Convicted Cuban spies got their due
Editor's note: This is The Miami Herald's editorial position about the
Cuban Five spy trial, which was first published June 18, 2009, under the
headline: Spies got fair trial:
By choosing not to hear an appeal in the so-called Cuban Five case, the
U.S. Supreme Court sent an important message: Cuban spies received a
fair trial in Miami-Dade County.
It's laughable that Ricardo Alarcón, who heads the Cuban National
Assembly, would maintain that the justices didn't hear the case because
``the Obama administration asked them not to.'' The Castro government
and its apologists prefer to ignore the evidence, including wiretaps,
presented at trial.
A history lesson for Mr. Alarcón: In the United States there are checks
and balances guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and the judiciary is
independent. In one-party Cuba, with a rubber-stamp judiciary, that's
simply not the case.
American judges can make mistakes -- and there have been abuses -- but
they are not political instruments of the White House. And most
certainly not this president. Most of the justices on the court were
appointed by Republican presidents -- not by Mr. Obama's Democratic Party.
The five convicted spies, arrested in 1998 as part of the Wasp Network,
are serving sentences from 15 years to life for acting as illegal agents
of the Cuban government. The communist regime says the spies were only
getting information about anti-Castro groups in South Florida.
That's not all they were doing. Had the cases been solely about
gathering information without registering with the U.S. government as a
foreign agent the sentences would have been shorter. No, the Castro
government and its apologists prefer to ignore the evidence, including
wiretaps, presented at trial.
Three of the spies also were part of an espionage conspiracy that
involved spying on U.S. military installations, like Homestead Air Force
The Wasp ringleader, Gerardo Hernández, was convicted for conspiring to
commit murder in connection with the 1996 shoot-down by Cuban MIGs of an
unarmed Brothers to the Rescue plane, which would scour the sea for
rafters and at least once had come close enough to Havana to dump
anti-Castro leaflets. Three U.S. citizens and one permanent U.S.
resident in the Brothers plane were killed, thanks to the work of Mr.
Hernández and others.
Defense attorneys argued on appeal that the men could not receive a fair
trial in Miami. Certainly those were tense times, but the court took
care in selecting impartial jurors. Not one juror was of Cuban descent,
The defense may find other arguments to attempt to appeal again. That's
their right in a free country -- a right denied to Cubans under the