TCTI: Too Crazy To Ignore
Dave Ross
cubanfive5_ap640.jpg
A man walks past in front a billboard with images of five Cuban intelligence agents imprisoned in U.S., popularly known as the "Cuban Five," in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. Rene Gonzalez, whose photo appears third from left in the billboard, arrived in Havana more than a week ago after a Florida judge granted him permission to visit his gravely ill brother, but the Cuban national hero hasn't appeared in public.(AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

He says 15 years is enough

Everywhere you go in Cuba, you'll see billboards demanding that the United States "Free the Cuban Five." The Cuba Five include a Cuban national named Ramon Labanino who for 15 years now has been imprisoned in the U.S. for what amounts to spying.

He and four others were sent here by the Castro government in the 90's to gather information on radical Cuban-Americans who were plotting terrorist attacks on Cuba.

"From the Cuban perspective, the United States has either invaded or threatened to invade Cuba on many prior occasions."

In Miami, Labanino's attorney Bill Norris told me what his client did was really no different than what our own CIA has been doing in various countries since the 9-11 attack:

"There were a series of bomb explosions in Havana and at some other tourist attractions around Havana, that were being funded by the radical element of the Cuban-American population, here in Miami," said Norris.

I asked, so this is basically the Cuban government trying to protect itself from American-based terrorism from their point of view?

"Absolutely, and it's not just a question from their point of view - it's been pretty well documented."

To Cubans, the U.S. decision to arrest the five for trying to prevent terrorist attacks on their homeland looks completely hypocritical, especially in light of what we've been doing since 9-11.

Ramon Labanino has been transferred to a minimum security prison, but Norris says his client is not dangerous, and should be allowed to return home.

"Fifteen years in jail is long enough and the time has come to hold out the olive branch, let Ramon Labanino, my client, and his brothers, go home to their families."

Dave Ross, KIRO Radio Morning News Anchor
Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.
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