December 13, 2001

Cuba sued 40 years after execution of accused spy

Widow of man accused of spying strikes back

Alan Fisk. The National Law Journal. December 13, 2001

Forty years after her husband was executed as an alleged spy by the government of Fidel Castro, a Florida woman has gone to court to seek redress from Cuba.

Scott Leeds of Miami's Leeds, Colby and Paris said that he expects the woman and her grown children to ask that Cuba pay damages in excess of $100 million for wrongful death, pain and suffering and loss of support in the unusual case, which rings with the drama of the Cold War era.

Leeds and Fernando Zulueta, a private Miami attorney working with Leeds' firm, recently filed the civil suit on behalf of Dorothy Anderson McCarthy of Pompano Beach, Fla., in Miami-Dade County 11th Circuit Court, in the death of Howard Anderson, her husband.

The suit seeks damages under a new federal law that allows Americans to sue foreign nations for acts of murder and torture. Dorothy Anderson McCarthy v. Republic of Cuba, No. 01D28628C04.

Luis Fernandez, press attaché at the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, D.C., said he was aware of the lawsuit but had no immediate comment.

Zulueta said an "unusual set of events" led up to the execution -- including the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion by anti-Castro rebels supported by the U.S.

Before his death, Howard Anderson had a long relationship with Cuba. Stationed on the island by the U.S. Navy in World War II, he went on to marry, raise a family and become a successful businessman there.


Then Castro came to power in the 1959 revolution. The lawsuit claims that Anderson was arrested by Cuban military intelligence agents in 1961, tortured, and accused of being an anti-Castro operative and of conspiring to smuggle arms into the country for use by rebels.

His trial began at the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion, when hatred of America was at a peak. According to a report by a Swiss diplomat who was on the scene, the prosecutor continually harassed Anderson and demanded his death.

According to the suit, no evidence was presented that Anderson had any connection to anti-Castro plotters. Still, he was executed by firing squad in 1961.

The suit seeks to collect damages from Cuban assets frozen by the United States after the two nations broke off diplomatic relations. Nearly 6,000 American nationals have claims against Communist Cuba, Leeds said.

He maintained that the U.S. government has kept the assets tied up for so many years because officials "looked at the money as political leverage for the future -- to get hostages back, or to normalize relations."

A day before he left office last January, President Bill Clinton officially unfroze the Cuban assets.

McCarthy's suit was filed in the wake of financial actions against the Cuban government in other cases this year. On March 9, a Miami woman, represented by Leeds and Zulueta, won $7.1 million in a nonjury trial in Florida Circuit Court. The woman sued Cuba after it was revealed that the man she married was a spy for Castro. The judge ruled that Cuba was liable for sexual battery because the woman did not know of the deception.

Related information

Family seeks to avenge execution by suing Cuba / Miami Herald

Executions and deaths after 1959 / Aguada de Pasajeros

Loss of Life Resulting from the Cuban Revolution

Human rights group claims executions on rise in Cuba / CNN

CUBA: A worrying increase in the use of the death penalty / Amnesty International

Cuba: Death penalty / Human Rights Watch

Civil Rights - Death Penalty in Cuba / Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba

Statement by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on Cuba / European Union

Report Card On Human Rights / CBS

Report on Cuba Death Penalty Dialogue /

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