The lights are turned off inside a windowless room in the penthouse office suite at 9990 SW 77th Ave. Ana Margarita, dressed in a white cotton shirt, black jeans, and black sandals, sits in a brown suede recliner. Next to her is brain imaging equipment and a computer that monitors brain waves via sensors affixed to her head and ear lobes. She wears earbuds that are also connected to the computer. Ana Margarita closes her eyes, listening to the musical tones and the distant sound of a softly flowing stream. On the flat-panel computer screen, bar graphs measure her brain wave activity.

Since January 7, Ana Margarita has undergone some 30 sessions at the headquarters of Brain Training Centers of Florida, a facility that treats a wide range of mental disorders.

For more than ten years, she had seen dozens of therapists and taken antidepressants to help treat her posttraumatic stress, severe anxiety, and adrenal fatigue syndrome. "Nothing really worked for me," she says. "So a friend of a friend recommended I give brain training a shot."

Ana Margarita Martinez was duped by Cuban spy Juan Pablo Roque, so she sued Fidel Castro's regime.
C. Stiles
Ana Margarita Martinez was duped by Cuban spy Juan Pablo Roque, so she sued Fidel Castro's regime.
Juan Pablo Roque
Juan Pablo Roque

During her first consultation, Ana Margarita met with the center's president, Francis Flynn, a Catholic priest with a doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. A slender salt-and-pepper-haired man with a deep baritone voice, Flynn explains that the training involves conditioning a person's mind to focus on inhibiting brain waves that cause a particular disorder. "We get the brain to recognize when it is out of balance and heal itself," he says. "It is like holding up a mirror to the brain and pinpointing exactly where the trouble is."

Flynn introduced Ana Margarita to the center's "master brain trainer," Geoff Cole, a jovial, pudgy-faced man who has been working with the priest since 2001. Flynn and Cole ran inpatient drug addiction centers from 2002 to 2006, the year they introduced brain training into their treatment plans. According to Cole, he has successfully used brain training to treat people with depression, addiction, sleep problems, attention deficit disorder, and posttraumatic stress.

As with other patients, Ana Margarita's training began with a brain scan. The sensors were hooked up to a computer program that mapped the brain, allowing Cole to determine the stages of her life when she suffered traumas. For example, he found that she experienced her first trauma between the time she was still in the womb and age 2. "That was around the time of Castro's revolution and my parents' splitting up," Ana Margarita notes.

Cole says he detected traumas in her late adolescence and throughout her adulthood. However, he says, he cannot pinpoint if one trauma was worse than another.

The brain scan also picked up 27 active depression patterns and assigned a tone to each of Ana Margarita's brain waves. "In the right hemisphere of her brain, there were waves that caused her to feel overly emotional and she would feel three times the anxiety of a normal brain," Cole says. "All these waves inhibit people from functioning."

The treatment involves conditioning the brain to focus on the tones that don't cause problems. Normally, a person undergoing training comes in for ten sessions. Ana Margarita required three times as many. "She wore all the pressure in her life like a second suit of clothing," Flynn says. "She looked like she was trying to run through life wearing a medieval suit of armor."

Initially, Ana Margarita didn't respond to the treatment. "It was really hard for me to visualize a place that brought me peace," she says. "I would get really frustrated. But after a while, it started calming me down."

She would focus on the times she and her family visited the Catskills. Cole burned a CD that plays the distant sound of a running stream to help her concentrate on the positive brain waves.

Flynn says he noticed a dramatic change in Ana Margarita after her 20th brain training session. "I could tell from the expression on her face and the texture of her skin that she was doing a whole lot better," he says. "She was much more happy and relaxed."

Over the past decade and a half, Ana Margarita has gained a fair amount of fame and notoriety. Her MySpace page is decorated with photos of her hobnobbing with Gloria and Emilio Estefan, artist Carlos Betancourt, Telemundo's Al Rojo Vivo host Maria Celeste Arraras, actor Steven Bauer, and singer Jon Secada, among other local luminaries.

In 1999, local book publisher Ediciones Universal, which specializes in work by Cuban authors, printed 1,000 copies of Estrecho de Traición (Straits of Betrayal), Ana Margarita's tome documenting her tragic affair. The publisher's bookstore at SW Eighth Street and 31st Avenue declined to provide the number of copies the book has sold.

In 2008, Ana Margarita announced she was collaborating with Lt. Col Chris Simmons, a U.S. Army counterintelligence officer and Cuban spook expert, to write another book, tentatively titled The Spy's Wire: Beyond Betrayal, as well as a screenplay. Although both projects are on hold, hers is still a sought-after story. The producers of the Discovery Channel documentary show Investigation Discovery recently spent four days with her. "They are going to air a minidocumentary on me," she says. "The show is about people who don't know the person they are married to."

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These comments are a little off base.  First, U.S. trade history with Cuba needs to be understood.  There has been a restrictive trade embargo against Cuba since 1960 and was actually codified into law in 1992.  The U.S. has long accused Cuba and Castro of human rights violations and other crimes - hence the embargo.  Prior to this woman's husband, the U.S. already accused Cuba of being 6 to 7 million dollars in default to America.  Even today, Americans can only travel to Cuba under certain circumstances such as a reporter for a specific instance or education.  


The embargoes and trade restrictions already implement strict regulations and decrease of trade between the country.  Further, because the U.S. says Cuba owes them 6 to 7 million dollars, all transactions with the government or corporations can only be done in cash, no credit is extended.  

When this woman was awarded her judgment (which I believe was reduced) it was awarded under 1996 anti-terrorist laws which allowed private law suits against terrorists supported by a country.  It is a very common legal theory.  Look at Enron.  If a corporation tell an employee to commit a crime, the corporation is also liable.  Same with the government.  If the chief of police tells an officer to murder random people, then the city can be liable. The money was awarded to this woman with full knowledge she would never actually see it.  


This was a way to punish the Cuban government - who revered Juan Pablo as a hero - for committing a terrorist act on American soil.  Since Juan Pablo could not be extradited, this was a creative solution. She received $194,000 from a frozen account.  Why was this account frozen?  Was it found to be supporting terrorist activity in America?  Why did the Cuban government have $194,000 in an account that the U.S. could freeze and ultimately seize?  Even in America, accounts can't be seized without cause.  


Finally, I question the validity of the fact that private Corporations are being targeted to pay of the Cuban government's debt.  This would be outside the purview of the judgment and the reach of the law.  The only way these entities would be garnished would be if the Cuban government ultimately controlled it.  


So, for those arguing that trade is being affected by this judgment, I ask how?  There is already a long standing embargo.  There is already bad blood, claims of debt owed, and refusal to extend credit.  The whole point of an embargo is to adversely affect the trade and economic growth of a country.  Not to mention the Helms-Burton act that further restricts American Corporations from doing business in Cuba.


Was this woman "awarded" a windfall? Yes.  That's also why it was reduced to 7million.  Will she ever see this money?  No.  The Courts were sending a warning, precedence, stating that if you commit or support you citizens in committing either espionage or a terrorist act on our territory, the spy will not be the only one punished, but we will hit you where it counts - in the wallet.  The Courts saw this as an opportunity to give anti-terrorist laws "teeth" without having to invade a country.  What do you do to a country that wont extradite a criminal, encourages his espionage and murder?  If we invaded every country that did this . . .well, the was a reason why the sun never set on the British empire.  There is also a reason the Brits couldn't hold all that land.  In retrospect of the Iraqi/afghani/iranian/Bush's war, this method seems to make a lot more sense.  No ones sons or daughters, husbands or wives have to die to prove a point/strength this way.


with all this said, I truly believe the embargo has caused more damaged that solutions.  I think its antiquated regulation implemented in the days of the bay of pigs and the cold war.  We over tax trade, force embargoes etc. as punishment for human rights violations.  We restrict travel so our citizens cannot unwittingly boost the economy.  Hell, even the EU has passed a law making the Helms-Burton act illegal. However, saying this woman is crazy, greedy, or affecting trade is short sighted.  This woman was a tool for the Courts to make their statements.  Nothing more.  I'm guessing the majority of that $194,000 went to attorneys fees anyway.  The judges published opinion would not so heavily investigate the legality of the reach of the 1996 anti-terrorist law and later amendments so thoroughly if it wasn't trying to make a point and set precedence.  The judgment also doesn't mention that the ex-wife's initial cause of action was rape and sexual assault.  Because that not important.  Giving teeth to the law is what mattered.  As stated before, the woman was just a tool.

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