Living Off Others / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 26 June 2015 — The five spies, transformed by decree into “heroes,” have proved quite expensive, both to the Cuban people and the American taxpayers.

First, it cost to train, relocate, and “plant” them” in the United States to carry out their espionage work. Second, it cost to discover, prosecute, and sentence them to prison terms. At this stage it also cost to pay the lawyers who defended them.

Their years in prison cost the American taxpayer, who had to pay for accommodation, food, medical care, clothing, bedding, toiletries, internet use, etc., and cost the Cuban people, who paid for multiple trips by their family members, including their clothing, shoes, hair care, and other details, so they would look good abroad and before the media, going and coming. Add to this the costs of the national and international campaign “demanding” their release, rebranding them as “counterterrorists,” plus fees for lawyers who continued pursuing their cases for years.

When they were released by agreement between the governments of both countries, it seemed we could at last take a rest from them, but it was not to be: they have maintained their presence at every kind of event—political, cultural, educational, scientific—as well as sending them on “tours” around the world, as if they were a musical group. I would say that they are “in the soup,” to use a phrase from the past, except this dish has now disappeared from Cuban tables for lack of meat.

After touring several countries in Latin America, they began a 21 day “African tour” that will run until July 8. I don’t remember any veterans of the “the foreign wars” in Africa (and there were many) making this kind of “tour,” still less that they received this kind of special treatment. Although they say that “the tour” is in response to invitations, we all know they don’t include expenses, which, as always, will be paid by the Cuban people.

The large amount of financial resources spent on “The Five” would have been far better spent on repairing schools, hospitals, roads and sidewalks, and building houses.

As publicized so far, we know that one of the five holds the position of vice president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). Another has been recycled as a poet and painter, and a third as a cartoonist, both pretty bad indeed. What the other two are up to is unknown. On the whole, except for one, they don’t seem to be working.

It would be reasonable, given the time elapsed, if they decided to stop living off others and the public purse and began working for real. Given the proliferation of musical groups in the country, and considering that they are already members of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, they could become a quintet, in the style of Los Cinco Latinos, Los 5U4, The Formula, or The Jackson Five. They already have a stage name: Los Cinco or The Five, whichever they prefer.