The Miami Herald
October 11, 2000

Two Miami men captured in Cuba given prison terms


 Two aging Miami men, captured inside Cuba two years ago with a cache of
 weapons and recently convicted for ``acts against the state,'' have been handed
 long prison sentences by an island tribunal.

 Displaying the supplies for the men's planned internal revolt during a two-day
 tribunal last month -- a tableful of guns, ammunition and medicine -- Cuban
 prosecutors had sought to slap the two with 26-year sentences, which meant
 they would likely die in prison.

 The exiles, Ernestino Abreu Horta, 75, a South Miami-Dade engineer and former
 head of a local exile group, and Vicente Martinez Rodriguez, 66, a Miami truck
 driver and anti-Castro activist, are in poor health, Miami relatives said Tuesday.

 There were conflicting reports on the length of the sentences. The Associated
 Press said both men received 15-year sentences. Other reports said Martinez
 received 10 years and Abreu 15.

 The two, who have lost weight and are battling a series of ailments, have been
 temporarily moved from a prison to a military hospital. As soon as their health
 improves, the two will be sent back to prison, Cuban officials said.

 A State Department spokesman Tuesday criticized the lengthy sentences for the
 two Cuban exiles for illegally reentering the island. ``If these reports of 15-year
 sentences are true, we think these are outrageous sentences in light of the
 advanced age and failing health of the defendant,'' said spokesman Richard

 As news of the sentences spread, the men's wives, daughters and brothers said
 they will likely not last a year because of their age and poor physical condition. ``I
 don't think my husband can take much of this,'' said Epifania, Martinez's wife of
 40 years, who traveled to Pinar del Rio in late September for her husband's
 two-day trial. ``He is emaciated. He has severe stomach problems they can't
 seem to cure.''

 Epifania Martinez and Abreu's daughter, Alicia Abreu, a Kendall dentist, are trying
 to garner local public support for the men. ``My husband never stopped fighting for
 a free Cuba,'' Martinez said. Victor Martinez fought to overthrow Cuban President
 Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and later became disillusioned by Castro and turned
 against him.

 Martinez, along with six brothers and a sister, was arrested and jailed in 1960 for
 counterrevolutionary activities. Martinez was freed and arrived in the 1980s in
 Miami as a political prisoner. He quickly joined several exile groups.

 ``I hope and pray he doesn't die in a Cuban prison,'' said his brother Secundino
 Blanco Martinez, of Miami.

 Abreu is a well-known figure in exile politics. He is a retired agronomist and
 developer who headed the Cuban Patriotic Junta, an influential exile group.

 The incident that led to their arrest began in 1998. As members of a
 quasi-commando group known they called the Movement of Revolutionary
 Recovery, the two decided to infiltrate Cuba to promote an uprising. They boarded
 a boat and headed for Pinar del Rio, ready for a revolt.

 Their presence in Cuba was quickly detected. The two men and Martinez's three
 nephews, who live on the island, met with them and took to the hills to avoid
 capture. The nephews, identified as Rolando Corrales, Jose Maria Corrales and
 Mario Martinez, were also arrested and tried. Their sentences ranged from six to
 10 years.