Cuban Hero Jailed in US Interviewed on BBC
For the first time, a major international news organization (BBC Radio) has profiled the case of the Cuban Five - five Cubans who infiltrated Miami-based terrorist groups in order to protect their country from attack. The extreme sentences and inhumane treatment of the five Cubans has been condemned by Amnesty International, 8 Nobel Prize winners, 5 British MPs and a host of international organizations. Here is an excerpt of the interview that was broadcast to 70 million people Monday:
BBC: Next month, a court in Florida is going to hear an appeal in a case that sums up much about the relationship between the United States and Cuba. Gerardo Hernández is serving a double life sentence, but he argues that all he was trying to do was protect Cuba from what he calls "terrorist groups," anti-Castro organizations based in the U.S. He and his fellow defendants also argue that their trial was unfair because of the anti-Castro mood in Florida where it was held (a charge a Georgia appeals court agreed with, but was later overturned).
In the first-ever media interview given by any of the five prisoners, I spoke to Mr. Hernández on the telephone from his maximum security prison in Victorville, California, and asked him to explain his story from the beginning. What was he doing in Florida in the first place?
Gerardo Hernández: Well in the first place, I was gathering information on terrorist groups that used to operate in Florida with total impunity. So at a certain point Cuba decided to send some people to gather information on those groups and send it back to Cuba to prevent those actions. In 1998, Cuba passed to the FBI some information regarding those groups, hoping that the FBI would do something against them. And unfortunately, what they did was arrest the people that had gathered that information.
BBC:But you do acknowledge that you were working as an agent for a foreign government, and in one of your defense statements you do say that you were working with false documents, false identity documents?
GH: Yes, I do acknowlege that. But there is something called "necessity defense," that says that if in order to prevent crime you have to violate a law, you can understand that. In my case, yes I have fake I.D., I was working for foreign government, but not to affect the U.S. interest, but to defend Cuban interests, to defend the Cuban people from terrorism.
And the crime you were trying to stop, what exactly were they, the crimes?
GH: Well, for example, in 1997, a bomb exploded in a Cuban hotel and killed an Italian tourist. And in 1976, as you know, a bomb exploded in a Cuban airplane and killed 73 people. And that's only two examples of terrorist acts committed against Cuba. Anybody who lives in Miami, they know what Comandos F-4 is, and they know what Alpha 66 is. They've got training camps in the Everglades, they dress in camouflage, and have weapons, and they train for the day they're going to "liberate Cuba." They used to go to Cuba in boats and fire at Cuban buildings and they tried to organize an internal sabotage and all kinds of actions. Hopefully the U.S. government and the U.S. authorities will do something, because they say they have a war against terrorists, but why are you going to allow those terrorists to operate freely in Miami?
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