A convicted Cuban spy freed from a double life sentence in a U.S. prison by the Obama administration has vowed to continue serving the Castro government and is waiting on his next mission.
Gerardo Hernandez, one of the infamous "Cuban Five," who served 16 years in the U.S. prison system before being released as part of a prisoner exchange deal, told Yahoo News
, "What I’m telling you right now, I already told Raúl Castro. I’m a soldier. I’m ready to receive my next order. I can serve anywhere my country believes I am useful."
There is no question that Hernandez remains a dedicated Fidelista. On Tuesday, Castro, the Cuban president, pinned medals on the "Cuban Five" at the Convention Palace in Havana.
At the ceremony, Hernandez said, "Our first thought is gratitude and loyalty to all those throughout history who, with their sacrifice, have made it possible for us to live in a socialist, revolutionary and victorious Cuba," the New York Daily News
Unlike many Cubans on the poverty-stricken island, Hernandez, his wife Adriana and baby daughter Gema now live in a posh foreign ministry villa with nannies, cooks and servants, Yahoo reports.
The "Cuban Five" were convicted in the U.S. of operating a spy ring called the La Red Avispa, or the Wasp Network, penetrating military installations, and conspiracy to commit murder. The network tipped the Cuban military to the schedule of flights by Brothers to the Rescue, led by Bay of Pigs veteran Jose Basulto, which resulted in two of its planes being shot down in February 1996, killing four pilots.
Hernandez, sentenced to two life terms without possibility of parole, had his sentence commuted by Obama, along with the remaining two "Cuban Five" members still in prison, in return for the release of American contractor Alan Gross and a CIA spy held by Cuba as part of the administration's efforts to open up relations with Cuba.
Hernandez claims that the Wasp Network was not spying on the U.S. but, rather, infiltrating anti-Castro Cuban groups in Florida, and compared his actions to those of the CIA battling al-Qaida and killing terrorists with drones.
He told Yahoo, "Even in the U.S., where you have drones, you are sending people, dressing them up like al-Qaida people with beards” to infiltrate the terror group's training camps.
"That’s exactly what Cuba did," Hernandez told Yahoo News.
Hernandez' wife became pregnant through artificial insemination while Hernandez was in prison, in an exchange arranged by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, which set off an angry protest from Cuban-born Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
The Republicans wrote to the Federal Bureau of Prisons
: "Media reports indicate that the U.S. government went to great lengths to assist Mr. Hernandez, a convicted spy and murderer, in becoming a father. It is shameful that, in doing so, the Obama Administration overlooked the sad and grim reality that, because of Hernandez’s actions, some of the Brothers to the Rescue victims were prevented from having families of their own.
"Hernandez’s actions robbed three American families of their futures and the Department of Justice and the Administration rewarded his taking of life by proactively intervening to help him become a father."
Maggie Khuly, sister of one of the slain pilots, Armando Alejandre,Jr., told Yahoo, "This is very emotional for every single family member touched by this, to have what little justice you had taken away from you. This is never going to go away."
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