding Cubans, men and women of
the arts, the sciences, culture, and production I
have never seen it. I did not see him write to
Comrade Lazo to congratulate him on the eradication
of the Aedes aegypti mosquito here in the City of
Havana, which guarantees the good health of all of
the inhabitants of the capital, just like the rest
of the country.
So I am bound to have my suspicions when I see a
letter from Mr. Bush to Mr. Oscar Elías Biscet, at
the moment when Mr. Bush went to Miami to soothe
public opinion after the events of the war in Iraq
Here we have another example, the Revista de Cuba
(he shows it), a publication of the Manuel Márquez
Sterling journalists society, the December 2002
edition. Can anyone guess where this magazine was
published? I will give you a hint, it was not at the
Foreign Ministry (laughter). Where could they have
printed the Revista de Cuba magazine of the Márquez
Sterling journalists society? You are getting
closer. Yes, at the United States Interests Section
in Havana! That is how they do it, each edition is
printed there. In other words, the Interests Section
is like the press, you could say, like the
publishing house for the magazine put out by the
"independent Cuban journalists".
That is why when they try to say that these are
non-governmental organizations, I always clarify
that they are governmental since they belong to the
government of the United States and act in its
Well, we also have here a copy of El Disidente
magazine, this is another case. The Interests
Section distributes it. In this case the Interests
Section distributes it, but it does not print it; it
is printed in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, the
magazine received 60,000 USD from the United States
government for its publication, and then they send
it here in the diplomatic pouch, and the Interests
Section distributes this magazine, which is called
El Disidente, La carta de Cuba, and other pamphlets.
They distribute all of it.
Well, I think I have provided you with some
interesting information. Finally, I think these two
testimonies that we are going to show now will be of
great interest to you. We will watch them now, they
are rather short.
Tell us your name, where you live, and what you do.
Néstor Baguer.- With pleasure.
My name is Néstor Baguer Sánchez Galarraga. I live
in Centro Habana. I am a journalist by profession;
but in addition, since 1960, I have worked for the
state security services.
Prosecutor.- What is your name in the state
Néstor Baguer.- Octavio.
Prosecutor.- Octavio. Let’s call him
Now, Néstor, would you be so kind as to tell us
about the origins of the Independent Press
Association, if you have been associated with this
kind of activity.
Néstor Baguer.- This was suggested to me by
counterrevolutionary individuals, because they
needed a journalist, first of all. But I took it on
as a job to do for the state security services, so
that, instead of falling into the hands of those who
were going to do a lot of harm, I could try to
minimize this harm.
Prosecutor.- And it helped you to receive
information, and led people to come to you who were
interested in giving information to the enemy?
Néstor Baguer.- Precisely.
Prosecutor.- How did it work? How is this
kind of information passed abroad?
- A first point: the people who first got me
involved were the US Interests Section. I didn't
know anyone there and one of them called me, invited
me to go and talk to them and showed great interest;
they said they'd support me in every way so I could
get the job done. Right after that, the journalists
arrived. Well I say journalists, but of the 30 or 40
who turned up, only two were actually journalists. I
was one and there was one other; of the rest,
no-one. Because I can tell you that of the 100 and
more people who call themselves independent
journalists, there are no more than five or six
professionals. The rest are mercenaries paid to
slander, because they tell lies, insult, show
disrespect for our head of state and our government.
They're not journalists, they're information
- When they cook up this information, who do they
send it to?
- They send it to me, and then I - as I've got the
phone connections, direct lines - I used to talk
directly to Radio Martí; but then they come from
the US, Cuban counter-revolutionaries who set up
agencies to help those of us here in Cuba.
- What sort of agencies are these? Do you remember
the names of any of these agencies?
- Certainly. There was CUBANET, CubaPress - they
started springing up like mushrooms.
– Néstor you used the word
- Meaning that someone was paying them.
- Of course.
- How were these payments made?
- I'll explain it to you. They - the US
administration - hand over millions: I've got the
figures and I can prove it. For instance, CUBANET
gets about 2 or 3 million dollars for those working
for them. For instance, my agency worked for
- What means did they use to send the money?
- For instance, the majority use Transcard. There
are some, when the amount involved is a rather
large, which they send by mail, they call them
couriers. The embassy hands out a lot of things -
presents, you know, lots of parties, lots of little
attentions - plastic bags arrive with pocket radios
tuned to Radio Martí, with tape recorders, cameras.
Basically everything you need for your work. You go
there on the days when they're receiving visitors
and they give you a party, then they show you into a
room with hundreds of carrier bags full of all these
presents so you can choose what you want - not just
one or two, you can take whatever you want. And what
happens? Some people take eight or ten of the bags
because these little radios are special, they're
very good radios, and they sell them for $20 each.
They keep one and sell the rest. The same thing with
the cassette players: to have a tape recorder today
is a good business, because then they sell it
- Now when you go to the US Interests Section, do
they give you some sort of indication of what you
should be doing here?
- They tell you what subjects to deal with.
"You should write about this, you should write
about the food shortage, about the blackouts, about
the transport situation, the lack of medicines, the
treatment in the hospitals, the treatment in the
prisons". In other words, they tell you what
subjects they're interested in -not what Cuba's
interested in, but what they want published abroad.
- Which officials in the US Interests Section did
you mainly have contact with?
- It's always with the head of the Press and
Propaganda section; the head and his Number Two.
They're the ones who deal with such matters.
- As far as the money they pay you is concerned, as
you were saying a few minutes ago. When it has come
by different routes, are there discrepancies between
the different members of the group because of
losses, disappearances, share-outs of the money?
- Not just discrepancies. There have been
thefts, they steal from each other. There are
journalists who've worked six months without getting
a penny, then when they look into it, it turns out
the money was sent to Cuba by the agency, but
because it's almost always addressed to the leader
of the group, he takes it for himself. There was a
case just recently, someone kept six months' money
sent for all the journalists.
Which case was that?
- A self-styled journalist called Jorge Olivera. He
kept the money sent for the people working for him
over a period of six months.
Nestor, if you can, we would like you to tell us who
are the main officials at the US Interests Section
who you've dealt with during these activities.
- Yes. The first was Kozack, then Vicky and then
Cason, the one who's there now. And then, naturally,
with the people in Press and Propaganda. They've put
Gallegos there now; before, there were several,
Beagle for example. Dozens of them, because the
turnover there is pretty fast. So I've dealt with
quite a few, including women - one called Mary who
was married to an Argentinean and spoke perfect
Spanish. In other words, I've had dealings with all
the people who've passed through that Section.
- And to get access to the section, how did you ...?
- You have to ask for a pass. They give you a pass
for a set day and time. But mine is a special one,
they call it an open pass. That means I can go there
any day, any time.
- What are the main activities these officials
arrange with you, that they get involved in? Or
rather, what are the various kinds of activity they
arrange with journalists like yourself?
- Whenever there's an event attended by Cubans, they
all come. They all come and bring their wives.
Because what they want is to talk to as many Cubans
as possible, to see who they can get on board.
"Listen, what about the prices in the shops, at
the market? Are there shortages or what?"
- When you go to the section office, do you get the
chance to do any kind of journalistic work there,
or get access to information?
- Well, there's the Internet Room, full of
computers, and you can use them. For example, I can
use them without having to book a slot. That's what
the Cuban journalists have to do; they give them a
two-hour slot on a specific day.
- This room you've told us about, do you have the
possibility of taking any publications from there?
- They always send me the publications; they send
them to my home. All the publications that arrive
there - newspapers, magazines - they send them to my
- Were you there at an event on March 14?
What was the aim of that event, and where was it
- It was in the dining room at Mr. Cason's residence
- in his home, that is. Then it split up; we were
split into three groups: one, the journalism ethics
group, was chaired by me; another dealt with
contacts and relations with the foreign press; the
third also discussed the subjects to be worked on
and those questions.
I got the ethics
group at the request of the Americans themselves;
but you can image, I ... France Press was there,
Spanish TV was there, so was German TV. There were
about five of these channels (Laughter).
- Can you tell us anything about Raúl Rivero and
his involvement in activities of this kind?
- He's an alcoholic, and alcoholism has pushed him
over the edge. He made a scene at UPEC and at UNEAC,
shouting obscenities, and got himself banned from
everywhere. So he went to pieces, and started
sending poems and stuff abroad to earn a living. And
then when he saw that journalism had changed, was
deceitful, but made money, he got onto his old
comrades in UNEAC and UPEC in exile, because they
were all traitors, and used his friendship with them
to get somewhere to write. So these people got in
touch with the American journalists and got him work
with the Miami Herald, which is the most
conservative paper in South Florida and, of course,
paid very well.
Later, they put him
in touch with the US press association, which all
the American press barons belong to - it's called
the InterAmerican Press Association (IAPA/SIP) - and
with their influence and that of the Miami mafia
they managed to get Raúl appointed Caribbean
Vice-President of the Association, of course getting
the salary of a vice-president of an American
- Do they pay Raúl for the information he offers?
- Of course. And very well-paid he is.
How does that work?
- They pay him in the US, the money goes to his
daughter who lives in the United States.
- What can you tell us about Ricardo?
- Ricardo latched onto Raúl, because Ricardo is no
journalist nor anything like one. He latched onto
Raúl. Raúl's situation was that he was separated
from all his friends. Who were his friends? The UPEC
journalists and the UNEAC writers. So he was without
friends. The only friend he had left was me, if you
follow, and as we didn't think the same way - we
didn't quarrel, but we didn't think the same way -
months would go by without seeing each other - so he
turned to this one who practically pushed him aside.
Then he offered his house in Miramar to set up an
editing center there with everything - I mean all
the electronic equipment and he's got three salaried
staff working there; so just about everything you
need, and he handed it over to Raúl. Then Raúl set
up the Márquez Sterling company with himself in
charge; I mean, he's the one who runs things, while
the other one is just a figurehead, there just for
the sake of image.
The other one is Ricardo, yes?
- The other one is Ricardo. He's the figurehead, the
frontman, but he's nobody, he's nobody.
- Does Ricardo have any connections with the US
administration, with the Interests Section?
- Yes, of course. He's the chairman of Márquez
Sterling, that's where the connection is.
- And with some elements based in Miami? Does either
of them have connections there?
- Well, Raúl does. As far as Ricardo's concerned, I
don't know, because I don't know much about his
background. I met him for the first time four or
five months ago. Raúl yes, all the poets who've
left, all the writers who've left, they're all
friends of his, all of them, because they were
buddies at UNEAC for years and years; drinking
companions, went out on the binge together and that
sort of thing. They're close fiends, he has lots.
All the Cuban poets in exile, all of them are
friends of Raúl.
- Do you know who Frank Calzón is?
- Yes, of course.
- Did either of these men have dealings with Frank
Calzón, that you know of?
- Both Ricardo and the Fat Man (I mean Raúl),
because Frank Calzón knows all of us. Since he left
the agency, I've had no further contact with him.
I've got his phone number and all that, but I've
never had the need ...
- What can you tell us about Frank Calzón?
- Well, in the first place he's not a journalist.
He's an old-CIA agent; he has worked for the CIA for
- I should clarify that Néstor Baguer, agent
Octavio with the Cuban security service since 1960,
is chairman of the Cuban Independent Press
Association. They are two institutions, the one
chaired by Raúl Rivero and the other by him. As you
can see, he has a great deal of experience in this
Now let's turn to
the subject of the advocates of human rights.
- Do you belong to any of these groups that profess
concern with human rights?
- Which one?
- The Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba
- What's your role there?
- Well, until now I'm President of the Pro Human
Rights Party of Cuba.
- Have you visited the Interests Section?
- Yes. I go to the Interests Section to deliver
reports on human rights violations and other
- And these people here, do they go to the Interests
Section for the same purpose, to deliver reports on
alleged violations of human rights?
- Well, they may deliver allegations of human rights
violations, but they may also talk about economic,
political and social problems.
- Do you have unrestricted access to the Interests
Section, or is it controlled?
- No, I have free access to the Interests Section,
because my pass isn't just for this year. I've had
an open pass since 1991.
- Are there other facilities for keeping in touch
with the Interests Section?
- Well, yes. We have their phone numbers - the
extension numbers, cellphone numbers and their home
- And is this exclusive to you, or do the rest of
the defendants here have access to such information?
- Well, as far as I know, Héctor Palacios has it. I
don't know whether the others do.
- Do you have the opportunity to photocopy
documents, to print out documents?
- Yes. There are printers there, there are faxes,
there are computers. Being able to use the equipment
is extremely useful for our work.
- And on these visits, do they give you specific
- Well, yes. My specific assignments; everyone has
their specialization. I focus on human rights
violations, and I was able to get hold of the
report, the results of all those years; those
reports were going to the State Department, to
Geneva, to Amnesty International, Americas Watch and
other organizations. Which was to motivate me, of
course: I could see the results, that the work I'd
done was recognized in these reports, precisely so
that Cuba would be censured in Geneva.
- Assignments, direction; were there other
information requirements that were asked for in the
- Yes, they were always monitoring the Cuban
situation, what things were like for the population
at that time. It was like a barometer of the
situation. They wanted to see if there could be
a social outburst here.
As regards to the officials at the Interests
Section, given the length of time you were engaged
in these illicit activities, did you witness any
change between the time Vicky Huddleston was in
charge and her successor, Mr. James Cason?
- Well yes, the change was obvious to everyone.
Vicky and her predecessors, like Mr. Sullivan
himself and Kozack - I had good relations with
Michael Kozack too - never offered us their houses,
or the Interest Section, or their residence to hold
our meetings. When James Cason came, I had the
opportunity with other people present here to attend
that meeting, and he told us that the doors of his
home were open to us to meet there, to debate, to
promote civil society in Cuba. I can tell you I
never agreed with that.
- All this information you've given us, your
experience, your knowledge about the supplies, the
constant monitoring by the Interests Section
of the activities you and others like you have
been carrying on, do you conclude that all these
groups of so called human rights advocates are
really made up of selfless persons interested in
fostering a better future for our country ?
Well, I would like to tell you that during all these
years I was very disappointed because I saw that
many of the members of the pro human rights parties,
not only my own, within the civil society groups,
within NATURPAZ groups, for example, dealing with
ecological issues, and many other organizations
which exist currently were looking for ways to leave
the country. A person can be in jail for 12, 20 or
30 years and when he or she gets to the Interest
Section, the Refugee Department, if that person does
not have the support of an opposition organization
which acts as a guarantor telling that his or her
behavior has been proper, this person is not
accepted into the Refugee Program, and other persons
who have never been in jail became members of
opposition or dissident organizations with only one
purpose: to use them as travel agencies, as an easy
way to leave the country. But then they
realize that this is nothing but a drawing of lots.
Do you believe that these persons were –besides
their migration motivations-- profit-oriented
Well, I know of people who wanted to join us because
they realized our living standards were
higher. I can show you the newspaper… I have
it here… I can show it as testimony evidence,
which it was supposed to be distributed among the
population, not only for the dissidents, as I said
before, to distribute it among the population, and
there you could see how the US Interests Section,
precisely, was helping the internal opposition
Then, some people
who were working and others who were unemployed saw
this as a form of escape: "Well, if I join this
human rights group, they'll send me money and I'll
live more comfortably, I'll have things that other
people don't have, I can have more things than a
doctor or a teacher or an intellectual,"
because the standard of living of many of us was
completely different at that time than a doctor or
an accredited journalist here.
Witness, Odilia Collazo Valdés, are you really a
dissident? Are you only and exclusively the
President of the Cuban Party for Human Rights?
Well, I'm really not a dissident. Today, I
have the privilege of telling you that I am one of
the persons selected by the government of Cuba, by
the Interior Ministry; precisely today, I can openly
show everyone that I am an agent, Agent Tania
What are you laughing at, Anita? (Referring to Anita
Snow, Bureau Chief of the U.S. press agency
Associated Press). Why are you laughing so?
I think you might
help us tell Mr. Cason that he should consider the
task that he has undertaken, he should evaluate it;
he should know that ten U.S. presidents and 20 CIA
directors have come and gone.
He should be
advised that no one in Cuba is a fool, that we have
only revealed a small part of what we know; he
should know that and he must realize that our people
have learned to defend themselves and depend on the
people because we have, more than anything, the
support of the people; because we have the
legitimacy that comes out of the transparency of our
actions and service to the common well-being.
He should know that there are no stupid people here,
and that while he got here only a short time ago, he
has to consider the task he has undertaken; or we
will have to continue organizing his meetings and
attending the cocktail parties he throws (laughter).
Finally, as it is
apparent, our legitimate decision to defend
ourselves, using our laws and our legal
institutions, has generated reactions.
first, that on March 26, the White House issued a
declaration when President Bush returned to the
McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, in which he called
on the Cuban government not to exercise its
sovereignty; a hasty declaration that can only
be understood as an evident gesture by President
Bush toward the right-wing Cuban-American mafia in
Miami, who were there in Tampa helping him to
explain the war that no one understands and,
apparently, made this gesture to respond to the
wishes of the extreme right-wing Cuban-American
community in Miami, issuing this declaration.
Later, the deputy
spokesman of the State Department, Mr. Phillip
Reecker, distributed a written statement describing
the measures, the arrests made in Cuba, where it
says, for example: "The United States calls on
the international community to join with us in
condemning this crackdown and to demand the release
of these Cuban prisoners of conscience."
Mr. Reecker should
know that the international community is really
horrified at the war that his government has
unleashed without any type of international
authorization, against world public opinion, with
enormous material damage, the deaths of civilians;
and is also horrified by the more than 600 prisoners
who are still locked up at the Guantánamo Naval
Base, in a juridical limbo, who are not treated as
persons and will be presented in secret U.S.
military courts. He could include the accused having
no access to a defense or documents that have been
declared secret information. He must surely
know that this is what has shocked the international
community, and the more than 2 000 prisoners that
are still being held in U.S. jails and not even
their names are yet known, despite the many actions
that civil society has protested as the creation of
a parallel system of justice in the United States,
where the accused are considered to be dangerous to
national security, and there has been an
extraordinary increase in measures of this kind.
Mr. Reecker should
know that we are also concerned and that the
government of the United States is the least
qualified in the world to judge what has happened in
Cuba. If there is any government that should
be ashamed of saying anything, it is the government
of the United States.
Post, in its December 1, 2002 edition, said that the
Administration of President Bush has developed, and
I quote: "a parallel legal system to
investigate, incarcerate, interrogate, condemn and
punish suspects, including U.S.
citizens." This has not taken place in
Cuba, and we haven't issued a decree creating
special military tribunals, which are secret and
summary. We don’t have such courts
procedures include indefinite military detention,
authorized by the President. Authorization to record
communications and forced entry into installations.
Trials carried out by military commissions and
deportation orders following secret
hearings." This is The Washington Post.
An editorial in the
December 27, 2002 edition of The Washington Post
expresses opposition to the CIA "using torture
and violence in their interrogations," and
suggests that "these new tactics in the war
against terrorism are being developed
It wasn't by chance
that the United States was excluded from the Human
Rights Commission, to which it was only able to
return, as I have already said, with the help of
Italy and Spain, who withdrew their candidacy so
that the United States could come back without
having to take it to a vote.
Mr. Reecker should
know that it was made known around the world on
April 6, 2003, that there were more than two million
prisoners in the United States as of the end of June
2002; the first time in history that the United
States reached this figure. I think there are
major concerns and issues in the U.S. that need to
be addressed, that should concern, really, the
deputy spokesman of the State Department, before
judging the actions that we have taken in
Here is a cable
about Mr. Cason in Miami. Mr. Cason, it seems,
divides his time between Havana and Miami. He was in
Miami yesterday. When asked his opinion about the
accusations by Cuban authorities, that he is
dedicated to conspiracies in Cuba, this cable from
the France Press News Agency reports he responded:
"Mentira!" "A Lie!" which
he, Cason, said in Spanish.
Mr. Cason surely
must know the fable of Pinocchio, that "when
you tell a lie, your nose grows."
He also said, and
this is very interesting, he said: "the arrests
and indictments were coldly calculated to take place
while the world's attention was concentrated
somewhere else." One can't be sure what
he was referring to when he used the discreet phrase
"somewhere else;" apparently he didn't
have the courage to say "while the war is going
on in Iraq;" which is what he thought, so he
avoided it and said: "while the world's
attention was concentrated somewhere else," the
Cubans have taken advantage of this.
I strongly reject
this. I have proven here that the arrests and the
decision to apply the Law came about before the war
began, before the terrorist actions against planes
and Cuban boats began. This has been completely
On the other hand,
there have been statements by the European Union
that were certainly missing when five Cubans were
unjustly condemned in rigged trials in a Miami
courtroom. At that time, the European Union did not
express any concern. Nor have we seen the European
Union voice any apprehension about the situation
that is taking place at the Guantánamo Naval
Base. And we also see that they have not been
able to maintain unity and express a position
against the war on Iraq, which clearly violates
We recall that the
European Union reached an understanding with the
United States on the application of the Helms-Burton
Law, which is what we are fighting and confronting
now in Cuba; a text that is really
embarrassing. And we know quite well that the
European Union has not had the ability to project an
independent position towards Cuba, and this explains
its lukewarm reaction to the blockade against Cuba;
it explains its alliance with the U.S. position
against Cuba in Geneva; it explains the fact that
they have not been able to put together a European
position on Cuba, one that defends international
law, that defends the right of our people to
independence and sovereignty; that they have not
demanded respect for Cuba, which is a country with
European ancestry. This is the reality.
As a result, I can't be anything but surprised by
I find it
amazing that the European Union, precisely at this
moment, is concerned about Cuba and does not provide
an ethical and moral lesson to the world by opposing
the violation of international law. The
European Union has not said one word about the more
than 2,000 prisoners in U.S. jails, whose names have
not even been revealed. So, we have every
reason to have reservations about the European Union
It has been said
that this situation could make it difficult for Cuba
to enter the Cotonú Agreement and that the European
Union would now have to re-evaluate...well, some in
the European Union, because we don't look at it as a
block, the European Union cannot be considered as a
block, as we know, it is not a block; there are
different tendencies, factions, and there are
certain countries whose point of reference is
somewhere other than in the European
There has been talk
and speculation that, well, "this will put Cuba’s
entry into the Cotonú Agreement in jeopardy and
that this will, therefore, force us to maintain the
Common Position". On this point we should
recall that Cuba once withdrew its request to join
the Cotonú Agreement and that if it has to do so
again, it will.
Our country cannot
be blackmailed or pressured. Our country has
resisted the blockade of the world’s leading super
power and has not bbent down, so there is no reason
why it should bend now to the pressures of another
Remember, too, that
Cuba did not apply for admission to the Cotonú
Agreement thinking either of money or European
assistance, but at the request of the Caribbean
nations that asked us to join the African, Caribbean
and Pacific Group of countries, recalling the
support we have received from African, Asian and
Caribbean nations that are members of the Agreement.
Since we were given observer status we have
maintained a position of solidarity and responded to
their interests, and for this reason we requested
admission. But no one should believe that anyone
here has lost any sleep, or that we spend our time
thinking and trying to find out how people over
there view us, rather than look at the weather
Taking all things
into account and keeping our countenance we can
assure you from now that our position is clear and
firm. Although others might not defend their
sovereignty, we do as it has cost us dearly. We know
its price and we are not willing to relinquish it.
I also know that
there have been statements made by the Spanish
Foreign Minister who declared publicly on February
20 in Madrid … (INTERUPTION IN THE TRANSMISSION)…This
is probably an action of the US Interests Sextion
As I was saying, on
February 20 some rather strange statements on Cuba
by the Spanish Foreign Minister were published. She
referred to the "deep differences we maintain
with Cuba" and the "lack of commitment on
the part of Cuban authorities to move forward in the
democratization of the regime and respect for human
I think that if
there is any government in the world that should not
be talking about democracy, it’s the Spanish
government, which has been supporting a war that is
opposed by 91% of Spaniards. Almost all Spaniards
are opposed to the war. They elected the government.
Presumably, the government should operate based on
what the governed think. That’s what we do and
that’s why they have not been able to defeat us
with blockades and aggressions.
I imagine that I
should respond to the Minister expressing our
sympathies for yesterday’s deaths in Baghdad of
two Spanish journalists. We regret what has occurred
and wish to extend our sympathies to the Minister,
the Spanish government, and the people of Spain for
the death of these two journalists in a war the
Spanish government has unconditionally supported.
Well, I had my
doubts about whether to comment on the statements by
the Spanish Minister of Education, Culture, and
Sports, Mrs. Pilar del Castillo. She said that
"most Cuban intellectuals are in prison".
Let me see when she said this, it was April 6. She
said that we "have taken advantage of the war
to turn the screws on intellectuals". I haven’t
heard that the Cuban Writers and Artists Union has
complained about our "turning the screws"
on them here, in fact, quite the opposite is true,
and these are the "people tied to the world of
culture". The Minister should know that we have
acted against people tied to the U.S. Interests
Section and the U.S. special services, and not to
So, we have a
hysterical reaction that shows total ignorance of
what happens in Cuba. I don’t know, the Spanish
Minister of Culture is all of a sudden in the media,
and has made strident declarations about Cuba. The
reasons behind this are unclear.
I also don’t know
if the Minister is aware of the battle that we
Cubans have had to wage for more than a century for
our independence and human rights, following the
talks in Paris in which Spain handed Cuba over to
the United States. I don’t know if she is aware of
this. I only know that I have seen these strange
Finally, I would
like to comment here on the statement issued by the
Director General of UNESCO, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura,
who says that "the information we have received
concerning the arrests is alarming". I don’t
know why Mr. Matsuura is particularly alarmed in the
case of Cuba when no one has seen him alarmed about
the prisoners in Guantánamo, the prisoners in the
United States, the excesses of the war in Iraq, the
death of children and the civilian population. No
one has seen him alarmed and declaring that an
aggression and violation of international law have
taken place. No one has seen him do so. I don’t
know why all of a sudden he’s become alarmed
specifically over Cuba. He says that he has received
information, that his advisors have explained it to
He says that
"promoting the free circulation of ideas
through words and images are part of UNESCO’s
Constitution". We are well aware of this and
have defended the exercise of these rights for more
than 100 Third World peoples who belong to UNESCO
and on whom they are trying to impose a new cultural
model eliminating the right to enjoy their native
cultures. So we have been waging this battle a long
time before Mr. Matsuura arrived on the scene and
assumed the post of Director General. It seems to
me, speaking of the free circulation of ideas, that
this could also hold true for the biased coverage of
the war by the international media. This has been a
disgraceful spectacle that has moved broad
intellectual sectors and public opinion across the
world, but about which Mr. Matsuura has not said a
He says that
"according to information we have received, the
accused had no right to a proper legal
defense". I don’t know who gave him this
information that he says he received. Now that the
United States has decided to return to UNESCO, I don’t
know if it was the new U.S. representative there,
but the effect of their presence is evident.
He says that
"we have urgently called on the Cuban
authorities to respect…". We urgently ask Mr.
Matsuura to attend to his mandate, to deal with the
more than 800 million people in the world that don’t
know how to read or write and that are an essential
part of the work of this specialized UN agency. I am
very surprised by the statement although I can
imagine his motives and objectives.
So this is what I
wanted to, briefly, (laughter) inform you about,
although I feel very encouraged to see that you have
all maintained great interest. In any event, if
there are any questions I am willing to take them.
If there are any questions, I would like to ask you
to use the microphone, identify yourself, and your
Mr. Medem (TVE):
My question has to do with the reference you made to
Carlos Alberto Montaner’s letter, which, if I
recall correctly, was addressed to Osvaldo Alonso in
which he mentioned certain ties of high-level
Spanish officials in relation to, if I heard
correctly, the Varela Project.
I would like to ask
if, on the part of the Cuban Government, whether in
the course of these trials any information has been
discovered that has not been published and that
would explain a little what has been the development
of the Varela Project and if this is included in the
definition of complicity with U.S. aggression
against the Revolution, the Government, and the
People of Cuba.
Yes, it is included, and yes, we have information
that at the right moment we will make public. No, we
don’t know anything more of the letter. I think
that more could be asked from Mr. Carlos Alberto
Montaner who must know the names of the officials
who he referred to in the letter that I read.
The Varela Project
is part of a strategy of subversion against Cuba
that has been conceived, financed, and directed from
abroad with the active participation of the U.S.
Interests Section in Havana. It is part of the same
subversive design and has no basis whatsoever in
Cuban law. It is a crude manipulation of Cuba’s
laws and Constitution. The time will come to delve
into this more thoroughly.
Vanesa Bauzá (Sun
have been rumors that it is possible that the Cuban
government will offer the exile to some of the
people who were tried last week instead of serving
their sentences here in Cuba. Could you deny or say
something about this?
I indeed deny that the Cuban Government is thinking
about this. In addition, there are institutions in
Cuba, the courts, that adopt decisions. The
government cannot overrule the court decisions. The
rule of law is in effect here, Vanesa.
We have also heard the President say that Cuba could
do without the U.S. Interests Section. Is there a
real possibility of closing the U.S. Interests
Section or your Interests Section in Washington?
Well, we know that is the hope, the golden dream of
those who sustain the blockade and the aggressive
policy against Cuba. Perhaps this is also the dream
of Mr. Cason, his heroic return, expelled from
We know who would
celebrate and be overjoyed by such a decision, but
in any event closing the Interests Section in Havana
and asking Cason to leave the country is a right
that we reserve ourselves.
Gerardo Arreola (La
Minister, the Mexican Foreign Minister Derbez, has
also made comments on the trials that you referred
to and on Mexico’s possible vote in the Human
Rights Commission. Do you have any comment?
Foreign Minister Derbez was with Minister Ana
Palacio of Spain in Madrid, and the news agencies
reported that he said: "We are undoubtedly
concerned over the recent events in that country.
The issue was analyzed by the two delegations and
will certainly have an impact and will be evaluated
by the government before the meeting of the Human
I think that
Foreign Minister Derbez, has tried to offer an
advance explanation, in a relatively careful
fashion although that does not hide the fact that he
is referring to the internal affairs of another
country, of what we know will surely be Mexico’s
position when the votes are cast at the Human Rights
Commission on April 16, which will be a vote in
favor of the resolution against Cuba.
We know that this
will be the case because we understand that the
Mexican government does not have room to do anything
different and we think that this declaration
somewhat prepares the way for what is for us a
"Chronicle of a Vote Foretold" (play on
Gabriel Garcia’s book)
Gerardo Arreola: Excuse
me, if I could ask Minister if you feel this will
affect bilateral relations?
I don’t want to second guess this. I have a lot of
things that remain to offer an opinion on. I don’t
want to get ahead of myself. This does not mean that
I won’t offer an opinion at some point, but for
the time being I have said enough.
Minister, the day before the trials began, the five
Cuban prisoners in the United States were removed
from their punishment cells. Did the jailing have
any relation with the situation of these five Cubans
in the United States? Would it be possible at some
point to negotiate?
Such an idea has not even crossed our minds. In
Cuba, no one has even thought of the possibility of
negotiating the situation of those accused and
sentenced in Cuban courts in recent days with the
five Cubans unjustly sentenced in the United States.
No one here has even thought of this.
It should be noted
that there are differences. They are innocent. They
were fighting against terrorism. They were judged
without due process in a trial that was manipulated,
which became a kangaroo trial dominated by groups of
the Cuban extreme right. They were denied basic
guarantees such as access to their lawyers. It
should be noted that they faced a trial following 17
months of imprisonment in punishment cells in which
they were not able to prepare their defense. It
should also be noted that they were once again
jailed (in such cells) to prevent them from
participating in their lawyers’ preparation of the
appeals to the Atlanta court.
There are deep
differences in the motivation and moral quality and
the circumstances of the crime charged here with
those alleged crimes there, as well as the
conditions of the trials. In any event, there is not
the slightest idea of doing any such thing.
Any other questions? I don’t see any more
questions. Minister, we thank you for your
Thank you for your presence here today. (applause)