Cuban Missive Crisis

For years the infamous Wasp Network collected reams of data on Miami's anti-Castro forces -- and the sundry, sometimes bizarre, attempts to infiltrate them

When Mas Canosa died eight months later, it was time to target CANF members with one of Havana's own secret weapons: a flyer. It read as follows.

Who are you voting for as Chairman of the CANF?

For Jorge Mas Santos?

Three Wasps who got caught: Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, and Fernando Gonzalez, who concentrated on a naval air station  in Key West and a military headquarters in west Miami-Dade
Three Wasps who got caught: Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, and Fernando Gonzalez, who concentrated on a naval air station in Key West and a military headquarters in west Miami-Dade

He isn't interested in politics.
His mother doesn't want him to assume leadership of the CANF.
He doesn't have his father's charisma.
He's not fluent in Spanish

For Dr. Alberto Hernandez?

His extramarital relations don't allow him any time for politics.
His most valuable distinction is that he was Jorge Mas' doctor.
His health is deteriorating.

For Pepe Hernandez?

He's a loser.
He's under FBI surveillance because he's sloppy.
He's not accepted by members of the CANF. He has no leadership charisma.
Has prostate cancer.

For Diego Suarez?

Conversationalist (even with the enemy)
He has little life left

For Domingo Moreira?

Don Domingo Moreira has prestige but you can't inherit that.
He doesn't have charisma to direct the powerful CANF.

Who should you vote for? Vote for Finado
[Finado is Spanish for dead person']

The Wasp Network also reflected on ways to thwart Ninoska Perez, the CANF spokeswoman and host of a local AM radio show on which she rails against Castro and takes calls from listeners who rail some more. Hernandez was especially incensed about some right-wing high jinx: She'd phone Havana, sweet-talk a government official for a moment, and then excoriate him or her for supporting a brutal dictator. "On a couple of occasions, I sent my evaluations on how ... one could do harm [to] or neutralize in some way the counterrevolutionary actions that originate here," Hernandez typed to the Directorate of Intelligence. "I am referring specifically to the telephone calls made by the radio stations to talk to the dissidents' from over there and the calls from Ninoska Perez trying to be funny.... She's gotten a lot of publicity here for making fun of many incidents as well as government agencies, including [former foreign minister Roberto] Robaina." Hernandez suggests that when Cuban officials are interviewed by Miami-based media, they note that the Cuban government earns money from phone calls originating in the United States. "We might be able to create a negative state of opinion about this fat son of a bitch [gorda h.p., in the original Spanish]. We might not be able to stop the calls, but we could cause some long-range or medium-range damage." He then writes he was pleased to hear rival Miami radio talk show host Francisco Aruca make the point on his show. "To my satisfaction [he] said that he had listened to two of Ninoska's calls that must have left the government of Cuba with $200, and that if he were Fidel Castro, he would tell all of his officials to talk a whole lot with that woman."

Hernandez's analysis of the counterrevolutionary prankster, though, led him to a radical idea: The guardians of the revolution could stand have more of a sense of humor. He informed his bosses that on this side of the Florida Straits, Cuban officials come across as "serious, schematic, and dogmatic, who are easy to make fun of and don't make fun of anyone. I think a little good humor and spark on the part of some of our comrades at the time of sparring, especially with the media in Miami, would go a long way."

But Gerardo Hernandez didn't find it very funny when he ran into a former CIA agent and "CANF terrorist" one day. Hernandez had been in the process of buying a VCR at the Costco supermarket on Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami Beach and was wheeling a shopping cart along when he came face to face with none other than Felix Rodriguez, the man credited with killing Che Guevara.

Like Basulto and Posada, Rodriguez was one of Castro's wiliest foes in the early years of the revolution. After Cuban government troops crushed the April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, Rodriguez escaped to the Venezuelan embassy. He then joined the CIA and helped Bolivian troops track down Che in 1965 in Bolivia, where the Argentine doctor and Cuban revolutionary hero was killed shortly after his capture. In 1985 Rodriguez fought Castro indirectly on another battlefield, supervising secret supply flights to the Nicaraguan contras, an operation directed by White House aide Lt. Col. Oliver North. One of the men who helped Rodriguez was Luis Posada Carriles.

"Upon crossing each other's path, we looked at each other, and I knew it was him," Hernandez wrote in a message to Delgado, the intelligence chief in Havana. "He was wearing a green jacket, the kind photographers or journalists wear.... Since I was on my way to the cash register at the time when we crossed each other, I didn't want to continue walking around inside the store, because all the references we have about this person is that he is pretty shrewd and furthermore somewhat paranoid. For that reason I paid for what I had bought, and I went to the part of the building where the food court area is located, which is exactly in front of the registers, and one can see everybody when they are coming to pay on their way out." Hernandez noted that six minutes later, Rodriguez appeared in a checkout line.

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