[Ppnews] Billboard company takes down ad for video that defends Cuban Five

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Apr 12 18:20:46 EDT 2012

2 articles follow

The Miami Herald
Posted on Thu, Apr. 12, 2012

Billboard company takes down ad for video that defends Cuban spies

By Juan O. Tamayo
jtamayo at ElNuevoHerald.com

A billboard in Little Havana advertising a video 
that defends five notorious Cuban spies was taken 
down just hours after it went up, amid anonymous 
phone threats that a restaurant beneath the sign would be attacked.

Max Lesnick, a Radio Miami commentator who 
regularly demands the release of the five spies 
tried in Miami in 2001 and sentenced to long 
prison terms, said the Alianza Martiana paid for 
the advertisement. Lesnick is also one of the leaders of the Alianza.

The ad went up on a billboard on the roof of a 
restaurant on the corner of 1st Street and 17th 
Avenue SW around noon Wednesday and was already 
down by about 7 p.m. , Lesnick said.

He and the Alianza were behind two previous ads 
defending the spies. Exiles who criticized those 
advertisements branded them as provocations and 
asked if Miami Beach Jews would not force down 
any billboards praising Adolf Hitler.

“If the Jews do that, it would be wrong, too,” 
said Lesnick, a Jewish Cuban. “We will put up our 
billboard every chance we get because that’s the right we have” to free speech.

Lesnick said the Alianza Martiana paid $3,500 to 
the Sarasota-based CBS Billboards for a 30-day 
display of the ad. There was no immediate word on 
whether the Alianza would get its money back, he told El Nuevo Herald.

The ad promoted a video, titled Freedom and 
available on Radio Miami’s web page, in which the 
president of Cuba’s legislative National Assembly 
of People’s Power, Ricardo Alarcon, defends the 
Cuban spies and demands their return home.

On the right side of the billboard was a large 
“5” — the emblem of the Cuban government’s 
campaign to free the spies — and to the left was 
an image of an open hand over the words “Give me Five,” in English.

Lesnick said the ad originally said “Obama Give 
me Five,” but CBS asked that the president’s name 
be removed to avoid complications with U.S. 
advertising regulations in an election year.

The billboard’s location in Little Havana — on 
the roof of a building that houses a Honduran 
restaurant, La Casa de las Baleadas — was the 
only one available when the agreement was signed, he added.

“This is simply an advertisement for a radio program,” Lesnick claimed.

Restaurant owner Liliana Vasquez said she 
received several anonymous phone threats 
Wednesday, including one saying, “We’re going to 
destroy your place.” She called police, she said, 
and a CBS employee visited her Thursday to apologize for the incident.

The five Cubans were convicted in 2001 of 
conspiring to spy on South Florida’s exile 
community, the Pentagon’s U.S. Southern Command 
in Miami and U.S. military airstrips in Tampa and the Florida Keys.

Four remain in prison, including Gerardo 
Hernández, serving two life sentences on a charge 
of murder conspiracy stemming from his role in 
Cuba’s shoot down of two Miami-based civilian 
airplanes in 1996, killing all four men aboard.

The fifth, Rene Gonzalez, completed his 13-year 
prison sentence and was freed, but still must 
serve three years of probation. A judge recently 
gave him permission to go to Cuba for two weeks 
to visit a brother reportedly dying from cancer.

Havana officials have confirmed the five are 
intelligence agents, but claimed they were in 
South Florida only to spy on radical Cuban exiles 
who might be plotting terrorist attacks on the Cuban government.

Lesnick and the Alianza Martiana, named after 
Cuban independence hero José Martí, have paid for 
two previous advertisements in defense of the 
Havana intelligence agents. Both drew strong 
complaints from some Cuban exiles. One was taken 
down quickly after it appeared on a billboard at 
the Miami City Casino, on 37th Avenue and 4th 
Street NW. The other appeared about two weeks 
later on the pages of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald.

© 2012 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

Read more here: 

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 Announces

The attack on Ozzie Guillen shows the Cuban 5 
could never receive a fair trial in Miami
The avalanche of criticism and complete 
intolerance surrounding statements from Florida 
Marlin's manager Ozzie Guillen in Time Magazine 
certainly demonstrates how anyone who says any 
comment even remotely favorable to Cuba will be 
viciously attacked by right wing anti Cuban 
circles in Miami. This is a clear example as to 
why the Cuban 5, who infiltrated right-wing exile 
groups in Miami in the mid-nineties to stop their 
plans for violence against the island, and who 
ended up serving lengthy sentences in U.S. 
Prisons, couldn't have possibly received a fair trial in Miami.

Alicia Jrapko, of the International Committee for 
the Freedom of the Cuban 5 stated, "Those groups 
in Miami, who have made careers out of howling 
about the lack of freedom of speech in Cuba, have 
now fully exposed themselves in the case of Ozzie 
Guillen. They have shown that it is they who will 
not tolerate a person's opinion if it does not 
line up with their backward way of thinking about 
Cuba. If he could be so vilified and forced to 
repent it shows there is no way the Cuban 5 could 
receive a fair trial in that city."

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel, US Army (Retired) 
and former chief of staff to Secretary of State 
Colin Powell, wrote, "The only reason there is 
such a hue and cry over Guillen's remarks is the 
deadly stranglehold over Miami politics 
maintained by hard-line Cuban-Americans. This 
same deadly stranglehold ensured the Cuban Five 
were railroaded to jail with sentences their 
'crimes' did not in any way warrant."

The Cuban 5 were arrested in 1998 and although 
they made no threats or injury to anyone and 
there was no transfer of U.S. government 
documents or classified material, the Cuban 5 
were convicted on conspiracy to commit espionage 
charges and sentenced originally to four life 
sentences and 77 years in U.S. prisons.

On August 9, 2005, a three judge panel of the 
11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta 
commented on the political atmosphere that exists 
in Miami: "Here, a new trial was mandated by the 
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."  These 
federal judges affirmed "the perception that 
these groups could harm jurors that rendered a 
verdict unfavorable to their views was palpable."

Activists from around the U.S. and international 
representatives working for the freedom of the 
Cuban 5 are gathering for five days of activities 
in Washington, DC next week from April 17th to 
the 21st. They will demand that President Obama 
free the Cuban 5 who have been in U.S. prisons now for more than 13 years.

To see the full schedule of events and activities 
plus a list of endorsers for 5 days for the Cuban 5 go to www.thecuban5.org

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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