than 40 years ago, my country and my people were obliged to wake up to the danger and
called upon to defend their freedom
STATEMENT PRESENTED BY FERNANDO
GONZÁLEZ LLORT AT THE SENTENCING HEARING HELD, DECEMBER 18, 2001
I share with my comrades who have preceded me
here in their recognition and gratitude for the professional behavior of Richard, the
translators who have worked so efficiently, and the U.S. Marshals.
I also share in what has been expressed here
by every one of my brothers at their sentencing hearings. I feel honored by the friendship
of these comrades and brothers, who received their unjust sentences with such courage and
I also want to express my gratitude for the
professional work of the attorneys representing the five of us, particularly Joaquín
Méndez and the South Florida district public defenders office.
If it were not very clear to me that the
fanaticism, hatred and irrationality felt towards Cuba are generated and stimulated by
only a minority segment of the Cuban-American community living here, I would not have
agreed to be represented by a member of that community. His professional approach to this
case shows that, contrary to what those who control the Hispanic media would like to make
everyone believe, with their stridently anti-Cuban stance, the majority of the
Cuban-American community in Florida has a rational attitude towards their country of
origin, even when they hold opinions that differ with the government of Cuba.
This is also demonstrated by the fact that
hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans travel to Cuba every year, and send money to
their relatives there.
Those who believe that Cuban radio stations
in Miami and the extremist Cuban organizations based here represent the point of view of
the majority of Cuban-Americans living in this city have fallen into the trap set by this
extremist and minority-based yet economically powerful sector. They try to sell an image
of unity and pretend they represent the sentiments of hundreds of thousands of Cubans who
live here, when this is not the case.
I initially thought the prosecution would
come to this courtroom today to request that I be sentenced to one year of probation.
After all, that was what this same District Attorneys Office offered Mr. Frómeta
when he bought a Stinger missile, C-4 explosive, grenades and other weapons from an
undercover government agent. It did not even matter that Mr. Frómeta confessed to the
undercover agent himself his terrorist intentions and the murderous, unscrupulous use that
would be made of these materials.
But then I thought it over again, and I
realized that I would have to be dreaming to expect the same kind of treatment from the
District Attorneys Office. After all, I am a Cuban from over there, from the island,
and so when it comes to sentencing me, all kinds of considerations come into play. These
include the total ignorance as to what Cuba really is, and the hatred and irrationality
towards my country stimulated by an extremist sector that controls what is said here about
Cuba while silencing any other, more rational opinions expressed.
While our trial was underway in this
courtroom, Esteban Ventura Novo passed away in Miami, and I am bringing this up because I
believe it is symbolic of something.
Esteban Ventura Novo was one of the chiefs
of police under the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in Cuba, before the triumph of the
Revolution. He was responsible for the torture, murder and disappearance of dozens of
young people in the Cuban capital. And all of this happened with the consent and support
of the U.S. government, led at the time by Eisenhower.
When the revolutionary government took power
in Cuba, Ventura Novo and others like him, perpetrators of crimes against the Cuban
people, were received and sheltered by this countrys government. Many of them were
advised, directed and financed by U.S. intelligence agencies, in their dirty war against a
government that obviously enjoyed and continues to enjoy the support of its people.
This marked the beginning of a long history
of aggression against Cuba in every field of the countrys economic and social life.
A history in which economic warfare, biological warfare, and psychological warfare through
propaganda and the threat of military attack, have combined with terrorism, sabotage,
paramilitary actions and attempts on the lives of the political leaders of the Revolution,
almost all of them originating in South Florida.
The prosecution will say that this is just
Cubas propaganda and paranoia. I wonder if they would have the nerve to go to Cuba
and say that to the mothers, spouses and children of those who have lost their lives as
victims of these acts of aggression. Such statements on the part of the prosecution
demonstrate their lack of human sensitivity and their inability to put themselves in
someone elses shoes.
The activities of the Cuban-American
terrorist and paramilitary groups based in South Florida have been used as instruments of
this countrys foreign policy towards Cuba through their direct organization by U.S.
government agencies, the support given by these agencies to the extremist groups that
perpetrate the acts, or by simply allowing them to operate without real persecution or
with benevolent treatment when someone has actually been arrested.
The terrorist groups of the Miami Cuban
ultra-right wing were created, trained and financed by the CIA. This has always been
abundantly clear to the Cuban people. If there are still any doubts among those present in
this courtroom, they need merely to take a look at the documents declassified by the
United States government itself in 1997 and 1998, which clearly expose the decisions
adopted by this countrys top leaders.
One of these documents refers to a meeting
attended by high-level officials, headed up by the vice president at the time, Richard
Nixon. This was the meeting at which the so-called "Program of Covert Action Against
the Castro Regime" was approved. In a memorandum on the meeting, one of the
participants, General Goodpaster, noted, "The President said that he knows of no
better plan for dealing with this situation. The great problem is leakage and breach of
security. Everyone must be prepared to swear that he (Eisenhower) has not heard of it.
(...) He said our hand should not show in anything that is done."
I ask myself: what can we expect 30 or 40
years from now, when they decide to declassify documents on what is happening today?
The majority of Cuban-Americans who remain
active in terrorist actions against Cuba today, 40 years later, are well known to the
United States security agencies, because they belong to those agencies, and have learned
everything they know about technical means and working methods from them.
Their ties with the far right
fundamentalists of U.S. politics have led to their apparent involvement in the darkest
episodes of this countrys recent history: the assassination of President Kennedy,
the Watergate scandal, the murders of Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffit, and the
clandestine supply of arms to the Nicaraguan Contras, in violation of the laws passed by
Congress. Their activities have always run counter to the interests of the American
Perhaps it is their complicity with and
loyalty to that political sector of this society that guarantees them impunity for their
actions against Cuba, and provides them with the certitude that their activities will be
overlooked by the authorities, and that political pressure will exerted in their favor in
the event that they are caught. The facts prove this to be so.
Such is the case of Luis Posada Carriles and
Orlando Bosch, both with long histories of ties with the CIA. Together, they were the
masterminds behind the blowing up in mid-flight of a Cuban commercial airplane on October
6, 1976, an act that caused the deaths of 73 innocent people.
Orlando Bosch lives as a free man in this
community thanks to the parole granted by former president George Herbert Bush, despite
the fact that officials from this countrys own Department of Justice consider him a
dangerous and notorious terrorist.
The recommendations and pressures of Florida
Republican representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen played a major role in the granting of this
presidential parole to Orlando Bosch. She is, therefore, a defender and protector of
The evidence submitted here by the defense
--documents known to the FBI and introduced during the trial-- prove that Orlando Bosch
has not ceased to conspire to commit terrorist acts against Cuba from Miami. But, he has
not been arrested.
This past August 22, a full-page ad was
published in The Miami Herald, in which a so-called "Cuban Patriotic
Forum" established among its principles that it recognizes and supports the use of
any methods in the struggle against Cuba. One of the signatories of this declaration was
Orlando Bosch. Such is the impunity of his acts.
The case of Posada Carriles is even more
shameful. Having escaped from a Venezuelan jail, where he was being held for his
participation in the blowing up of a Cuban commercial plane that killed 73 innocent
civilians, he surfaced in Central America with a new false name, working under the orders
of none other than Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North. North, of course, was the official
from the Reagan administrations Security Council involved in the so-called
Iran-Contra scandal, subsequently investigated by a special prosecutor.
All of this is documented and known to the
U.S. security services. They also know that it was the Cuban-American National Foundation
that financed and organized Posada Carriles escape from a Venezuelan jail.
Today, Luis Posada Carriles and three other
Cuban-Americans resident in Miami, all with long histories of involvement in terrorist
acts against Cuba and also in the U.S. territory, are currently held in detention in
Panama. They were arrested for their participation in a plot to blow up the university
auditorium in Panama City with C-4 explosive while President Fidel Castro was meeting
there with thousands of Panamanian students.
These terrorists imprisoned in Panama are
receiving support from Miami. Money is being collected through public fundraising
campaigns for their defense, with the use of Cuban-American radio stations. Pressure is
being exerted on the Panamanian authorities and the legal defense of these terrorists is
being arranged, while conditions are created for an eventual escape. There is no need to
add that here, on the radio and in the press controlled by the Cubans of the far right,
they are considered patriots, and not lowly terrorists, which is what they really are.
All of this is taking place in full view of
this countrys authorities.
A lengthy account could be given of the
entire terrorist and paramilitary activities and the attempts on the lives of Cubas
political leaders organized from South Florida. With regard to the latter, in 1975 the
Church Commission of the U.S. Senate compiled a partial list of those in which the CIA was
directly involved, and for which it even resorted to members of organized crime. Such is
their lack of ethics.
What choice do the Cuban people have for
defending their sovereignty and their security?
All of us here in this courtroom are
familiar with the concept of "probable cause", used, among other things, for
authorizing the use of certain means and methods in criminal investigations, for carrying
out searches, making arrests, and so on. Who in the U.S. government can state here in this
courtroom that over these last 42 years, there has not been "probable cause" to
justify and legally support the investigation of actions initiated or financed from South
Florida against Cuba?
In the course of our trial, the prosecution,
in a blatant show of hypocrisy, threatened to use the R.I.C.O. Act against witnesses for
the defense if they testified in this courtroom. Their goal was to keep the terrorist
activities in which these gentlemen had participated from coming to light.
The RICO Act, passed by Congress
fundamentally to fight organized crime, has been in force for over 20 years. However, it
has never been applied to a single one of the terrorist groups based here in Miami,
although the government has all the information required to do so.
Here you have an example that there are in
fact laws that would allow for these individuals and groups to be criminally prosecuted.
The problem is that, at the very least,
there has been no political will to do so. If that political will did exist, many of the
terrorist organizations that publicly operate offices in Miami would have been forced to
shut down and their members would have been sent to prison.
This is just a brief summary of the reality
that the Cuban people have had to face and with which they have had to live throughout
more than 40 years. The Cuban people have the right to defend themselves, because up until
now the U.S. government, which is responsible for enforcing the laws of this country and
passing new laws if they are needed to combat criminal acts, has done very little or
nothing to stop these activities against Cuba.
It was within this context that we reached
the decade of the 90s. Cuba was facing the most critical economic situation of the last 40
years, fundamentally as a result of external factors.
The terrorist groups based in Miami and
allied with the far-right of U.S. politics believed that the time had come to deal the
definitive coup de grâce to Cubas revolutionary government. Thus, political actions
and terrorist acts were simultaneously stepped up.
The Cuban-American National Foundation
(CANF) became the Cuban communitys most influential organization, due to its
economic resources and the influence it exerted over key politicians in the United
States government structure.
Its strategy was to work towards the
adoption in Congress of measures aimed at economically strangling the Cuban people, with
the false hope that this would lead them to rise up against the revolutionary government,
while at the same time, a wave of terrorist attacks against Cuba would be organized and
financed from Miami, with the goal of damaging the already recovering economy.
This wave of terrorist acts against tourism
facilities in Cuba was financed and organized by the CANF. The head terrorist, Luis Posada
Carriles, acknowledged to The New York Times his responsibility for the
planning of these attacks and the financing of them with money from that organization. In
articles published by the newspaper on July 12 and 13, 1998, Posada Carriles tacitly
admitted that he functioned as the armed wing of the CANF.
In that same interview, he explained that
the U.S. authorities had made no effort to question him about the terrorist attacks on
hotels in Cuba, and that he attributed this lack of action to his longstanding
relationship with them. He literally said:
"As you can see... the FBI and the CIA
dont bother me, and Im neutral with them. Whenever I can help them, I
During the following days, the eminently
anti-Cuban press in Miami would work to erase from the minds of the Cuban community the
statements and serious claims published by The New York Times, pushing them out of
the local media with something that constitutes an obsession within this community: a
purported illness afflicting President Fidel Castro. It did not matter that the story was
a hoax, and was dispelled within a matter of days. It had accomplished its objective of
making the general public forget what had been published in The New York Times and
the potential repercussions of the statements made to that paper by Posada Carriles.
But the FBI and other U.S. authorities
should not have forgotten, as the above-mentioned articles were published on July 12 and
13 and, exactly 26 days before the publication of those articles, an official U.S.
delegation, which included FBI officers, visited Havana where it was provided with
extensive information, filmed footage and tape recordings containing evidence of the
participation of the CANF and its top leaders in the organization and financing of
terrorist acts against Cuba. Many of these materials were introduced by the defense as
evidence in this case.
More than three years later, Cuba is still
waiting for any FBI action to arrest any of the individuals involved.
On October 26, 1990, Mr. Angel Berlingueri,
a FBI special agent from the Miami office at the time, was a guest on the "Round
Table" radio show broadcast by WAQI, or "Radio Mambí". Coincidentally,
this same agent participated in my arrest eight years later, and would subsequently
testify in this courtroom.
He was a guest on the same radio station,
with the same host and on the same show normally used to raise funds for actions against
Cuba, for the defense of terrorists, and as a forum for anti-Cuban propaganda and
political activity characterized by fanaticism.
That is where this FBI special agent
It is striking that in his comments and
explanations to the public about the supposed activities of agents working for the Cuban
government in South Florida, there is no mention of anything related to the national
security of the United States. There is, however, acknowledgement of the fact that there
are groups here in Miami plotting to overthrow the Cuban government. This violates the
Neutrality Act, although it is clear that this issue was not brought up during the show.
On that very same radio show, this FBI agent
acknowledged that actions and attacks against the Cuban government are perpetrated from
Miami, and that the goal of the Cuban government is to remain informed of these plans. To
top it all, the FBI agent bid farewell to his listeners by informing them that "we
are fighting and we have the same objectives: for Cuba to be free as soon as
As far as I know, the FBI was not created to
fight for the freedom of any other country, nor is this one of its functions. However,
these statements clearly highlight the political agenda of the FBI office in South
Coincidentally, these statements were made
in October of 1990, precisely at the beginning of a decade in which terrorist acts against
Cuba from South Florida would be stepped up considerably.
Statements like these, coming from an FBI
agent and made on a radio station show with the above-mentioned characteristics, could
only serve to encourage the organizers of terrorist acts against Cuba and offer them the
security that they will not be persecuted for their actions.
Mr. Héctor Pesquera, the agent in charge of
the South Florida FBI office, appeared as a guest of the same station, on the same show,
and with the same host, just days after the verdict was announced in our trial.
In the face of these realities, what can
Cuba do to defend itself and be forewarned of terrorist plans?
Can the authorities of the South Florida FBI
be trusted when it comes to matters related to Cubas national security?
Can someone who is here to look into the
activities of terrorist groups and to prevent their actions in order to deter the death of
innocent people be officially registered with the U.S. government?
What can Cuba do to defend its people, when
boats leaving Florida loaded with weapons to attack Cuba are seized by the U.S.
authorities, and those authorities are satisfied with explanations like, "Were
lobster fishing"? We heard this in this very courtroom from an ATF agent who
intercepted a boat loaded with weapons and maps of Cuba just 40 miles off its coasts.
On July 23, 1998, The Miami Herald
reported comments made by terrorist Tony Bryant, who laughed over how he was questioned by
FBI officials after his boat was found near Havana with explosives on board. According to
what Bryant told the newspaper, he promised he would not do it again, and they let him go.
What can Cuba do when terrorists like
Virgilio Paz and José Dionisio Suárez, who blew Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffit to
bits in this countrys capital and were then fugitives from the law, serve only seven
years of their sentences and are then back on the streets thanks to the assistance of the
CANF, which paid for their legal defense? I know of cases of reentry that have been given
longer sentences than that.
The first words spoken to the press by one
of these two individuals were to thank the CANF, Armando Pérez Roura and WAQI for the
efforts they had made to get both of them released. This is the same radio station and the
same radio show host for whom FBI agents Berlingueri and Pesquera appeared as guests.
The truth is that Cuba has no choice but to
have people here, acting out of love for their country, and not for money, to keep the
country informed of terrorist plans and to keep those plans from execution whenever
possible. That is the reason for my presence here.
As long as the situation remains as I have
described it, Cuba has a moral right to defend itself in the way that my comrades and I
On September 11, we were all witnesses to a
horrific and criminal act. An ephemeral act which dismayed the majority of the
worlds inhabitants, who learned of these events through the television networks. The
terrorist acts committed against Cuba for years have not been broadcast by any of those
Allow me to recall that also on September
11, but in 1980, Félix García, a Cuban diplomat accredited to the United Nations, was
murdered in New York City by one of the terrorists currently imprisoned alongside Posada
Carriles in Panama.
In the outcome of the terrorist acts that
took place in New York and Washington, the worlds awareness of the need to eradicate
terrorism has increased.
Barely hours, or even minutes, after these
events, all of the analysts and high-level officials of this countrys government
were offering statements, information and viewpoints through the media. They all
emphasized the need to speed up intelligence work and to infiltrate the groups that
perpetrate such acts, as well as those who give them support and shelter.
I am convinced that the United States would
feel proud of any one of its sons who had the opportunity and the privilege to prevent
acts like the ones that took place this past September. Anyone who achieved this would
have done a great service to his country and to humankind.
President Bush, in his speech to the joint
session of the Congress on September 20, 2001, declared:
"Tonight, we are a country awakened to
danger and called to defend freedom."
More than 40 years ago, my country and my
people were obliged to wake up to the danger and called upon to defend their freedom. I
feel proud to have been one of those who forewarned my people of such dangers.
Later that night, in that same speech,
President Bush stated:
"We will come together to strengthen
our intelligence capabilities, to know the plans of terrorists before they act and to find
them before they strike."
Cuba, which has suffered terrorist attacks
for 42 years, also has the right to defend itself in this way. Today, the American nation
has joined in the fight against terrorism, something that has been a necessity and a
reality for my country for many years.
There can be no double standards. Terrorism
must be combated and eliminated whether it is committed against a big and powerful country
or against small countries. There is no such thing as bad terrorism and good terrorism.
In the report on Orlando Bosch submitted in
1989 by Undersecretary of Justice Joe D. Whitley, whose administrative position made him
less subject to political pressures or foreign policy considerations, this U.S. government
"The United States cannot tolerate the
inherent inhumanity of terrorism as a way of settling disputes. Appeasement of those who
would use force will only breed more terrorists. We must look on terrorism as a universal
evil, even if it is directed toward those with whom we have no political sympathy."
Today, you will conclude this stage of our
trial and pronounce the sentence that you deem appropriate.
Finally, I simply want to reiterate that at
no time did I endanger the national security of the United States, nor was this ever my
intent, or that of my comrades.
What I did was inspired by love for my
country, and by the conviction that history will register that this is the only choice
left to the Cuban people to prevent the death of innocent people and the destruction
wrought by the terrorist acts committed against my country.
It is up to the U.S. government to bring an
end to these acts. Cuba has shown its willingness to cooperate with the U.S. authorities
in this and other areas, like drug trafficking. This would serve the best interests of
both nations, since it does affect the national security of the United States.
It is the authorities of this country that
must decide to act on the basis of principles, and to shake off the destructive influence
of a small but economically powerful group of mobsters and ultra-right fanatics from the
Cuban community in Miami.
I sincerely trust that one day Cuba will
have no need for people like me to come to this country, voluntarily and out of love for
their country and their people, to fight against terrorism.
The first duty of any self-respecting person
is to his or her country. Throughout the years of my imprisonment, I will always carry
with me the dignity I have learned from my people and their history.
Thank you very much.
Fernando González Llort
Translated by ESTI