The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to review the case of the Cuba Five means it's up to President Obama to make a substantive move toward lessening tensions with our island neighbor. Obama can also demonstrate that he he has a sense of fair play and elementary justice.
The Cuba Five were sent to southern Florida by Havana to infiltrate the Miami-based anti-Castro terrorist groups that have been harbored by the United States for the past half century. Over the years these criminals, operating openly and brazenly, have undertaken countless missions of murder, sabotage, and provocation against Cuba. They have also broken innumerable laws against the United States, with impunity.
The Cuban intelligence officers infiltrated the terrorist organizations Alpha 66 and the F4 Commandos, the Cuban American National Foundation political front organization, and the so-called Brothers to the Rescue, a group of private airplane pilots.
Despite the failure of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, right-wing Cuban exiles dreamed of provoking a U.S. attack on Cuba, that they hoped would result in their return to wealth and power on the island. In 1996, Brothers to the Rescue organized a series of highly provocative flights into Cuban airspace, daring the Cuban air force to shot them down. The Cubans called their bluff, and four of the pilots died.
Obama can demonstrate that he he has a sense of fair play and elementary justice.
In 1998, the Cuba Five were arrested. All of them were ultimately convicted of being unregistered foreign agents; three were found guilty of conspiring to steal U.S. military secrets, and one was convicted of conspiracy to murder the four provocateur pilots of the group Brothers to the Rescue. The sentences for the Cuba Five ranged from 15 years to life in prison.
The seven-month trial , beginning in November of 2000, was a legal lynching, with Miami's Cuban exiles demanding blood. The defense argued that the defendants could not possibly get a fair trial in Miami. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights agreed, declaring that the trial did not conform to standards of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Amnesty International agreed.
As the world this week awaited the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, ten Nobel laureates, including South Africa's Desmond Tutu, called for the release of the Cuba Five. One hundred ten members of the British Parliament wrote to the U.S. Attorney General, as did numerous organizations, worldwide.
Now that the High Court justices have washed their hands of the matter, it's up to President Obama to find a political solution.
To date, President Obama has done very little of substance to improve Cuban-American relations. He has rolled back travel and currency restrictions to the status quo that prevailed before George Bush became president, proving only that he is not George Bush. The recent so-called ìcompromiseî that would allow Cuba to rejoin the Organization of American States, if it chooses, was forced on the U.S. by virtually every other country in the Western Hemisphere. Obama was saving face, and had no choice.
The Cubans have no obligation to make a gesture to Washington. It is they who still suffer from the U.S. trade embargo, and the century-long U.S. occupation of Guantanamo Bay. With the stroke of a pen, President Obama could send the Cuba Five back home. It's the very least a U.S. President can do.