Workers Vanguard No. 940
31 July 2009
Hands Off Walter Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers!
On June 4, Walter Kendall Myers, a retired State Department analyst, and his wife, Gwendolyn Myers, were arrested on charges of acting as illegal agents of the Cuban government and passing secret information to the Cuban Intelligence Service for three decades. They are also charged with wire fraud—based on the government’s claim that Kendall Myers collected his salary from the State Department without telling the government he was a Cuban agent and then wired the money to a joint account at the bank where his wife worked. The couple pleaded not guilty at their June 5 arraignment and are being held without bail. If convicted, the Myerses, both in their seventies, face a maximum sentence of 35 years—a virtual death sentence.
Kendall Myers, a great grandson of Alexander Graham Bell, started working for the State Department in 1977 as a contract instructor and rose to the position of senior analyst with top-secret security clearance, specializing in European affairs. According to the criminal complaint, they were recruited by Cuban intelligence months after a 1978 trip to Cuba. Kendall’s diary of that trip, seized by the Feds, notes his growing bitterness over the lack of decent medical care, oil company greed and indifference to poverty in the U.S., in contrast to Cuba where “the revolution has released enormous potential and liberated the Cuban spirit.”
Cuban leader Fidel Castro described the charges against the Myerses as an “espionage comic strip.” Indeed, much of the government’s story does seem to be lifted from the pages of Mad magazine, not least the seeming naiveté of this couple whom the Feds portray as seasoned spies. The government claims that the Myerses communicated with their Cuban handlers in encrypted Morse code messages via shortwave radio, and later by encrypted e-mails from Internet cafes. Supposedly, they passed information through shopping cart exchanges in grocery stores and had personal meetings with Cuban contacts in Mexico, Jamaica, Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina. The Feds allege that in the two years leading up to his retirement in 2007, Myers examined some 200 intelligence reports dealing with Cuba, many classified or top-secret. Without any sense of irony, intelligence experts breathed a sigh of relief that Kendall Myers lacked information that would jeopardize the U.S. network of spies in Cuba.
As the government’s story goes, on April 15, an FBI undercover agent posing as a Cuban official approached Myers outside the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in D.C. where Kendall Myers taught, wished him a happy birthday, offered him a cigar and in a short conversation easily coaxed him and his wife out of two-year spy retirement. The bulk of the government’s charges are based on this and two other meetings later that month, in which the Myerses are alleged to have nostalgically waxed on with details of their three decades of passing information to Cuban intelligence. The elderly couple also advised they had no wish to resume their activities on a regular basis, and told of their plans to “sail home” to Cuba to live out their days. The Myerses warmly recalled meeting with Castro in 1995 and proudly boasted they had received numerous medals from the Cuban government.
Though having no recall of meeting the couple, Castro stated, “Those who in one form or another have helped to protect the Cuban people from the terrorist plans and assassination plots organized by various U.S. administrations have done so at the initiative of their own conscience and are deserving, in my judgment, of all the honors in the world.” Indeed, assisting the defense of the Cuban deformed workers state from the most dangerous imperialist power in the world is laudable.
Also in June, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the Cuban Five, who have been incarcerated for over ten years. Three Cuban citizens and two U.S. citizens who infiltrated and monitored violent anti-Communist exile groups in Florida in order to stop terrorist attacks against Cuba, these men were arrested in 1998 under the Clinton administration on bogus charges of conspiracy to commit espionage and murder, as well as lesser charges like failing to register as agents of a foreign power. After being tried in Miami, a den of counterrevolutionary gusano (worm) activities, Gerardo Hernández was sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years; Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino to life plus ten and 18 years, respectively; Fernando González to 19 years; and René González to 15 years.
In 2005, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta threw out the 2001 convictions and ordered a new trial in a new venue because of the “pervasive community prejudice” in Miami. The trial was engulfed in anti-Communist hysteria and intimidation of anyone not toeing the gusano line on Cuba. During jury selection, potential jurors asked to be excused, fearing the consequences of rendering an “unsatisfactory” verdict. The atmosphere was so inflamed that the jury even convicted Hernández of conspiracy murder charges that the prosecution itself had already concluded would be an “insurmountable hurdle” to prove! After a government appeal, the full Eleventh Circuit Court reinstated the convictions in August 2006, which the Supreme Court has now refused to review. Free the Cuban Five! Drop the charges against Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers!
The elimination of capitalist class rule in Cuba in 1960-61 led to enormous gains for working people, despite the rule of a bureaucratic nationalist caste. The centralized planned economy guarantees everyone a job, housing, food and education. Cubans now enjoy one of the highest literacy rates in the world. The revolution especially benefited women: domination of the Catholic church was broken, and abortion is a free health service. Despite the crippling effects of the U.S. blockade, the free health care system is still far and away the best in economically underdeveloped countries. Infant mortality is lower than in parts of the “First World,” and Cuba has more doctors and teachers per capita than just about anywhere in the world. As revolutionary Marxists, we stand for the unconditional military defense of the Cuban deformed workers state against imperialism and capitalist counterrevolution, while calling for workers political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracy and establish a regime based on workers democracy and revolutionary internationalism.
For nearly 50 years, the U.S. ruling class has worked relentlessly to overthrow the Cuban Revolution and re-establish the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie—from the 1961 Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) invasion to repeated attempts to assassinate Castro; from funding counterrevolutionary terrorists in Miami to the ongoing economic embargo. Not surprisingly, the Myerses’ arrest has given fuel to the most vile anti-Communist reactionaries and neo-McCarthyite witchhunters. Chris Simmons, a former U.S. counterintelligence official and founder of the Cuban Intelligence Research Center, declared, “Cuba is an intelligence trafficker. It steals U.S. secrets and it sells or barters them on the open market to anyone that has something to trade, to offer” (CNN interview, 8 June).
This is no idle rant. In 2002, as Washington was gearing up for its invasion of Iraq with the lie of “weapons of mass destruction,” the government peddled lies that Cuba was developing biological weapons and transferring the technology to other “rogue” states. Cuba remains on the State Department’s list of “state sponsors of terrorism.” At the same time, there are elements within the U.S. bourgeoisie who look to ease the economic embargo in order to increase U.S. imperialist economic penetration and strengthen the forces of counterrevolution within Cuba.
Ronald Radosh—who has made a career in justifying the Cold War frame-up of the courageous Rosenbergs and depicting all members of the Communist Party as potential spies—has seized on the Myerses’ arrest to reinvigorate his depiction of leftists as the treasonous “enemy within.” Radosh is a contributing columnist to FrontPage Magazine, mouthpiece of right-wing racist demagogue David Horowitz, who has been on a years-long campaign to purge left-leaning professors from college campuses. According to Radosh, “Why should it be so surprising to find that Cuban intelligence seeks its agents at our universities?... Read their regular publication and you will not be surprised that Cuban intelligence sees scholars with this point of view as good picking for their agents. After all, they are merely repeating the pattern used by the KGB through the years . Soviet intelligence used the American Communist Party and its offshoots as a recruiting ground, since its members already were committed to Communist ideology and the Soviet motherland. The people Cuban intelligence look at are the modern counterparts—people who show in their own writing where their true allegiance lies.”
The demented rantings of Radosh illustrate that all opponents of the depredations of U.S. imperialism have a stake in the defense of Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers as well as of the Cuban Five. Defend Cuba! Down with the embargo! U.S. out of Guantánamo Bay now!