John Suarez. Published Thursday, September 6, 2001 in
The Miami Herald
Re the Aug. 29 story Ex-drug czar: U.S., Cuba should cooperate against
trafficking: I attended the presentation by Barry McCaffrey at Georgetown
University and heard his concerns about a possible relationship between Castro
and Colombia's drug-trafficking guerrillas. At the same time he argued for
sharing intelligence with the Cuban government.
McCaffrey seems unaware of several federal indictments and two investigative
TV reports, one broadcast in July, linking Cuban officials, including Fidel
Castro and his brother Raúl, to drug cartels:
-In 1989, a federal grand jury indicted Robert Vesco for arranging safe
passage for drug planes over Cuban airspace after obtaining approval from Cuban
-According to the 1989 indictment, Reinaldo Ruiz was allowed to land planes
in Cuba to refuel after dropping drug cargo off the Cuban coast. Drug-smuggling
motorboats would come from Florida to pick up the cargo, and Cuban Coast Guard
radar monitored U.S. Coast Guard cutters to help the smugglers evade them. The
indictments demonstrated the foolishness of sharing intelligence on drug
operations with Havana.
-According to the U.S. indictment of Panama's Manuel Noriega, he traveled to
Cuba in 1984 after Castro offered to mediate a disagreement between the drug
cartel and Noriega.
-In a 1991 Frontline documentary, Cuba and Cocaine, U.S. Coast Guard Lt.
Commander Jeff Karonis, stated, "We would observe in the middle of the day
an air drop going on inside Cuban waters. The scenario would be for a small
twin-engine airplane with maybe 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of cocaine to fly over
Cuba, drop the drugs to a predesignated rendezvous point to several boats. Then
it would exit back down off Cuba, and many times a Cuban military vessel would
be in the immediate vicinity, right on scene with them.''
-In 1996, Jorge Cabrera was charged with importing 6,000 pounds of cocaine.
At the time of his arrest, The Herald reported that Cabrera was carrying a photo
of himself with Fidel Castro. Cabrera made a $20,000 donation to the 1996
Democratic presidential campaign after being approached in Havana in 1995 by
anti-embargo activist Vivian Mannerud.
-In July, Madrid's TV Channel 5 broadcast Cuba and Drug Trafficking. Spanish
journalists filmed (with hidden cameras) their dealings with drug dealers in
Cuba. "As to security, forget it. I pay here for the security; I answer
only to one, the government,'' the drug dealer said.
Noriega, still in prison for his role in drug trafficking, once received
commendations from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration while turning in
competing drug cartels. So it's not surprising that Castro allows U.S. Navy
ships to enter Cuban waters in pursuit of or to return Cuban refugees, but the
ships aren't allowed in Cuban waters in pursuit of narco-traffickers.
McCaffrey means well. We all would like to see more cooperation against drug
trafficking. But given the historical record, it would be appropriate to
respectfully remind him that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
for a Free Cuba
Copyright 2001 Miami Herald