Newly-Elected New York City Council Speaker Called for Release of Convicted Cuban Spies
Newly-elected New York City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito once lobbied on behalf of five Cuban agents who were convicted of spying against the United States, the New York Post reported on Wednesday.
Gerardo Hernandez, one of the five Cubans, was also convicted of murder conspiracy for giving information regarding the flight plans of two small planes that the Cuban government shot down in 1996, causing the deaths of four individuals.
The agents, according to records, managed to infiltrate a Florida naval base and were convicted of espionage conspiracy against the United States. In a 2009 letter to the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva Mark-Viverito said the "Cuban Five" were “unjustly imprisoned in the United States for trying to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba.”
She also requested for more family visitation rights for the prisoners, the Post reported. The 2001 convictions were upheld later on appeal, and the US Supreme Court refused to review the case. Mark-Viverito's spokesman Eric Koch refused to comment to the Post on the case on Tuesday. Mark-Viverito was reportedly Mayor Bill de Blasio's favored pick for the second most powerful elected office in the city, telling reporters on Tuesday, "I think we have very similar values and goals for this city."
In a statement to Breitbart News, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R--FL), former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee responded to the Mark-Viverito's actions:
I wish that the same energy and passion that the Council Speaker dedicates to defending convicted spies from the communist regime in Cuba would instead be spent on defending the freedom hungry Cubans on the island who are daily repressed and want international solidarity for their cause of liberty. These Cuban spies were convicted in US courts where they were afforded rights that no one is Cuba is granted because there is no true impartial judicial system on the island. If the Mayor and the Council Speaker would go to Cuba and speak against the oppressive regime, they would understand just how precious are the freedoms we enjoy in our great nation.
Mark-Viverito is also known for calling for the release, via petition, of Oscar Lopez Rivera, the imprisoned leader of the Puerto Rican terrorist organization, the FALN (the Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of National Liberation), in 2010. Bombing in cities like New York and Chicago in the 1970's and 1980's, the Puerto Rican terror organization demanded independence for Puerto Rico from the United States. Sixteen members of the FALN and Los Machateros were convicted in Chicago and Hartford of bank robbery, possession of explosives, and participating in a seditious conspiracy. The FBI links the two groups to over 130 bombings, numerous armed robberies, six murders, and many violent injuries.
Joe Connor, whose father Frank was killed by a 1975 FALN bomb blast in New York City, is appalled that New York's new City Council speaker circulated a petition that called for the release of the the FALN leader. In a statement to Breitbart News Connor said:
Lopez - Rivera, who I faced at his 2011 federal parole hearing ensuring parole was denied, was the leader of the Puerto Rican terrorist group, FALN who waged a war of over 130 bombings against New York City and the US. Lopez's FALN claimed the murder of my father Frank Connor among others at the horrendous lunch time bombing of Fraunces Tavern in 1975.
Mark - Viverito's benefactor, Lopez refused to renounce violence and was so dedicated to his murderous, terrorist comrades and cause that he incredibly turned down the infamous politically craven 1999 Clinton clemencies to the FALN, choosing to remain in prison over freedom.
Has New York City morally decayed so much that we would elect terror advocate Mark-Viverito to such a powerful position?
I hope not. All New Yorkers, especially terror victims deserve far better. My father would not even recognize what we have become.
The Los Angeles Times reported in 2009 that Attorney General Eric Holder told his subordinates on various occasions during his tenure at the Justice Department under Janet Reno to drop their opposition to the FALN in a 1999 clemency grant. In a controversial decision, President Bill Clinton commuted the terms of the Puerto Rican terrorists instead.