Luis Aguilar Leon was publicly employed as editor of the Opinion page of El Nuevo Herald as early as 1996. The large-circulation Miami newspaper is known for its strong anti-Cuba bias. Although he portrayed himself as an independent journalist, Aguilar León was in fact working for Radio Martí since its founding in 1985, through the end of the Cuban Five trial.

Aguilar Leon played a key role in fostering an inflammatory climate in Miami in the aftermath of the Feb. 24, 1996 shoot-down of the Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR) planes.

That singular event unleashed a virulent atmosphere in Miami, and the flames of vengeance would not die down until the trumped-up indictment and false conviction of Gerardo Hernández for “murder conspiracy.”

Aguilar León’s history is an important example of the clandestine nature of the U.S. government Miami reporters who posed as independent.

On February 27, 1996, three days after the BTTR plane shoot-down, El Nuevo Herald published a signed editorial by Opinion-page editor Aguilar Léon. It reads in part:

Many reasonable minds who have studied the Cuban process have still not managed to explain the reasons that brought Fidel Castro to sic his aerial dogs on two defenseless aircraft, destroying them and killing their four occupants, right under the nose of a Europe that was inclined toward friendly relations. These people ignore or have wanted to ignore what is perfectly understood among Cubans: Castro is genetically conditioned toward violence and barbarism. Like the scorpion in the fable, he ends up stinging even the hand that tries to caress his back.
... One wishes for the power to send three well-armed fighter jets to the Cuban coastline to see if these henchmen of the air can prove themselves as courageous when the adversary above them is armed. Or to fly over Varadero [beach], shooting, to delight in the image of a stampeding bunch of lewd tourists, the kind who believe that in Cuba everything is for sale, jumping over fences and fleeing across the sand on which they trod.

Only one month before Aguilar León’s editorial and the shoot-down, he was asked to be part of a four-person panel of prominent journalists to investigate the journalistic integrity of Radio and TV Martí.

At the time, January 1996, Radio Martí and TV Martí were embroiled in controversy over numerous criticisms — internal and external — that the programming did not meet standards of professional journalistic objectivity in its coverage of Cuba.

Broadcasting Board of Governors head David Burke announced that a four-person panel would be convened to investigate the complaints.

Articles:

El Nuevo Herald, 27 de febrero 1996, Página Editorial (6-A)
Por Luis Aguilar León

Muchas mentes razonables que han estudiado el proceso cubano no atinan a explicarse las razones que llevaron a Fidel Castro a soltar sus perros aéreos para destruir a dos indefensas avionetas y asesinar a sus cuatro tripulantes, ante las narices de una Europa que se inclinaba a ser amable. Ignoran, o han querido ignorar esas personas, lo que es hecho sabido entre los cubanos: Castro está genéticamente condicionado a la violencia y a la barbarie. Como el escorpión de la fábula, él termina por emponzonar aún la mano que pretende acariciarle el lomo.

Claro que eso no amortigua la ira que, como esas tormentas del desierto, sacuden los ojos y hacen temblar los puños del alma ante un crimen cobarde e impune.

Quisiera uno tener el poder necesario para enviar tres jets bien armados a las costas cubanas para ver si esos esbirros del aire muestran tanto coraje cuando el adversario se les encima armado. O pasar disparando sobre Varadero, para regodearse con la imagen de una enloquecida masa de lúbricos turistas, de esos que creen que en Cuba todo es comprable, saltando cercas y huyendo por las arenas que han hollado.

Pero hay que tomar una nota. La ira que baña los ojos y hace temblar los puños del alma es ciega. Su fuerza, como la de los ríos desbordados, puede inundar terrenos neutrales. Y en este momento de iracundia, cuando es el adversario el que está escuchando el redoble de tambores hostiles, conviene tener un sentido de equilibrio. Para que no se desbanden las pasiones hacia objetivos secundarios. Y para que se concentren en la bestia que lleva 37 años triturando a Cuba.

La energía de esa ira debe apagar nuestras disputas y crear un impresionante silencio colectivo en torno al culpable. Que ningún susurro de crítica a otros exiliados surja de nuestros labios; que ni una sola polilla mercenaria del castrismo, de esas que gesticulan y vociferan en el exilio clamando por la democracia que su amo aplasta en Cuba, logre desviar una chispa hacia un objetivo que no sea el líder de barbas rojas y negras intenciones. Sin el dictador, esa gentuza ira por sus propios medios al basurero. Que en estos momentos de alta tensión los exiliados no olviden, ni permitan que nadie olvide, que los héroes del Concilio y los disidentes que están siendo arrestados y aporreados por los esbirros del régimen llevan años enfrentándose a la dictadura, y pagando el monstruoso precio que la dictadura les hace pagar en Cuba. Y que su única leve protección ha sido y sigue siendo la denuncia continua y pública de los exiliados.

Con igual intensidad, y conociendo el dilema que estrangula a los exiliados que tienen familias en Cuba, es preciso recordarles a todos ellos que el dinero que sale hacia la isla sirve para entronizar la tiranía, y que es un ineludible deber ético preguntarse si es con ese dinero con el que Castro compró los MiGs o las balas que asesinaron a esos y a otros cubanos que luchan por la libertad de Cuba.

En estos momentos, el presidente Clinton ha hablado firme y enérgicamente. Ha respondido a la iniciativa del bárbaro con la fuerza que da la justicia y la legalidad. Pero también le ha hecho a Castro una advertencia ominosamente importante. No ha desechado la aplicación de cualquier otra medida si el líder de barbas tenebrosas trata de responder a ese mensaje con otra iniciativa violenta. Lo cual es digno de tenerse en cuenta, porque Fidel Castro tiene mucho del nihilismo hitleriano. Y su ego oceánico preferiría salvar su "imagen histórica" cayendo bajo un ataque del "imperialismo" norteamericano, que pereciendo en el desplome que ocasionen sus colosales errores y sus crímenes. “Un hombre”, decía Kahil Gibran, “puede suicidarse en defensa propia”.

El Nuevo Herald, Thursday, February 27, 1996, page 6A
By Luis Aguilar León, Editorial Section editor

Many reasonable minds who have studied the Cuban process have still not managed to explain the reasons that brought Fidel Castro to sic his aerial dogs on two defenseless aircraft, destroying them and killing their four occupants, right under the nose of a Europe that was inclined toward friendly relations. These people ignore or have wanted to ignore what is perfectly understood among Cubans: Castro is genetically conditioned toward violence and barbarism. Like the scorpion in the fable, he ends up stinging even the hand that tries to caress his back.

Of course this does nothing to pacify the rage that, like desert storms, shakes one's eyes and makes the inner soul tremble in the face of a cowardly and unpunished crime. One wishes for the power to send three well-armed fighter jets to the Cuban coastline to see if these henchmen of the air can prove themselves as courageous when the adversary above them is armed. Or to fly over Varadero [beach], shooting, to delight in the image of a stampeding bunch of lewd tourists, the kind who believe that in Cuba everything is for sale, jumping over fences and fleeing across the sand on which they trod.

But one must take note. The rage that inundates the eyes and makes the inner soul tremble, is blind. Its force, like that of overflowing rivers, can flood neutral terrain. And is it at this irascible moment, when the adversary is listening for the echo of hostile drums, when it is important to maintain a sense of balance. So that passions against secondary objectives are not let loose. And so that they might be concentrated on the beast that has spent 37 years crushing Cuba.

The energy of this rage ought to silence our disputes and create an impressive collective silence around the guilty one. Not even a whisper of criticism against other exiles should pass our lips, not even a single mercenary Castro-supporting moth of the kind who gesture and shout among exiles, calling for the democracy that their master in Cuba smashes, ought to divert so much as a spark toward any objective other than the leader of the bearded reds and those with evil plans. Without the dictator, those rabble will end up in the trash heap of their own accord. Right now in these moments of heightened tension, exiles cannot forget, nor allow anyone to forget, that the heroes of the Concilio [Cuban Council] and the dissidents who are being arrested and mistreated by the henchmen of the regime have spent years confronting the dictatorship and paying the monstrous price that the dictatorship forces them to pay in Cuba. And that their only slight protection has been and continues to be the continued and public denunciations from the exiles.

With equal intensity, and understanding the dilemma that strangles the exiles who have family in Cuba, it’s essential to remind all of them that the money that flows toward the island serves to enthrone the tyranny, and that it is an inescapable ethical duty to ask themselves if it is with this money that Castro bought the MiGs or the bullets that killed these and other Cubans who are struggling for Cuba’s freedom.

At this time, President Clinton has spoken firmly and energetically. He has responded to the barbarian’s initiative with the force of justice and law. But he has also delivered a warning of ominous import, to Castro. He has not ruled out the application of any other measure if the leader of the sinister bearded ones tries to respond to this message with another violent act. It is something worth taking into account, because Fidel Castro is quite the Hitlerian nihilist. And his outsized ego would prefer to save his “historic image” by perishing under an attack from US “imperialism” than in a collapse engendered by his own colossal errors and crimes. “A man,” said Kahlil Gibran, “can kill himself in self defense.”

El Nuevo Herald, domingo, 9 enero 2000
Por Luis Aguilar León, página 18-A

Sr. Presidente:

Con natural gratitud, he guardado el recuerdo de las dos ocasiones, en Washington y en Miami, en que usted tuvo a bien llamarme aparte para, primero, evocar las clases en la Universidad de Georgetown y, segundo, para platicar más ampliamente sobre Cuba. Acababa el régimen cubano de derribar tres indefensas avionetas y parecía que la política de Washington hacia Castro se endurecía. Grabada tengo en la mente su primera pregunta: “Profesor, le parece que estoy haciendo lo correcto para derribar a ese s.o.b.?”. Mi respuesta, “Sr. Presidente, usted está haciendo lo correcto, pero con lo correcto no se derriba a ese s.o.b.”. Al final, usted me alentó a que, usando el zip privado de la Casa Blanca, le escribiera cuando encontrara algo que aplaudir o criticar en su política.

Nunca utilicé ese privilegio. Si hoy me dirijo a usted en forma pública, lo hago porque se trata de un asunto en ascuas, en el cual, lamentablemente, usted parece haber dado su apoyo a una de las decisiones más erróneas de esta época: enviar al niño Elián González a Cuba. Estas líneas son una apelación a su sentido de justicia para que le dé una revisión a la complejidad de la situación en donde se está jugando el futuro de un niño.

La voluntad burocrática de reducir la situación del niño cubano a un simple conflicto legal entre un padre en Cuba y los familiares en Miami es bien errónea. Si eso fuera todo, la solución sería fácil. Pero ocurre que la burocracia suele poner las reglas por encima de las leyes y así, en este caso, se soslaya el sacrificio de una madre y el tipo de vida que le espera al niño en Cuba. Porque, bueno o no como persona, el padre de Elián vive en un país totalitario donde, desde hace 41 años un solo hombre controla todas las decisiones; el color de los uniformes infantiles, las escuálidas raciones que pueden dárseles a los niños; y quienes deben ser fusilados o sepultados en las prisiones.

Según su hermano, el comandante Raúl Castro, ese hombre es “el padre de todos los cubanos a quien todos le debemos todo”. Ese es el duro “patriarca”, creador de pobreza, a quien todos temen en Cuba, y quien, siguiendo su tradición, está usando la ingenuidad de los que viven en una democracia y no saben lo que es la tiranía, para convencerlos de que la ley y no el despotismo está de su lado y que sólo los “criminales del capitalismo” están en contra. Observemos como hace poco el patriarca mostró su desdén por los niños y por la ley. Hizo un gesto y todos los colegios cerraron de inmediato y miles de niños fueron obligados a desfilar por tres días clamando por un infante desconocido.

En esa sociedad totalitaria vive el padre del niño. Voceros del régimen ya han proclamado a Elián, quien tiene seis años, como un “héroe” socialista. Si el niño vuelve a Cuba, ese título aplastará su vida y lo convertirá en otro zombie sin alma. Más que los otros niños, Elián será educado y vigilado para que no se le escape una palabra de crítica al sistema socialista, ni pueda ser entrevistado libremente por la prensa extranjera, ni se le permita invocar a su madre, una “traidora” a la revolución.

Ignorar, señor Presidente, esa brutal realidad y enviar a Elián a Cuba como si Castro no existiera y sólo los vínculos que unen a los padres con los hijos existieran, es barrer con los principios de justicia y humanidad que le dan sentido a las leyes, quebrar la tradición democrática de los Estados Unidos de proteger a los más débiles, y ofrecer la apariencia de rendirse ante las amenazas de la tiranía más larga del mundo.

¿Hubiera alguien justificado retornar a un niño musulmán a la Yugoslavia de Milosevic porque su madre murió mientras lo conducía a la libertad y el padre sobrevive en Belgrado?

Sería terrible, señor Presidente, que las madres cubanas tuvieran que repetirle a usted aquel desgarrador grito que exhaló una madre, cuando vio cómo arrastraban a su hija para que sirviera de esclava al cruel jefe enemigo. El lamento estremece más aún porque sus pliegues parecen ajustarse asombrosamente al cuerpo de la tragedia actual. “¿Ay, de mí! El destino me obliga a obedecer a un hombre abominable y pérfido, enemigo de la justicia, asesino que desprecia las leyes y todo lo trastoca y tuerce con su engañosa lengua, para hacernos odiar a todo lo que aprendimos a amar. ¡Llorad por mí, pues ya yo me doy por muerta!”.

Así, arañando las murallas de su destruida Troya, su ciudad natal, gemía hace más de dos mil años, la desvalida Hécuba. Su grito nos muestra lo que le ocurre a los que tienen la fatalidad o la debilidad de caer bajo el poder de un “hombre abominable” que “desprecia las leyes'' y “todo lo tuerce con su engañosa lengua”. El deber consiste en liberar a los que caen bajo su poder, no en devolverle los niños que se hayan escapado de él.
Caption: Foto color: El niño Elián González en casa de sus familiares en La Pequeña Habana (N).

El Nuevo Herald, Sunday, January 9, 2000, Page 18-A
Por Luis Aguilar León, página 18-A

Mr. President:

I have the honor, with natural gratitude, of recalling two occasions, in Washington and Miami, when you called me aside personally, first to reminisce about classes at Georgetown University, and second to talk more extensively about Cuba. The Cuban regime had just downed three defenseless light aircraft and it appeared that Washington’s policy toward Castro would take a harder line. Your first question is engraved upon my mind: “Professor, do you think we’re acting correctly in order to topple that s.o.b?” And finally, you gave me encouragement when you shared with me the White House’s private zipcode so that I might write to you whenever I felt that something in your policy should be applauded or criticized.

I never used that privilege. If I write to you publicly today, I do so because of a delicate current affair where, unfortunately, you appear to have lent your support to one of the most mistaken decisions of this era: sending the child Elián González to Cuba. These lines are an appeal to your sense of justice, so that you might review the complexity of the situation in which the child’s future is in play.

The bureaucratic willingness to reduce the Cuban child’s situation to that of a simple legal conflict between a father in Cuba and relatives in Miami is truly erroneous. If that was all there were to it, the solution would be simple. But it just so happens that the bureaucracy wants to put rules above the law, and therefore in this case, it disregards the sacrifice of a mother and the kind of life that awaits the child in Cuba. Because regardless of how good a person Elián’s father is or is not, he lives in a totalitarian country where a single man has controlled all decisions for the last 41 years; the color of children’s school uniforms, the squalid rations given to children; and who is to be buried alive in prisons or sent to the firing squad.

According to Comandante Raúl Castro, the brother of Fidel Castro, Fidel is “the father of all Cubans, to whom we owe everything.” This is the hardline “patriarch,” the creator of poverty, a man who is feared universally in Cuba, and who, as is his custom, uses the naïvete of those who live in a democracy and have no experience with tyranny, to convince them that the law, not despotism, is on his side, and that he is opposed only by “capitalist criminals.” Observe how just a little while ago, the patriarch showed his disdain for children and the law. He lifted his finger and all schools closed immediately, with thousands of children being forced to march for three days, calling for the return of a child they didn’t know.

The father of that child lives in that totalitarian society. Spokesmen for the regime have proclaimed Elián, a six-year old child, a socialist “hero.” If the child returns to Cuba, that title will overtake his life and turn him into another soul-less zombie. Even more so than other children, Elián will be brought up and watched over so that not a single word of criticism against the socialist system will escape him; he will not be allowed to be freely interviewed by the foreign press, nor will he be permitted to mention his mother, a “traitor” to the revolution.

Mr. President, ignoring this brutal reality and sending Elián to Cuba as though Castro didn’t exist, and the links that unite parents with their children are the only things that do exist, would mean sweeping away the principles of justice and humanity that grant laws their sensibility, demolish the democratic U.S. tradition of protection for the weakest, and offer the appearance of submitting to threats from the world’s biggest tyrant.

Would anyone try to justify returning a Muslim child to the Yugoslavia of Milosevic because his mother had died trying to bring him to freedom while he had a surviving father in Belgrade?

It would be a terrible thing, Mr. President, for Cuban mothers to have to repeat to you that heartrending cry uttered by a mother when she saw her daughter being dragged away to be enslaved by a cruel enemy leader. The cry would be all the more distressing as her pleas would seem to be tailor-made for the current tragedy. “Aye, my aching heart! Fate would force me to obey an abominable and perfidious man, an enemy of justice, a murderer who disregards the law, who twists and distorts everything with his deceitful tongue, the better to make us hate all that we learned to love. Weep for me, for I am dead already!”

And so, collapsing against the walls of her destroyed birthplace, Troy, the helpless Hécuba cried out more than two thousand years ago. Her plea shows us what happens to those who have the misfortune or weakness to fall under the power of an “abominable man” who “disregards the law” and “distorts everything with his deceitful tongue.” Duty requires that we liberate those who have fallen under such a power, not return the children who have managed to escape it.
Caption: color photo: The child Elián González in the home of his relatives in Little Havana (N).