Cuban agent freed in US to lobby for fellow agents
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ
HAVANA -- The first member of a Cuban spy ring to walk free from prison
in the United States thanked islanders Friday for their support during
his 13 years behind bars and vowed to keep pushing for the release of
the other four.
Rene Gonzalez, a 55-year-old dual U.S.-Cuban citizen who left a federal
lockup in the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 7, spoke through a home video
that was broadcast and rebroadcast on Cuban state television and
"It is truly difficult to address people who are so loved and who you
feel a part of through a camera, but I had to communicate with you and
say how grateful I am for everything," Gonzalez said.
"We have felt we were in good company from the thousands of messages,
the letters from children, all the workers' and students' groups who
have sent messages from Cuba, the support that has never been lacking
and sustained us through these years of injustice," he added.
Gonzalez and the other four members of the "Cuban Five" were convicted
in 2001 of being part of a ring known as the "Wasp Network" that sought
to spy on U.S. military installations in South Florida, Cuban exile
groups and politicians opposed to Castro's government.
The Cuban government hails the men as heroes, and they and their
supporters have long insisted they were only in the U.S. to detect and
prevent violent attacks against their country, mainly by Miami-based
exile groups. They also complained that Miami was an unfair location for
Gonzalez vowed Friday to lobby for the others' release.
"The fact that I am now out of prison only means an end to one avenue of
abuse to which I had been subjected. But we still have four brothers who
we have to rescue," he said. "They don't deserve to be where they are."
Gonzalez, his family and the Cuban government asked that he be allowed
to go directly to Cuba, but a judge ordered him to serve three years of
probation in the United States.
Gonzalez's wife and Cuban authorities have expressed concern for his
safety in Florida, which is home to a large Cuban exile community and
the anti-Castro groups he was monitoring.