BY WILFREDO CANCIO ISLA
A Miami federal judge on Wednesday dismissed the case filed by former Cuban General Rafael del Pino against several prominent Spanish language media personalties and Brigade 2506.
The Bay of Pigs Association (Brigade 2506), its president Félix Ismael Rodríguez and Univisión Communications were excluded on Wednesday from the civil action by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro, who considered that “the plaintiff does not have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of his action.”
Ungaro’s decision dismantled the complaints made by Del Pino Nov. 2, claiming he had been a victim of verbal and intimidating attacks on radio and TV shows in Miami during 2007, after he’d had several columns published in El Nuevo Heraldrecommending that Havana and Washington negotiate.
The judge also discarded Tuesday the accusations against América TeVe (Channel 41), journalists Oscar Haza and Miguel Cossío, and the activist Esteban Bovo, director of Brigade 2506. On Dec. 28, the judge had ruled that Del Pino had no reason to sue Radio Mambí (WAQI-710AM) host Martha Flores.
According to Del Pino’s allegations, the defendants not only tried to limit his right to speak freely, but also ”inflicted on him severe emotional damages” and put him in danger. The lawsuit claimed compensation of no less than $75,000.
The suit stated that there had been a ”mock trial” against Del Pino on the TV show A Mano Limpia (Channel 41), and that Bovo insulted the former general, libeled him about his background in the Cuban military and revealed his address. Del Pino, 69, lives in an undisclosed U.S. address and uses a different identity since defecting from Cuba in 1987.
”Even accepting the allegations as true, the court cannot find that any of the defendant Bovo’s behavior constitutes intrusion” indicated Ungaro in the 16-page document.
Lawyer Matias R. Dorta, who represents Bovo, considered that the judge’s decision is “a triumph for the freedom of speech.”
”Mr. Del Pino has the freedom to speak in this country, but cannot use a legal action without merit to silence Mr. Bovo, who has the same right to express his ideas and opinions,” Dorta said.
After the judge sided with Flores, Del Pino announced on Jan. 10 that he would withdraw his legal action, and said that the decision was “for the best for the exile community, for Cuba and for the unity of all Cubans.”
Still, the closing of the case doesn’t end litigation between both parties.
The plaintiffs want Del Pino to pay all legal costs. The amount of the claim could escalate to $60,000.
Dorta and lawyer David Rogero, who represents Haza, Cossío and América TeVe, said Wednesday that they planned to present motions to the court, requesting that their respective clients be paid.
Lawyer Richard J. Burton, who represents Del Pino, presented yesterday a motion to magistrate John O’Sullivan in order to repel the compensation Flores requested. Burton did not return El Nuevo Herald phone calls Wednesday seeking comment.