Longform

Inside the Wasp's Nest

Page 4 of 7

But now he had an operational setback to report. "In previous mailings I advised that I had purchased a beeper," Hernandez wrote to his chief at the Directorate of Intelligence, Edgardo Delgado Rodriguez. "What happened was that I got into the [apartment] building pool one day and forgot that my beeper was in one of my shorts pockets. And it drowned."


His own writings reveal Captain Hernandez was hawkish and ruthless vis-à-vis the enemy but loving and nurturing toward his own. When the Directorate of Intelligence began considering "operational marriages," Hernandez backed the policy, under which a spy could tell his wife about his real job and allow her to live in the same country as her husband. Indeed in December of 1996, Rene Gonzalez was joined by his wife, Olga, and their young daughter, who had been living in Havana. Olga was to support her husband's undercover work as a member of anti-Castro groups such as Brothers to the Rescue and the Democracy Movement, and as an FBI informant. Hernandez counseled the couple during a March 1997 meeting with Gonzalez, a now pregnant Olga (code name Ida), and their daughter (code name Idita). The routine encounter was to take place at the Canton Restaurant at 8565 SW 24th St. "There was no indication of enemy activity detected around them," Hernandez wrote, "so I let the comrades see me, and they headed towards the restaurant." He continued: "The meeting with the comrades was very cordial, and the topic of the baby dominated it. I asked her to tell me how things were going, and she talked quite a bit about it. It has been a good pregnancy, and she is due towards the end of April or early May. They did an ultrasound, but they have not said anything to the family yet because they want it to be a surprise." He then reported that according to Ida, their other daughter was jealous of the baby. "I told her this was normal because up till now she has been the center of attention and now she is going to be “taken off her pedestal.' But in my opinion they should handle the situation very tactfully from now on so she does not become even more jealous."

Hernandez had other personal issues to tackle involving his Key West agent, Antonio Guerrero (alias Lorient). Guerrero, who was employed as a sheet-metal worker at the Boca Chica U.S. naval air station, was requesting permission to advance his relationship with his girlfriend, a masseuse from Pennsylvania named Margaret Becker. "It is evident that there are three fundamental steps being discussed: (1) move into Maggie's house; (2) get married; (3) have a child. I am of the opinion ... that Lorient is ready to take the three steps, on the one hand to save the relationship but also out of consideration to Maggie and her well-being." Hernandez proceeded to weigh the pros and cons of the three options. He noted that Guerrero had lived alone for more than three years, "which by itself is very strange in this environment, especially in a young man. The tendency of everyone here, we have said it before, is to get together, at least with one other person to share expenses.... If you add this to the fact that he almost always sleeps with her (not doing so would make it even more abnormal), everything gets very strange in the eyes of friends and family and even the couple itself."

Of course as a single guy renting a cheap apartment in North Miami Beach, Hernandez had his own relationship woes. He was getting tired of bachelor life, especially when living on a shoestring. "If one had a larger budget for personal expenses, then maybe the solution would be to change relationships more frequently, but aside from other dangers, there aren't enough resources for that. Establishing and maintaining a relationship here costs a lot of money. Going out one night to a club costs you $50 easily, without eating. An alternative would be to find a woman who has all her papers taken care of and who has money besides, but this type of person has other aspirations, and they look for men with more money than they, new cars, et cetera."

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Kirk Nielsen
Contact: Kirk Nielsen