The Miami Herald
May 8, 1999

GERARDO HERNANDEZ At last, prosecutors say, the U.S. government knows his real name.

The alleged ringleader of a troop of Cuban spies living in Miami -- known here by a
name he is accused of stealing from a child who died in Texas three decades ago
-- was identified Friday as Gerardo Hernandez, promoted to captain in the Cuban
military for his role in four killings, a Miami grand jury says.

Through his attorney, Paul McKenna, he denies any knowledge or involvement in
the Cuban attack on Brothers to the Rescue planes in 1996.

``I can't believe this,'' McKenna said. ``We doubt the government can prove any of

A mild-mannered, inconspicuous man who paid $580 per month for a $600 Miami
Beach apartment because he said he couldn't afford the rent, Hernandez used the
name Manuel Viramontes.

In September, prosecutors called him the mastermind of a plot to infiltrate
anti-Castro exile groups. Now they say he was at the center of a plot by the
Cuban government that led to a deadly confrontation with planes from Brother to
the Rescue.

He passed himself off as a Texas-born single man, although federal agents say
he wrote to a wife in Cuba on their eighth wedding anniversary.

According to federal authorities, he arrived in the United States in 1992 with
orders to infiltrate the U.S. Southern Command and discredit Cuban exile groups
by manipulating the media and political institutions through a smear campaign.

He made few friends, isolating himself in Apartment 305 at 18100 Atlantic Blvd. in
Northeast Dade.

Codename ``Giro,'' the feds say, he had a doctored U.S. passport, Puerto Rican
voter identification in the name of Manuel Viramontes Hernandez, a Mexican
driver's license in the name of Manuel Viramontes Hdez and a Texas birth
certificate for Manuel Viramontes issued in 1994, records say.

Authorities say he used coded messages and a fake Puerto Rican accent to
order a ring of infiltrators to provide information that led to the Brothers

                                             -- DAVID KIDWELL