Saul Landau: Did you personally meet any of the terrorists, as you call them?
Gerardo Hernandez: No, I saw some of them. But I had no contact with them. Some of us [the five] were accused of being illegal agents. I had a false identity — Manuel Viramonte. I compiled information the other agents delivered to me, those who had maintained their own identities, like Rene Gonzalez. He kept his own name. He stole an airplane from
Landau: During the day you worked as a graphic artist?
Hernandez: I was more of an independent contractor. At least that was the [cover] story. I did a few illustrations for a newspaper, but it was just to maintain the image.
Landau: So you supervised those who had infiltrated violent groups? Explain how you did this.
Hernandez: It’s not appropriate to give too many details, right? But in the trial documents it shows we had agents with access to these [terrorist] organizations. Their function was to protect
For example, Rene joins the Brothers to the Rescue and he hears a comment from Basulto that they have a weapon ready to test on targets in the
Or, Alpha 66 is planning an expedition to fire weapons at the Cuban coast or they want to put a bomb on a plane full of tourists going from Central America to
Landau: Describe what happened the day the FBI arrested you.
Hernandez: It was a Saturday [September 12, 1998]. I was sleeping. It was about 6 a.m. I lived in a small, one-room apartment. My bed was close to the door. I remember hearing in my sleep someone trying to force open the lock. I heard a loud sound as they knocked the door down. It was a swat team. By the time I sat up in bed, I was surrounded by people with machine guns and helmets and all you would see in the movies. They arrested me, handcuffed me, and looked in my mouth. I guess they had seen a lot of James Bond movies and they thought I would have cyanide in my mouth. So, they checked to make sure that I wouldn’t poison myself. I asked them why they arrested me. They said, “You know why.” They put me in a car and took me to the office of the head of the Southern Florida FBI Bureau on
We were put in separate offices, each one of us. They sat me in an office, handcuffed me to the wall. There, they interrogated me. I had the “honor” that Hector Pesquera came to see me. He was the director of the
Then, not him specifically, but the others who took part in the interrogation, started to try all sorts of techniques. They would say to me, “You know how this business works. You know that you are an illegal official. You know what it says in the books, that
Landau: For how long?
Hernandez: 17 months. The first five were hard for the 5 of us, of course. Those with false identities didn’t have anyone to write to; nor did anyone write to us; no one to telephone. Sometimes, we were allowed phone calls. The guards would open the little window in the door, and put the phone there. “Aren’t you going to call anyone? Your family in
“No,” I would say, “I’m not going to call.”
“But why?” they’d say, to be cruel, because they knew I wasn’t Puerto Rican and wouldn’t use the phone. Those were difficult months.
Landau: Describe “the hole?”
Hernandez: It’s an area that every prison has, where they put prisoners for disciplinary, or for protective purposes if they can’t be with the rest of the population. The
Landau: Did you do something bad?
Hernandez: No, we were sent there from the beginning. They told us it was to protect us from the general population. But in my opinion, it had more to do with their attempt to get us to turn. After fear and intimidation didn’t work they thought, “Well let’s put them in solitary for a few months and see if they change their minds.”
The only thing to read was the Bible, and even for that, you had to submit a written request to the chaplain. I made the request, to have something to read, and got a bible. When they brought it to me — I don’t know if it was a coincidence or what — it had some cards inside, including the telephone numbers of the FBI. Just in case I had forgotten, right? As if, “Well, this communist guy is asking for the Bible…he must be about to turn.”
That’s how I imagine they were thinking, or scheming.