The Truth about the Trials
25 March 2004
Spring 2003 as the U.S. invaded Iraq while asserting its
right to attack Cuba the Cuban government decided it was
time to put an end to Washingtons largest clandestine operation
inside Cuba. This decision was especially impelled by the increasingly
provocative behavior of the chief U.S. diplomat, who was openly
organizing across the island for "regime change" in defiance
of both international law and diplomatic protests.
Proving the charges
that the 75 who were arrested were paid agents of the U.S. government
could not have been clearer or easier, thanks to Cuban securitys
thorough-going penetration of the operation for some five years.
Needless to say,
Washington answered the closing down of this ring with a tidal wave
of propaganda portraying the agents as "dissidents," "brave
intellectuals," and "independent journalists."
Cuba has made strenuous efforts to get
the truth before the world, though this has largely been blocked
by the big-business media. The piece below courtesy of the
Cuban UN Mission is part of that continuing effort.
Twenty-nine trials were held in Cuba, in different
provinces across the nation, in which 75 people were accused: 74
men and one woman. The courts handed down jail sentences of 6 to
28 years. Nowhere was the death penalty, nor a life sentence, handed
down, as anti-Cuba propaganda has falsely divulged, despite the
serious crimes that were committed and the dangers to Cubas
national security these entail.
The police officers that detained the mercenaries
did not resort to any kind of violence or the use of force, not
even minimal. Knowing the nature of the crime perfectly well and
bereft of any moral justification or principle of dignity, the mercenaries
did not offer any resistance to the arrests.
The penal proceedings were carried out summarily,
in view of the seriousness of the circumstances and by virtue of
Law No. 5 of 1977, Law of Penal Proceedings.
In accordance with Cuban legislation and judicial
norms, a summary trial signifies the power of the Supreme Court
President to shorten the period of the trial; in no case does it
imply the curtailing of judicial guarantees.
All of the accused were previously informed of
the charges filed against them and had the opportunity, as all who
are accused in Cuba, to plead their case before trial. That these
individuals were told the charges against them at the time of trial
is completely untrue.
All of the accused exercised their right to a
defense attorney that, according to Cuban legislation, can be designated
by the accused or, failing this, appointed by the court. Fifty-four
defense attorneys participated in these trials, 44 of them, 80 %
of the total, designated by the accused or their families. Only
10 defense attorneys were court-appointed. The claim that the right
of the mercenaries to a competent defense was curtailed is false.
Contrary to what is alleged in anti-Cuba propaganda
campaigns, all of the accused exercised their right to be heard
in an oral trial before ordinary civilian courts that had been previously
assembled, in conformity with Cuban and international legislation.
No special, ad hoc tribunal was created to judge them, nor were
special or ad hoc judges appointed.
No secret trials were held. The oral hearings
for all of the trials were public and adversarial. Nearly 100 people,
on average, participated in them, that is to say, nearly 3 000 people
in total, chiefly made up of relatives, witnesses, experts and other
It is true that a few accredited foreign diplomats
in Havana were not present at the trials by decision of the judges,
as no foreigner was being put on trial, only Cubans. The Vienna
Conventions on diplomatic and consular relations only envisage consular
access to trials in cases where the detained are foreigners.
The relevant courts, by virtue of their prerogatives,
decided to deny access to the press, due to the information relating
to national security that would be handled during the trials and
to prevent publicity from interfering with the impartiality and
objectivity of the courts functioning.
Nevertheless, the press was informed of these
trials in detail. On April 9, 2003, two days after the last of the
trials held, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Felipe Pérez
Roque, offered a long and detailed press conference that saw the
participation of 82 journalists belonging to the accredited foreign
press, representing 59 media from 22 different countries, and all
of the national press. During this conference, the Cuban chancellor,
making use of video and audio tapes and other kinds of documentary
evidence presented at the trials, informed the press of the circumstances
and development of the trials in question and answered questions
posed by reporters.
A book entitled "Dissidents" was also
published in Cuba; the book included the testimonies of 8 Cubans
who, voluntarily and in compliance with the dictates of their patriotic
conscience, provided Cuban State Security with extensive information
on the activities that the 75 tried and convicted mercenaries were
conducting against Cubas constitutional order. These 8 honest
Cubans, committed to the cause of their people, "allowed themselves
to be recruited" as alleged mercenaries by the US Interests
Section in Havana and "joined" the ranks of a number of
subversive organizations created by the United States in Cuba. In
said organizations, they reached important positions and received
a significant share of the money channeled by the superpowers
administration to pay for their services. Their testimonies confirm
the facts stated in this report. (See: "Dissidents". Rosa
Miriam Elizalde and Luis Báez. Editora Política Publishing
House. Havana. 2003).
All of the accused and their defense attorneys
exercised the right to submit the evidence and present the witnesses
they considered favorable to them, in addition to those presented
by the investigative officers and the prosecution. The defense attorneys
presented 28 different witnesses of those called on by the prosecution;
of these, 22, the immense majority, were authorized to act as witnesses
by the courts.
All of the defense attorneys had prior access
to the prosecutions files.
As established in Cubas legislation and
as notified at the time of trial, all of the accused had the right
as exercised by the majority to appeal to a court
higher than that responsible for their trial, in this case, before
the Supreme Court.
The seizure and confiscation of possessions all
were authorized by a court order and always carried out following
proof of their illicit origin.
In all trial stages, the most scrupulous respect
for the physical and moral integrity of each and every one of the
accused was maintained. All of them have enjoyed and continue to
receive medical care, including specialized services, absolutely
free of charge, as do all other Cubans.
There isnt a shred of evidence suggesting
that any form of coercion, pressure, threat or blackmail was used
to obtain the declarations and the confessions of the accused.
During his oral hearing, after the court had
reminded him of his right to declare or abstain from declaring or
from responding to a specific question if he so wished, one of the
accused freely declared: "I would like to comment here, before
this court, on the adequate treatment that weve received from
State Security authorities within the investigative organs, to say
it was a just treatment, we have not been provoked, we have not
been mistreated at any time". To this, he added: "
to express my thanks for this just treatment, for the fact that
weve received excellent medical attention three times a day
and that the doctors have come to our cells in view of any pain
or health complication weve experienced. Theyve conceded
us contact with our relatives and, well, weve had extensive
contact with our defense attorneys, theyve given us all the
time in the world to converse with them".
Medical care offered the mercenaries in prison.
The truth about some of the most renowned cases in the deceptive
Like all of Cubas penal population, the
convicted enjoy adequate emergency medical services in all penitentiary
facilities, which, in some cases, include hospitals that offer surgical
services. As is established and generally practiced in Cuba, in
the more complex cases that have required costly examinations or
specialized treatments, the mercenaries have been transported to
and admitted into regular public hospitals, where all Cuban citizens
receive medical care free of all discrimination.
The afflictions that some of the convicted suffer
from were contracted prior to their arrest. None of them suffers
from any condition that would prohibit reclusion.
In all cases reporting illnesses, relatives have
received timely information from medical personnel on the evolution
and treatment of the disease and the medical attention that has
been offered in each of the cases.
We can take as example the case of Oscar Manuel
Espinosa Chepe, who, according to media campaigns promoted by the
United States, was suffering from hepatic cirrhosis and was in serious
medical condition due to inadequate medical attention. We must stress
that this, as many other allegations of medical assistance that
has been denied the 75 mercenaries, is completely false.
As the government of Cuba informed one the organs
of the Commission on Human Rights, once Espinosa Chepes relatives
had submitted a summary of his medical record a few weeks following
his detention, Cuban authorities immediately proceeded to re-locate
him, on April 20, to the inmates ward of the Carlos J. Finlay
Military Hospital in Havana.
Following this, on May 12, he was admitted into
the inmates ward of the "Agostinho Neto" Hospital,
for the purposes of conducting a hepatic study, which revealed that
Espinosa Chepe does not suffer from hepatic cirrhosis, as has been
alleged, but rather from a hepatic granulomatosis, which does not
interfere with the normal functioning of the liver and was caused
by a Brucelosis, contracted before his imprisonment.
Visits from relatives were authorized during
his stay in the hospital. On May 22, 2003, his niece, Ileana Moreno
Espinosa, a doctor, was conceded a meeting with the Chief of Medical
Services of the Provincial Ministry of the Interior and with the
doctor from the "Agostinho Neto" Hospital who was directly
treating Espinosa Chepe. In this interview, Dr. Moreno Espinosa
was presented the details of the medical examinations conducted
and their results, as well as those which were still pending; she
expressed satisfaction with the report.
Despite the medical follow-up that Espinosa Chepe
has been subjected to, he himself has refused to submit to a number
of tests that would be useful to a more profound analysis of his
health. On May 29, 2003, he refused to submit to a gastroscopy and
other routine tests that had been prescribed with the aim of evaluating
the digestive problems he was presenting.
On May 31, he was hospitalized in the inmates
ward of the "Ambrosio Grillo" Hospital with the aim of
carrying out more extensive medical examinations. On this occasion,
a computerized axial tomography, urine analysis, renal system check-up,
gastroscopy, an ultrasound, erythrosedimentation analysis, rectal,
liver, bilirubin and glomerular filtrate analyses were recommended.
Espinosa Chepe has refused to submit to other
prescribed analyses, such as a laparoscopy and a biopsy of liver
and pancreas, an analysis of colonic edema, and a gastroscopy, claiming
these would bring him complications.
Espinosa Chepe´s medical condition is stable
and wholly compatible with the conditions of reclusion in which
he finds himself.
Just as much could be said in connection with
the campaign of false allegations regarding the mistreatment and
inadequate medical attention and treatment allegedly encountered
by Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello, who reportedly suffers from high
blood pressure and an ischemic cardiopathy.
As indicated, she was to be re-evaluated by the
practitioner every three months. However, it was decided that a
specialist in internal medicine was to examine her every 15 days
and that the prison doctor was to do so every week.
Roque Cabello has had periodic contact with her
relatives, who have received precise and detailed information from
the facilitys doctor about her medical condition and the treatment
that she receives.
However, in July of 2003, Roque Cabello began
turning down the medical attention, medicine and diet that she was
being offered in prison, accepting only those that were delivered
or sent by her relatives.
On July 22, she was re-located to the "Carlos
J. Finlay" Military Hospital, upon presenting a high blood
pressure and chest pains; she was subjected to two echocardiograms.
Due to reported chest pains, a computerized axial
tomography and an electrocardiogram were conducted on July 27. Both
yielded negative results, that is to say, neither revealed any life-threatening
complication, as anti-Cuba propaganda has divulged. The doctors
prescribed her the appropriate diet and medication.
That same 27th of July, during the visit of her
niece, Maria de los Ángeles Falcón Cabello, the head
of the hospital ward detailed the inmates condition, the prescribed
treatment, the results of the analyses, the examinations conducted
and the new tests that were to be conducted.
On July 28, a new medical exam conducted determined that her vital
signs were stable and that her blood sugar levels remained high,
in view of which the doctors decided that she should begin a diet
Roque Cabellos medical condition is stable
and wholly compatible with the conditions of reclusion in which
she finds herself.
As can be appreciated, these and all other inmates
enjoyed the surest and amplest guarantee of quality medical attention.
They are admitted into regular public hospitals whenever their condition
requires it; there, like all Cuban citizens, they are submitted,
entirely free of charge, to costly and sophisticated medical examinations
employing high-tech equipment, being prescribed and receiving the
medication that they require.