Tuesday, September 12, 2006

de la Cova takes on The Miami Herald

Indiana University Professor Dr. Antonio de la Cova authorized me to reprint his recent letter to The Miami Herald.

From: delacova@indiana.edu
Subject: Article "Forum urges justice for five convicted spies"
Date: September 11, 2006 10:43:15 PM EDT
To: llmorales@miamiherald.com
Cc: MaGarcia@miamiherald.com, tfiedler@herald.com

Your article in yesterday’s Herald, "Forum urges justice for five convicted spies," about a meeting orchestrated in Miami by pro-Castro activists Max Lesnik and Andrés Gómez, omits their background information.

Lesnik, whom you tersely describe as "director of Radio Miami," was arrested in Cuba for subversive activities in the 1950s and his mugshot and rap sheet is reproduced in the book by Esteban Berubides, "Cuba: Archivos Confidenciales," Vol. 1.

In August 1959, Lesnik was one of the Castro government snitches in the Trinidad case, responsible for sending scores of anti-Communists to prison with lengthy sentences. It is also public knowledge that in 1960 Lesnik coined the anti-American slogan "Cuba sí, Yankee no," which became the rallying cry at pro-Castro mass gatherings in Cuba for decades.

After settling in Miami in 1961, Lesnik has had various scrapes with the law. On May 24, 1973, Luis Tornés, who is now also a pro-Castro activist, accused Lesnik in Dade county court (Case No. 73-9371) of threatening him with "personal violence" and asked the court to "find sureties to keep the peace." Sixteen months later, Lesnik was charged by the Dade State Attorney’s Office with improper display of a firearm when during a political squabble he brandished a pistol at Pedro Martínez ("Gun charge filed against Max Lesnik," Miami News, Sept. 12, 1974, 4A). Lesnik has also been involved in irregular business deals. In June 1974 he was charged in Dade county court with illegally doing contractor’s business without a license (Case No. C-138-669).

In February 1980, the Rev. Manuel Espinosa, a pro-Castro activist turncoat, publicly denounced that he had met twice at Lesnik’s residence with Cuban DGI intelligence agents, Lt. Col. Jorge Gallardo, Capt. Justo Betancourt, and Lt. Rafael Estrada, who delivered messages from Cuba to Lesnik. Espinosa also stated that Lesnik had been sending information to DGI official René Rodríguez Cruz, who in 1983 was charged in Miami Federal Court with drug trafficking to the United States, Case No. 82-643 Cr-JE. ("Espinosa Calls Bank a Cuban 'Center of Economic Spying,'" Miami Herald, Feb. 13, 1980, 4-B, and Miami Radio Monitoring Service, Feb. 12, 1980).

In spite of Lesnik’s controversial and unsavory character, the Herald has honored him over the years by reprinting his editorials. See: Miami Herald, Dec. 15, 1975, 7A, and Feb. 28, 1982, 3E; and El Miami Herald, Feb. 28, 1982, 10. More recently, Granma newspaper, the official organ of Cuba’s Communist Party, has been publishing Lesnik’s articles.

Your article indicates that Andrés Gómez is affiliated with the Antonio Maceo Brigade, but omits mention that the group was denounced as a front for Cuba’s Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI) by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents Daniel Benítez and Sergio Piñón on March 4, 1982, in testimony before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism. In July 1983, Capt. Jesús Pérez Méndez, a DGI defector, denounced Gómez as being "controlled by the DGI."

You slanted reporting on behalf of pro-Castro activists is demonstrating a pattern. This is yet another example of the Herald’s tradition of omitting the negative background of pro-Castro supporters. I have no doubt that if you continue with this biased style of reporting, Granma will soon be reproducing or citing your work like they have done for Oscar Corral and Jim DeFede.

Dr. Antonio de la Cova
Latino Studies
Indiana University, Bloomington

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