Presentation made by Felipe Pérez Roque, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, at the informative round table discussion held in the studios of Television Cubana, on November 20, 2000.
I believe that the information I am about to share is of great importance for our people.
I should begin by saying that between the months of June and October, 2000, our country’s General Intelligence Office obtained various pieces of information regarding the organization of and preparations for a plot to assassinate the Commander in Chief. This plot was conceived and financed by the Cuban-American National Foundation, and its execution was to be handled by terrorist Luis Posada Carriles and other counterrevolutionaries based in Miami and Central America.
This was the starting point for a lengthy effort aimed at gathering and analyzing the information available. The relevant measures were adopted, right up until the eve of the Cuban delegation’s departure for the Panama Summit. The decision made by comrade Fidel from the very beginning was to attend the Summit no matter what our enemies had planned, and to expose them publicly, submitting them to public opinion and international laws for their monstrous crimes and repeated plots to assassinate him at each and every one of the Ibero-American Summits. The Cuban-American mob underestimated the Panamanian people and authorities. They thought that everything would be easy there.
I am going to present some chronological details of how this whole process unfolded.
November 16 to 17
Between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., comrade Fidel met with the Head of the Cuban Intelligence Office, General Eduardo Delgado, and General Humberto Francis, Head of the General Personal Security Office. The fundamental question addressed at this meeting was whether or not Posada Carriles was still in Panama. It was known that he had been there since November 5. At every moment right up until departure, the fundamental concern was whether or not this individual would ensure that the assassination plot was fully organized and then leave the country, as he invariably does. In the early morning hours of November 17, it was confirmed that he was still in Panama City.
Among the instructions formulated and given out by comrade Fidel, I was made responsible for sending a telegram to the Cuban ambassador in Panama in the early morning hours of that same day, instructing him to summon the main international and national media to the hotel where our delegation would be staying, at 3:00 p.m. on the day of our arrival.
I have here with me a copy of the telegram we sent to Zamora, the Cuban ambassador to Panama, and it says:
You must coordinate the following in conjunction with Ponce and the comrades working with Francis -- people of ours who had been sent ahead:
First, arrange for a meeting room in the hotel where the Comandante is staying that will accommodate a press conference with approximately 30 members of the national and international press.
Second, this press conference is to be at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, November 17. It will consist of a statement that he will read before the press.
Third, you must select and send me a list of the 30 members of the press, who must be chosen in accordance with their importance and seriousness; there should be 10 from the local Panamanian press and 20 from the international press, approximately, representing television, radio, press agencies and newspapers. We will distribute a copy of the statement at the end.
I urgently await your proposals for the 30 members of the press to be invited.
This message, in accordance with comrade Fidel’s instructions, was sent to our ambassador in the early morning hours, and before leaving we made sure that work had begun on carrying out these instructions.
One of the decisions included in the plan formulated and prepared and the instructions given by comrade Fidel was that at the very moment of arrival in Panama, which was at 11:15 a.m., our Head of Personal Security would contact Colonel Carlos Rodríguez, who had left four days earlier, on Sunday, November 12, in order to examine the information available and determine the whereabouts of the terrorists, particularly with regard to Posada Carriles’ presence and whereabouts. This was the decision made beforehand, practically hours before the departure of our delegation.
At 11:20 a.m. our delegation arrived in Panama. We were received in the rain by President of the Republic Mireya Moscoso. There were a few brief words to the press, in which comrade Fidel greeted the Panamanian people and announced that he would be making a public statement later. This footage has been seen by our people.
At 12:40 p.m., we arrived at the Caesar Park Hotel, where our delegation and the majority of participating delegations would be staying.
At 12:50 p.m., 10 minutes after arriving at the hotel, comrade Fidel met with our Head of Personal Security and Colonel Carlos Rodríguez, who had arrived earlier, as I said. Precise confirmation of the continued presence of Posada Carriles and other terrorists. Activities carried out up until that moment. Selection of the precise information to be offered to the Executive Secretary of the Public Security and National Defense Council, the Head of the Institutional Protection Service, and the Chief of Police of Panama, who were awaiting a meeting with our comrades previously arranged for the early afternoon.
At 1:30 p.m., that is, a few minutes after the end of this meeting with comrade Fidel, General Francis and Colonel Carlos Rodriguez handed over the appropriate information to the Panamanian authorities, fully trusting in the seriousness and professionalism of these individuals, which our comrades had witnessed in their contacts with them during the period leading up to the visit. A document containing the above-mentioned information was handed over to them. They were asked to act with the greatest speed possible in undertaking the relevant measures, given that an hour and a half later, the Cuban delegation would be presenting the national and international press with the statement announced at the airport by comrade Fidel.
I will now read a list with the names, background information and place of residence of the individuals involved in the assassination plot, which is the information that was handed over to these three Panamanian authorities. I have here with me a copy of that information. I think it is important for our people to know exactly what information was handed over, since it has not yet been made public.
Luis Faustino Clemente Posada Carriles. Age: 72 years. Height: 190 centimeters. White skin, green eyes, gray hair. Facial scars. Speech difficulties. Born in Cuba.
He is staying at the Coral Suites apartment-hotel complex, located at Avenida Primera A Norte, entre Segunda A Norte y Calle 49B Oeste, El Cangrejo, Panama City, in room 310.
His cellular phone number is 620-4335.
He moves around in a red Mitsubishi Lancer. His driver is a young black Panamanian named Pepe Hurtado, the right-hand man of César Andrés Matamoros Chacón.
He uses the following aliases, among others: Ramón Medina, Ignacio Medina, Juan Remón Medina, Remón Medina Rodríguez, José Remón Medina, Rivas López, Juan José Rivas, Juan José Rivas López and Julio César Dumas.
He has a lengthy record of terrorism. He is the author and main organizer of the assassination plot against the Cuban President planned to be carried during the 10th Ibero-American Summit.
Pedro Remón Rodríguez. Age: 55, although he looks around 40. Height: 180 centimeters. White skin, brown eyes, brown hair, ruddy complexion. Born in Cuba, with U.S. citizenship.
He lives at 170099 NW 98 Avenue, Hialeah Gardens, Florida, United States. Post office box: 52-0865, Miami, Florida. Home telephone: 412-6330. Work telephone: 825-2501. Fax: 825-9088.
He has ongoing involvement in terrorist plots against Cuba and ongoing links with Luis Posada Carriles. He has been involved in the plot to assassinate the Cuban President since the beginning, being one of the main organizers and possibly one of the executors of the plan.
Antonio Iglesias Pons, known as "Tony". Age: 65. Height: 169 centimeters. Normal build. White skin, light-colored eyes, gray hair with pronounced balding. Cuban, resident in the United States. Has U.S. citizenship.
Ongoing links with Luis Posada Carriles. He has been used as a messenger to deliver the money to be used in the organization of the assassination plot against Cuban President Fidel Castro. He participated in the acquisition of weapons.
It is possible that he will not participate due to the fact that he suffered a cerebrovascular accident several days ago.
Santiago Álvarez Fernández Magriña. Age: 61. Height: 184 centimeters. White skin, brown eyes, gray hair, slightly balding. Born in Cuba, U.S. citizenship.
He lives at 1005 Belle Meade Island Drive, Miami, Florida. Cellular phone: 588-4884; office: 821-3241; home: 756-6115.
He has played an important role in the organization of the plot. He was scheduled to participate in its execution.
César Andrés Matamoros Chacón. Age: 63. Height: 174 centimeters. White skin, heavy-set. Gray hair, brown eyes, abundant body hair. He has a moustache and wears glasses. Born in Cuba.
He lives at the following address: Esquina 140 y Callejon Sin Nombre, on the upper floor of a two-story building, in Panama City. He is the owner of a boat factory called Acuarius Flexifoam S.A., located at Avenida Domingo Díaz (Tumbamuerto), Esquina a Calle 140 Oeste Sin Número, across from Cochez and Co. in the Pedregal district. The fax number at work is 266-8797 and the telephone number is 220-0324. Cellular phone: 620-5559. He is building a motel on Gorgona beach and owns an outdoor restaurant nearby where he sells fried fish and fried plantain. He is also renting a house on this same beach.
To get to the above-mentioned hotel, you take the Pan-American Highway in the direction heading to Costa Rica. When you get to the sign marking the entrance to Gorgona, follow this road until reaching a sign that says Gorgona Hyatt, and take the road to the right until the end.
Matamoros owns a metallic green 1992 Nissan Sentra, with darkened windows, a white 1988 Jeep Cherokee, and a brown 1980 Ford pick-up.
He has ongoing links with Luis Posada Carriles, is one of his main supporters in Panama for the execution of the plot, and supplied him with a car and driver.
Roberto Carrillo. Age: around 60. Height: approximately 175 centimeters. Heavy build, white skin, brown eyes, gray hair. Born in Cuba. Citizen of Panama.
He lives at Calle Mitre de Saint Malo, Casa No. 7, Reparto Altos del Doral, Panama City. Home telephone: 230-3180, cellular phone: 618-4490 and 621-4771. He drives a white 4x4 Ford Explorer, license plate number 138505. He works at the Casamar firm located at Calle Lewis al final entre Calle Diablo, Avenida Gaillard y Calle Puerto, Balboa.
His wife is named Iris and she works at the Decofierros factory, located at Avenida La Pulida entre Calle 91 Este y Calle 93 Este, Reparto Altos del Rio, Distrito Rio Abajo. Telephone: 221-7959 and 221-8044. She drives a white pick-up.
Carrillo has ongoing links with Luis Posada Carriles and is one of his main supporters in Panama for the execution of the plot. He has at times stored weapons and explosives in his home for Posada Carriles’ plans.
Carlos Vicente López Sánchez, known as Chente. He is Honduran. He is between 30 and 35 years of age. He is thin and has a defect in his right eye, and wears small glasses.
He lives at Barrios Cavanna No. 1337, Calle 14 Suroeste, San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Telephone: 554-1500. Cellular phone: 981-4976.
He has ongoing links with Luis Posada Carriles, who is using him for tasks related to the assassination plot.
José Hurtado, known as Pepe Hurtado. A young black man. Panamanian.
He drives the red Mitsubishi Lancer that Luis Posada Carriles is using to get around Panama.
He is the right-hand man of César Andrés Matamoros Chacón, who has close links with Posada Carriles and is one of his supporters in Panama.
This is the information that the Cuban Security officials handed over to the Panamanian Security authorities immediately after their meeting with comrade Fidel.
It must be noted that throughout the whole period leading up to the arrival of the delegation, the Cuban advance party discussed all fundamental issues related to the delegation’s security with the individuals designated by the Government of Panama.
In certain statements made, high government officials in Panama have criticized the fact that comrade Fidel did not tell President Mireya Moscoso about the assassination plot upon arriving at the airport. This would have been absurd, unnecessary and impossible. The Panamanian President had been receiving delegations since the afternoon of the previous day and into the early morning hours, with no rest until 4:00 p.m. that day. Our Security representatives, just like those of every other delegation, addressed these matters with the officials designated by the President with full confidence in them. It would have been ridiculous to address this matter at the airport.
Just past 3:00 p.m., 10 minutes after the time agreed upon
-- there had been a delay due to difficulties with the audio equipment in the room at the hotel where the press was gathered -- the statement exposing the assassination plot was read, and Fidel gave a press conference that ended at 3:50 p.m.
4:00 p.m. Once the press conference had ended and the plot had been exposed before the national and international press, we left immediately, and accompanied comrade Fidel to the San Pablo Apóstol Church, where the remains of General Omar Torrijos rest in a burial niche.
4:15 p.m. Fifteen minutes after leaving the hotel, we arrived at the church, where a large number of people had spontaneously gathered. These images have also been broadcast.
4:30 p.m. At the end of the homage to Torrijos, an intimate homage paid by comrade Fidel there in the crypt where his remains modestly rest, the Commander in Chief spoke with the people who had congregated in the portico of the church; there was also a large crowd of people outside who could not get in. It was 4:30 p.m., and Fidel was engaged in speaking with the enthusiastic and supportive audience who had filled the church as soon as they found out he was there.
4:35 p.m. After comrade Fidel had been speaking for five minutes, the Cuban Head of Personal Security, General Francis, received the news that Posada Carriles had been arrested. He asked for confirmation of the news. Minutes later, the information was confirmed, that Posada Carriles had in fact been arrested. The news was passed on to me; I was standing near comrade Fidel.
4:43 p.m. While he was speaking with the people gathered in the church, I shared the information I had received with comrade Fidel. I felt I could not possibly delay in passing the news on to him, but he was in the middle of speaking. So I waited for a point when he was interrupted by the crowd’s applause, and then I pulled the program of activities out of my pocket, since it was the only paper I had on me, and I took out a pen and wrote this note on the back of the program, as you can see here: "They’ve already caught Posada." Then I passed the program to comrade Fidel. He had stopped speaking because the crowd was applauding, and he paused a moment to read the note. He then told the audience that "he had received some very good news that he would like to share with everyone there" – I wrote down here what he said at that very moment – "but that he did not want to divert their attention from the subject being discussed at that time. But later, when they heard what the news was, they would understand how important it was."
I am sure our people can understand what we were feeling at that moment when we heard this news, how we were thinking about the relatives here of the comrades murdered on the plane from Barbados, about all of the Cuban families plunged into mourning by terrorist acts, and about the father of young di Celmo. We were totally overwhelmed at the thought that the self-confessed author and guilty party for these horrendous crimes had been arrested.
The Panamanian Security authorities had acted with such efficiency that between 2:15 p.m., the time at which the meeting with them ended, and 4:30 p.m., that is, in two hours and 15 minutes, they had captured the individuals primarily responsible for the assassination plot.
Eight days earlier, on November 9, in Panama City, the Cuban advance party had presented Ramiro Jarvis, the liaison between the Panamanian Security forces and the Cuban intelligence service for the purpose of the Summit preparations, with a list of 55 terrorists living in the United States and Central America as potential participants in the assassination plot to be carried out by Posada Carriles upon the instructions of the Cuban-American National Foundation. On that list, handed over by our comrades on November 9, were the names of Guillermo Novo Sampoll and Gaspar Jiménez Escobedo, who were arrested together with Posada Carriles, as was already explained. This is a copy of the list handed over on November 9 to the Panamanian authorities, with the names and background information of 55 terrorists living in the United States and Central America who could potentially be participating. There are Gaspar Eugenio Jimenez Escobedo and Guillermo Novo Sampoll. They are on this list that had been previously turned over to the Panamanian Security liaison with our Security forces.
In the evening hours of November 17 itself – the day of the Summit – and on the morning of November 18, they arrested the Cuban-born accomplices whose files I read here: César Andrés Matamoros Chacón and Roberto Carrillo, both residents of Panama. They also arrested the Panamanian José Hurtado, or Pepe Hurtado, who was working as Posada Carriles’ driver in Panama.
On November 18 there was a great deal of work carried out in relation to the Summit. Our people have been able to see on television the program of activities carried out by our delegation and its participation in the discussions. In the evening we headed for the University, where the students were waiting. They welcomed Fidel outside the university and inside the auditorium. This has also been broadcast on television to the people here. From there we undertook concerted efforts, on the instructions of the Commander in Chief, to locate the Panamanian Foreign Minister and deliver a diplomatic note to him that very night, on November 18. The note dealt with the extradition to Cuba of the Cuban-born terrorists arrested in Panama, in order for them to stand trial in our country. The note outlined the legal arguments and demanded that these individuals not be released under any circumstances. They could not be released, of course, because of all of the relevant procedures that would have to be carried out, and given the seriousness of the crimes committed against our people, which have cost the lives of numerous victims.
I have here a copy of the letter that I delivered to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama at approximately 11:00 p.m. on the very night of November 18, while the event at the university auditorium was underway. The deputy minister was in charge of the Chancery, because the Panamanian foreign minister could not be located at that moment. We delivered this diplomatic note, dated November 18:
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba presents its compliments..." Here we put forward our explanation and our demand, and this is how we officially initiated the procedures to have these terrorists extradited to Cuba, in order to stand trial before the Cuban justice system. This Note was delivered the night before we left for Cuba.
I should comment on two additional things.
First: This morning I spoke on the phone with the Panamanian Foreign Minister, Mr. José Miguel Alemán, to whom I have reiterated the contents of the diplomatic Note delivered on Saturday night and to whom I have reiterated our request for these terrorists to be kept in prison, as the first step in the process of extradition to Cuba which we have requested. We will continue to forward additional information in this regard within the time required. That is one matter.
Second: At this moment another diplomatic Note from the Cuban Chancery is being delivered to the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the Republic of Panama. It is being delivered by our embassy in Panama, and in it we ask that they pass on to the Panamanian Government the following information related to the Note sent on November 18.
What is this about? The Note we delivered on Saturday night has the names of Luis Posada Carriles, Guillermo Novo Sampoll, Pedro Remón Rodriguez, and Manuel Díaz, who was the supposed name known at the time of one of the terrorists. But in this new Note we say the following:
It has been established that the person referred to by the name of Manuel Díaz in the first Note is in fact the notorious Cuban-born terrorist Gaspar Eugenio Jiménez Escobedo -- as explained here by comrade Taladrid -- who has the following criminal record:
This individual, that is, Gaspar Jiménez Escobedo, has also been charged by the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic of Cuba, in Hearing No. 1/2000, for the crimes of terrorism and attempted assassination exposed by the President of the Cuban delegation to the 10th Summit of Heads of State and Government of Ibero-America, and he is one of the principal links between this group and the Cuban-American National Foundation.
In view of these facts, the Government of the Republic of Cuba hopes that the Government of Panama will adopt the necessary measures to ensure that justice is served in the cases of Gaspar Eugenio Jiménez Escobedo, together with Luis Faustino Clemente Posada Carriles, Guillermo Novo Sampoll and Pedro Remón Rodríguez, and any others involved in the crimes exposed on November 17 by the Head of State and Government of the Republic of Cuba Fidel Castro Ruz.
The documentation which serves as evidence of the crimes committed by the above-mentioned individuals will be presented to the authorities of the Republic of Panama within the time limit established.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba avails himself of this opportunity to renew to the honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Panama the assurances of his highest consideration.
Dated November 20, 2000, this diplomatic Note is now being delivered.
I would like to finish up by expressing to our people, and especially to comrade Justino di Celmo who is here with us; to the relatives of our comrades murdered in the plane from Barbados, to the orphans, the widows, the parents who lost their children when their lives were just beginning; to the relatives of Cuban diplomat Felix García, murdered by a commando that included one of the men currently under arrest, at the United Nations in the 1970s; to the relatives of comrade Artagñán Díaz Díaz, murdered in Mexico; and to all the relatives, neighbors and friends of all our comrades who have been murdered treacherously, not face to face or on a battlefield, but rather in cowardly acts involving the use of explosives and sneak attacks; to all of them, on behalf of our government, I want to express the guarantee that the Government of Cuba, with the support of our people and international public opinion, will demand justice, and will do everything necessary to prevent these terrorists who have finally been arrested from escaping again.
The Cuban diplomatic corps, the justice authorities in our country, the Revolutionary leadership headed by comrade Fidel, are well aware of the suffering of the many Cuban families who have every right to see justice served for the murder of their loved ones.
I think that once they are aware of all this lengthy information, the Panamanian people, the authorities, the security forces who acted with such diligence and professionalism, will understand very well the anticipation and the interest with which our people are following this situation.
The relatives are demanding justice. The international community realizes that there is more than enough proof to bring these murderers of innocent civilians to trial.
We cannot give comrade Justino back the life of his son; we cannot give our comrades back their murdered relatives. We can give them our solidarity, and we can make it clear to them once again that all of us, all of our people, are their families from that moment on. Comrade Justino has a son in each and every one of us; and we can guarantee him that it will not be humanly possible to stop us from keeping up our demand until justice is served in this case.