Ana Belen Montes: A Case of Conscience

Elio Delgado Legon

Ana Belen Montes did not act on the basis of financial, political or ideological interests. She did what she did because her conscience dictated that she was doing something morally justified, and that the immoral, the wrong thing, were the plans of aggression against Cuba.

HAVANA TIMES — Throughout history, there have been many cases of people who have taken a correct moral and ethical stance, opposing the immorality and ethically reprehensible actions of certain governments, and have been considered traitors or accused of being spies or unpatriotic persons.

Different US citizens who endured prison for opposing their country’s wars of aggression, chiefly the Vietnam War, come to mind.

More recently, we have the case of Edward Snowden, who, for similar reasons, divulged how the US National Security Agency spied on the leaders of other countries and is forced to live in exile, as he would otherwise have to face extremely serious charges. He is another conscientious objector and he has even been proposed as a Nobel Peace Prize candidate.

I see similarities in the case of Ana Belen Montes. She was a Pentagon intelligence analyst who, opposed to the plans of aggression against Cuba being developed, felt morally obliged to alert the Cuban government of said plans. Her actions were uncovered and she was accused of high treason, a crime punishable by death. She was forced to negotiate with the prosecution and to plead guilty to espionage on behalf of Cuba. In 2002, she was sentenced to 25 years in prison, a sentence she has been serving under the most difficult conditions one could imagine (something I will describe more in depth in my next post).

Like the people I mentioned earlier, Ana Belen Montes did not act on the basis of financial, political or ideological interests. She did what she did because her conscience dictated that she was doing something morally justified, and that the immoral, the wrong thing, were the plans of aggression against Cuba.

Her motivations and sense of ethics are clearly revealed by her statements during her trial:

“Your honor, I engaged in the activity that brought me before you because I obeyed my conscience rather than the law. I believe our government’s policy towards Cuba is cruel and unfair, profoundly unneighborly, and I felt morally obligated to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values and our political system on it.

“We have displayed intolerance and contempt towards Cuba for most of the last four decades. We have never respected Cuba’s right to make its own journey towards its own ideals of equality and justice. I do not understand why we must continue to dictate how the Cubans should select their leaders, who their leaders cannot be, and what laws are appropriate in their land. Why can’t we let Cuba pursue its own internal journey, as the United States has been doing for over two centuries?

“My greatest desire is to see amicable relations emerge between the United States and Cuba. I hope my case in some way will encourage our government to abandon its hostility towards Cuba and to work with Havana in a spirit of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding.

“Today we see more clearly than ever that intolerance and hatred –by individuals or governments –spread only pain and suffering. I hope for a U.S. policy that is based instead on neighborly love, a policy that recognizes that Cuba, like any nation, wants to be treated with dignity and not with contempt.

“Such a policy would bring our government back in harmony with the compassion and generosity of the American people. It would allow Cubans and Americans to learn from and share with each other. It would enable Cuba to drop its defensive measures and experiment more easily with changes. And it would permit the two neighbors to work together and with other nations to promote tolerance and cooperation in our one ‘world-country,’ in our only ‘world-homeland’”

A person who expresses such feelings, and faces the dangers faced by Ana Belen, for doing something they consider ethically and morally correct, does not deserve to be in prison – they deserve to be decorated by all free countries in the world and advanced as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

30 thoughts on “Ana Belen Montes: A Case of Conscience

  • You don’t know that that was a false flag op alla operation Northwoods Griffi ? Why do you think all accounts of that cold-war hi-jink is erased from public history ? The Cuba haters never hesitate to accuse the Cuban government of any and all sort of insidious behavior, true or not. What would Cuba have to gain from a terrorist act ? Why did they never try again ? You might want to read “Red Heat”.

  • You wrote that Dulles & Nixon backed Batista’s coup, which happened in 1952, a year before Nixon and Dulles were in office.

    If you have some evidence, please present it. Repeating the same thing in ALL CAPS does not improve your arguments.

  • Nearly all societies have their heroines. Mine include Harriet Tubman, who led slaves to freedom along the underground railroad, Madame CJ Walker, who, born of slaves and orphaned at 7 years old, went on to become the first black woman millionaire and Fannie Lou Hamer, the famous civil rights activists. By no means diminishing the importance of the work that the three Cuban women, who made brilliant contributions for the three years of the Castro revolution, all of these women struggled their entire lives against overt racism and oppression. To call these three Cubans the greatest female guerrilla fighters ever is probably an exaggeration.

  • Not exactly. I know enough about Celia to known she would be happy today about her main mission in life, which was to make and keep Cuba a soverelgn nation. She would be sad about what you and others so gutlessly take so much pleasue in, such as “building collapses” on the island that seem to vicariously give you so much joy. Such attitudes, as well as Cubana Flight 455, the embargo, etc., keep reminding me how right she was and how proud she would be of her revolution. Of course, the Castro Cottage Industry in the U. S. can’t make money or power-grabs vilifying her, right, Moses? Is that why you try to demean or dismiss her? At one point Batista and Lansky also made fun of her, but they didnt hang around to fight her or the rebel unit led by Tete Puebla, who today is a general. The BBC featured her in the recent ducumentary it did on Celia. But, of course, in the U. S. no one should know about why Celia, Haydee Santamaria, and Tete were perhaps history’s three greatest female guerrilla fighters. On your next trip to Cuba, ask General Puebla what motivated her. I did and I suggested to Linda Presley, the BBC producer who called me from London before flying to Cuba, to be sure to interview Tete, which she did, because Tete fought with Celia and stayed in close contact with her the rest of Celia’s life. NOW I’m happy, unless you sanctimoniously claim, for example, there was never a famed teenage guerrilla fighter named Tete Puebla who is now a general in the Cuba army.

  • If what you say is true, that Sra. Sánchez was pro-democracy, then she wasn’t as good at convincing Fidel as you suggests. Indeed, he may have deferred to her decision-making on the lesser matters of state but history has solidly recorded his personal decisions regarding the major issues. Nonetheless, if you are on a mission to see to it that she gets the credit she deserves for the Cuba that exists today, go for it. Every time a building collapses or a Cuban dies at sea, I’ll think of Celia. Happy now?

  • The first time I ever saw the term “Batistianos” was in 2004 when I was in Cuba, courtesy of the George W. Bush administration, to research Celia Sanchez, the most important anti-Batista rebel as the prime recruiter of resources and rebels to fight the revolution. She was also a prime guerrilla fighter and military decision-maker during the war and then, beginning Jan. 1-1959, the top decision-maker on the island, with the full concurrence of Fidel Castro till the day she died at age 59 of cancer on Jan. 11-1980.

    I know, Moses, that the lucrative vilification of Fidel by the powerful Castro Cottage Industry in the U. S. since 1959 conveniently dismisses the 99-pound doctor’s daughter as a factor in the Cuban Revolution and Revolutionary Cuba, but in fact she was the key factor. Roberto Salas, the great photographer who, like his father, worked closely with both Fidel and Celia, wrote these words in his excellent book: “Celia made all the decisions for Cuba, the big ones and the small ones. When she died in 1980, we knew no one could ever replace her.” The most insightful authors/historians regarding the revolution — from Cuban-insiders such as Carlos Franqui, Pedro AlvarezTabio, Marta Rojas and Roberto Salas to America’s seminal Castro biographer Georgie Ann Geyer — all agree, as Geyer stated, that Celia “over-ruled” Fidel wherever and whenever she chose, and she did so frequently.

    The second most dynamic female revolutionary, right ahead of Vilma Espin, was Haydee Santamaria. In 2004 it was at Haydee’s well-known literary annex in Havana that I discovered many hand-written notes by and to Celia, especially her correspondence with Haydee and Fidel. The great author and Cuban expert Julia Sweig, in her superb book, published many of those notes verbatim. It was in several of those notes that I first saw Celia use the term “Batistianos” at least four times. During the war she was referencing the “life and death” need to beat the “Batistianos.” After the war she referenced the “life and death” need to keep the “Batistianos in Miami” from recapturing Cuba. Yes, Moses, she was a more successful revolutionary than Jose Marti and a more important revolutionary than Fidel Castro. I may be a bit old-fashioned but I believe the U. S. democracy should be strong enough to register that fact.

    This {I believe, Moses} was the second time you suggested I made up the term “Batistiano.” I am not that smart nor that motivated. Celia Sanchez was. It is also apparent to me why the Castro Cottage Industry prefers, with its almost iron-grip on the Cuban narrative in the U. S., to pretend Celia Sanchez didn’t exist. To this day, in fact, Celia Sanchez fuels my passion for Cuba because, as a democracy lover, researching her since the 1980s has convinced me that the Cuban Revolution and Revolutionary Cuba say far more about the U. S. than they say about Cuba. For example, as a lifelong conservative Republican, I was convinced by my Celia Sanchez research that right-wing Republicans aligned with Batistianos have, since the 1950s, formed an alliance that is viciously anti-democratic — as indicated by teaming with the Mafia to support Batista in 1952 and by such things as the terrorist bombing of the child-laden Cubana Flight 455 in 1976. If, Moses, you can convince me that teaming with the Mafia in Cuba from 1952 till 1959 or the bombing of Cubana Flight 455 in 1976 {etc.} were pro-democracy acts, I promise that I too will become an advocate for the Castro Cottage Industry in the U. S.

    And I invite you, Circles himself, or anyone else to refute the above-stated facts.

  • Batista’s “support” in Cuba was from other thugs and crooks. THE DULLES BROTHERS WERE VERY INVOLVED IN THE UPPER ECHELONS OF THE RIGHT-WING REPuBLICANS before IKE put them in charge of the State Department and CIA. They were closely tied to the infamous United Fruit thefts in Cuba, for example. Maybe lt’s you who is “sketchy” about Cuba and my political beliefs. The coups that started in 1953, for example, involved the Dulles Brothers and other right-wing thugs like VP Nixon who had United Fruit connections. Sanitizing that is also “sketchy” and, in my opinion, undemocratic.

  • It’s because Elio, like so many Castro sycophants, has not had an original thought in 50 years. Instead, he simply regurgitates Castro-speak. At least Fidel was charismatic. His clones lack his style. Hence the mega rants!

  • Who says Cuba is not a threat to the USA? Here’s what the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said in a report to Congress this week:

    “Moving to counterintelligence, the threat from foreign intelligence entities, both state and nonstate, is persistent, complex, and evolving. Targeting and collection of US political, military, economic, and technical information by foreign intelligence services continues unabated. Russia and China pose the greatest threat, followed by Iran and Cuba on a lesser scale.”

  • A thoughtful comment, Doug.

    There’s no argument, the US hegemony over Cuba for the first half of the 20th century built up a great deal of resentment among the Cuban people. The Americans gave independence (from Spain) and replaced it with semi-dependence on USA. This brought significant increase in prosperity, but one third of the population remained in bitter poverty. Political corruption, an essential characteristic of Spanish rule, persisted during the Republican era. That’s a breeding ground for revolution, although the fight against Batista was not a socialist class revolution.

    The rebels were largely drawn form middle class liberals, including Fidel & Raul, and even Che. The Communist lead unions initially supported Batista and only joined Fidel during the last few months of 1958. The Cuban Revolution only began AFTER Batista was defeated and Fidel seized power. It was at that point that Castro invited, secretly at first, the Communist Party to join him. It was at that point that Fidel began to inject Marxism into the ideology of the revolution he was leading. Eventually he would align his movement with the USSR and declare the socialist character of his revolution. A few years later he would admit it was his intentional along to impose a Marxist-Leninist system on Cuba, but that he knew that Cuba was not ready for it. He made it happen.

    Fidel Castro is a textbook case of narcissistic personality disorder. He never could abide any criticism. He was driven to hold all power. He demanded adoration from those around him. Anyone who did not adore him, was automatically an enemy. His deep hostility toward the US was an expression of his narcissistic personality, which demanded an eternal enemy. As it happened, the US readily filled the role of villain.

    It is far too late for the Castro’s to retrieve their legacy from the rubbish heap of history. They will not change and the policy Raul is following now is to ensure the family is taken care of after he & his older brother have died.

    Americans are smart, but they lack attention span and focus. The scramble for business in Cuba which has followed Obama’s normalization policy will stop at nothing to make a buck.

    Their have been many bitter pills for the Cuban people to swallow over the past 6 decades, but the worst is yet to come: after raging against Yanqui imperialists for 57 years, the Castro regime will now be the ones to finally sell them out to US corporations.

    So roll that in your cigar and smoke it, Fidel.

  • You mention Fidel and his drive to get the US pissed, I think Elio does an even better job with HT Times site. There are people I thought were dead who are writing trilogies throwing mega rants at Elio!

  • IC, we had a prayer for the dead at our dinner table last week since you’ve been gone for a while. Glad you’re alive. Now the only card left is for John Goodrich.

  • Your “disappointment” with Fidel makes my point. His ego prevented him from accepting criticism. Cuban pride is stronger than you think.

  • On November 17, 1962, the FBI arrested several Cuban agents for their involvement in a plot to bomb Macy’s, Penn Station and 3 other locations in Manhattan. The bombs were planned to explode on the day after Thanksgiving, the busiest shopping day in the US. Thousands of innocent civilians would have been murdered, had the plot not been foiled.

    So yes indeed, Cuba was and is a threat to the US pubic and nation.

  • Rich, I have to call bullshit on your claim to be a “life-long conservative Republican”. You admire leftists like Bernie & Sen. Warren, who are anathema to any conception of conservativism.

    Ana Belen was working for the Cuba Intelligence agency since the was in college. She deliberately trained and infiltrated the Defence Intelligence Agency to spy for Castro.

    Rich, your grasp of history is sketchy, at best.

    Batista seized power in a coup in the March 10, 1952. At that time John Dulles was not in any government position, having lost an election to the Senate in 1950. It would be until January, 1953 that the newly elected President Eisenhower appointed Dulles as his Secretary of State. Alan Dulles was also appointed by Ike in 1953 to head the CIA. Nixon was sworn in as Vice-President in January, 1953.

    Therefore, it is impossible that the Dulles bros & Nixon put Batista into power in Cuba. The mafia was already active in Cuba since the 1940’s. Batista had plenty of supporters in Cuba, having been elected president in 1940, and as a Cuban senator in 1948.

  • Elio, you got the headline wrong. Ana Belen Motes is a case of No Conscience. She’s a sociopath and a traitor. She deserves to spend the rest of her useless life in prison.

  • I absolutely grant that Fidel does not have a modest ego. The exact role that it has played in US/Cuban relations is not something I could speculate about with confidence. I’m not a Leftist, or not in the sense Leftists would acknowledge, but if I were, I think my observations of how the US regarded any socially-radical revolution abroad, whether Communist or not, would have inclined me towards hostility to the US. (The old did-he-jump-or-was-he-pushed debate.)

    Fortunately, this era seems to be fading into the past.

    My own ‘disappointment’ with him is related to his apparent inability to tolerate open criticism of the system he created. It’s probably too late now, but if he could have announced that Cuba was relaxing its controls over dissidents he would go into history as the statesman of the age. Perhaps Raul will claim this title.

    And if the Americans are smart, they will do everything they can not to damage Cuban national pride.

  • This goes far beyond the Cuba issue. U.S. Intelegence agencies believe that the Cuban Intelligence Service has penetrated the United States government to the same extent that the old East German intelligence service, the Stasi, once penetrated the West German government during the Cold War. And this is a grave concern because Cubas intelligence service shares its stolen secrets with U.S. adversaries, including China, Russia, And Iran, amoung others.

    If Cuban agents among us today are indirectly passing secrets, via their Cuban handlers, to countries who actively work to undermine American interests throughout the world, then the U.S. Will suffer for it. This is not a game about your make believe Batistanos, whatever the hell that means.

  • Who are the Batistianos? I have never met anyone self-identified or otherwise as such. Ana Belen is a traitor. She is fortunate that she was given a life sentence and not the death penalty.

  • I mostly agree with your comments. Where I disagree is causality. At the risk of sounding juvenile, Fidel started it. He is not stupid. Agreed. But, because of his ego, he has done very stupid things. I also believe that he has engaged in espionage against the US not only out of a spirit of self defense but also because he could. He gets off knowing he can get away with it. I know that these comments sound like wild rants. But in all that I have read and heard from people who have been around Fidel, a consistent theme as to what drives him is getting his digs in on the US. It must suck for him to be alive to witness how Cuba is being forced to suck up to the US now.

  • Fidel Castro may be many things, but he is not stupid.

    When the US sponsored an invasion of Cuba, he didn’t reply in kind. When it tried to assassinate him, he didn’t reply in kind. When it set fire to Cuban sugar cane fields, he didn’t send agents to set fire to our national forests. When it blew up the ship carrying Belgian arms in Havana harbor, he didn’t send anyone to put bombs on its counterparts in American harbors. When it sent in teams of guerilla fighters, he didn’t reply in kind. Not because he was a Quaker, but because

    Accepting Soviet missiles in Cuba turned out to be a bad move — perhaps Castro was emulating Turkey’s acceptance of American missiles.

    If the United States did not threaten Cuba, it would be suicidal for such a tiny nation, with few technical resources compared to those of the NSA and CIA, to attempt to discover American secrets so that they could sell them to America’s enemies.

    It’s clear (to me anyway) that Cuban spying in the US was motivated by the same thing that would motivate any nation facing a powerful, implacable, cruel enemy: to try to find out the time of the next hotel or airline bomb.

    Of course, here I’m over-simplifying, because we have to distinguish between ‘official’ American hostility, and that of the bloodthirsty Miami Mafia, who lionize men who place bombs on civilian airliners. (Although the latter has driven much of the former — had the exiles fled to, say, Mexico, the Americans would have had a sensible policy towards Cuba decades ago.) — is then used to excuse now-unnecessary restrictions on liberty of the Cuban people.

    Furthermore, if I am correct, then a lessening of overt American hostility means that a rational response on the part of the Cuban leadership would be to scale down any espionage activities to the level that every state engages in against every other.

    In short: if you want to keep Cuba locked-down, keep up the threats.

    And in any case the Cuban government should do the right thing and let all of its non-violent political prisoners go — perhaps in exchange for Ana Montes and Kendall Myers. — and stop jailing, even for brief periods, people who peacefully demonstrate. (That latter might be an act of cruelty however — if their demonstrations were just ignored, how long would it be before their money from the American embassy was cut off?)

  • An. excellent analysis, Curt9954′

  • Ana did a great deal of harm, especially since some of her duties went beyond simply Cuba, and much of what Cuban intelegence gathers is given (sold?) to the Russians and Chinese.

    Let’s see what Ana’s sister Lucy has to say about her actions in a letter that was provided to the Washinghton Post: ……Lucy began by invoking their beloved mother, Emilia. “You should know you ruined Mom’s life. Every morning she wakes up devastated by what you did and where you are,” Lucy wrote. It’s not enough, Lucy added, that Mom “was married to a violent man for 16 years and raised four children by herself. No, you had to ruin her final years when she should be living in peace and contentment.”
    Then she turned to the rest of Ana’s inner circle. “You betrayed your family, you betrayed all your friends. Everyone who loves you was betrayed by you,” Lucy wrote. “You betrayed your co-workers and your employer, and you betrayed your nation. You worked for an evil megalomaniac who shares or sells our secrets to our enemies.”
    Finally, Lucy tore down Ana’s tired rationalizations. “Why did you really do what you did? Because it made you feel powerful. Yes, Ana, you wanted to feel powerful. You’re no altruist, it wasn’t the ‘greater good’ you were concerned for, it was yourself. You needed power over other people,” Lucy concluded. “You are a coward.”

  • A brave, brilliant, and topical article and the fair-minded Havana is to be congratulated for publishing it. Ana Belen Montes, an insider as the top U. S. government operative regarding what the Batistiano-dictated U. S. Cuban policy was doing to Cuba and to the U. S. democracy, did not go about her disapproval in the best way possible. But her heart was in the right place, just as her amazing statement at her trail indicated. She did what she did out of her respect for decency, not money. Those who created the Cuban policy that she railed against have acted out of greed, revenge, and the thirst for power. Some of them today are billionaires and contributing hugely to Republican right-wing Super Pacs in the dire hope of overturning positive overtures President Obama has made regarding Cuba, a policy that the smart Hillary Clinton is campaigning on. I’m a lifelong conservative Republican who looked first to Elizabeth Warren to fight off the right-wing Republicans like Bush, Cruz and Rubio. But Senator Warren doesn’t want to deal with a money-crazed presidential campaign. That leaves only Clinton and Sanders. It is amazing to me that young Americans…as opposed to their elders since World War II…seem to also be railing against greedy right-wing thugs, the types — Nixon, the Dulles Brothers, etc. — that put Batista and the Mafia in Cuba in 1952 and the types that desire a return of the Batistianos to the island they view as a piggy-bank or punching bag, unmindful of the image it casts worldwide on the United States and on democracy. Ana Belen Montes gave up her lush life to oppose a Cuban policy that she believed shamed her government that had made her its top Cuban expert. She used that expertise in an extreme way trying to stop it. But I’m waiting for Moses to tell us how and why the unconscionable Batistianos since 1952 in Cuba and since 1959 in the U. S. are more decent human beings than Ana Belen Montes. I believe his rhetoric will be applauded by the choir, but not democracy lovers.

  • You are being naïve. The Castros have been behind some of the most successful and most intrusive security breaches in the US security apparatus. I am not talking about 40 year-old Cold War spy vs.spy conflicts. I am referring to recent, as in the last 10 years, breaches in Dept. of Defense, State Department, and Wall Street security. Fidel is well-known for his spycraft skills. His legacy in Cuba for years to come will not only include crumbling infrastructure and corrupt government officials, but also a well-trained spy network in the US.

  • Moses, you are talking ancient history. Cuba never has or ever will be a threat to the U.S. For every atrocity committed by Cuba against the U.S, at least 50 have been committed by the U.S against Cuba. Ana Belen Montes thought she was doing the right thing in her conscience. Although what she did was illegal. I applaud her for doing what she believed in.

  • Doug, there are many ways to measure risks to national security. Cuba has been hellbent since Fidel initially pulled down his pants and bent over for Krushchev during the missile crisis on stealing military and corporate secrets to sell to our enemies. There are no innocents in this relationship.

  • I am proud of this Boricua!

  • Well … this would be true if Mr Trujillo believed that the United States was the victim of Cuban aggression — for instance, that Cuba was hosting people who put bombs in American hotels and on American airlines. If he did believe that, he should have been released long ago on psychiatric grounds.

  • Given Elio’s logic, he should also applaud the equally heroic efforts made by the Cuban-born spy, identified as Rolando Sarraff Trujillo who was released by the Castro dictatorship in exchange for the remaining 3 Cuban spies. He had been imprisoned for espionage for 20 years. President Obama called him the most important human asset the US has had in a communist country. His information led to the capture of the Wasp network which ultimately led to the imprisonment of the Cuban 5. He is also given credit for the discovery of Ana Belen. A true hero.

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