Governor Jeb Bush is about to choose a Florida State Supreme Court judge. There are five finalists and his deadline is August 12. Since there is no Hispanic on the Court, most people expect Jeb Bush will want to name a Hispanic. There is only one Hispanic among the finalists. That one Hispanic is of course a Cuban- American. He is Raoul Cantero III, a corporate lawyer for a Miami firm, Adorno & Yoss–the only one of the five who is not a judge.
Governor Jeb Bush might consider it more important for a Supreme Court judge to have Cantero’s experience working for Hank Adorno, who had a long association with the family businesses of Jorge Mas Canosa and his son Jorge Mas Santos, late chair and current chair, respectively, of the Cuban American National Foundation, the wealthiest and most influential right-wing Cuban-American organization.
Is Raoul Cantero ready to enforce the law even against Cuban- American terrorists? This is a matter of major importance because terrorism against Cuba is one of the issues that confronts the Florida court system with astonishing regularity. The U.S. Neutrality Act forbids launching military expeditions from U.S. territory against any nation with which the United States is at peace. Nevertheless, in Florida, the prevailing jurisprudence is that it’s o.k. to commit terrorist acts against Cuba. In Florida courts, those who carry out armed attacks against Cuba are treated as freedom fighters. Contrariwise, anyone tried for attempting to find out about those plans and warn Cuba about them is quite likely to end up in prison, as have five Cubans recently sentenced to long prison terms, including life behind bars.
Now that White House Resident George Bush is supposedly waging a War on Terror, one might think that brother Jeb would not want to select anyone with a record that suggests approval of terrorism.
This one Hispanic on the final list for Florida’s Supreme Court just happens to be the grandson of former Cuban dictator, General Fulgencio Batista. And his father served under Batista as an intelligence officer in the Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities or BRAC, notorious for torture and assassination. Of course it would not be fair to assume that Raoul Cantero shares the politics of his father and his grandfather Batista. But his own record indicates that he is continuing the family tradition of favoring terrorism against the Cuban people.
Back in 1989 Orlando Bosch, one of the two most notorious Cuban-American terrorists (the other is Luis Posada), was in prison in Florida. He had returned from Venezuela and was being held on a parole violation. The United States Justice Department ruled that Bosch should be deported because of his terrorist activities. The deportation order cited FBI and CIA reports that Bosch “has repeatedly expressed and demonstrated a willingness to cause indiscriminate injury and death,” including 30 acts of sabotage in the United States, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Panama from 1961 through 1968. In the worst charge against Bosch, 73 people were killed when a bomb blew up a Cuban passenger jet. Acting Associate Attorney General Joe Whitley wrote in his decision to deport Bosch:
“The October 6, 1976, Cuban airline bombing was a CORU operation under the direction of Bosch. CORU is the name of Bosch’s terrorist outfit.” That bombing marked the first time that a civilian passenger jet was turned into a weapon of terrorism.
Interestingly, it occurred in 1976 when George Bush the elder was head of the CIA; Orlando Bosch had been and maybe still was an agent of the CIA.
By 1989 George Bush the elder had become president. A campaign was launched to get his administration to reverse the Justice Department’s decision to deport Bosch. That campaign was successful and Bosch walks free today in Miami. Among the leaders of that effort to turn the convicted terrorist into a hero were Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was running for Congress, and her campaign manager, Jeb Bush, son of the president. A primary spokesman for Orlando Bosch was one of his lawyers, the same Raoul Cantero now being considered for the Florida Supreme Court by Jeb Bush.
Contrary to the Justice Department’s statement that Bosch had “repeatedly expressed and demonstrated a willingness to cause indiscriminate injury and death,” Cantero told the media in 1989 that Bosch had never engaged in indiscriminate violence. Evidently Cantero considered blowing up civilians some kind of discriminating violence. According to Cantero, Bosch was conducting “a counterrevolutionary war.” “What was considered back then to be a heroic fight against the terrorism of Fidel Castro,” he declared, “has suddenly come to be seen as anti-American terrorism.”
The issue here is not a matter of the attorney-client relationship in which an attorney should not be held accountable for his client’s actions; every accused person has a right to legal representation. The issue is whether a person who justifies terror against civilians (including blowing up an airliner) as part of a “heroic fight” against the Cuban government belongs on the Florida Supreme Court.
One thing is certain. Whether or not Jeb Bush chooses Cantero for the Supreme Court, the terrorist connection may now be an issue in the Florida gubernatorial race. People are asking questions about the role that Jeb Bush played in getting Orlando Bosch released from prison when the Justice Department, the CIA, and the FBI had all declared him a terrorist.
Jane Franklin is the author of “Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History.”