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Could there be a better time for the U.S. Attorney and the FBI chief in South Florida to assure the public they will thwart terrorism wherever it hides, even when its target is Fidel Castro?
So far they have opted not to comment on any matter whatsoever related to violence-prone exiles. But they haven't been silent about Castro. "The case is most certainly about our continued fight to keep and protect this community from Castro's tentacles," U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis told a news conference in June after the jury convicted the five spies on all counts, including one defendant for conspiracy to murder in the Brothers to the Rescue shootdown. "We will not stand idly by and allow any foreign government to wreak its havoc upon our way of life. We will investigate, we will prosecute, and in the end we will be successful."
FBI special agent in charge, Hector Pesquera, also singled out the aging dictator that day. "I would like to send this very special message," he began. "Mr. Castro, sending your agents to the United States to conduct intelligence operations against the citizens of this country will not be tolerated. We will pursue you vigorously, and we will take you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law." But in response to a reporter's question, he failed to indicate whether he would pursue local leads regarding the 1997 Havana bombings with the same vigor. During the trial defense and U.S. government lawyers confirmed that FBI agents and Cuban government authorities had actually shared information about the case. Pesquera would only comment on a semantic issue. "The only thing I can tell you is I take full exception to the word cooperation," he replied. "There was some information brought to our attention through diplomatic channels. We, discharging our duties, looked into it. But to say and classify that we were cooperating with the Cuban government would be a misstatement." Pesquera refused to answer any more questions on the topic.
The FBI chief and the U.S. Attorney are still mum. In late November New Times asked Pesquera and Lewis to state whether they would consider bombings of tourist destinations in Havana to be acts of terrorism. They also refused to answer Alarcon's charge that authorities in South Florida are irresponsible in their failure to prosecute commando missions such as the one this past April. Pesquera and Lewis declined to say anything about several other exile commando raids carried out in the early Nineties, including why the 1992 incident involving Llamera was not prosecuted. "We feel that it is too close in time to these sentencings to be commenting on issues that also may be the subject of sentencing litigation and argument," Pesquera said.
Marvelle McIntyre-Hall, special counsel to Lewis, maintained that no one at the U.S. Attorney's Office could comment on anything related to "how the FBI handles Cuba," before Judge Joan Lenard sentences all five Cuban spies. (As of press time, Lenard was scheduled to hand down the last sentence on December 27.)
Orlando Bosch, however, is not keeping quiet. Early this month he again denied responsibility for the Cuban airline bombing but added, "There were no innocents on that plane."