Posted: Today at 6:30 am EDT
DORAL, Fla. (WSVN) -- News of a secret deal between the United States
and Cuba has prompted the loved ones from a Cuban exile group to call a
news conference in order to voice their concerns.
The mothers and a daughter of the four Brothers to the Rescue pilots
shot down more than 10 years ago, came forward to demand answers from
the Obama administration, Thursday morning.
They are reacting to chatter out of Cuba that there could be a deal in
the works involving the release of a man convicted in the murder of four
men with the humanitarian aid group Brothers to the Rescue, back in
1996. Gerardo Hernandez is serving a double life sentence after he was
found guilty of conspiring to kill these pilots.
Hernandez has also been accused of spying for the Cuban government and
trying to infiltrate the Miami-based Brothers to the Rescue
organization. Back on Feb. 24, 1996, the four men were on a humanitarian
mission looking out for rafters in the Florida Straits, in international
Cuban MiGs shot down two of those Brothers to the Rescue planes, killing
the four men. Now, according to reports out of Cuba, Fidel Castro has
said that Hernandez could be released from the US prison and returned to
The deal is reportedly tied to the reported release of Alan Gross, a
Maryland native, who currently sits in a jail in Cuba for allegedly
spying for the US. Gross was in Cuba on a mission to help Cuban jews
when the Cuban government took him into custody.
The family members said Gross is being used as a pawn. Marlene Alejandre
Tiana, the daughter of one of the pilots killed said, "I don't think
that the lives of anyone is negotiable. This is the only person we have
in jail right now related to the crime, and the spies were spying on
this country, and there's absolutely no reason why they should be
negotiated for anyone else."
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) Miami, was also there. "It is
outrageous that anyone would consider the exchange of a convicted Cuban
spy and murderer of American citizens for the release of a wrongfully
imprisoned US citizen," she said. "It is a disgrace to the memory of
Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre, Mario de la Pena and Pablo Morales."
The family members have sent letters to President Obama, Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder asking them to
stop the supposed release of Hernandez. However, reports of the
purported exchange remain conjecture, as it is based on rumors out of
Cuba, and no US official has said the government is in negotiations with