Arturo Hernández’s brilliant career: defending money launderers, drug & arms traffickers, and terrorists
By Alejandro Armengol,
Source: Cuaderno de Cuba, El Nuevo Herald
Like a Cuban Perry Mason, the attorney Arturo Hernández, who leads the legal defense team for Luis Posada Carriles, has delivered to the court not only what according to him is sufficient proof to dismiss the three charges against his client, but also to solve the crime.
Hernández explained that one of the declassified documents possessed by federal prosecutors contains “alarming revelations” that establish that the 1997 bombings in Havana were ordered by Fidel Castro himself in order to divert attention from the visit of Pope John Paul II. John Paul II visited Cuba in January of 1998.
John Paul II’s visit to Cuba was a triumph for Castro. There were no demonstrations against the government, direct confrontations were almost completely avoided, and the Pontiff did not come with the angry face that characterized his visit with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
Castro gained legitimacy at a difficult moment in his political career. It was a moment that the leader meant to imply was a risky one, when in reality all the dangers had always been calculated beforehand. Castro himself had pointed out – before the arrival of John Paul II – that the Polish situation was very different from the Cuban one: communism in the European country had been imposed by Soviet occupation troops and the rejection of Russian socialism was explained in large part by the nationalistic feelings of a profoundly Catholic people – these were his words. It was a frontal attack on a power that had been ceaselessly praised, but that by now no longer existed and therefore was not worth justifying like before.
There’s little sense in the hypothesis that one year prior, a visit that the Cuban leader had prepared for in such detail should be torpedoed by the crude act of placing a number of bombs and seriously damaging the tourist industry that the Cuban government was then engaged in developing.
When the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, visited the island from January 21st through 26th, 2008, on the tenth anniversary of John Paul II’s historic trip to the island, it was known that Fidel Castro had invited the new Pontiff to visit Cuba as well. Bertone visited Cuba in October of 2005, when he was the Archbishop at the Italian port city of Genoa.
On that occasion he spoke with Castro, who asked him to intercede with the new Pope, Benedict XVI, chosen on April 19, 2005, to persuade him to visit the island. Bertone told the Italian magazine Il Consulente that Castro had said to him,”Can you help me? Can you tell the Pope that I’d like to invite him to Cuba? Can you be the emissary for my desire?”
Seemingly then, papal visits are not a problem for Fidel Castro. Aside from Miami, Hernández’s argument would be viewed anywhere else with skepticism. However, Hernández indicated in El Paso that the FBI source, who he claims had information from Cuba’s Interior Ministry, explained that it was planned to pin the attacks on the Cuban exiles, specifically Posada Carriles and the influential Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) and that this would serve as justification for the regime to continue its “repression” against Cubans on the island.
Rather, the impression is that this informant stood behind a sum of money and a report pleasing to the ear of US Americans and exiles in Miami. The validity or invalidity of the report is essential, because no other document has been presented to corroborate this testimony. In other words, one is asked to believe blindly what this informant says.
The problem is that then one might also argue that you must also believe what previous informants have said against Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch. Those among the Cuban exiles who defend these two believe that these informants lack credibility.
During the trial Hernández himself launched a thorough character assassination against Gilberto Abascal, trying to present him as a shameless liar, a lunatic and more. However, this new informant has simply told the truth.
Arturo Hernández is a lawyer who has said that what matters most for him is to meet two obligations: serving the legal system ethically and honestly, and serving the interests of his client. At his website, he describes how his reputation has grown along with his career as an aggressive attorney committed to maintaining and improving the ethics of his profession. A man who once dreamed of being a writer, and who remains passionate about philosophy began his public practice by defending the petty criminals who arrived in Miami via the Mariel – Key West bridge, also emphasizes at his site that he managed to get many of them acquitted. He then went into private practice where he made a name for himself as a defender of drug traffickers and in high profile cases of money laundering.
However, what has brought him national and international fame is his defense of well-known Cuban exiles who have faced problems with the law, from the former Miami Commissioner Humberto Hernández, to notable anti-Castro exiles such as the businessman Santiago Álvarez, an employee of his named Osvaldo Mitat, and Roberto Ferro, from whom authorities seized an arsenal of 1,400 weapons of all kinds in California. But without a doubt, the apex of his career up until now has been the Posada Carriles case.
Although from the standpoint of legal practice, no ethics complaints whatsoever have been raised about Hernández’s work, I wonder how many in Miami or in other places know that Posada Carriles’ defense is headed by a well-known defender of drug traffickers and those accused of moneylaundering.
What’s certain is that in Posada’s case, the defense is using a number of the usual methods that attorneys rely on in criminal cases of another nature. It’s true that what is really on trial are not simply accusations about an elderly man who lied on his application for U.S. citizenship, and it is also true that Posada Carriles is totally within his rights to seek an aggressive defense when he must face the powerful machinery of a state prosecution, but none of this means that the details of the strategy to liberate Miami’s “patriot” from prison should be ignored.
One example of this is the way the defense has clawed at the voluminous evidence presented by the prosecution, in search of any excuse that might serve in its attempts to have the trial dismissed. Of course this conduct cannot be catalogued as illegal here in the United States, and it is only a repetition of a practice used daily by lawyers in this country. Incapable of proving the innocence of their client, the legal team defending Posada Carriles has devoted itself to turning the trial into a farce or a nightmare, and sowing doubt among the jury.
There’s nothing heroic in this behavior, but as has occurred on other occasions with Posada Carriles, in the final reckoning, the end justifies the means.