Your Honor, Ladies and
First of all, I join in
all of the arguments put forward by my four brothers in this case and in
my recognition of the professional behavior of the officials in this
court: Richard, the translators, the marshals, and Lisa.
The criminal attacks on
the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington took the
lives of thousands of innocent people in the United States, and we share
in the anger and sorrow of the American people. It is our fervent hope
that events like these are never repeated.
We who have devoted our
lives to fighting terrorism, to preventing atrocious acts like these
from taking place; we who have tried to save the lives of innocent human
beings not only in Cuba but in the United States as well, stand in this
courtroom today to be sentenced precisely for preventing similar acts.
Thus, this punishment could not be more ironic and unfair!.
The words of George W.
Bush, president of this country, in the name of which I am to be
sentenced, clearly express the reasons why we came to the United States
and why we find ourselves in this courtroom today.
From this very city of
Miami, terrorist acts against my country, Cuba, have been planned,
organized and directed. From here, the terrorists and their activities
are sponsored, encouraged and financed. They are given shelter here as
well. To mention just one well-known case, a terrorist and murderer not
only of Cubans but of people from the United States as well, Orlando
Bosch, freely walks the streets of Miami. And what is most regrettable
of all is that all of this takes place with the knowledge and consent of
this country’s authorities. One need only thoroughly read all of the
evidence in our case, which gives a full account of all these kinds of
Cuba, my country, has
suffered more than 42 years of terrorist acts, aggression, invasions and
provocations, which have resulted in the deaths of over 3478 innocent
human beings and physical injuries to over 2099. Cuba, like the United
States, has the right to defend itself.
To offer just a few
On March 4, 1960, the French ship La
Coubre was blown up in the port of Havana by agents of the CIA;
101 people were killed as a result of this terrorist sabotage,
including six French sailors.
On October 6, 1976, in a treacherous
terrorist attack perpetrated by Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando
Bosch, through Venezuelan mercenaries, two bombs were detonated on a
Cubana Airlines civilian aircraft that had taken off from the
Barbados, cruelly killing 73 people (57 Cubans, including 24 youths
from the Cuban National Fencing Team, 11 young people from Guyana, and
five Koreans). Some of these terrorist murderers are in prison today
in Panama, and enormous efforts are being made here in Miami to have
them set free. Here they are called "patriots" and regarded
as symbols; radio stations are raising funds for their defense and
possible escape from jail.
There have been 637 attempts on the
life of the president of Cuba, Fidel Castro.
Bacteriological terrorism aimed at
humans, plants and animals has also been used against my country, with
a total of 344,203 people affected and 158 dead, of whom 101 were
This is not paranoia,
these are lives of innocent human beings!
These terrorist groups
we were acting against not only carried out these kinds of activities in
Cuba, but also here in the United States. This news report, which is
totally public and available to everyone, provides a summary of the
terrorist acts committed here in Miami, a total of over 68 acts of
violence. This article written by journalist Jim Mullin of the Miami New
Times on April 20-26, 2000, among many other incidents, reports the
1968 Orlando Bosch fires a bazooka
from the MacArthur Causeway against a Polish ship (Miami politicians
would later declare an "Orlando Bosch Day" to honor this
1974 Exile leader José Elías de la
Torriente is murdered in Coral Gables for the failure of an invasion
he was to lead to Cuba.
1975 Luciano Nieves is murdered after
defending peaceful coexistence with Cuba.
1976 Emilio Milán, the news director
at WQBA-AM, has his legs blown off by a car bomb after publicly
condemning the violence perpetrated by the exile community.
1981 A bomb explodes in the Mexican
consulate on Brickell Ave., in protest over Mexico’s relations with
1996 A bomb explodes in the Little
Havana restaurant Centro Vasco, to protest a scheduled concert by
Cuban singer Rosita Fornés.
2000 On April 11, outside the home of
Elián González’ relatives in Miami, radio journalist Scott Piasant
of Obregón holds up a T-shirt reading "Send the boy home, it’s
a father’s right", and is physically attacked before the police
These things did not
happen in Cuba. They happened here in the United States, in Miami, in
the cities and streets of this country where we all live, where you and
your children and families walk every day.
In the 1990s,
terrorism, raids and provocations against my country were stepped up,
until in 1997 there was a wave of terrorist acts against hotels and
other tourism establishments that resulted in the murder of an innocent
Italian tourist, Mr. Favio Di Celmo.
How many more deaths of
innocent human beings must we witness before this insane and absurd
policy towards Cuba is ended?
How many more human
lives must be lost before the FBI truly fulfills its duty and arrests
the real criminals and terrorists who act against the people of the
United States itself?
Could it be that this
"fight against terrorism" is pure rhetoric?
No, common sense would
say that it is not. And that is precisely why we are here today, because
we do not want any of these things to happen, neither in Cuba, nor in
the United States, or Miami, or any other part of the world. All that we
have done is this: to try to save the lives of innocent human beings, by
preventing terrorism and preventing a stupid war.
The same pattern can be
observed in all of the Cuban-American terrorists we know. José Basulto
was recruited and trained by the CIA and used in its war against my
country, and he has kept up the practice of terrorism and provocation up
until today, just like the members of such organizations as the
Cuban-American National Foundation, Alpha 66, Comandos F-4, the
Democratic National Unity Party (PUND), Independent and Democratic Cuba
(CID), and the many others referred to in our evidence. These terrorists
represent to Cuba what the perpetrators of the horrific acts committed
against the United States represent to this country.
Cuba has never trusted
these characters, and it never will. Nor should the United States trust
them, much less protect them. This is a serious mistake, which could
explain in part why events like those of September 11 happen.
My country has suffered
from terrorism for more than 42 years. Today the United States is
suffering, and if this problem is not eradicated at the root, it could
continue to suffer tomorrow. Here in the United States there are more
than 800 organizations of a violent nature; this country is the one most
vulnerable to these kinds of criminal acts. Terrorism is the true enemy
of the national security of the United States. Maintaining a stance of
inactivity or indifference, or worse yet, of complicity and concealment
of terrorists and terrorism, is the worst crime that can be committed
against the national security of this nation; and that is precisely what
is happening in this case. Those who protect these groups and
individuals are the ones really endangering the national security of the
And that is why, from
this forum, I denounce the law enforcement agencies of the United States
that have concealed and failed to take action against terrorism and
For many years, Cuba
has passed information on to various government agencies in the United
States, up to the highest level; detailed, documented information,
complete with names and conclusive evidence of criminal acts and
murders. Our own evidence in this case is a full sampling of that
information. And even with all this information in their hands, they
have done nothing. There has not been a single arrest, or even a single
investigation carried out or underway.
With our arrest, all
they have attempted to do is to silence the source of information, to
keep serious acts of terrorism like these from disclosure and to hide
the truth that so brutally hits us today. Moreover, the FBI has
conspired with the terrorists themselves and the extreme right wing in
Miami to damage and obstruct any kind of rapprochement and cooperation
between our two peoples and governments. Meanwhile, the criminals are
happily walking the streets outside here today, laughing at this
courtroom. There cannot be a greater offense or stain on these
authorities, on the flag presiding this courtroom, and on that
coat-of-arms representing the ideal of true justice.
All that Cuba wants is
to live in peace and tranquillity. It does not want a war, just as the
people of the United States do not want a war. The military leaders of
the United States do not want it either, because they know very well
that Cuba poses no danger whatsoever to this country. That is why our
work has also been aimed at preventing a criminal war, which would only
lead to the deaths of innocent people, not only from Cuba, but also from
the United States.
At no time have we
sought out information that could place the national security of this
country in danger. This is pure manipulation, which we will never
accept, and a reason for which we decided to come to this trial, in
addition to clearly exposing the truth about all of the criminal acts
perpetrated from U.S. territory against Cuba and the United States
It is not Cuba that has
come to the United States for the purpose of an invasion, aggression, or
terrorist acts of all kinds. The reality is the complete opposite, and
quite simply, Cuba has the basic right to defend itself. That is all
that we have done, without causing harm to anyone or anything.
As long as this
criminal policy against my people persists, there will continue to be
men like us, as a basic measure of self-defense, just as the United
States urgently needs to learn about the inner workings of the terrorist
organizations attacking it today. This is a reality that no one can
bring to an end.
What the members of the
Miami extreme right are really seeking is to create a conflict through
some sort of provocation that will result in a U.S. military attack
against Cuba. And as I have said, this is not what my people, or my
government, or the people of the United States want. General Sheehan’s
testimony regarding the infiltrations into Cuba by Ramón Saúl Sánchez
and his "Democracy" group, revealed that he did not want these
elements to provoke a war with Cuba, which could cost the lives of many
young men in the U.S. armed forces. Numerous similar points of view were
expressed in this courtroom.
As for the prosecution,
we have seen a truly shameful and reprehensible behavior that has
nothing to do with justice and the search for truth. They first tried to
suppress all of our evidence on the terrorist acts perpetrated both in
Cuba and here in the United States. They used every means possible to
try to suppress 90% of our evidence in this case, that is, the truth
about our mission here.
The prosecutors have
manipulated and distorted the facts. They have tried to control this
courtroom at all times. They have used both subtle and blatant threats.
They have resorted to blackmailing witnesses under the threat of legally
incriminating them if they did not plead the Fifth Amendment. They even
went so far as to try to blackmail four-star General Charles Whilhem,
former chief of the Southern Command, to stop him from testifying for
There have been
attempts to conceal evidence (an 8 mm video, when FBI agent Al Alonso
prevented the original from being turned over to the defense; this was a
key piece of evidence for the most serious charge in this case).
For us, the prosecutors
do not represent the government of the United States, and that is why
for us, this is not a case of the Government of the United States vs.
Gerardo Hernández. Actually, the prosecution has very skillfully
represented the small extremist right-wing sector of the Cuban
community, terrorists like José Basulto and organizations like Alpha
66, the Cuban-American National Foundation and Comandos F-4. They even
went so far as to embrace and kiss these individuals right in this
courtroom, in full view of everyone here. If something about this trial
astonished me, it was the tremendous zeal, the unlimited efforts made by
the prosecution and all their advisors to faithfully represent this
criminal sector, at any cost.
However, the defense
has showed truth, dignity and the real stance of the American people
towards Cuba. It was the defense that brought in generals and other
military and civilians who have contributed to carrying out this policy
towards my country, such as:
General Charles Whilhem
Colonel Eugene Carol
Richard Nuccio, former
advisor to U.S. President William Clinton on Cuban affairs.
Many of them appeared
on a fully voluntary basis, and in this small detail lies a very big
message for those willing to understand it.
Ladies and gentlemen:
this is a time of major changes; we are well into the 21st
century. Today the United States has relations with China. It has
relations with Viet Nam, where 56,000 citizens of this country died. It
is taking part in talks with North Korea, and many other countries with
which it seemed impossible to have relations. Why not with Cuba?
It is true that to
carry out our tasks, we needed to resort to unconventional methods. We
have done so for obvious reasons of personal security, and never with
the intent of harming anyone, or cheating or deceiving anyone, much less
the government or institutions of this country.
The evidence is
overwhelmingly clear in all respects, then, let us be judged on the
basis of that evidence. From the very first day of this trial, we
acknowledged our true identities and our responsibilities, but I never
accepted, and never will accept, any implication of espionage, or of
trying to deceive this country.
I want to express
special thanks for the work of our attorneys, for their courage and
professionalism. For us, and for everyone, we have won this trial.
History will take care of rectifying this verdict, and perhaps this
sentence as well.
Gentlemen of the
prosecution, whether you like it or not, Cuba is an independent and
sovereign country. It has its own legitimate government, its own
president, its own martyrs and heroes, and its own convictions. Cuba is
not different from the United States. And, gentlemen, Cuba must be
We know that efforts
were made to ensure an impartial trial. But the city of Miami is not a
place where goals like these can be achieved when it comes to Cuba.
Perhaps that was the most critical error in our case: holding the trial
in this city.
If preventing the
deaths of innocent human beings, defending our two countries from
terrorism, and preventing a senseless invasion of Cuba is the reason I
am being sentenced today, then, let that sentence be welcomed.
I will wear the prison
uniform with the same honor and pride with which a soldier wears his
most prized insignia.
This has been a
political trial, therefore, we are political prisoners.
All of the evidence is
here; this is where history is written. And it is history that will do
us true justice.