The Habeas corpus appeal of Garardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban five

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Hernández is one of ten Cubans who, like the Russian agents arrested in the summer of 2010 in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, were arrested by the FBI in Miami in 1998 and charged with failing to register as agents of a foreign government, as well as  conspiracy to commit espionage. In the 1990’s as right wing Cuban Americans rejoiced the toppling of the Soviet Union which was the primary sponsor of Cuba grew even more provocative as they aimed for similar results. Small Miami based boats and planes began buzzing in and out of Cuban seas and airspace, shooting at beachside hotels, dropping objects from the skies, and meanwhile, mercenaries were hired to plant bombs and bring weapons into the country, with tragic and lethal results. These attacks made by American citizens grew to severe and agents of Cuba were sent to aid in what they thought was terrorists attacks.

It was the government’s contention that Hernández knew in advance about a Cuban government plan to shoot down the planes, that the plan was an illegal one by virtue of the charge that Cuba intended to shoot the planes down in international airspace – not Cuban airspace – and that Hernández agreed to help with that plan. Hernández’s case, along with those of his compatriots, was appealed. In 2005, a three judge appellate panel unanimously HYPERLINK “”reversed all the convictions due to community prejudice and the failure of the trial court to move the trial out of Miami. In the meantime, in the desolate high desert of California,

Hernández continues to be an active advocate in his own case and that of rest of the Five. This sometimes leads to peculiar resentments on the part of his jailers. “You get too much mail,” he is told, and in the upside-down logic of the federal prison system, the solution is to hold his mail captive on occasion until the excess becomes an avalanche. He continues to endure extra-judicial punishments such as the denial of a visa, 13 years running, for his wife to visit him. He is denied email access which, in contrast, is granted to hardened, proven violent offenders incarcerated in the same facility. Last summer he was suddenly, inexplicably, thrown into the prison “hole” and some weeks later, following an international outcry, released.

Regardless of whether Hernández is ultimately granted his right to due process through a new trial, he guards an undiminished sense of optimism, tempered with realism. Of the multitude of efforts to obtain his freedom he says, “It’s like water on a rock.” And even the hardest rocks give way over time.

The Habeas corpus appeal of Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban five
Author: Leonard Weinglass
Publication: Tlaxaca, 01/19/2011

Student: Sean Lawrence
Evaluator: Melissa Costa, MA