Havana Cuba Business Travel Culture and Politics

Havana Cuba News

Cuban American News

Posted March 02, 2010 by publisher in Cuban American Culture

Email this article | Print this article | Search Havana Journal        

By JUAN O. TAMAYO | Miami Herald

original title: Suit by spy’s ex-wife could stop flights to Cuba

All direct U.S. flights to Cuba may be halted if the ex-wife of a Cuban spy wins a lawsuit to garnish money that South Florida charter companies pay in fees to Cuba, lawyers in the case said Monday.

Ira Kurzban, attorney for the charterers, said he filed a motion Monday to dissolve the writs of garnish by Ana Margarita Martinez, and asked U.S. Judge Frederico Moreno for an emergency hearing.

The eight charter companies, all based in South Florida, have stopped making payments to Cuba, he added. “My clients are now in breach of contract, and Cuba can stop them landing any time.”

Martinez’s suit could deal a blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to increase people-to-people contacts with Cuba, and force Cuban-Americans to go through third countries to visit the island.

An estimated 200 charter flights to Cuba leave monthly from Miami, New York, and Los Angeles carrying 20,000 passengers, industry experts said. The companies must pay Cuban agencies for landing rights, fuel, ground support, and other services.

Charter-company and Cuban officials met in Havana last week to study the legal situation, and Havana decided to withhold a reaction until it determines how the legal case is moving, said a travel-industry member who declined to comment further because of the sensitivity of the case.

Not a Long Shot

Martinez, the ex-wife of Cuban spy Juan Pablo Roque, filed the writs on Feb. 19 to seize those funds. Her attorney, Thomas Withrow of Indianapolis, said the move was ``not a sure shot at all, but also not a long shot.’‘

Her writs were the latest twist in the ongoing efforts to collect on the multi-million-dollar judgements that several people have won against Cuba in U.S. courts. Most of the Cuban funds frozen in U.S. accounts since the 1960s already have been paid out.

Martinez said she’s not trying to halt the flights but wants to collect on the $27 million judgement she won against the Cuban government in 2001, for Roque’s marriage to her under false pretenses.

“These writs are not . . . an effort to hurt U.S. businesses or interfere with air travel to Cuba,” she said in a statement. “To the contrary, (they) seem to be the only way to collect a legal debt from the Cuban government. ... America is a country of laws. Those who do wrong here must compensate their victims.”

Roque, a member of the notorious Avispa spy network, returned to Cuba just before Cuba’s 2006 shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue airplanes that killed four South Florida residents. Martinez later won an annulment of their marriage.

Kurzban said he moved to dismiss the writs because they seek to garnish funds that are due to Havanatour and other companies in Cuba, while Martinez won her judgment only against the Cuban government.

All the suits against Cuba were made possible by U.S. laws approved in 1996 and 2002, which cleared the way for private citizens to sue foreign governments for terrorist acts and helped victims collect judgments against terrorist-designated states such as Cuba, Iran, and North Korea. Cuba has never defended itself in the U.S. courts.

Terrorist Act

Martinez’s request for the writs alleges she was “a victim of a terrorist act. A Cuban spy married her and used her as cover for his espionage activities.”

Her court filings say she has collected $194,000 through release of frozen Cuban assets, but “nothing more is available through this program.” In 2002, she successfully seized a Cuban crop-duster, valued at about $45,000, flown to Key West by a group of refugees.

Kurzban said eventually the case could affect dozens of other flights, since many U.S. airlines are licensed by the U.S. government to pay Cuba fees for overflying its airspace.

The eight charter companies garnished are Marazul, ABC, C&T, Xael, Wilson International Service, Cuba Travel Services, Airline Brokers, and Gulfstream Air Charter.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on March 02, 2010 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Yet another selfish old Cuban exile grabbing money thanks to the US Cuba policy.

    In the article below this woman won a $27million dollar lawsuit because she was apparently defrauded by a Cuban spy. She wants to interfere with US business for her own selfish reasons grabbing at money awarded to her thanks to her friends in Miami. She won $27 million for a fraudulent marriage and claimed that this was a “terrorist act”.

    Those old Cuban exiles wake up every morning praying Fidel never dies because they never want the Embargo lifted.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on March 02, 2010 by Heather Ramirez with 3 total posts

    I agree.  How selfish.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on March 03, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    This woman is nuts.  If she feels she’s had $27 million worth of psychological damage because her husband wasn’t honest, she belongs in an insane asylum.  She’s obviously just a gold digger.  I saw her once on a T.V. show called “Truth or Dare” (or something like that), where she told her story of how she’d been married to a Cuban spy and the audience had to, of course, guess whether she was telling the truth or not.  I wonder how much $$$ she got for that.  This woman isn’t serious about anything except money…..I don’t think she cares at all about the politics over what she’s doing.  She is, however, being used by the extremist exiles who want to keep the psychological war against Cuba going.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on March 03, 2010 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    I agree but I wish you had the same sense of passion to speak against the left side of the spectrum.

    Cuba consulting services

  5. Follow up post #5 added on March 03, 2010 by Heather Ramirez with 3 total posts

    The bottom line is the people suffer- right or left.

  6. Follow up post #6 added on March 03, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    While I do not aprove the method used the fact and the matter is that lot of people uses whichever method they have to make money. A gold digger, well most people are gold diggers. Anybody that can put their hands on 27 millions surely would try to do it.
    The fact and the matter is that amount was awarded to her on court.

  7. Follow up post #7 added on March 04, 2010 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    More about Ana Margarita Martinez here in Progreso Weekly.

    Cuba consulting services

  8. Follow up post #8 added on March 04, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    Yeyo:  Which only goes to show that either, a) courts make stupid decisions, or b) somebody is being paid off

  9. Follow up post #9 added on March 05, 2010 by robolucion with 33 total posts

    “Progreso Weekly”

    Most of those columnists are cringe worthy.

  10. Follow up post #10 added on March 05, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Again I do not feel that is right what she is doing but your comments that “.... a) courts make stupid decisions, or b) somebody is being paid off..”
    In every single country you can find cases where courts had made mistakes, I do not feel that this is one of them; the 5 Cuban spies are spies and belong in jail. Regarding that “somebody is being paid off” I cannot understand what do you mean by that, do you mean that the judges are being paid off?

    This forum is about Cuba and talking about the US justice system is directly comparing it to the Cuban justice system. Do you know that in Cuba judges know what decisions they should take even before going to court?, not because they studied the case but because they are told by the government what should be the outcome of the trial.

  11. Follow up post #11 added on March 05, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    Mistake?????  If you do not feel that there is something extremely wrong, unjust, ridiculous, strange….or just plain questionable about a court awarding $27 MILLION to someone because she was married under false pretenses, then I have nothing else to add on this topic.

    As for the Cuban “spies”——they were doing the same thing our own operatives do around the world to protect the U.S. from terrorist attacks——gather information.

  12. Follow up post #12 added on March 09, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Courts are free to award what they feel convenient in accordance with the law of the land. That judge awarded 27 million to that lady.
    That is a lot of money , true,  but also true that the one that was used and abused sociologically and everything else was not your sister, if she were them we would be having a completely different conversation. People give very open opinions when the issues are far and not affecting them than when they are close and affecting them directly.
    When you consider that the main issue here is that Cuba was spying into the US, illegally, unauthorized, then the 27 million figure seems kind of low.

    There is a difference between operatives and spies. Operatives are mostly authorized by the foreign government and spies, well they are spies.
    When US or other countries spies are caught spying they are normally tried by the foreign countries courts and if found guilty thrown to jail and sometimes even executed (for your information in Cuba spies are executed ).  I’m sure that the US would move in the shadows to secure their freedom but I had never seen before a childish excuse as the one used by the Cuban government ….”they were trying to protect Cuba of the Cuban Mafia of Miami…”.

    They were Cuban MININT spies, well trained and paid by Cuba part of a larger spying network “red avispa”, they were caught and they are now where they belong: in jail.

  13. Follow up post #13 added on April 01, 2010 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Actually some sensible comments from the US government regarding this woman’s selfish money grab.

    From the story…

    The U.S. filing concludes that Martinez has no legal right to the fees and that the charter services are key to U.S. goals of easing family travel between the two countries, improving the flow of information across the Florida Straits and promoting such things as religious, artistic and sporting events and exchanges.

    “The direct flights they provide are vital for maintaining contacts that are in the national interest,” Ricardo Zuniga, the State Department’s acting coordinator for Cuban affairs, said in an affidavit. “A disruption in licensed air charter service would cause serious harm to U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba.”

    Cuba consulting services

  14. Follow up post #14 added on February 13, 2011 by Chris516

    Ms. Martinez had a right to sue the Cuban government.

    Yes it did affect the lives of both, Cuban-exiles and, those trying to leave Cuba.

    Was she supposed to remain a woman essentially trampled on by the Cuban government.

    I certainly agree with her.

  15. Follow up post #15 added on May 01, 2011 by rileero

    I agree that it should have a more reasonable resolution…...it was mental abuse though especially to some women that have to find a spouse that is perfect to complete lifes journey…..it does not exsist not any single human is a flawless person get serious they should have cofidence to be alone then it will not or it will happen.  a reporter that wrote about this said “man hunted then married me then everything we had shared 4yrs was fake to further his spy mission yea, that would make me feel violated” to that point it does seem serious.  This woman is completely crazy tho it is to much money…many complainers here should not be jealous.  Same thing happens everytime a person wins any multi million dollar award people have to cut down that person due to jealousy.  She will not recieve it….atleast not that much.

Would you like to add more information?

Only members can add more information. Please register or log in

  • Advertise at Havana Journal Inc
We recommend this AirBnB Food and Drink Experience... Cuban flavors: Food, Rum and Cigars
Images of Cuba
Yo Soy - Cuban art - Painting by Wifredo Lam
Follow Havana Journal
SUBSCRIBE to our Cuba Watch newsletter
LIKE us on Facebook

FOLLOW us on Twitter

CONNECT with us on Linked In

Section Archive
Havana Journal, Inc. BBB Business Review

Member of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy