The Miami News
November 28, 1975, page 5

Free 6 Invaders, he'll implore Castro

A Bay of Pigs veteran is going to Cuba next year to talk to officials of Prime Minister Fidel Castro's government about the release of six of his jailed comrades.

Jose Luis Hernandez, who survived the 1961 unsuccessful invasion and almost two years in Castro's prisons says he now can succeed where American negotiators failed in 1963.

"Times have changed, I am sure Castro has nothing to fear now from those men," Hernandez said.

"We have entered into an era of negotiations and it is time we negotiated to get these men out of prison," he added.

Nine of the about 1,500 survivors of the unsuccessful battle to wrest control of Cuba from Castro were kept behind by the Cuban government.

The rest of the men were exchanged for U.S. shipments of food and medicines.

U.S. negotiator Charles Donovan could not get the nine released. Two of them were charged with committing "war crimes" during the revolution which overthrew dictator Fulgenico Batista.

One of the men died later in prison and the other six are still behind bars accused of "treason" and "spying," but no official explanation was given why they remained behind.

At least two of the men were former comrades-in-arms of Castro during the revolution who broke with him over the issue of Communism.

Efforts to renew negotiations to get these men out of jail have failed in the past. However, Hernandez said: "I never saw anyone go to Cuba to talk to Castro directly about their release."

Hernandez says he intends to go to Cuba next year with controversial Pentecostal minister Manuel A. Espinosa who is trying to get freedom flights started again between Cuba and the United States.

The flights, said Espionsa, an advocate of relations with the Castro government, will bring to Miami more than 45,000 Cubans who applied to leave the island when the Cuban government suddenly stopped the flights in 1972.

Those Cubans, he pointed out, are close relatives of exiles already living in the United States.