ZNet | Central America & Caribbean

Miami Vice

by Jane Franklin; September 06, 2005

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has now provided legal recognition of the fact that the city of Miami is so inflamed with passion against Cuba that it is unfit as a site for the trial of any case involving Cuba where the defendant is not in favor of overthrowing the Cuban government.  In their decision of August 9, the three-judge panel of the Court ruled that empaneling an impartial jury in Miami was “an unreasonable probability because of pervasive community prejudice."  In a 93-page analysis, the judges argued that the Cuban Five--Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Ramón Labañino, and René González--could not possibly “obtain a fair and impartial trial" in that part of Florida, and therefore the Court  reversed their convictions and ordered retrial in a new venue.

The Court quoted a study by Dr. Kendra Brennan, a legal psychologist, that "characterized the results of a poll of Miami Cuban-Americans as reflecting `an attitude of a state of war...against Cuba.'"  Citing a study by Florida International University Professor of Sociology and director of the Cuban Research Institute Dr. Lisandro Pérez, the Court stated that "the Cubans created a `true ethnic enclave' which exercised strong economic and political influence...as evidenced by the establishment of major institutions such as the Cuban American National Foundation...and the election of numerous Cuban-American public officials" to city, state, and national office.


The Cuban Five acknowledge that they were in Miami to monitor Cuban-Americans who carry out terrorist attacks against Cuba.  The Court named some of the "Cuban exile groups of concern to the Cuban government":  Alpha 66, Brigade 2506, Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR), Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID), Comandos F4, Comandos L, the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), the Cuban American Military Council, the Ex-Club, Partido de Unidad Nacional Democrática (PUND) or the National Democratic Unity Party (NDUP), and United Command for Liberation (CLU).  The Court actually listed terrorist acts by these groups, including bombing tourist hotels and plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro. 

The Court recorded that, after each attack, Cuba advised the U.S. government of its investigations and asked Washington "to take action against the groups operating from inside the United States."  However, instead of arresting terrorists, the FBI in 1998 arrested the Cuban Five who had gathered information about terrorist plots against Cuba.  To this day terrorists continue to be hailed as heroes in a city permeated by that "pervasive community prejudice."   Is Miami's mayor likely to try to change the situation?  Mayor Manny Díaz is a Cuban-American lawyer who represented the Miami relatives of Elián González when they kidnapped the young child from the hospital after his rescue from the sea and tried to keep him with them in Miami instead of allowing his Cuban father to take him home to Cuba.  The Florida State judiciary system is riddled with Cuban-Americans, including State Supreme Court Judge Raúl Cantero, former lawyer for Cuban-American terrorist Orlando Bosch, who now walks free in Miami despite being labeled a terrorist by the Justice Department back in 1989.


But the pervasive prejudice does not stop at the borders of Miami or even of Florida.  Ronald Reagan knew what he was doing when he created the Cuban American National Foundation in 1981 as the spearhead of  U.S. policy toward Cuba.  CANF's late Chairman Jorge Mas Canosa lobbied Congress in favor of anti-Cuba laws while unlawfully financing terrorists like Cuban-American Luis Posada, now seeking not to be deported to Venezuela for trial on charges of  masterminding, with Orlando Bosch, the midair bombing of a civilian Cuban airliner in 1976, killing all 73 people aboard.  Many of Washington's politicians receive money from the same CANF that financed the terrorism that Posada bragged about in interviews featured in front-page articles of The New York Times  (July 12 and July 13, 1998).  As chairman of CANF, the wealthiest and most influential of the Cuban right-wing groups in this country, Mas Canosa, friend of presidents from Reagan to Bill Clinton, engineered the placement of Cuban-Americans in positions of power that affect our whole country. 

Their power continues to expand.  For examples:  Eduardo Aguirre, who was director of Homeland Security's Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, is the new U.S. ambassador to Spain.  To succeed him, President George W. Bush has nominated Emilio González, who was once director of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council; Mas Canosa's son and current CANF Chairman Jorge Mas Santos greeted the nomination with praise of González's "experience as a young refugee from Cuba who came to realize the American dream."  Adolfo Franco is administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean in the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID).  Carlos Gutiérrez is the Secretary of Commerce, opposed of course to any commerce with Cuba.  There are now four Cuban-American Republicans from Florida in Congress, the legislative body of our nation:  Senator Mel Martínez and Representatives Ileana Roz-Lehtinen and the two Díaz-Balart brothers, Lincoln and Mario. 


On NBC television, Representative Roz-Lehtinen once proclaimed that Washington sent troops into Haiti, Panama, and the Persian Gulf when there was no threat so why does there need to be a threat from Cuba before Washington does the same to "get tough with Castro"?  Ros-Lehtinen is now campaigning to become chair of the House International Relations Committee.

Representative Lincoln Díaz-Balart looks back with nostalgia to the Batista dictatorship when his father was a Senator and his grandfather was President of the Cuban Senate.   Last year he publicly stated that Washington should consider assassinating Fidel Castro.  On January 25 this man will become vice chair of the powerful House Rules Committee, which decides whether a bill will go to the floor of the House, how long it can be debated, and if amendments can be offered.  He will be in position to kill any legislation that would loosen the bans on travel and trade with Cuba.  But his reach will go much further.  He will make decisions that affect all our daily lives from Social Security to the environment.  The "pervasive community prejudice" of Miami is going national.




Historian Jane Franklin is the author of Cuba and the U.S. Empire: A Chronological History.

E-mail Jane Franklin: janefranklin@hotmail.com