The Cuban Five, also known as the Miami Five (Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González) are five Cuban intelligence officers convicted in Miami of espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, and other illegal activities in the United States. The Five were in the United States to observe and infiltrate the Cuban-American groups Alpha 66, the F4 Commandos, the Cuban American National Foundation, and Brothers to the Rescue.
At their trial, evidence was presented that the Five infiltrated the Miami-based Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue, obtained employment at the Key West Naval Air Station in order to send the Cuban government reports about the base, and had attempted to penetrate the Miami facility of US Southern Command. On February 24, 1996, two Brothers to the Rescue aircraft were shot down by Cuban military jets in international airspace while flying away from Cuban airspace, killing the four US citizens aboard. One of the Five, Gerardo Hernández, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for supplying information to the Cuban government which according to the prosecution led to the shootdown. The Court of Appeals has, however, reversed the conviction on the conspiracy to commit murder, since there is no evidence that Hernández knew the shootdown would occur in international airspace.
For their part, Cuba acknowledges that the five men were intelligence agents, but says they were spying on Miami’s Cuban exile community, not the U.S. government. Cuba contends that the men were sent to South Florida in the wake of several terrorist bombings in Havana allegedly masterminded by anti-communist militant Luis Posada Carriles, a former Central Intelligence Agency operative.
The Five appealed their convictions and the alleged lack of fairness in their trial has received substantial international criticism. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned the spies’ convictions in 2005, citing the "prejudices" of Miami’s anti-Castro Cubans, but the full court later reversed the five's bid for a new trial and reinstated the original convictions. In June 2009 the US Supreme Court declined to review the case. In Cuba, the Five are viewed as national heroes and portrayed as having sacrificed their liberty in the defense of their country.