A Challenge to
U.S. government has flagrantly violated the
Constitution and the law to ensure the unjust
conviction the Cuban Five, who will soon complete 14
years of arbitrary and illegal imprisonment. This
was not an isolated event, but rather a systematic
effort carried out over the course of the
prosecution of the Five, which cost millions dollars
of public funds. There is very limited information
available about the operation, its duration, the
amount of money utilized, persons involved, and
other important aspects.
Given that these actions should
oblige authorities - both judicial and executive -
to immediately release the Five, Washington has also
conspired to hide what it did, thus committing an
additional crime: obstruction of justice.
This is the essence of the affidavit
submitted recently to South Florida District Judge,
Joan Lenard, by Martin Garbus, Gerardo Hernández
Nordelo’s lawyer. The document supports Gerardo’s
previous request to vacate his conviction or, as an
alternative, requests that the judge order discovery
of all evidence the government is hiding and convene
Although there are many other
violations in the appeal process cited - in this
last, extraordinary stage - the document focuses on
the government’s conspiracy with Miami media to
convict the accused beforehand and make a fair trial
The substantive nature of the
conspiracy was to use these media to unleash an
unprecedented propaganda campaign of hatred and
hostility. To this end they used a number of "journalists"
- in fact undercover government agents - who
published articles and commentaries over and over,
day and night, to produce a veritable barrage of
misinformation. Between November 27, 2000 – when the
trial began - and July 8, 2001 -when they were found
guilty- The Miami Herald and El Nuevo
Herald alone published 1,111 articles, an
average of more than 5 per day. The Diario de Las
Américas published a similar number, completely
saturating the printed press.
The "journalists" were paid by Radio
and TV Martí, in other words with funds from the
federal budget. These individuals did additional
work for the two stations and their views were
disseminated in the Miami area where both anti-Cuban
outlets had, at that time, and still have, direct
broadcasting, and were also reproduced by local
media. (This is another violation of U.S. law which
prohibits official propaganda within U.S. territory.)
This wasn’t just Radio and TV Marti
and the daily newspapers. These so-called
journalists used local English and Spanish language
radio and TV stations as well, and other
publications distributed in the area, some free of
It was impossible to avoid this
barrage of propaganda anywhere in South Florida.
But the criminal behavior of the "journalists"
- and the government which paid them - went far
beyond propaganda. During the trial, the defense
denounced on several occasions that these
journalists were attempting to influence the jury by
divulging material, some of which the judge had
specifically excluded and which, obviously, they
could only have received from the prosecution.
As if this were not enough, the "journalists"
harassed witnesses and jurors, as well. The jury
complained to the judge saying they were frightened,
that they had been followed with cameras and
microphones. This was acknowledged several times by
Judge Lenard who asked the government - obviously
without success - to help her avoid situations that
tarnished the image of the U.S. judicial system. (See
Official Record of the Trial, pages 22, 23, 111,
112, 625, 14644-14646).
In August 2005, a three judge panel
of the Court of Appeals unanimously declared a
mistrial because the Miami proceedings had taken
place within what they described as "a perfect storm
of prejudice and hostility", created by the local
media. When the three judges rendered their
historical ruling, neither they, or anyone else,
could have known that the District Attorney’s Office
was responsible for this perfect storm, openly
violating its constitutional obligation to abide by
the law and guarantee a fair trial.
The first reports of the government’s
conspiracy with its "journalists" emerged a year
later in September, 2006. Since then the government
has opposed efforts by U.S. civic organizations to
force disclosure of the payments and contracts, in
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The District Attorney’s Office has also opposed
requests included in the extraordinary appeals by
the Five and has threatened to resort to "executive
privilege" and "national security" justifications to
maintain the cover up.
The case of the Cuban Five has a
strange link to the press and media professionals.
In Miami the media were decisive in their conviction.
Outside of Miami the Five were punished with silence.
The irrefutable document submitted
by Martin Garbus poses a challenge to professional
journalists. Will they let the facts be covered up
again and become accomplices of those who have
tarnished their noble profession? Or will they
attempt to preserve the honor of their profession by
demanding that the charlatans be unmasked and that
truth and justice prevail?
CHALLENGE TO JOURNALISTS (II) (III)