Love and Cuba

Jorge Mas Canosa says a Miami woman tried to smear his reputation and extort millions from him. She says he is the father of her child. Both have sworn they are telling the truth.

In a long article written by Mas and published February 2, 1992, in the Herald, the exile leader proclaimed his support for free expression, despite his opposition to the Herald. "I am a religious man, dedicated to my family and my community, and nothing hurts me more than being accused of intolerance," he wrote. Mas went on to criticize the Herald for practicing advocacy journalism and warned that the newspaper would be unsuccessful in its attempts to discredit him. "It would be far easier for me to join your powerful establishment," he wrote. "I am blessed with a wonderful family and financial resources. . . . Sometimes, however, we must take the difficult road, and I am determined to fight for the dignity, the integrity, and the values cherished by our Cuban-American community."

The campaign was criticized by the Washington-based Human Rights Watch/Americas, a respected human rights watchdog group, in a study published in 1992. The Inter-American Press Association also launched an investigation of the affair.

In her deposition, Beatrice said that she and Mas continued to meet and spar over his responsibilities to Peter throughout those tumultuous years. Their sexual relationship, however, was over. By December 1993, Beatrice testified, Mas decided to end all contact. "He told me, 'I can't continue this. I don't have no obligations with you or Peter.'" A $1000 cash gift for Christmas, she said, was his last payment.

From Beatrice's deposition:
Kutner: Why didn't you ever have somebody take a picture of [Mas] during this four-year period [in which he was] giving you money, so you could have him?

Beatrice: I didn't want to have him. All I was after was my kid's, you know, the best for my kid. I didn't want to have [Mas]. I was not trying to frame him. I was not trying to extort him. So I didn't have any reason to have a picture. All this time I was still protecting [Mas]. I've always protected [Mas] over and above myself.... I was being very honest and straightforward. I told him exactly what I wanted. I trusted his word, and he trusted mine. When he stopped delivering, then our verbal agreement was over. . . .

Kutner: Have you ever indicated in Mas's presence, to anybody in the world, that you had a relationship with him?

Beatrice: No, I would not dare to do that.
Kutner: Okay. Would you do it now?
Beatrice: Not while these proceedings are going on. I don't have any reason for it. I still, up until when these proceedings were filed, I still very much protected his image, and I try to always.

Kutner: Are you still interested in protecting his image?
Beatrice: I never had any intentions or any reasons to detriment that image or to diminish it other than . . . the best interest of my child.

A few months before her last meeting with Mas, Beatrice said, she began receiving death threats at home and at the office. According to her deposition and court papers, she also received a photograph in the mail of a nude, decapitated man. Suspecting that her ex-husband David was behind the calls, she began surreptitiously monitoring his phone line from her office at Southern Bell. She also tapped into the line of an ex-boyfriend, as well as the line of the man she was currently dating. She did not suspect Mas because, as she put it in a sworn statement: "If he was doing anything . . . he will not talk on the phone about it, and he will not do it personally . . . he would send somebody."

Southern Bell discovered Beatrice's unauthorized actions in March 1994, and she was terminated from her $48,000-per-year position as a supervisor. In her deposition she explained that, after she was fired, she was overwhelmed by bills. She said she turned to Mas for help, but he wouldn't return her phone calls. Frustrated and hurt, Beatrice again considered filing a paternity suit. She persuaded Miami attorney Woodrow "Mac" Melvin to take the case. That summer of 1994 Melvin began negotiating an out-of-court agreement with Maurice Kutner, an attorney representing Mas.

Sometime around August, Beatrice got a call from her ex-husband David, who was out on bond after his arrest for cocaine trafficking. According to Beatrice's testimony, David demanded to see her. They met in the parking lot of a Burger King on Le Jeune Road, and David showed her an anonymous letter he had received in the mail informing him of Beatrice's intent to file a paternity lawsuit against Mas.

At her deposition she recounted, "He said to me, 'I will not be a witness for you . . . against Jorge Mas. I believe he's the only man that can save Cuba.' And I said, 'Well, that's news to me, because you used to hate his guts and turn off the TV every time he was on it, and talk out loud against the Cuban American National Foundation, so what's in it for you?'"

David didn't respond, and Beatrice heard nothing more from him about the matter until October 1994. Negotiations with Mas's attorney were stymied, and Mac Melvin was preparing to file the lawsuit when his plans were derailed by an emergency motion presented to Circuit Court Judge Joan Lenard. The motion was filed as part of David and Beatrice's old divorce dispute, an unusual legal maneuver that reopened the 1989 case.

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