What Lies Across the Water
  • Paperback ISBN: 9781552665428
  • Paperback Price: $29.95 CAD
  • Publication Date: Aug 2013
  • Rights: World
  • Pages: 296

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What Lies Across the Water

The Real Story of the Cuban Five

Stephen Kimber


”Provides the key information and analysis needed to understand the case of the Cuban Five” — Danny Glover, actor, activist


”The most complete — and moving — account of the Cuban Five I’ve yet read.” — Wayne Smith, Director, US Interest Section in Havana, 1979-82


”Far from being a boring account of deeds and misdeeds, Kimber employs eloquent prose and an enjoyable style to draw the reader into the tangled layers of terrorism and murder, espionage and deception, propaganda and myths, life sentences and impunity, meanness and hatred, love and sacrifice, romance and solitude, patriotism and delusion, good intentions and bad, and lies, lies, and more lies.” — Havana Times


”This book removes the thin fabric of lies around the case of five Cuban intelligence agents who came to Miami to fight terrorism ... This book has the detail and the analysis. Read it.” — Saul Landau, Director of Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up?


”An invaluable and informative account of the last chapter of the Cold War between Cuba and the United States — a story that is alternately bizarre, surreal and ever suspenseful.” — Ann Louise Bardach, Author of Without Fidel and Cuba Confidential


What Lies Across the Water recounts the events leading up to the arrest of the Cuban Five, five Cuban anti-terrorism agents wrongfully arrested and convicted of “conspiracy to commit” espionage against the United States. In response to decades of deadly attacks by Miami-based, anti-Cuban terrorist organizations, Cuba dispatched five agents — Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González — to Florida to infiltrate and report on the activities of these terrorist groups. Cuba even passed on information their agents learned about illegal activities to the FBI. But, instead of arresting the terrorists, the FBI arrested the Cuban Five on September 12, 1998. The five men would be illegally held in solitary confinement for seventeen months and sentenced to four life sentences in 2001. The terrorists these five men tried to stop remain free to this day.

In light of America’s supposed post-9/11 zero tolerance policy toward countries
harbouring terrorists, the story of the Cuban Five illustrates the injustice and hypocrisy of this case: why were these men who tried to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba charged with espionage against the U.S? And why does the U.S. continue to protect and harbour known terrorists?


Cast of Characters • Prologue • Building the Nest • Rescuing the Brothers • Shootdown • Stinging the Wasp •  “Something serious…” •  “This is really fierce…” •  “A duty to prevent…” • The “Memphis Incident” • Gabo’s Secret Mission •  “I sleep like a baby” •  “The very heart of our system…” • Aftermath • Whatever happened to… • Acknowledgments • End Notes • Selected Bibliography

About the Author

Stephen Kimber is a professor of journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax and an award-winning writer, editor and broadcaster.


Not A Love Story, But Better

Without wanting to brag, I must say that four or five months is an unusually long time for me to read a book, especially one that’s less than 300 pages long. After all, my Grade 6 teacher assigned me to read the massive “Gone With the Wind” because she knew I could breeze through it in less than a week and still manage to retain important information about plot development — despite the “cast of thousands” that novel’s Hollywood adaptation boasted of possessing.

“What Lies Across the Water” also has a large cast, but otherwise it has few things in common with “Gone With the Wind,” except they both started as love stories.

“This is not the book I intended to write,” Kimber begins his prologue. “That book was to be a novel, a love story set partly in Cuba. In the spring of 2009, I travelled to Havana to do some preliminary research for it, and got sideswiped by the truth-is-stranger-but-way-more-interesting story of the Cuban Five.”

If Kimber had not gotten sidetracked, his book would no doubt have been a much quicker read, but instead he launched into an enormously complicated subject — a subject that needed a considerable amount of time to digest. To have rushed through the book without taking the time to fully understand what was happening would not have done justice to the people involved — and justice is what “What Lies Across the Water” is all about. Or rather, the apparent lack of justice in today’s world.

The Cuban Five, as Kimber points out, are not as well known as they should be outside of Cuba and Miami, Florida. They’re hardly known at all, despite the fact their case largely governs relations between Cuba and the United States.

“After you read that speech,” one of Kimber’s sources told him, referring to Fidel Castro describing co-operation between the FBI and Cuban State Security in order to prevent acts of terrorism prepared on American soil (co-operation ultimately squandered by the Americans), “you’ll begin to understand why the Five matter so much here and why nothing can really be resolved between Havana and Washington until they are returned to Cuba. But you’ll only begin to understand.… It’s complicated.”

What makes it so is not just the many characters involved, but the truly labyrinthine machinations of American politics that turned what could have been an improvement in Cuban-American relations into an even worse situation, with the Americans working against their own best interests solely to satisfy a decades-old obsession of Florida’s influential community of exiled Cubans.

In short, the Cuban Five (and others) were sent to the United States to prevent terrorist attacks launched by the exiles against Cuba from Florida — attacks mostly ignored by American authorities. Those arrested and imprisoned (following a trial in Miami, where the jury could not help but be composed of people who were fully indoctrinated against anything to do with the current Cuban regime) had more to do with outdated ideology and winning votes than with law and justice.

Fortunately, it’s not the job of a columnist and occasional book reviewer to divulge all the mind-boggling complications, to expose them and explain them to the world. Fortunately, it was Stephen Kimber who took on the task and spent almost four years researching every detail, tracking every lead and interviewing every character he could reach. He approached the story as the talented veteran journalist he is and he produced a book worthy of its important subject matter — a subject that should be of interest to anyone concerned, not only with the history of North American politics, but with its future as well.

Kimber began his book explaining his intention to write a love story, saying that in the end he did not. He’s wrong. That’s exactly what he wrote, but it’s not a love story between a man and a woman. It’s about his own love affair with justice.

—Michael Johansen is a writer living in Labrador.


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Free the Cuban Five! Lies, conspiracy and hypocrisy fuel ‘What Lies Across the Water’ to deliver the truth

On September 12, 1998, the FBI mounted coordinated raids in locations across the state of Florida, arresting ten people. The FBI alleged that they were members of a Cuban spy network, sent by Castro to undermine the security of the United States of America.

They were also accused in the deaths of four Cuban exiles from Miami, who had been shot down by the Cuban Air Force in 1996.

The people in custody told a different story. They said they were actually in the U.S. to stop terrorism; Havana had recently been the target of a bombing campaign that had killed a visiting Canadian. The Cuban security apparatus had sent them north to gather intelligence on anti-Castro Cuban exiles linked to the suspects.

Despite their claims of innocence, five Cuban men were found guilty of a range of crimes, including conspiracy to commit espionage; the five others pleaded guilty to lesser offences.

Three months after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino were sentenced to life in prison; Fernando González to 19 years; René González to 15 years; and Gerardo Hernández, the only one to be convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, to “double life plus 15 years.”

Stephen Kimber, an award-winning writer and journalist from Halifax, first heard of the men known as the Cuban Five while vacationing in Cuba, three years after they began serving their sentences in U.S. prisons. It wasn’t until a second visit to the island nation, made with the intention of doing research for a novel, when he found himself caught up in the intrigue of their case.

Kimber abandoned his story in favour of writing What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five, the search for the truth providing a pull stronger than fiction. “The book took me outside of my comfort level in all sorts of ways — place, language, topic” says Kimber, who has authored seven non-fiction titles and one novel, Reparations.


”It was both personally and professionally rewarding.” Kimber poured over thousands of pages of documents presented during the trial of the Cuban Five, and read hundreds of news articles covering relevant events in Florida during the 1990s, such as the founding of Brothers to the Rescue.

The Brothers flew small aircrafts over the Strait of Florida looking for rafters leaving Cuba and occasionally breached Cuban airspace to drop leaflets over Havana, urging Cubans to rise up against Castro. It was a Brothers aviation mission that was shot down in 1996.

Kimber navigated the “never easy” Cuban state bureaucracy for details of the counter-terrorism spy mission and of the Havana terror attacks. He was stonewalled by the FBI and U.S. State Department in his search for documents he knew existed. But he says it was contact with the five men themselves that made the book.

”Gerardo wasn’t even allowed to use the prisoners’ email system, so it was all by mail,” says Kimber. “It could get frustrating — but he was incredibly patient. He was also honest and candid once we developed a rapport. I’ve come away with a tremendous amount of respect for him especially, and for Rene.”

Throughout the book Kimber keeps his focus on the characters involved: the Cubans who volunteered to move to the U.S. and infiltrate militant exile groups, the FBI agent who arrested them and members of the anti-Castro Cuban exile community.

What Lies Across the Water connects the dots between the Cuban American National Foundation — an influential lobby group of Cuban exiles living in the U.S., the Brothers to the Rescue organization and paramilitary operations meant to violently overthrow the Cuban government and assassinate Fidel Castro.

Kimber leaves the wider themes of imperialism and U.S.-Cuba history to others. Instead, he highlights the hypocrisy of a legal system that purports to oppose terrorism but which permits anti-Castro terrorists to freely walk the streets of Miami, while those who tried to stop them rot in jail.

”I had to decide what book I was going to write,” Kimber says. “I hope everyone will be able to see the injustice involved, regardless of your politics, and that progressives will have more concrete evidence to back up their rhetoric.”

Absorbing all of these details can be daunting, and the organization of the book into brief scenes weakens the narrative flow. Despite these drawbacks, those looking for truthful testimony about the Cuban Five will find that What Lies Across the Watermakes a compelling and damning case. 

Stephen Kimber and Fernwood Publishing launch What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five on September 25th at the Company House in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Yutaka Dirks is a tenant organizer and writer living in Toronto. His fiction and essays have appeared in literary journals and activist publications including the White Wall Review, Rhubarb Magazine and Beautiful Trouble: A toolbox for revolution. He has a serious love for stories of all stripes.

—rabble.ca Sept. 12, 2013

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Winnipeg Free Press Review of What Lies Across the Water

A CONFUSING structure, not to mention an obvious political bias, mars this otherwise useful look at a recent chapter in Cuban-American relations.

What Lies Across the Water is Canadian journalism professor Stephen Kimber’s account of the “Cuban Five,” spies arrested in 1998 and convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the United States, conspiracy to commit murder and acting as agents of a foreign government.

The five were, for a time, successful covert agents working out of Miami.

They infiltrated the Cuban-exile group Brothers to the Rescue and some obtained employment at the U.S. Key West naval air station, sending intelligence reports to Havana.

Today, all but one are in American jails.

The Cuban government celebrates them as heroes and promotes them as martyrs. The U.S government regards them as criminals and terrorists.

Kimber, who teaches at King’s College in Halifax, tries to remain neutral, but it’s clear his sympathies lie with the five, as would those of his Winnipeg-based publisher, which is known for its left-of-centre books.

Apparently this is the first book on the Cuban Five. Kimber admits in his acknowledgements it would have been be a tough sell to a U.S.-based publisher because it’s sympathetic to Cuban spies. However, there’s a far greater problem with lapsed objectivity: The book’s structure isn’t user-friendly. After crisply outlining his subject in the prologue, the book devolves into a series of nearly 100 episodic entries, titled by place and date — Havana, February, 1991; Key West, May 18, 1993; Miami, March 8, 1994. The entries date all the way back to 1990 and often don’t bear any readily graspable relation to the book’s ostensible topic — the activities, arrests and subsequent convictions of the Cuban Five.

The episodic entries are capably written, but after 100 pages of text we’re only up to 1996, and you’re still looking for a narrative thread to tie all these bafflingly disparate stories together. All these divergent episodes and players may be necessary background to an understanding of the politics of the arrest and prosecution of the five, but it would be far more preferable if they were woven, as seamlessly as possible, into the body of a coherent narrative.

Worse, the sheer number of personalities in these episodes is confounding. At the very least, the book cries out for a cast of principal characters at its outset, so when someone surfaces in the text you have some context for his or her role in the larger events as they unfold.

The hot-button issue between the U.S and Cuba is the Americans arrested the five Cuban agents in the wake of meetings between the FBI and Cuban State Security in Havana in which Cuban intelligence officers gave information about Cuban-exilegroup- sponsored bombings of tourist hotels to the Americans.

The Cubans see the five’s arrest as a betrayal of their in-good-faith attempted co-operation between national intelligence services.

However, this overlooks the fact the five were precisely what the Americans allege — spies — and that the U.S. was onto them long before the meetings in Havana. Moreover, Kimber acknowledges nothing was disclosed in the meetings that identified any of the five.

Where Kimber is on more solid ground is in his contention the Cubans’ sentences were unduly harsh and long. They range from 15 years to life imprisonment, and mainly not for actual criminal acts, but merely conspiring to commit them.

He also rightly criticizes American authorities for chronically looking the other way when Cubanexile groups plot insurrections and assassinations from American soil, thereby violating the U.S.’s own Neutrality Act.

Kimber’s account of the Cuban Five comes with a bit of bias. However, it’s ultimately a compelling read, but only after you doggedly surmount its difficult structure.

Winnipeg Free Press, Aug 24, 2013

—Douglas J. Johnson

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Halifax Media Co-Op Review of What Lies Across the Water

At first one might be forgiven to think of Stephen Kimber as an unlikely author of a sympathetic account of the story of the Cuban Five. After all he has a comfortable job as director of the mainstream King’s School of Journalism in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and writes columns which have appeared in most of the leading publications in Canada, as well as regularly appear in such mainstream publications as The Coast and the Metro and spots on CBC. Yet with this Important new book Kimber does a masterful job of showcasing his abundant talents as an investigative journalist and popular writer.

For those who don’t know, the Cuba Five were Cuban security agents (Garardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez, and Antonio Guerrero) who were sent to southern Florida to infiltrate anti-Castro exile groups who were plotting terrorist attacks on their homeland. Despite the fact that they were not after U.S. state secrets, and that their targets were terrorists and drug smugglers in the Cuban exile community, they were given extremely harsh sentences after a trial in Miami which was extremely baised against them. Their only real crime was being unregistered foreign agents, and registering would have jeperdized their mission.

This story is important to know for a wide range of reasons. One can start by stomping ones feet and pounding ones fists at such a gross miscarriage of justice from a country which prides itself on leading a global war on terror. Readings this book can provide the reader with a far sharper view of the Cuban reality, it’s society, its politics, its issues, its relations with other countries such as the United States and the Cuban exile community. It can help the reader understand what Cuban agents are doing in southern Florida, and why the work of these five agents was so important.

It is interesting to note that Kimber didn’t start out to write the story of the Cuban Five, but by his own admission, he had gone to the island on a typical tourist vacation to escape the cold weather and relax a bit. Perhaps in the process he had got the idea of writing a romance novel which took place partly in Cuba and partly in Nova Scotia. Then he discovered the story of the Five. That is hard to miss because the Five are unquestionably national heroes who are right up there with the Castro brothers and Che Guevara, and there has been an international campaign to secure their release which can be observed anywhere in Cuba. I went to Cuba a few years ago with the Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade, a kind of solidarity tour, and one of the last events we attended before leaving the Havana area was an open air concert by and for thousands school children in honour of the Five. Throughout the country one sees signs calling for the freedom of the Five, and so on. So that Kimber found their their story in Cuba comes as no surprise.

What is remarkable is how he picked up this story, and began to collect all available information about it and to study it prodigiously. What is surprising is that he ended up putting so much meticulous work into uncovering the details of this expeptional story. What Lies Across the Water is easy to read, written almost like a novel. It is packed with information and entertains as well as informs.


—Aug. 29, 2013

—Charles Spurr

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The Real Story of the Cuban Five

Publication of What Lies Across the Water, Stephen Kimber’s book about Cuban anti-terrorists serving wildly extravagant terms in U.S. jails, is a remarkable event. Previously appearing as an e-book, this is the first full – length book published in English on the so-called Cuban Five. They were arrested in Miami on September 12, 1998, and a worldwide movement on their behalf is demanding their freedom. Many view them as political prisoners.

In comprehensive and convincing fashion the book explains how Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González came to be arrested, tried, and imprisoned. Its coverage of bias and legal failings that marred their prosecution and trial is adequate, but less detailed. Kimber devotes more attention to events and personalities directly affecting the Five than to early anti-Cuban terror attacks and the Cuban revolution.

Journalism professor Kimber (at Canada’s University of King’s College, in Halifax, Nova Scotia) drew upon news stories in the Florida, Central American, and Cuban media and read 20,000 pages of court transcripts. He interviewed officials and contacts in Florida, Cuba, and elsewhere, also family members of the Five and the prisoners themselves, via correspondence. The author’s clear, flowing, and often seat-gripping, even entertaining, narrative is an added plus. The book is highly recommended.

Kimber starts out by confessing he was no expert on the case initially. He was about to write a novel that touched upon Cuba. Then a Cuban friend with political and intelligence experience told him that, “nothing can really be resolved between Washington and Havana until they (the Five) are returned to Cuba.”  So instead of writing a novel, Kimber began work on a story he realized was important and that “needed to be told by someone who didn’t already know which versions of which stories were true.”

The way Kimber’s report unfolds serves to highlight convoluted linkages of the prisoners’ experiences and their case to the many-faceted U.S. apparatus set up to undo the Cuban revolution.  Implacable, non-stop U.S. enmity sets the stage for obfuscations, contradictions, intrigue, ambiguities, and strange twists. For Kimber, the resulting atmosphere was one where “Nothing, it seems, is ever as it seems.”

For example, Cuba’s “Wasp Network” included at least 22 agents, not just the Cuban Five, as is often assumed. Agents were posted throughout the United States, away from Florida. Some of those arrested in 1998 pled guilty and served only short sentences. Cuban agents served as FBI informants. Far from kimberexclusively monitoring private paramilitary groups, as many assume, one Cuban Five agent did gather non – classified intelligence from a U.S. military installation. For years, the FBI monitored movements, contacts, and communications of the Five and other agents. The Cuban American Nation Foundation (CANF), darling of U.S. presidents, professed non-violence, yet operated a paramilitary wing. Even the Miami Herald, reviled by Cuba solidarity activists, gains points through its reporter Juan Tamayo, who linked Havana hotel bombings to the Cuban exile terrorist Luis Posada.

The book attests to difficulties attending intelligence gathering in the midst of all but open U.S. war against Cuba. Cuban agents were well prepared, and superior officers in Havana supervised them closely. “Compartmentalized,” they were unable usually to identify fellow agents in the United States. They relied on advanced technical skills, support from loved ones, fearlessness, their own resourcefulness, their sensitive understanding of hazardous situations, and very hard work.

Kimber’s “What Lies across the Water” has the potential for stimulating new thinking on the case of the Five. Information it provides and the book’s fact-based style of presentation ought to persuade readers, it seems, to move beyond viewing the prisoners’ fate as a sort of morality tale, one with U.S. over-reaction, prisoners’ revolutionary virtue, and suffering.  The book would encourage them instead to develop a response built on considering the larger context of generalized U.S. bullying of Cuba. The book may or may not succeed in this, but in all respects it is essential reading for those either new or old to the case of the Five.

The book exerts an appeal through effective portrayals of characters so far out of the ordinary, with such bizarre purposes, as almost to defy belief. They include: Cuban agent Percy Alvarado Godoy, CANF infiltrator for years; terrorist honchos Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada; the opportunistic Brothers to the Rescue leader Jose Basulto; and even Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, message carrier to the Clinton White House. There is the flamboyant Wasp agent, pilot, unfaithful husband, and FBI informant Juan Pablo Roque, who returned to Cuba; CANF founder and Miami titan Jorge Mas Canosa; and not least, Francisco Avila Azcuy. That FBI informant, Cuban spy for 13 years, and chief of Miami’s Alpha 66 private military formation was unusual, even in a setting where double agents were, and undoubtedly are, routine.

This book tells the tragic story of the Cuban Five. But here’s hoping it also helps re-orient energies of justice-seeking activists toward joining or rejoining a necessary fight. Their task is to take on the century – long U.S. campaign to impose domination over a Caribbean island. The agenda presently is to end the U.S. economic blockade, end campaigns of internal subversion and international isolation, and, surely, free the Cuban Five.

W. T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

—July 2013

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What Lies Across the Water: A Story That Needs to Be Told

The following is a translation by Cuba News’s Walter Lippman of a story that first appeared in Spanish in cubadebate on August 2, 2013. The article was written by Ricardo Alarcón, the former President of the Cuban National Assembly.

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
August 2, 2013

A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Fernwood Publishing of Canada has just released What Lies Across the Water – The Real Story of the Cuban Five, so far the most complete book available in English on a subject that Americans have had little access to: the case of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René, the Cuban patriots incarcerated in the United States for fighting against terrorism

This story has been buried for fifteen years. The efforts of author Stephen Kimber to publish his book in the United States were fruitless. “How hard a sell this book turned out to be for mainstream North American publishers. We heard all sorts of explanations, of course, but the key one seemed to be belief that there wasn’t an audience in America for a book that might present a sympathetic portrait of a bunch of ‘Cuban spies.’  I hope this book proves them wrong.”

The book is the result of thorough and deep research. The author reviewed more than twenty thousand pages of court records (U.S. vs. Gerardo Hernandez, et al) and thousands of legal pages of the longest case in American history. He also read books and newspapers about Cuba and its long confrontation with the United States, and interviewed many persons on both sides of the Florida Strait who favored one of the two sides or none.

This is not a book about the complicated and endless legal process, but it covers its essential aspects. Neither is it a biography of the Five, but its pages shows them for what they are: human beings close to the reader. The book goes far beyond and helps understand the conflict between the two countries.

It is not a lengthy work, difficult to read; quite the opposite. Its light and clear language allows readers to move along the episodes of the conflict, and finish in a few hours a story that captured them from the first page. It is the work of a master journalist, a great writer, and above all an honest intellectual committed only to what he could verify on his own.

Already in his first paragraph he tells us, “This is not the book I intended to write. That book was to be a novel, a love story set partly in Cuba.” And, of course, it was not to be a novel about The Five because “I vaguely heard of them”. In his prologue, Kimber tells us how it was that he decided to abandon his initial project and give us instead a non-fiction book which is an example of rigorous, unbiased and objective truth.

In words of its author, “the story of the Cuban Five isn’t really the story of the Five at all. Or, at least, it’s not just their story. And it isn’t a simple linear narrative. It’s a cascading accumulation of incident and irritant, of connivance and consequence, a parallel, converging, diverging narrative featuring an ensemble cast of eclectic characters on both sides of the Straits of Florida.”

“Perhaps it was the quicksand complexity of it all that ultimately convinced me this story needed to be told, and needed to be told by someone who didn’t already know which versions of which stories were true.”

Here lies the real importance of this book. It is fruit of a research carried out by someone who at the start was not a defender or sympathizer with the cause of The Five. Kimber, as many of the thousand Canadians who visit Cuba, probably bumped more than once into a propaganda poster written with naiveté or linguistic clumsiness; or heard someone speak with admiration of The Five Heroes. But he knew almost nothing when he started his research.

The author asks a question that holds the key for understanding the problem: Why did the FBI decide to arrest them and take them to public trial? Why, if it had them under surveillance for years, and knew everything they had done and were doing? By acting in this way, deviating from its normal practice, the FBI lost an important and safe source of information. It could not accuse them of anything serious and therefore the two main charges against them were not of significant crimes. The charges were of “conspiracy” for which they did not need to produce the concrete evidence that never existed.

The only explanation is political. In the summer of 1998, the first steps had been taken for what could have been collaboration between the two countries to put an end to the terrorist actions against Cuba that originated in Miami. A delegation of high ranking FBI officials, sent by decision of President Clinton, had received in Cuba abundant information on such terrorist activities and had promised to act. When news of the contacts reached Miami, Mr. Pesquera, local FBI chief who kept close links with the terrorists, arrested The Five with methods that revealed his motivation and the political nature of the operation. “If the espionage charges against the Cubans seemed thin – and they did, even then – why had the FBI decided to make such a big deal of that part of their case? “We have done this publicly,” Hector Pesquera explained in Spanish in a message that was broadcast frequently on Hispanic radio stations for the next several days, “to gather information from the public.” Huh?

Intentional or not, news of the arrests and the allegations against the Cubans did serve to ratchet up hysteria levels in the always-teetering-on-the-edge Miami exile community. WQBA-1140 AM commentator – not to forget CANF spokesperson – Ninoska Perez Castellon announced the FBI switchboard’s number on air and invited people to call the Bureau (and her program) to report “suspicious characters.” It turned out there were plenty of them. One caller said he could “die in peace” if the police charged all those involved with business promoting travel to Cuba or anyone who called for better relations with Cuba. “Let them shake down every place,” declared another caller, “because there are many, many spies here.”

Exile groups like the Cuban American National Foundation jumped on news of the arrests, “which we now see has been threatening vital security interests of the United States,” to lobby for even tougher measures against Cuba. The day after Pesquera’s press conference, CANF’s chair Alberto Hernández and vice chair Jorge Mas Santos would fire off a letter to Senator Bob Graham, a supportive member of the Senate’s intelligence committee, to ask him to stage a public hearing in Miami about Cuban espionage.”

While all this was happening, right there in Miami, under the nose of Mr. Pesquera and completely undisturbed, the terrorists who would carry out the brutal attack on September 11, 2001, were training.

The environment of hatred created by Miami local media, defined in 2005 by the panel of the Court of Appeals as “a perfect storm created when the surge of pervasive community sentiment, and extensive publicity both before and during the trial, merged with the improper prosecutorial references” , led to the unanimous decision of the magistrates to rescind the trial. It was much later, in 2006, that it was known that those who unleashed the “storm” received generous and covert payment from the Federal Government.

Kimber’s book appears when the case has reached a crucial moment waiting for the Miami Court to rule on the collateral appeals (Habeas Corpus) whose main ground is the Government conspiracy that financed and organized the media campaign that poisoned the environment in Miami and that was initiated by none other than the FBI. Let us hope the Judge reads this book before making her ruling.

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The Cuban Five Case Inside-Out

HAVANA TIMES — The endnotes of What Lies Across the Water* opens with: “The truth is — everybody lies.” But I believe author Stephen Kimber when he says that as part of his research for this book he read the more than 20,000-pages of United States of America vs. Gerardo Hernández ” from opening gavel to final sentencing.”

His detailed presentation of the case of the Cuban Five– five counter-terrorism agents, who operated in Miami and who refused to plea bargain when the larger network of Cuban agents they belonged to was arrested, is evidence of the painstaking digging Kimber has done to bring readers this full-blown account.

Although the subtitle is The Real Story of the Cuban Five, this book is much more than that.  It peers into all the nooks and crannies of the last couple of decades of the ongoing saga of Miami-originated violence against the Cuban people, its leaders, and anyone perceived as friendly to its government or economy. It shines a light on famous villains such as Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch and introduces lesser known perpetrators like Francisco Chavez Abarca and Santiago Alvarez.

Relying on news articles, interviews, court evidence and government documents, in both English and Spanish, Kimber reports on the failed attempts by the U.S. and Cuban governments, in the late 1990′s, to cooperate on mutual national security concerns, employing a cast of characters ranging from U.S. diplomat Michael Kozak and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez as well as the FBI and Cuban State Security.

He draws from documents obtained through FIOA requests, filed by the National Security Archives and investigative journalists, to give shape to the newest piece of the puzzle– Alan Gross, a USAID subcontractor hired to carry out aspects of the State Department’s regime change program inside Cuba, who is currently serving a 15 year sentence in a Cuban prison.

Far from being a boring account of deeds and misdeeds, Kimber employs eloquent prose and an enjoyable style to draw the reader into the tangled layers of terrorism and murder, espionage and deception, propaganda and myths, life sentences and impunity, meanness and hatred, love and sacrifice, romance and solitude, patriotism and delusion, good intentions and bad, and lies, lies, and more lies.

It reads like a page-turner novel, but it’s not. It is the unbelievably tragic history of modern U.S.-Cuba relations. Kimber, a professor of journalism at Halifax University and author of several other books, uses his brilliant turn of phrase to help his readers navigate through the tall tales and “official truths” guiding them to a more realistic view of the landscape and the prospects for diplomatic relations between the two feuding countries, for freedom for Alan Gross and the four Cuban agents still under lock and key, and for a life without fear of violence and intervention for the Cuban people.

I have only one criticism of the writing: the constant use of the term “America” when referring to the United States.

One of hundredsof billboards in Cuba proclaiming that the Cuban Five will return to the island.
The only shortcomings I can mention in terms of content is, in reality, just my desire to keep the conversation going. Kimber begins his book listing its main characters, and ends it with a “where are they now” section. I would like to have seen more names on this lists.

For example, Michael Kozak, who was head U.S. diplomat in Cuba during the hotel bombing campaign and whose role in the FBI-Cuban State Security cooperative efforts are outlined in the book, is currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, which receives large sums of Cuba regime change money, which it funnels into the National Endowment for Democracy.

Hector Pesquera is another. As the book explains, he was the FBI agent in charge who ordered the arrest of the Cuban agents and later ordered the FBI’s files on Posada Carriles to be destroyed. While focusing his attention on the Cubans, he completely missed the 9-11 attackers who were preparing, within his jurisdiction, to murder thousands of U.S. citizens. Pesquera is currently the Superintendent of the Puerto Rico Police and recently there has been speculation that he is in the running to replace Janet Napolitano for Secretary of Homeland Security.

Lastly, whatever happened to the agents who turned state’s evidence against their brothers? Their sentences were up long ago. Surely they were not welcomed back to Cuba, but would they be safe in Miami. The big unsolved mystery in the case of the Cuban Five is how the FBI was originally tipped off to the agent network. Is there any reason to believe that one of those agents was a snitch all along?

I have been following the case of the Cuban Five for over a decade and have translated dozens of articles about their case. I have also translated entire books on exile violence against Cuba, but this book offered tidbits that I was unaware of, drew connections that I had not noticed before, and most importantly to me, confirmed some suspicions and dispelled a few rumors that I was unsure about. I am confident that even expert Cubanologists will find What Lies Across the Water useful, informative, at times infuriating, but always entertaining.

- See more at: http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=97187#sthash.J15NcDJk.dpuf


—July 2013

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Cubadebate Review of What Lies Across the Water (English Translation)

Fernwood Publishing Canadian publisher just released “What Lies Del Otro Lado Del Mar-The True Story of the Cuban Five”, the most comprehensive book to date in English on a topic that Americans have had poor access: the case of Gerardo , Ramón , Antonio , Fernando and René , the Cuban patriots imprisoned in the United States for fighting terrorism.

It’s a story kidnapped fifteen years. The efforts of its author, Stephen Kimber, for publication in the United States were useless. “How difficult has resulted in the sale of this book to major publishers in North America. We received all kinds of explanations, of course, but the main one seems to be a belief that in America there is an audience for a book that could present a favorable image of a group of ‘Cuban spies’. I hope this book proves them wrong. “

The book is the result of a careful and thorough search that led him to study the more than twenty thousand pages of the minutes of the court (United States v. Gerardo Hernandez et al) and thousands of pages of legal documents than was the case prolonged American history. Also read books and newspapers on Cuba and its long confrontation with the United States and also interviewed many people on both sides of the Straits of Florida and the two sides or neither.

There is a text about the complicated and lengthy court proceedings, but addresses, however, its fundamental aspects. Nor is a biography of the Five, though its pages show what they are: human beings near the reader. The book goes further and helps to understand the conflict between the two countries.

But it is a large job or reading difficult. Quite the contrary. With clear and flexible language allows the reader to explore episodes of that conflict and end in a few hours reading which was caught from the first page. It is the work of a master journalist, a great writer and above all, an honest intellectual, committed only to what he could verify independently.

Already in its first paragraph tells us that “This is not the book I intended to write. This book would be a novel, a love story that developed partly in Cuba. “And of course it was a novel about the Five about who” had vaguely heard. “Kimber notes in his foreword how did you decide to leave initial project and offer, instead, a text that has nothing fictional, and is an example of rigorous, impartial and objective truthfulness.

In the words of its author, “is not a simple linear narrative. Cascade is a collection of incidents and pitfalls, of complicity and consequences, parallel narrative, convergent, divergent, showing a cast of eclectic characters on both sides of the Florida Straits. “

“Maybe it was the deceptive complexity of all this what finally convinced me that this story needed to be told, and needed to be told by someone who did not already know which versions of which stories were true.”

Herein lies the real importance of this book. It is the result of an investigation by someone who was not to undertake an advocate or supporter of the cause of the Cuban Five. Kimber, as thousands of Canadians who visit Cuba, tripped over once with a propaganda poster, written linguistic naivety or stupidity, or heard someone speak with admiration of the Five. But almost nothing knew to start your inquiry.

The author asks a question that holds the key to understanding the problem: Why does the FBI decided to arrest them and take them to a public trial? Why else did years that had control and knew what they had done and were doing? By acting in this way, away from the normal practice, the FBI missed a major information flow and time for sure. He could not accuse them of anything serious and that the two major charges against them involving no substantive crimes. They were of “conspiracy” to which there was no need to present concrete evidence that never existed.

The only explanation is political. In the summer of 1998 they had taken the first steps in what might have been a collaboration between the two countries to stop terrorist actions against Cuba originated in Miami. A delegation of senior FBI officials sent by President Clinton’s decision, Cuba had received copious information on such activities and promised to act. When news of these contacts came to Miami, Mr. Pesquera, local FBI chief, who had close ties to terrorists, proceeded to arrest and made using methods that reveal their motivation and the political nature of the operation. “If the espionage charges against Cubans seemed unconvincing–and they were, even then–why the FBI decided to give much importance to that part of the case? ‘We have done this publicly,’ said Hector Pesquera in Spanish in a message aired frequently in Hispanic radio stations during the following days, ‘to gather information from the public.’ What? “

“Intentional or not, the news about the arrests and charges against the Cubans served to increase levels of hysteria always limit the Miami exile community. The commentator WQBA-1140 AM–and not forgetting the CANF spokesman–Ninoska Pérez Castellón announced on the air switchboard number and invited FBI call the Bureau (and your program) to report “suspicious persons”.

“The exile groups such as the Cuban American National Foundation primed the news of the arrests,” we now see have been threatening vital security interests of the United States, “to lobby for even stronger measures against Cuba. The day after the press conference of Fisheries, the CANF President Alberto Hernandez and Vice President Jorge Mas Santos sent a letter to Senator Bob Graham, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee that supported them to ask you to organize a hearing Miami public about Cuban espionage. “

While this was happening, right there in Miami, under the noses of Mr. Pesquera, no one to bother, they trained the terrorists who would carry out the brutal attack of September 11, 2001.

The atmosphere of hatred created by local media in Miami, defined in 2005 by the panel of the Court of Appeal as “a perfect storm of prejudice and hostility” led to the unanimous decision of those judges to overturn the trial. It was later, in 2006, it became known that those who unleashed this “storm” received generous, and hidden, federal government payments.

Kimber’s book appears when the case has come to a turning point, waiting for the court of Miami appeals ruling on collateral (Habeas Corpus) main basis is precisely the government conspiracy, funding and organizing the media campaign Miami poisoned the whole process and was initiated precisely by the FBI itself. Hopefully the judge read this book before issuing its ruling.


—July 2013

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