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Condemned Cubans Portrayed As Deadbeats, Dropouts, Rapists, Thieves

February 7, 1992

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ The Cuban media on Thursday portrayed the people convicted in a botched and bloody attempt to flee Cuba as a bunch of criminals, deadbeats, drug takers and school dropouts.

The Havana Popular Tribunal sentenced two of them to die and Prensa Latina, the official Cuban news agency, said two others would have received the same punishment if not for the fact that one is only 19 and the other is mentally retarded.

In all, nine people were sentenced Wednesday for murder and piracy. They were accused of killing three Interior Ministry agents during an attempt to steal a boat from the Tarara seaside camp near Havana on Jan. 9.

The condemned men - Luis Miguel Almeida Perez, 27, and Rene Salmeron Mendoza, 22 - had raped ″various adolescents″ prior to the escape attempt, Prensa Latina claimed. It said Almeida Perez had been fired from his job at Tarara for raping a coworker.

A third defendant, Elias Perez Bocourt, 22, took part in the rapes, Prensa Latina said, but was spared from the firing squad because he is ″mildly retarded.″ It also said Bocourt, sentenced to 30 years, beat two of the agents with an iron bar.

The dispatch also portrayed the three men as chronic thieves who had stolen everything from a taxi to lamps and clothing.

Another defendant, Erick Salmeron Mendoza, 19, spent two years in prison for robbery and was unemployed at the time of the bungled escape bid, Prensa Latina said.

Prensa Latina said the death penalty cannot be applied anyone under age 20. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Prensa Latina said his mother, Maria Mendoza Marrero, 45, was a grade school dropout who ″coordinated″ the escape plan. She was sentenced to 15 years, as was Almeida Perez’ wife, Miderglis Ponce Casanova, 20, whom Prensa Latin described as a drug-taking dropout and teen-age mother.

Prensa Latina said she had a 4-year-old daughter with her, but only one bottle of water and a thin blanket ″because we thought the journey would be fast, like in the movies.″

Three other defendants joined the escape plan after failing to get U.S. visas, Prensa Latina said. They were identified as Pedro Marcelino de la Rosa Guerra, 47; Enrique de la Rosa Guerra, 29, and his wife, Micaela Atencio de la Rosa, 37. There were sentenced to 25, four, and 15 years, respectively.

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