The Miami Herald
June 21, 2001

Dade men imprisoned after foray into Cuba


 Three Miami-Dade men are being held in a Cuban jail after being caught in late April with a cache of weapons in an attempt to "execute
 subversive activities in the country,'' a Cuban official announced Wednesday.

 A Cuban activist in Miami confirmed the report Wednesday night.

 The accusation was made by a Cuban Interior Ministry investigator on the national television's Mesa Redonda program, in the presence of
 President Fidel Castro. The investigator was discussing the conviction earlier this month of five Cuban spies in Miami -- hailed as national heroes on the island for working to stop just such insurgencies.

 According to the investigator, the three armed men -- identified as Ihosvanni Suris de la Torre, Santiago Padrón Quintero and Máximo Padrera Valdés, also known as Máximo Robaina -- disembarked in late April on the northern coast of Villa Clara province and were intercepted by Cuban border guards.

 After an exchange of gunfire, the "infiltrators'' fled to the nearby Jutia Key, where they were arrested April 26. The were all linked by the investigator to the anti-Castro groups Comandos F4 and Alpha 66.

 The televised report stated that the men were carrying four AK-47 assault rifles, one M-3 rifle with a silencer, three Makarov pistols, night goggles, communication
 equipment, $3,028 in U.S. currency and 970 Cuban pesos.

 Alpha 66 leader Andrés Nazario Sargén said he knew that Suris, 27, and Robaina, 57, had been arrested on the island, though he said the two -- active members of the group -- went independently of the organization. He did not know that they were accompanied by Padrón, who was a member years ago but had not been active lately.

 "They did not go with our authorization, but for us that doesn't matter,'' Nazario said Wednesday night. ``When one man alone breaks discipline to do something like this, you have to respect it and recognize they are patriots and do what you can for them.''

 Nazario said Robaina -- as he is known in Miami -- had been commander for about a year of the group's training camp near the Everglades. He said the organization was in touch with the men's families since their arrests nearly two months ago and was giving them financial and emotional support.

 "These men went there not to get publicity or anything for themselves, but because they were convinced they could do something for Cuba,'' he said. "This is a very hard thing to understand: People will ask, `How can three people try to get into Cuba to fight an army the size of Castro's?' But on other occasions, one or two have infiltrated and stayed many months in Cuba to do sabotage and then returned.

 "This struggle is a struggle of small groups. If they had luck and had been able to establish themselves in the mountains, they would have been able to reunite with our people there and done some sabotage,'' Nazario said. "There is a lot of merit when three men go alone to fight against the army of a communists regime like Cuba's.''

 Sabotage missions, he said, include the disruption of island communications or transportation systems and ``to burn down tourist locations'' or crops of sugar and
 tobacco -- longtime pillars of Cuba's strapped economy.

 Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.

                                    © 2001