On December 8, 1998, after a 14-day trial, jurors in Puerto Rico acquitted five anti-Castro exile militants of plotting to kill Fidel Castro.
Afterwards, two of the jurors told reporters the verdict was intended to send a “message to the Cuban people that we’re with you.” The jurors then left the courthouse, singing the Cuban national anthem in the company of the no-longer-accused. That night, they all celebrated together at a popular local Cuban restaurant.
“Prosecutors had hoped that holding the trial in Puerto Rico would give them a better shot at convictions than in Miami,” the Miami Herald explained after the verdict. In Miami, the newspaper noted, “juries regularly acquit anti-Castro plotters.”
The prosecutors may have been wrong about Puerto Rican juries.
But they definitely knew their Floroda juries.
That’s why, even as prosecutors in Puerto Rico had opposed defence motions to move the assassination plot trial to Miami, prosecutors in Miami were fighting even harder to oppose defence motions for a change of venue in the case of the Cuban Five.
The Five were arrested in September 1998, just three months before the verdict in the Puerto Rico case.
For more details on the case against the Puerto Rican plotters—the one on which they were acquitted—check out this excerpt from Sting in the Wasp’s in-progress narrative.