Informational Round Table on "Otto Reich: a terrorist in the U.S. government", held in the studios of Cuban Television on March 14, 2002, "Year of the Heroic Prisoners of the Empire"
Randy Alonso. – A very good evening to our viewers and listeners.
Otto Reich, the spokesperson for the lowest interests of the US extreme right and for the petty-minded aims of the anti-Cuban mob, godfather to infamous terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, implicated in the embarrassing Iran-Contragate scandal where his role was that of a professional liar, lobbyist for Bacardi and a driving force behind the Helms-Burton Act, a man labeled by many as mediocre and slow this week took over the job as Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs after having been installed by the US administration, during a Congressional recess.
His sick and visceral hatred of the Cuban Revolution have already showed in his first actions from such an important position.
The round table this evening will be on "Otto Reich: a terrorist in the U.S. government". The members of the panel here with me tonight are Reinaldo Taladrid, journalist for Cuban Television’s News Department, Juana Carrasco, head of the international desk at the Juventud Rebelde newspaper; Arleen Rodríguez Derivet, editor of Tricontinental magazine and host of the radio program Haciendo Radio; Eduardo Dimas, an editorialist with Cuban Television’s News Department and Rogelio Polanco, publisher of Juventud Rebelde.
Our studio guests tonight are comrades from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from the City of Havana’s Public Prosecutor’s Office, from the Ministry of Basic Industry and from the Firefighters Corps.
This March 11, a wire service cable from the EFE agency in Washington reported that "just two months after US President George W. Bush used his special powers to appoint him, Otto Reich today swore the oath of office for his job as Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs in the State Department.
From now on, EFE wrote, "Reich, who is a Cuban-American, will be in charge of all State department affairs concerning Latin America.
A ceremony for Reich to take over his new job, to which press access was restricted, was held in the State Department. "
Otto Reich has thus been appointed and is now settled in his new job as Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs.
Who is the new US government representative for its relations with the peoples of Latin America? Who is Otto Reich?
I propose that this informational round table dissect this sinister figure of the Cuban-American mob that has come to hold such an important position in the US government.
I ask Eduardo Dimas to start the ball rolling by giving us some details about Otto Reich.
Eduardo Dimas.- Well, he was born, by mistake, in Havana on October 16, 1945. He is the son of an Austrian Jewish immigrant named Walter Reich and a Cuban woman.
He studied in the Baldor School until he was 15 and completed his first year of high school. He immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1960 and in 1966 graduated with a BA from Chapel Hill University, North Carolina. He later obtained an MA from Georgetown University, one of the universities from which the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA, recruits a good number of its agents and employees. While there, he met Frank Calzón, a notorious CIA agent and terrorist with whom he struck up a friendship that, according to reports, has lasted until today.
He joined the U.S. army in 1967. He graduated from cadet school as an officer and, from 1967-1969 worked as a civilian affairs officer for the U.S. army in Panama.
He returned to civilian life in 1970 and from 1970 to 1971 was a legislative assistant for the house of Representative in Congress. In other words, he was already making "a political life" for himself. "
From 1972-1975 he was the president of Cormorat Enterprises, an import-export company with headquarters in Miami. At the same time he was the international representative for the Florida Department of Trade.
From 1975 to 1976 he was the city of Miami’s community development coordinator and from 1976 to 1981 he was employed as director of operations for the Council of the Americas (COA) in Washington.
Throughout this whole period, Reich maintained a totally antagonistic stance towards the Cuban Revolution. Apparently, he is not very bright and the things he says about the Cuban Revolution are pretty crude.
Many of those who knew him in those days said that he was a CIA agent or at least was involved with it, not just because he had studied at Georgetown and was a friend of Frank Calzón who at that time was recruiting CIA agents in the university but, more than that, because he had done some undercover investigations.
He also studied the reasons for and causes of the Bay of Pigs defeat. He reached no worthwhile objective conclusions about why they lost at the Bay of Pigs or about the people’s role in that victory.
From 1981 to 1983 he worked for Ronald Reagan's government as assistant manager of the United States Agency for International Development, usually known by its initials USAID, that has also been known to serve as a front to CIA agents and terrorists of Cuban descent. I will give you two examples. Dan Mitrione who was a CIA agent sent to Uruguay and whom Uruguayan revolutionaries executed used USAID as a cover. And then the three terrorists who tried to assassinate the Commander in Chief in Chile in 1971 also used that U.S. agency as cover. And for three years, this same individual is precisely the assistant manager of an organization, which is used as a CIA front.
That was Otto Reich up until 1983.
Randy Alonso.- Anyway, I think it is important to specify, Dimas that at that point in the history of this sinister figure, when he occupied an important position in the United States Agency for International Development, from which he directed relations with Latin America at a time when there were dictatorships in almost all of the countries in that region. It was also a time when this agency had devoted itself to bankrolling the forces of reaction in our continent and furthermore was beginning what would later become the strong US offensive in Central America, which caused tens of thousands of deaths in that region. The estimates are more than 200,000 deaths, if you count Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. I think that this also shows Otto Reich’s very early ties with the US extreme right and their plans for our region.
Eduardo Dimas.- It was a time, Randy, when there were dictatorships in almost all of Central America, except for the Sandinista Revolution that had triumphed in 1979, and it was none other than Reich who played an important role against the Sandinista Revolution. Then, when you look at South America, there were military dictatorships in almost all countries there. There was the Argentine dictatorship, the Chilean dictatorship, and the Uruguayan dictatorship, which lasted until 1985. The Brazilian dictatorship was still in power. In other words, there were a lot of dictatorships in Latin America and that was the exact time when he held the position of assistant manager of the Unite States Agency for International Development.
Randy Alonso.- Which funneled vast amounts of resources to these countries in the years in which Otto Reich held that position in an organization whose sad history in our continent and particularly the Cuban Revolution we know only too well.
But Otto Reich not only held that position, of, we could say, a certain prestige in Ronald Reagan’s administration. Shortly afterwards he was also called to occupy an important position in the State Department. That led this sinister figure to get directly involved in the dirty war that the United States waged in the 80s, against Nicaragua specifically, but which extended to all the countries in Central America. I think that this is one of the darkest periods in the life of this figure and Reinaldo Taladrid can elaborate on that.
Reinaldo Taladrid. – Of course, Randy. The position to which the Reagan Administration appointed him in 1983 was called special advisor to the Secretary of State on Public Diplomacy.
I’ll relate the history of the dirty war in Central America and all that stuff using US government reports, one from the General Accounting Office, which investigates at the request of the U.S. Congress and another from a congressional investigation. I will only add some other things that do not appear in these reports.
For example, this General Accounting Office report reads that when he held that post, Otto Reich had violated the restriction placed on the State Department’s annual budget that prohibits the use of federal funds for publicity or propaganda purposes not authorized by the U.S. Congress. This is the first of his three major violations: using government money for publicity or propaganda not authorized by the U.S. Congress.
What does all that mean? That the U.S. nation, Congress and all its powers were not legally at war with Nicaragua and that they waging a war behind Congress’s back, ignoring the U.S. laws, and that this man, Otto Reich, it reads so in this report, "used federal funds for unauthorized publicity and propaganda purposes."
But let’s put it clear. What were they doing exactly? I’ll give you some examples related to that phrase "publicity and propaganda purposes not authorized by Congress".
One: the crudest disinformation. For example, what did Otto Reich do? They gave him a fantastic office and a big budget. He participated in meetings at the White House. And what was one of the things he did in his office? He fabricated articles in his office and signed them with the names of contras who were in Central America paid for by the Americans. They had never even been told that these articles were going to be written or had been written, in other words, they forged the signatures; they signed them and sent the articles to numerous papers. What Otto Reich did is a crime, included in and made a punishable offence by any criminal code in the United States or in any other country.
I will quote again from the General Accounting Office report: "He used the names of contra leaders to get articles published in important newspapers."
Another example of the things that he did. He misinformed and crudely falsified information, but with one peculiarity, which I think is this group’s contribution to the history of political chicaneries. For example, they wrote in a report that there were Soviet combat MiGs in Nicaragua which were an offensive weapon and which were an imminent danger to practically all of the United States, Central America and the world. It was a lie, there was not a single Soviet MiG in Nicaragua; there were artillery helicopters, that’s all, there were no MiGs. That was a lie. But the worst thing is that Otto Reich wrote the report, took it to his accomplices and one of them signed it. Who signed it? Well, National Security Council advisor Robert Mc Farlane did it. The report was fabricated, he signed it, and it was "leaked"; that’s how they leak things to the press, as "documents obtained from sources who have asked to remain anonymous". Otto Reich invented that there were Soviet MiGs in Nicaragua and that is also a crime.
Recently, in the United States there were all sorts of problems with perjury in relation to a scandal of an intimate, private, sexual nature, about "didn’t you say this", and "what about that?" So, is this perjury? No this is super perjury, because it also affects national security of the United States, the prestige of the U.S. and that of another country.
Randy Alonso.- It also placed a whole region in danger. It must be remembered all the tension there was then in Central America.
Reinaldo Taladrid.- Yes. It seemed that those MiGs were going to attack California, but it was being attacked by something else that I’ll explain later, which was not exactly Soviet MiGs. It seemed that those MiGs were something else that they were going to invade the United States. But he had made all that up himself.
What methods did he use so that the message got through, loud and clear, like they wanted?
This GAO report says: "As has been confirmed from documents that were secret at the time and which have now been declassified, Otto Reich even went as far as to threaten" —and here you can see the Miami mob’s hand— "heads of TV networks and of other media and had special agents hired for the exclusive mission of monitoring what was broadcast about the internal conflict in Nicaragua, Cuba and other topics." Look, a crude threat, and what is more, "special agents" monitoring, reporting and threatening. That is the mob in action in the administration. This is one the risks with these people; I’ll talk about this later.
There is a very revealing statement, which is not in this report, by Francisco Campbell who is today the president of the International Relations Committee of the Central American Parliament. He was then counselor at the Nicaraguan Embassy in the United States. He said the following to the newspaper La Prensa: "We had managed to take advantage of the various displays and expressions of solidarity from the American people and were channeling them against the war. Reich was brought in to stop that." Funny, isn’t it? There you had the American people decently feeling solidarity, because they realized that this was an unjust war, they had already been through Viet Nam. What was Otto Reich’s responsibility? Quite simply, to stop the American people’s spontaneous feelings of solidarity with justice, their refusal to get involved in another Viet Nam.
Randy Alonso.- Reich’s office had two principal objectives at that time, Taladrid; on the one hand, to water down any solidarity movement with Nicaragua and on the other to create conditions leading to the U.S. Congress repealing of the embargo on arms sales to the Nicaraguan contra, which was in effect at the time.
Reinaldo Taladrid.- An amendment that existed, precisely because of earlier experiences.
But Francisco Campbell who was in the Nicaraguan embassy in the United States at that time goes on to say: "That office [Reich’s] tried to make our work more difficult, it was a low intensity war and a war of attrition on all levels. They prevented us from making solidarity tours in the United States, they put surveillance equipment outside the embassy and then they accused us of being spies."
Francisco Campbell also says that "anti-Sandinista campaigns came out of that office all the time with things like ‘The Sandinistas are persecuting the Jews’, or ‘they are committing genocide against colored people, the Misquitos’. Then showed photos that later turned out to be photos of wars in African countries." In other words, they took a photo of a war in an African country and said: "These are Sandinistas persecuting the Misquitos", and that is what Otto Reich and his office did. Just look at the ethics and the respect for the law there was in that office run by Otto Reich.
"Furthermore", Francisco Campbell adds, "they insinuated that because of the so-called ‘domino effect’, the Sandinistas would invade the United States in the area around Arlington, Texas. Things like that came out of there all the time and were published all over the world".
As you were saying, they were preparing public opinion: "The Sandinistas are going to invade the United States", they said. Remember Reagan’s famous words about El Salvador, but which could be applied to Nicaragua as well: "El Salvador is nearer to Houston than Houston is to New York", therefore, "we are in national danger". And Otto Reich was a leading actor in that poisoning of the American people. But, I will get to that later.
So now, where does this all lead to Randy? To what you were saying before, that this has happened with Cuba as well, which is why I am deliberately making this comparison, of how public opinion can be poisoned, how they flood the public with lies, how they use the tax-payers’ money to dupe them and wherever there are signs of solidarity, they pounce all over it.
To give you an idea of the enormity of what he did, I quote La Prensa: "It has been reported that in the space of 15 months Reich’s office arranged and promoted a total of 1,570 radio and television interviews, as well as meetings with editorial boards on the subject of Central America."
It is very simple. People also let themselves be used. You take the editorial board of a newspaper, bring in a specialist from Mr. Otto Reich‘s office, advisor to I don’t know what of Public diplomacy, and he tells the board all these lies and then they print them and they go all around the world, the same with TV.
But he did not only do it on TV and the radio. Otto Reich proudly reported in his own words that: "In a recent mailing of three pamphlets on Nicaragua we reached 1,600 libraries in colleges and universities, 520 faculties of International Relations and Political Science, 162 editorial writers and 107 religious organizations".
This, Randy, is a crime, he broke U.S. law, he manipulated the American people, and look that, any resemblance to current events might be real. Then, whom do they need now? Someone who goes after students traveling on a ship who wanted to meet with Comrade Fidel, someone who says Cuba is a threat. Well, all that has already been done with Nicaragua, it was done with Central America, so why not use it now against Cuba? If Reich has already done it before, you have seen their lies, how they used photos of African countries to say that the Misquitos were being persecuted.
Now, there was a second line of work in Otto Reich’s office. The General Accounting Office reports:
"The use of funds for propaganda in favor of the Nicaraguan contras and to raise funds to buy arms for the contras". Here is the second major violation. That was the second objective: raising funds.
"The network in which Otto Reich participated raised money and channeled it to accounts outside the country " --does this sound familiar?-- "in the Cayman Islands or in a secret account at Lake Resources Bank in Switzerland."
Many of the key figures involved have never been questioned or interviewed by the commissions that investigated the so-called Iran-Contragate Scandal.
"The General Accounting Office report found that Reich’s office generally did not follow the federal regulations established for contractual procedures in his contracts with numerous individuals and several companies. That office, quoting Reich, says that "Otto Reich was not, in general, familiar with the details of contracting procedures of his office."
In other words, that he didn’t know whom he was contracting. They can’t say it, Randy, and it doesn’t say in the General Accounting Office report whom they were contracting and where they were getting the funds.
These things about Iran-Contragate are true, but I rather call it Coca-Contra, because in order to pay for arms for the Contras, a lot more money was raised, in cold hard cash, by selling drugs like cocaine than was made through the notorious and infamous sale of arms to Iran, and it doesn’t say anything about that here. How did this system work? It was very simple: planes flew from Homestead, in Florida, or from California, and they landed at a base called Ilopango, in El Salvador. They unloaded the weapons, and filled the planes with marijuana and cocaine, which was taken back to the United States and sold there. I want to make a pause here for a moment.
Who was at the Ilopango base at that very time, working on the same team as Otto Reich, in charge of receiving the planes, distributing the weapons and ensuring that the planes were refilled with cocaine and marijuana before returning to the United States? It was Luis Posada Carriles. Therefore, Otto Reich was a work colleague, or worked in the same network, the same activities, as Luis Posada Carriles. Therefore, Otto Reich, and let him deny it if he dares, is an accomplice to drug trafficking, because these planes returned to the United States filled with cocaine. And I’m not the one who says so. A journalist from the San Jose Mercury News, Garry Weeb, said it. He published a series of three articles entitled Dark Alliance, exposing how CIA agents working for this network sold cocaine in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts in order to fund arms purchases.
The cocaine that Luis Posada Carriles sent from Ilopango and that Otto Reich did everything possible to cover up arrived in Los Angeles. But where was it sold, in Beverly Hills? No. It was sold in the neighborhood of Watts, the black area of Los Angeles, whose representative is Congresswoman Maxine Waters. And Maxine Waters denounced it, and insisted that a commission be established to investigate it.
The CIA director during the Clinton administration was forced to admit that it was true, that the CIA had sold cocaine in the United States, in Los Angeles, to raise money for arms, and they made much more money out of this than they did by selling arms to Iran. Therefore, it would be more fitting to call it Coca-Contra, because Félix Rodríguez, who put Posada Carriles to work there, once the Foundation had got him out of jail in Venezuela; Luis Posada Carriles; Donald Greg, who was the liaison between these people and General Richard Secord, and worked in the office of the then Vice President of the United States; Otto Reich, who made sure that none of this became known, and that the American people would believe the complete opposite, that they were being protected from the Sandinista threat; they all participated in one way or another in cocaine smuggling, in drug trafficking, to finance a political operation, and that is what it doesn’t say here.
Randy Alonso.- It should be remembered as well, Taladrid, that when one of the planes was shot down over Nicaragua, the pilot, Eugene Hassenfus, declared among other things that Félix Rodríguez and Luis Posada Carriles were responsible for the operation in Ilopango. In other words, these two counterrevolutionaries and terrorists, whose long records are well known to us, were associated in this major operation, directed by the highest authorities in the United States. Mr. Otto Reich knew about everything that was going on there. Furthermore, he was a direct participant in the decisions since he knew exactly who was helping the U.S. government to carry out these activities in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Reinaldo Taladrid.- He is an accessory to drug trafficking. Legally, in a court of law, this person is an accessory to the crime of drug trafficking. Cocaine and marijuana were being brought into the country, and he was lying to the contrary.
Randy, I don’t have enough time but there are more things here about Otto Reich, such as statements about how the pilots operated. A pilot told CBS about how he unloaded marijuana in Homestead. There are statements about how the cocaine was sold in Los Angeles, about how Posada and Félix Rodríguez were right there in the airports. Meanwhile, with the money from the mechanics in Detroit, and the farmers in Kansas, and all the unaware American taxpayers, Otto Reich was telling the American people the opposite: "Beware of the Sandinista MiGs", he said, "and of the Cuban threat". That is what he did, and that is what he will do again, because that is all he knows how to do.
There was a third objective during Reich’s time in that office, and I will now quote once again from the U.S. General Accounting Office report.
"Otto Reich was involved in covert and prohibited propaganda activities and went beyond acceptable limits in public information activities." These are sometimes euphemisms used in these reports, covert propaganda. It reminds me of Ramonet’s book, Silent Propaganda.
In this case they were not selling products. They were openly passing off lies, printing them and spreading them around the world.
This is what is meant by ‘covert propaganda’.
Otto Reich’s office was nothing more than a CIA office. This work, up until the time of the Reagan administration, was done by the CIA, which had an office specializing in this. It is the same as this NED thing, which was the work of the CIA as well. They did it in Europe when they wanted to stop the communists in Italy and France from reaching power after the Second World War. It’s all the same. Later, during the Reagan era, it was simply legalized and made public. And who was it done with? With the same CIA people who had done it all before.
I’ll quote from another report, so you can see that I am not making these things up. This is from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, in a 1988 report, which reads:
"High ranking CIA officers experienced in covert actions and experts in Defense Department psychological operations, were deeply involved in setting up and taking part in the internal politics and propaganda that were developed in that obscure –it says this in a U.S. Congress report-- in that obscure State Department Office which answered directly to the National Security Council, and not as established, through the usual State department channels."
Another report, a bipartisan report issued on November 1987 by the Congressional committee that investigated the so-called Iran-Contragate scandal, determined that: "In practice, public diplomacy became a public relations matter, a lobby paid for with public funds."
A detailed criticism of the public diplomacy operations written by a member of the Iran-Contragate commission was erased from the final version of the report, after the bipartisan debate heated up. What does this mean? That probably not even half of the things done by this office are here.
What happened in this office? Very simply, these people had targeted the American public. Look that it was not the Nicaraguan people, in this case. The target for this disinformation, for which techniques were devised, was the American people. And the part that was erased from the report admits that the targets were the American mainstream, the opinion makers and the business leaders of the country; in other words, they were out to deceive everyone. They tried to confuse the entire population with these things. That was the target of this operation. This was a CIA office, and suddenly on one hand there was the CIA, Otto Reich, Luis Posada, and on the other hand there were these people selling cocaine in the United States, and their target was the U.S. public, although they were supposed to be doing these things abroad. That was what happened in Otto Reich’s office.
They say that human beings have the capacity for repentance, I won’t argue with that, but I would now like to quote something that Otto Reich said just a few days ago, on Wednesday, March 13, as reported from Washington in El Universal.
"He could not escape," the newspaper says, "from the shadow of his troubles in the 1980s, when he was accused of having lied to the Congress about his role in the Iran-Contragate scandal." And Otto Reich replied, "We have nothing to be ashamed of."
That is what Otto Reich thinks about everything he did in that office. This is how Otto Reich feels about smuggling drugs into the United States. This is what he thinks about having worked with terrorists, with people whose hands are stained with the blood of hundreds of dead. This is what Otto Reich feels about deceiving the American people, using the American taxpayers’ money. This is what Otto Reich thinks about having practically destroyed Central America, given the cost to the region not only in terms of lives lost, but also in underdevelopment, in social problems, all the things provoking these violent emigrations, because they are not concerned with these problems they created. It is still to be seen if Otto Reich is going to solve the problems he himself created, problems like poverty, unemployment, and indigence. He does not regret the social disaster provoked in the region by that war.
So, what does it mean, Randy? It means that any system of government that puts a man like Otto Reich in a leadership position within the government is a government against the people. It is certainly not a government of the people, by the people and for the people. As long as Otto Reich is in a government, he will be like a cancer in that part of the government, and he will work against the people.
Randy Alonso.- Undoubtedly, the Otto Reich of the 1980s is clearly an accessory to drug trafficking, an accessory to terrorism and an accessory to genocide, the genocide of hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives in Central America due to the United States’ dirty war against that region.
Thank you, Taladrid, for your comments.
When the Iran-Contragate scandal broke out, and the congressional investigations began, when the continuation in power of the main leaders of that U.S. administration was endangered, when it was no longer convenient for Otto Reich to be in Washington, the Reagan administration named this gentleman its ambassador to Venezuela, where he served once again as a godfather of terrorists.
Rogelio Polanco can tell us more about those times.
Rogelio Polanco.- After these scandalous activities in Central America, and this office of lies and slander run by Otto Reich in Central America, in addition to trafficking in arms and drugs – as Taladrid explained – he was rewarded with nothing other than the post of U.S. ambassador to Venezuela. He was there from 1986 to 1989. It must be said that his arrival in that country met with a great deal of opposition from the government, which was being pressured at the time by various progressive sectors, particularly the students, who were very much aware of the background of this individual sent to Venezuela by the United States, and were thus very much opposed to his being there.
Many sources say that during Reich’s term as ambassador, his performance was mediocre. This was the only possible assessment. The U.S. business community had questioned him on his poor performance in the area of trade relations between the two countries, since he aligned himself completely with the Cuban-born business people in Venezuela and with extremist stances against Cuba. It is even said that at the time, Otto Reich was heavily criticized for interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs, when he publicly stated opposition to a visit made by our Commander in Chief for the presidential inauguration of Carlos Andrés Pérez, at the invitation of the Venezuelan head of state. This U.S. proconsul actually went so far as to publicly oppose a sovereign decision of the Venezuelan state.
On the verge of quitting in 1989, after all of these incidents in Venezuela, he sought support in different circles to stay on for a longer period of time. But in the end, he failed.
One of the most interesting aspects of Otto Reich’s time in Venezuela is once again his links with terrorism, something quite typical for him, because during this time be became linked with none other than Orlando Bosch. Senator Christopher Dodd, who has openly opposed Otto Reich’s nomination as Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs, maintained in a statement on this designation, that "while Reich was ambassador to Venezuela, he served as a kind of protector for Orlando Bosch."
This is because when Reich arrived in Venezuela — this was revealed later, through cables declassified under the Freedom of Information Act – he made inquiries to the State Department about the possibility of Bosch being eligible for a U.S. visa. I don’t think I need to talk about Orlando Bosch’s background, which has been widely discussed and is well known by our people. He is one of the most wanted terrorists on the continent, however he freely walks the streets of the United States today.
On another occasion, he informed Washington that friends of Orlando Bosch – we know who these friends are – were prepared to get him out of Venezuela quickly, just four hours after his release from prison. In other words, Reich was fully informed of the efforts being made by the anti-Cuban mob and the U.S. extreme right to acquit Orlando Bosch, get him out of Venezuela, and of course, to ensure his full impunity.
Randy Alonso.- He played an important role in these efforts.
Rogelio Polanco.- He participated in them directly, and there is proof of this. Just a short time after Reich presented his credentials as the new ambassador, Bosch was acquitted and then entered the United States. We should remember this moment, when the mob pulled out all the stakes. We know about everything done by the "big bad she-wolf" to get him into the United States, and we also know what the U.S. authorities said at the time.
Randy Alonso.- I would like to emphasize that moment, because it is particularly interesting.
Just now Taladrid was talking about the public office in the State Department where this man became a manufacturer of lies, and this case involving Bosch is another moment when he demonstrated his talent for lying. And that is because Otto Reich, in order to justify facilitating Mr. Orlando Bosch’s entry into the United States, not only made inquiries among his contacts in the State Department to see if there was any possibility of granting a visa to a terrorist wanted by the U.S. authorities themselves, but even went so far as to say that Orlando Bosch was in danger of being murdered by Cuban forces if he was acquitted and released from jail, and therefore needed the protection of the U.S. government.
Rogelio Polanco.- That was one of the lies. He stated at the time that Bosch needed to be protected immediately, and to be allowed into the United States, because, according to his sources, there was a Cuban task force ready to kill him, that this was something imminent, and therefore he needed to go to the United States. This is another one of the huge lies used by Otto Reich, an expert in slander and lies.
The Assistant Attorney General of the United States at the time, Joe Whitley, had already said who Orlando Bosch was. This high-ranking U.S. government official had declared that Orlando Bosch remained resolved and true to his ideology of terrorist violence. That he had threatened and carried out acts of violent terrorism against many targets, even against friendly countries and their high ranking officials; that he had repeatedly expressed his satisfaction for having caused severe injuries and even death. His actions had been that of a terrorist with absolute disregard to the law or to human decency, who inflicts violence mindless of the identity of his victims.
In other words, the Assistant Attorney General of the United States had already established this at the time, in a report turning down an appeal submitted to a Federal Court to prevent Orlando Bosch from being extradited from the United States. Later, he was granted a presidential pardon, as we all know, in 1990, and today Orlando Bosch freely walks the streets of Miami.
I think this is yet further proof that Otto Reich was, and he still is an accessory to terrorism, because he helped get this terrorist out of jail. He defied the laws of the United States to facilitate his entry into that country, and to ensure impunity for this international terrorist. You could say, birds of a feather flock together, and help each other fly free.
Randy Alonso.- As for Otto Reich, I was reading one of the things that have been published about them. I should say that in the Internet you can spend hours reading things about this sinister character. One of the things I read was that this man organized a party in 1989 and invited hundreds of important figures from Venezuela, to try to get them to intercede on his behalf with the U.S. Government and have his posting in Venezuela extended. There was tremendous opposition to Otto Reich’s presence in Venezuela, his mediocre performance there, his interference in Venezuelan affairs, and it all backfired on him in the end, because he was called back –some say he quit, others say he was called back– and his functions as ambassador to Venezuela ended in 1989. This was after he had starred in what was perhaps one of the most scandalous episodes in the history of U.S. ambassadors to that country by having contributed to the acquittal of the most notorious terrorist, wanted in the United States at the time, and by additionally backing all of the Miami mob’s efforts with the U.S. authorities, the U.S. Government, and especially the President, to obtain a presidential pardon for Orlando Bosch.
It is also known that Otto Reich has kept up his relationship with the anti-Cuban mob, that he frequently visits Miami, and that Orlando Bosch remains very active in this mob.
Otto Reich returned to the United States after the end of his diplomatic functions, in Caracas, and from that moment on he devoted himself to lobbying members of Congress in Washington for the adoption of legislation favorable to the interests of big U.S. companies and for support for all anti-Cuban initiatives put forward there. It should be recalled that it was at this point in time, in the 1990s that the socialist bloc collapsed, the Soviet Union disappeared, and the U.S. Government’s actions against our country were stepped up, with the further intensification of the blockade. And right in the midst of this U.S. Government attack on the Cuban Revolution, Otto Reich was appointed the United States’ alternate ambassador to the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. Arleen Rodríguez can share some details about this with us.
Arleen Rodríguez.- Thank you, Randy, and hello everyone.
I think this was the first major insult to Latin America, before the designation of Otto Reich, the imposition, through a decree of the new U.S. Administration. First there was this major insult, designating this notorious terrorist who fomented a policy of state terrorism in Central America designating this man as alternate ambassador to the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, in 1991. And he followed in the footsteps of none other than a character we all remember as a genuine buffoon, the one who pretended to be paralyzed, and was then seen by everyone doing exercises; the one who, as Miguel Barnet recalled in a round table here, got off the plane in Paris walking like a frisky dog.
Otto Reich served as the United States’ alternate representative at the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva from 1991 to 1992, during those two years, carrying on the anti-Cuban policy. It is worth remembering that the big campaign against our country began in 1987, and it was precisely a result of the leading role played by Cuba in denouncing the ongoing violations of human rights in our region, in Latin America, and particularly when cases like those of El Salvador and Guatemala began to be taken to the Commission on Human Rights, cases from Central America, precisely.
This whole policy was launched in 1987, and failed repeatedly. We should also remember the time when they managed to impose a representative of the Secretary General on Cuba, and he quit after a year, because what he had been sent to do made no sense. And this was the way things went for several years, as the policy met with one failure after another.
It was between 1991 and 1992, Reich’s years in the Commission on Human Rights, that Cuba was attacked with even greater fervor in the CHR. As you have pointed out, this was the time of the opportunists, when the socialist system in Eastern Europe crumbled, and it was believed that the time was ripe for attacking Cuba in the Commission on Human Rights, which had long been used as a forum for political maneuvering and manipulation by the nations of the North, as always, with purely political purposes, as has been the case in recent years. They took full advantage of this.
We should remember how the United States attempted to use Latin America, and then the European Union, and finally resorted to using Eastern Europe. It was in the 1990s, in the Reich era, that we first saw co-sponsorship by the Czechs to push for a Special Rapporteur for Cuba, something imposed until 1998, when this U.S. maneuver against our country was definitively defeated.
That was the work of this individual, who was obviously, like his predecessor, Valladares, taken there by the Cuban-American mob, which has historically been behind individuals like these. It has been commented, however, that he was not the best option to be taken there. But obviously, he was proposed by the Cuban-American mob. In other words, they would have fully backed him. But I see this above all in connection with a U.S. policy, which is insulting to Latin America.
Sending Otto Reich to the Commission on Human Rights in 1991 and 1992 not only signified an exacerbation of the United States’ anti-Cuban policy, or a further demonstration –after the Valladares episode– of the fact that all of the United States’ representatives are obsessed with the Cuban issue and have turned it into their favorite instrument of political pressure. It also was an insult to the peoples of Central America, because the long list of crimes committed against these peoples grew longer during the era in which Otto Reich played such a central role in fomenting these criminal policies in Central America.
Randy Alonso.- It must be noted that this was the United States’ policy, and it continues to be so: first they designated a terrorist like Armando Valladares, who planted bombs in this country, and practiced terrorism in Cuba, and then they designated Otto Reich, who practiced state terrorism in Central America, who practiced genocide against hundreds of thousands of people in Central America, as representative of the U.S. Government at the UN Commission on Human Rights. These are the kinds of individuals used by the U.S. government to implement their policies against the peoples, and particularly against the people of Cuba.
Arleen Rodríguez.- If there were still any doubt as to the essence of these maneuvers, as to the fact that the United States does not take part in the Commission as just another country there to fulfill the original objectives of the Commission on Human Rights, namely the presentation of periodic reports on the evolution of human rights in different countries, but rather, that is uses the Commission to implement an openly anti-Cuban policy, then any doubts should be dispelled by their designation, year after year, of individuals of Cuban origin and the most aggressive of U.S. politicians from the Cuban-American community or from the ultra right. This case proves that. With the designation of Otto Reich from 1991 to 1992, we witnessed the reinforcement of something that Cuba has always denounced, that the United States’ participation there is basically aimed against our country.
Randy Alonso.- Thank you, Arleen.
As we have pointed out, the decade of the 1990s marked the reinforcement of the most aggressive policies used by U.S. Administrations against the Cuban Revolution. For these purposes, they sought the help of the Cuban-American mob and its most sinister members. Otto Reich was a direct participant in the effort to reinforce this criminal U.S. policy against Cuba.
Juana Carrasco will comment on some of these matters.
Juana Carrasco.- Randy, we would have to say that during that entire decade, and up until now, Reich has devoted himself to hindering trade with Cuba, to reinforcing the blockade, to supporting counterrevolutionary factions, to promoting subversive activities in such sectors as the press and the scientific community. He has devoted himself to using the U.S. Interests Section, defending the Helms-Burton Act, defending Bacardi, attempting to keep our little Elián in the United States. He has used two organizations for this, primarily: one is the U.S.-Cuban Business Council, and the other is the Center for a Free Cuba, Frank Calzón’s organization. We’re going to take a look at these two institutions, and to Otto Reich "academic" activities during that stage since he spent so much time participating in programs, seminars, and round tables.
The Cuban Business Council is an organization devoted to working specifically in the political, academic and economic sectors. For what purpose? To discourage the establishment of commercial relations or commitments for investment and business in Cuba by U.S. companies and, when possible, from other countries as well. And what was the justification used?
The justification was that they were defending the "property rights" of all those companies making claims, the companies that were nationalized in Cuba and are thus covered by the Helms-Burton Act.
And what was their other objective? To develop academic programs and studies with a single aim: to spread disinformation on the sociopolitical and economic situation of Cuba, with one basic intent: to intensify the blockade and attempt to foment internal subversion.
This was the subversive line of work undertaken by Otto Reich throughout that time. How did he do it? For example, in the year 1991, he participated in a meeting of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), where he declared that "as long as Fidel was at the head of the Cuban Revolution, Cuba would not change." So what did he propose? That it was necessary to follow a policy aimed at trying to bring about changes at the highest level of our Revolution, and that as such, the United States had to continue exerting pressure against the Cuban Revolution.
Given the great mastery he had acquired in the "diplomatic publicity" he carried out during the dirty war in Nicaragua, he continued to develop his talent for lying. For example, he claimed that Cuba had no interest in establishing economic ties with Latin America. He claimed that the overthrow of the Cuban Revolution had to be achieved, and that it was already about to happen in a violent manner. I am talking about the year 1991. Eleven years have now passed since he made that prediction, which he alleged to be imminent. And of course, he insisted on the need to follow the same policy against Cuba as had been followed with the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s, in order to bring about the fall of the Cuban Revolution. In other words, this organization, the National Endowment for Democracy, had promoted subversion in the Soviet Union and the former socialist countries, and now wanted a repeat performance in Cuba.
Now, what did Otto Reich suggest to the NED? That they support the counterrevolutionary factions in Cuba, and promote the participation of Latin American leaders in this maneuver.
The U.S.-Cuba Business Council –I always forget to include Cuba in the name, because this is only the business of the United States– was planning, for example, in 1999 and 2000, to carry out subversive activities in our country, and also to seek out support in the United States. Among their plans was the publication of a monthly newsletter. They gave it the title Voices from Cuba, and they planned to distribute it in the United States, and in Cuba as well. For this they enlisted the assistance of the Interests Section.
Randy Alonso.- The collaboration of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.
Juana Carrasco.- The collaboration of the U.S. Interests Section to ensure that this newsletter reached, above all, press people, scientists and intellectuals. That was their plan, and the "news" printed in this bulletin was supposed to come from information provided over the telephone from Cuba. Of course, this would be completely distorted information about the reality here.
I was saying that Reich did a lot of "academic" work. He was a panelist at various events, and at all of them he addressed the same topic: Cuba. He was the Cuban specialist for the defense of all the sanctions and all the hostility against Cuba.
Randy Alonso.- Otto Reich’s visceral hatred for the Cuban Revolution and for the Commander in Chief is not a passing fancy, it is a hatred that dates back a long way, and it was manifested with much greater passion and urgency in the 1990s, when there was so much talk of the domino effect and the belief that the Cuban Revolution was destined to fall.
Juana Carrasco.- In fact, a lot of the opposition to the designation of Reich is precisely because of the fact that he goes against the current. He is obsessed with his hostility and hatred towards Cuba, and one of the things that seem to keep him up at night is the thought of U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba. This has also been a focal point in Reich’s activities, criticizing travel to our country by American people.
He has also devoted himself to lying. Lying is this gentleman’s modus operandi. Among other things, he has questioned the legitimacy of the study carried out on the impact of the blockade on the Cuban health sector.
Randy Alonso.- And it was carried out by one of the most prestigious institutions in the health field in the United States.
Juana Carrasco.- It was a study done in 1998, and he vehemently claimed that it wasn’t true. Our people know enough about the impact of the blockade on health to know that everything in this report is true, and even more than is in the report, which this man claims to be false.
In addition, he has promoted a number of bills in the U.S. Congress, particularly to impose sanctions on companies from third countries that invest in Cuba, in what they claim to be U.S. properties, and thus subject to the Helms-Burton Act. I’m not going to say anything more about this; it will be discussed further at this round table. This just gives you an idea of some of his lies.
To top it all, the United States-Cuba Business Council also attempted to convert it into the receptor of medical and food donations to Cuba, within the context of what Cuba’s bitter enemy, Senator Jesse Helms, was suggesting. These conditions were totally unacceptable because it was practically tantamount to saying: Cuba must give in, and only then would the medicines and food enter the country. What is more, these were to be distributed by those same counter-revolutionary factions or some so-called organisations or private properties here, who knows where they were going to find these, but that was their game.
Also, in 1994, Reich went before a congressional hearing to speak against a Bill sponsored by Charles Rangel aimed at lifting the blockade on our country. Reich went to do just the opposite, to ask for sanctions against Cuba to be intensified.
In March 1995, he was in a round table organised by the Heritage Foundation, one of the most conservative think tanks of that country, and declared, this being a textual recording: "Nothing would make Castro more happy than if the United States would invade Cuba. Washington would never do this because this would be playing his game". As if we wanted North American troops to invade our country and massacre our people. Him being an inveterate Pinochio, he goes on telling his lies time after time.
He spends his time denigrating the Cuban Revolution, distorting the socio-political situation in our country, and at one point he even suggested that the United States government send messages to our armed forces and soldiers to supposedly win their support for subversive and counter-revolutionary action. He believed that our armed forces were prepared to launch a coup d’état. Being used to supporting coups throughout Latin America, they thought the same could happen anywhere in the world.
He even became involved in presidential campaigns. Presidential campaigns in the United States are an ideal milieu for all these elements. In 1996, he was nothing less than the foreign political advisor on Latin America for one of the candidates, republican Robert Dole. I’m sure you can imagine what kind of advise he was offering. He believed that if Dole had won at that time, his would have been one of the high offices in that government. All of his rhetoric and all of his actions have been based on closed collaboration with two individuals who are essential in any type of counter-revolutionary activity, congress members Lincoln Díaz-Balart and Ileana Ross.
Dimas told me a while ago that he set up and formed part of the board of directors, along with Frank Calzón, of the Free Cuba Center.
Randy Alonso.- An entity created in 1997 by Frank Calzón, where Reich is one of the main directors.
Juana Carrasco.- With Frank Calzón, who is a CIA agent, a recruiter. This was one of his activities working for Track II of the Torricelli Act. Everything that has been done against Cuba during the 1990’s has always involved Mr. Otto Reich amongst the leading figures.
Randy Alonso.- I would add what I think highlights the maliciousness of this individual who is some sort of an expert in these televised debates. For a long time he was one of the participants in a program called "Choque de opiniones" (Clash of opinions) on CNN in Spanish, where he defended the most reactionary views of the American extreme right and set himself up as a spokesman for the anti-Cuban mob.
Arleen Rodríguez.- Not just against Cuba.
Randy Alonso.- No, against everything.
Arleen Rodríguez.- I saw such debates a number of times, especially when he was a spokesman on the Cold War. His were always the most reactionary views, when talking of his own personal nemesis --the Soviet Union.
Juana Carrasco.- Randy, I assume you’re referring to the fact that he participated in debates against José Pertierra, in the case of Elián González for example, but not just about Elián. This man has gone from attempting to block trade with Cuba in whatever way possible to attempts to prolong Elián’s kidnapping. He’s even attempted to interfere with something so simple, so loved by both the Cuban and American peoples as baseball games. Even that!
Randy Alonso.- On December the 2, 1999, he was in a debate on PBS with lawyer José Pertierra, where this sinister individual showed his true foul colours attempting to defend to the end Elián González’ stay in the United States, away from his father, his family and his homeland, serving the perfidious interests of the terrorist and criminal mob based in Miami.
It is said in Washington that, since a few days ago, the State Department welcomed Latin American guests with a shot of Bacardí. This isn’t exactly because the Secretary of State of the United States is a big fan of this drink, but rather because Otto Reich, who receives all such Latin American guests in that institution, is one of the most important ‘proteges’ of Bacardí & Martini. This company has systematically spent time promoting actions against the Cuban Revolution and was the main financier behind the "Slavery Law" as comrade Raúl called the Helms-Burton Act. I think this is one of the defining moments for this individual, of his attitude to the Cuban Revolution, a demonstration of his visceral hatred for our people, and for all people of the world.
Rogelio Polanco.- Yes, the mob drinks Bacardí, this would be a fitting title for this stage of Otto Reich’s career, in which he received a great deal of money from this transnational that has attempted to rob our country of the Havana Club trademark.
Otto Reich began lobbying in 1994 with the company RMA-International, in favor of Bacardí-Martini Inc. and from then on he began to receive a lot of money. The total sum mentioned, according to sources of the mob itself, RMA-International, headed by Reich, received 600,000 USD from Bacardí for his lobbying. This of course included his efforts to ensure the passing of the notorious and criminal Helms-Burton Act and Section 211 on trademarks and patents, that everyone recalls and the great benefits they brought to his company. Furthermore, this is the period in which he was at the head of the so-called United States Cuba Business Council, that had been set up in 1993 and included the support of Bacardí and other transnationals with the alleged aim of seeking a transition to a post-revolutionary Cuba. Bacardí was one of the main backers of this Council, along with Kelley Dry and Warren, Chiquita, Coca-Cola, Ford-Motors, General Motors, the Miami Herald, Pepsi-Cola, Texaco, and many others.
Through these two actions, both as Bacardí’s legal adviser, with his company RMA-International, and also as President of the United States-Cuba Business Council he was present at various events, even in a hearing of the Western Hemisphere Sub-Committee of the Committee of International Relations in the House of Representatives in 1995, where he voted in for tightening the blockade against our country.
Also at this time, with help from Helms and the triad of anti-Cuban Congress members, he was involved in various legal actions to prevent foreign companies from investing in Cuba. There he worked alongside his friend from Georgetown University, Frank Calzón, the CIA agent, continually emphasizing the need to maintain the blockade against our country.
He played a fundamental role in the drafting of the Helms-Burton act, actively participating and offering advice for this infamous law. We mustn’t forget that this is an extraterritorial law, a law that may be considered as the prototype for blatant colonialist action. This is a legislation that even goes into details on what a post-revolutionary Cuba would be like, and in which the blockade against our country is wholly codified. It goes on to state that only after compensation has been paid for property confiscated (as they claim) by Cuba and such property returned one by one to the former American owners, amongst which they obviously include the Cuban mobsters in the United States, only then would they even begin to discuss the lifting of the blockade. For this, a "coordinator" would be designated by the US President to oversee this transitional period, to oversee the distribution of aid from the United States to Cuba to the alleged transitional government.
Notice that they never talk of a Cuban government; they talk of an American proconsul that, in consultation with the "coordinator", would nominate a United States-Cuba Business Council. What a coincidence, with the same name as the existing United States-Cuba Business Council where the president was none other than Otto Reich.
This appeared in Section 203 of the Helms-Burton Act, and this Council would be in charge of coordinating the activities of the US Government and the private sector to respond to changes in Cuba. Therefore, we are now talking of the moment when, according to them, the Revolution would collapse, all property would be handed over to the Americans with compensation and this Council would thereby deliberate its next move; hold periodical meetings between the representatives of Cuban and the US private sectors to promote bilateral trade. And they thought all this up, it is said that is was Reich himself; the very President of this Council who appointed himself President of the United States-Cuba Business Council, with a revolutionary Cuban government still in power, with a sovereign government in Cuba. Despite this, a Council President and a proconsul have already been nominated for the so-called "democratic transition" in Cuba.
For me this shows the infamy of this law, of the interfering attitude of Otto Reich who feels like an invader designated by his American overlords for a post-revolutionary period. Of course, this is something that even he knows will never happen and so, once more, his post remains empty.
Randy Alonso.- Yes, Polanco, and I’d like to add that Dan Fisk, ex-legislative adviser to the sinister congressman Jesse Helms, who, we all know, drafted the Helms Burton Act, admitted that Otto Reich was one of those offering the most advice in the formulation of this law. What is more, he was one of the individuals who went to testify in the US Congress, as a legal expert, in the hearings on this criminal project.
I would also add, Polanco that Reich’s role in all of this is no coincidence. On the one hand, his direct link with Bacardí, from whom he has received hundreds of thousands of dollars, and on the other hand the fact that under Helms Burton Act, the US-Cuba Business Council plays a crucial role.
According to this criminal law there would be even more financing for groups such as the Centre for a Free Cuba, of whose Board of Directors he is a member.
We must mention that since the passing of the Helms-Burton Act in 1996, the US-Cuba Business Council and the Centre for a Free Cuba have received more than 3 million dollars from the US government for activities against the Cuban Revolution.
Rogelio Polanco.- The Helms-Burton Act, or Bacardí Act.
Randy Alonso.- Or Bacardí Act, as many call it. Since that time, the Centre for a Free Cuba and the US-Cuba Business Council has received more than 3 million dollars for subversive activities against the Cuban Revolution. Of course, of this sum, a big slice has gone into the pockets of Otto Reich.
Thanks for your contribution, Polanco.
Randy Alonso.- The active participation of Otto Reich in the anti-Cuban policy of successive US Administrations throughout all these years and particularly in the last decade, is related to his close links with the US extreme right and particularly with the anti-Cuban terrorist mob. Reinaldo Taladrid will offer us more information on this subject.
Reinaldo Taladrid.- It would be my pleasure, Randy. If I may be permitted, I still have a niggling idea from before. As I told you, and since it was Press Day, a journalist, Gary Weeb, in the San Jose Mercury News, disclosed everything we said about how the drug was smuggled into the United Sates and I referred to it, although I haven’t quite finished. The problem was that for this action, Weeb was thrown off the newspaper, even though years later the director of the CIA admitted that what this journalist had claimed was in fact true.
Curiously, the major media began to attack him personally when he published his articles, even where these didn’t deal with drug trafficking themes. Years later, however, they published the results of research supporting the journalist’s claim. A tiny article appeared on the fifth page of the Washington Post on Press Day, one day after the elections, when the world’s attention was focused elsewhere. This is a good example, don’t forget that Otto Reich created a type of neonazi Gestapo corps to persecute journalists and intimidate the press. These methods still work, it is the consequence of opening the doors of government to this mob. It’s just an idea that had stuck in my mind and I wanted to air it.
You were talking of Otto Reich’s links with the mob. I’d rather say that this is no mere link, I prefer to say that Otto Reich is part of the American mob.
I have picked out some of the most indicative of these links, they are quite long but very representative. I’d like to begin chronologically:
Polanco was talking about the time when Reich was the Ambassador to Venezuela. Even then, around 1987, Otto Reich was organizing private meetings using US Government money with people such as Hubert Matos and Carlos Alberto Montaner, for example. Some say that Carlos Alberto Montaner is one of the most precocious terrorists in the hemisphere
Randy Alonso.- That’s true, Taladrid. When Otto Reich was the Ambassador in Venezuela, one of his closest associates was the well-known counter-revolutionary Hubert Matos. He was one of the people welcomed in his embassy, with whom he coordinated actions in that country and I think it is a good moment to offer this reminder.
Reinaldo Taladrid.- Yes, the problem with Hubert Matos is that he has always competed for money with the mother of all mob, the Cuban-American National Foundation. He tried to do something called TELECID, and the Foundation launched the ill-named "Martí" television.
He was always loosing battles for money and wasted a lot of energy on this. This is normal between different mob gangs that fight between themselves; but he was worn out. Maybe Otto Reich made the initial mistake of backing Hubert Matos, but his later alliance with the Foundation was to the death; he is still an unconditional associate of the Foundation.
In a private meeting at the time when he was the Ambassador to Venezuela, he began to talk of his links and participation as a mob member, and he promised Hubert Matos and Carlos Alberto Montaner the following: "Washington is prepared to contribute to the anti-Cuban cause through an increase in the financial aid given to counter-revolutionary organizations based in Venezuela." Why do I mention this, Randy? Because, he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.
All of these Cuban counter-revolutionary groups in Venezuela that have received money from Miami and even from the US Government itself, are today involved in a conspiracy to overthrow a legitimate government in this continent, of which it will be the Under Secretary of State. There you have it, as Ambassador he encouraged and financed these groups based in Venezuela, and these groups are now acting illegally, attempting to overthrow the Venezuelan government. This man, Otto Reich, is at the bottom of all this.
In 1989 when the Foundation emerged and inevitably he became Reagan’s Ambassador for all his anti-Cuban projects within the Foundation, Otto Reich was put to work in a project called, Mission "Martí". This project was nothing less than the Foundation’s plan to prepare Cuba’s future leaders.
You can imagine the texts and the classes given. For example, students were taught how to make money disappear from the Miami Mayor’s Office and reappear in the Foundation’s accounts, how to charge seven times more than the original cost for one meter of sidewalk and how to buy a telephone company in Spain and erase it from the map leaving thousands jobless. This money stolen in Spain, stolen in the Miami Mayor’s Office and stolen elsewhere, later appears mysteriously in a Panama prison; half a million dollars handed over to four terrorists to be shared between them. These could have been some of the subjects studied. I imagine they also had seminars and practical classes.
Randy Alonso.- Like how to plant a bomb
Reinaldo Taladrid.- Martín Pérez and Pepe Hernández were in that project. The latter’s speciality is 50 mm weapons capable of piercing armoured plating, this being perhaps their idea of how an Ibero-American conference should be. Perhaps the Foundation’s concept of an Ibero-American Summit is mere target practice.
Randy Alonso.- Or a bomb in a theatre full of students.
Reinaldo Taladrid.- Or how to assassinate Nobel prize winners, driving around a World Heritage city or how to open fire on a tourist beach or how to blow up a plane. These could have been some of the things taught by this "mission".
He participated in the preparation of the Foundation’s cadres for this project. Otto Reich is one of the godfathers of the ill-named Radio "Martí". He had two key moments: first, to take his first step when he was the head of the Office of Public Diplomacy.
Randy Alonso.- I wanted to remind everybody that he was appointed at precisely the time that he was the head of that great lie.
Reinaldo Taladrid.- Remember that Alexander Haig, Secretary of State at that time, has two famous quotes: one was during the assassination attempt on Reagan when he said: "I’m in control here", when his loose tongue almost cost him his job, and the other was: "We must go to the source of evil". Everything was evil: Moscow’s evil empire, the source of Cuba’s evil, the thing was to search for the source of evil regardless of the true causes of social conflict throughout history.
Otto Reich had two key moments in Radio "Martí": one was its creation; and, years later, in the 1990’s, was to include it within a programming of "Voice of the Americas". I smell money.
I wish to emphasise one thing, because there is a difference of opinion here. Some say he is a fanatic, some an ideologue. I don’t think any of these people are fanatics, they are gangsters and they use politics to live, they make an industry of it, a modus vivendi. They are no fanatics, they are only fanatical for themselves and they are gangsters, whether under Secretary of State or Head of the Office of Public Diplomacy or a member of a Foundation.
This NED, for example, that Juanita mentioned... so you can get an idea of why these people are gangsters and why they are a mob, and why that is not a rhetorical phrase. There is a study by John Nicole, a University of Pennsylvania professor, which shows how between 1983 and 1988, the years that Otto Reich was in the State Department, the government gave NED, I think it was $300,000 or $400,000. I don’t remember the exact sum. And that same amount of money ended up with the Foundation and it is the same amount of money that the Foundation gave to U.S. politicians to finance their campaigns, to politicians who afterwards voted for its projects. In other words, in the last analysis, the taxpayers’ money ended up in the politicians’ campaigns via NED and the Foundation to pay for dirty political objectives, illegal objectives. One more piece of evidence of why they are gangsters and why they are a mob, at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer and of the U.S. system. And that is the danger.
Now, when I said that Otto Reich is one of the godfathers of Radio Martí, I say that because everything we have seen recently about Radio Martí fits in perfectly with Otto Reich’s philosophy when he was in the Office of Public Diplomacy. Otto Reich would approve of what Mayín Correa did with the 30 Cubans who died because of the Adjustment Act. She said they were alive with the aim of creating chaos, and she caused great emotional pain to those families. I can assure you that Otto Reich wouldn’t regret it because he already said that he does not regret anything that he has done.
Incidents like this involving manipulation and saying; "The doors are open", and then repeating it in headlines, this is typical of that office. These were special services methods, which he used back when he was there. Moreover, that office was full of CIA agents. Therefore, the only thing that can be expected of Radio Martí is an increase in provocations and lies with serious consequences and attacks on the Cuban family, just like when they said that the 30 victims of the Adjustment Act were alive and caused such suffering to Cuban families. But he does not regret that, because it’s all "for the cause". Remember that in Miami they call this "the cause". No one knows what the cause is, but nevertheless, it is "the cause".
On September 29, 1997 he took part in a Congress hearing. He really liked to go to hearings, he liked to and now he will be able to go the Congressional hearings and present his ideas.
Randy Alonso.- No, now he should like it less.
Reinaldo Taladrid:- Yes, he should like it less, because now all of Latin America is his responsibility. I want to see how he is going to solve Latin America’s problems; problems that he helped to create in Central America. Let’s see if he can solve the problem of poverty, unemployment, the things that propel people to emigrate, things he helped to create in the dirty war, which multiplied all these problems in Central America.
There is a hearing that I have marked here called by the big bad she-wolf, Ileana Ross, to analyze the alleged danger posed by the Juragua Nuclear Power Plant. Guess who was the main guest? It was Otto Reich. In other words, an expert in Nuclear Power Plants and in the dangers they pose. If it’s something against Cuba, he will testify under oath. There you have it, so you can see how lies are invented, because inn those hearings you have to swear to tell the truth and in many of those committees evidence is given under oath. He had no qualms to testify under oath about the nuclear Power Plant.
I chose that reference, Randy, because in a year like 1997, Otto Reich in that hearing, produced a thesis —and you have to admit that he’s got imagination— where he said that "Cuba posed a danger to continental trade." And now I have to admit that he is right. If the continental trade Otto Reich had in mind was the FTAA, then Cuba, by its example, by what it says and with the truths that it demonstrates, then yes it is a danger. It wouldn’t be strange if these murky projects that he has been playing around with for some time now were one of the reasons that led Otto Reich in a year like 1997 to say that "Cuba was a danger to continental trade."
Now, about the Center for a Free Cuba. We have already said that Otto Reich was on its board of directors, he and a whole conglomerate of the mob in all its many guises, who range from the president of Bacardi, Cutilla, to Elena Amos, the wife of the owner of a big insurance company, passing through Modesto Maidique, the star academic from Florida International University, and his mentor, Ms. Kirkpatrick. She’s the person who said that Pinochet was not a dictator, that his was an authoritarian government. She adduced such a theoretically complicated way of differentiating that she should be acknowledged for the greatest academic tongue twister ever used to define a government in the history of this hemisphere. That is what Kirkpatrick did, just to say that Pinochet was not a dictator. She is Reich’s mentor from his days at Georgetown.
Now, he was vice-president of an organization called RAP, which I can explain later on, and there he was closely linked to Joaquin Jack Otero who was that organization’s president; because they are all mixed up together, and they all go around changing the names.
Otero, who was a member of ALF-CIO, the U.S. trade unions, which have a long history, was heavily involved in the creation of the Union Committee for a Free Cuba. This is yet another of the organizations they go around setting up. After all, when there are 200 million, 20 million, 30 million, the money flows like water but only the smallest amount trickles down to the employees here, most of it remains in the offices, faxes, cars, budgets and meetings. So they have to set up a lot of organizations. It’s just like they previously used to create all those groups in Miami, now they create many centers for a free Cuba, centers for Cuba this and that, centers for free unions, so they can get this money from the U.S. taxpayer. Otto Reich was also involved in that.
At the beginning of March, 2001 Otto Reich, in the company of Jorge Mas Santos, Joe García, Francisco Pepe Hernández and Domingo Moreira attended a dinner at the Inter-American Dialogue Organization to discuss the subject of relations with Cuba. And this is where I would like to stop for a minute.
You have organizations with a certain prestige, a certain authority in the academic world that do things I find it hard to understand.
Look, Jorge Mas Santos was at that dinner; the same guy who is an accomplice in an economic fraud, or who mysteriously sends money to Panama to finance terrorists. In other words here you have an accessory to terrorism.
You have Joe García, the Foundation’s right-hand man, Mas Santos’ right-hand man who is responsible for getting things done. You have Pepe Hernandez, the man with the 50 caliber rifle who has specialized in these things his whole life; an ex officer in the U.S. army with assassination plans. So, it’s with such people that a discussion is held and reports are written about "the subject of relations with Cuba". What relations with Cuba? What these people want with Cuba is obvious, and nevertheless they are invited. Otto Reich, of course, is there with those people.
With respect to his appointment I have selected some of the people who have commented on this appointment. I am going to start with none other than Raymond Molina, a member of the organizations of those Miami bombers who were later involved in drug trafficking. He is the man who tried to bribe the black community in Miami, telling them to vote for him. They, of course, were very smart because they denounced him straightaway. He‘s the man who wanted to be mayor of Miami and who, since he lost, went to Panama. He’s now head of the mob in Panama and he’s the one responsible for arranging Posada Carriles’ escape and for bribing half the Panamanian government to let Posada Carriles escape.
This man said that "he supported Reich’s candidacy" and furthermore —you have to admit that he’s honest— "with the aim of obtaining in exchange some post as a consultant for Latin America, one which pays a better salary". The man is honest, what he wants is money and that they raise his salary, he can’t manage on the one from the Foundation or perhaps he has two jobs, he works part-time at the Foundation and as Otto Reich’s representative.
Raymond Molina —you have to acknowledge his honesty, render to Caesar what’s Caesar’s— expressed his satisfaction with the irregular proceedings for Reich’s nomination, in other words, he was pleased the law was broken, he was pleased they cheated the U.S. Congress. He is happy that in spite of the Foreign Affairs Committee’s decision, they went over them. He is pleased that the law is broken, he just likes it, he is used to it, and he can’t help it.
Now the super-reactionary Diaz-Balart, the big bad she-wolf Ileana Ross, Mas Santos, his right hand man, Joe García and Dennis Hays, the member of royalty who is now an employee, declared themselves to be equally pleased about Otto Reich’s appointment. Hays, remember, was the head of the Cuba Bureau at the State Department and ended up as a Foundation employee. It other words, he took off his mask, he was there on the hush-hush before and now he is there openly. Because sometimes people say: "No, it is insulting to a public official" No, this man ended up as an employee of the Cuban American National Foundation, which places bombs and gives money for terrorism and he was head of the Cuba Bureau. These are the plain facts. He used to be the boss but he ended up as an employee. He was supposed to design the U.S. policy towards Cuba, when he was in charge of that office, just think, and perhaps he was already a Foundation employee at that time, now he openly is.
Now at the end of 2001, Otto Reich and Melquíades Martínez, currently the Housing Secretary, went to a dinner organized by the Council for the Freedom of Cuba, it’s a Foundation clone; remember that they fought over Mas Canosa’s money.
Randy Alonso.- Ninoska, Martín Pérez and company.
Reinaldo Taladrid:- So a group cloned itself. They are genetically identical, they cloned themselves, the Cuban-American National Foundation Inc. Now it is more like a corporation, as it should be. And the Council for the Freedom of Cuba , which is the clone, which is where Ninoska is, is a bit more folkloric because Ninoska is there, but in essence it is the same. Well, Otto Reich was there too, so you can see that he is the brother to the entire mob, all the clones, to all the groups.
Now with respect to the reactions that this has provoked, Randy, I only want to mention two things: Jorge Mas Santos, president of the incorporated, the original, not the clone, said that he was "very grateful to President Bush for choosing someone with Otto Reich’s experience, integrity and ideals". Experience for what they want, he has it; it’s obvious what the ideals are and as for the integrity, I have no idea what he is talking about. If integrity means to break any law, regardless the cost, to ignore the U.S. Congress, the American people, to impose the mob’s goals, then maybe.
The she-wolf said that she supported "this brave decision" and the Foundation that is Mas Santos said that "now policy on Latin America is in good hands". It would be a good idea a year from now to check this statement against the results. If there is peace in Latin America, if employment recovered, if there is a better distribution of wealth, if social indicators improve, if drug trafficking improves, if these things get solved with Otto Reich. That’s why it would be a good idea to check it within a year.
But, to finish, I think this is the best one:
Ninoska Pérez, spokesperson for the clone, told EFE: " Today’s action by the U.S. Government underlines its commitment to restoring freedom and human dignity in Cuba." In other words, in Ninoska Pérez Castellon’s opinion, human dignity means lying to Congress, lying to the Nicaraguan people, to Central America, introducing cocaine into the United States, marihuana into Florida, arms trafficking, passing laws to bring down a nation, that is her idea of human dignity.
Ninoska Pérez Castellon says: "The fact that a man of Cuban descent like Reich, holds such an important position in the current U.S. government is of great significance and inspires hope in the year that marks the centennial of the Republic founded in 1902."
A wonderful history class for the Cuban people! A wonderful history class, these words from Ninoska Pérez! The satisfaction it gives them that they are part of a government because they are celebrating the centennial of the 1902 Republic. In other words, that was their dream: to be a province of the empire and have a minister in Rome.
This was their dream! They have stated it quite clearly. That is what they wanted all along, to have a minister in the empire and the province under occupation. That is the republic they are celebrating. Look at how she says, I repeat: "...it is of great significance and inspires hope in a year that marks the centennial of the Republic founded in 1902."
A history class, Randy, of what this means for Cuba and for Latin America as well.
Randy Alonso.- Thank you, Taladrid.
Added to the long record of Otto Reich’s involvement in the worst things that have occurred in the United States in the last few decades is his connection with anti-labor causes, to violations of labor rights. Arleen Rodríguez can give us some details on this.
Arleen Rodríguez.- Thank you Randy.
I agree with Taladrid that this gentleman is not exactly the ideologue they are making him out to be. He is a fundamentalist. But one needs to look attentively because, obviously, there is something behind everything he does.
When I do research into Otto Reich, what I see is that he is the most perfect bandit. He is everywhere where there is something dark and dirty, or where some trick is being played, or where something is being cooked up which is against the legitimate interests of other nations.
But it is important to stress that he is not just against Cuba, this character also appears in anti-labor causes. One of the strongest criticisms that have arisen over Reich’s appointment, is that he continues to be vice-president of the Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production Company, which has ties to the U.S. textile industry.
It is an organization said to be committed to ways of evaluating the textile and footwear industries in the United States in matters that have to do with the professionals and skilled workers in these companies. It was founded in June of the year 2000 and one assumes that it should counteract any kind of over exploitation. But according to denunciations that have been made in the past, what it does is exactly the opposite. The strongest criticisms say that what it in fact does is cover up and protect a series of violations, from the worst conditions of exploitation in the sweatshops —it has been mostly the organizations that defend the rights of sweatshop workers who have denounced the over exploitation of labor, and the low wages —to companies that use child labor in many parts of the world.
WRAP, that’s what it is called, of which Otto Reich is the vice-president, is an appendage of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, which has a monopoly over 80% of clothing and footwear production in the United States. The criticisms say that this company focuses its energies on anti-union activities and legislation.
Rather than comment on this, I would like to read an editorial, signed by Alex Dubró, which appeared in the press last year and was part of the debate around Reich’s nomination. It said, among other things, "Well, this man whose favorite industries have always been, alcohol, tobacco and arms what is he doing mixed up in the textile industry too?"
First, it says that it is a fictitious program set up by the clothing industry to undermine the growing movement against over-exploitation of workers.
It says that Reich joined it from the beginning and was associated with an operation in which some of the unpleasant elements of the Cold War were combined with a new public relations-driven focus aimed at keeping production going under conditions of non-unionized exploitation.
In these very studios, at many round tables on international topics, we have denounced the anti-union efforts in the United States and the efforts against workers movements that dare to protest and which continue to survive, because we already know how much unionization has declined in the United States. They would like to form a worldwide network. In this instance WRAP, a monster created by the Clothing and Footwear Association wants to become a worldwide network, which oversees working conditions in clothing factories all over the world.
In his article, Alex Dubro writes that, according to Terry Collinster WRAP, an important organization, which regulates child labor and exploitative labor working conditions, was set up as a project dominated by the industry precisely to avoid legitimate outside monitoring. To sum up, it is a trick, and is seen as such by everyone, except the industry itself.
And there is something more important, Randy, because he mentions in this article that it fights for non-union labor, but the article writer himself wonders, it’s still is not clear, what Otto Reich is doing in all this. He says: "As vice-president he has no background either in the clothing industry or in promoting workers’ rights, he has never had anything to do with that, but he does have a special connection with WRAP’s management". Then he mentions Joaquín Otero, Jack is his pseudonym, ex-member of the American Federation of Labor and the Council of Industrial Organizations, the AFL-CIO. He was one of the stars of the Working Committee for a Free Cuba in 1990 — here comes the mob connection— "which received funding from the U.S. Government, through the American Institute for Free Labor Development, also part of the AFL-CIO. This is one of the Cold War’s extraterritorial institutes, which belongs to the AFL-CIO, created to fight communism by fighting unions influenced by left-wing movements all over the world.
"It had close ties to the CIA and was funded by the U.S. Government, mainly by USAID". During the ten year period "1980-1990, it also received funding from the National Endowment for Democracy. To sum up, this International Fund for Labor Rights, in which all these people are involved, is famous for finding allies in other countries in the America and giving them funds to create and keep going union organizations aligned to extreme right-wing parties." This is Otto Reich’s role in all this.
Finally Dubró writes: "One has to wonder, however, what else could he, a professional anti-Communist do these days if not criticize Cuba, which is his obsession. He is obviously involved in efforts that favor the exploitation of workers, in which these three adventurers are now involved". That is, the three characters mentioned in his article.
"If there is a more precise explanation of what Reich is doing in the clothing industry, he is keeping it to himself, in fact he has kept everything to himself lately, he doesn’t talk to the press." This is one of the things about which serious comments were made at the time when there was a growing wave of disgust over the idea of nominating this man —who has such a lamentable, dark and dirty past— to direct hemispheric policy and particularly Latin American policy for the State Department.
Randy Alonso.- And it is like you were saying, Arleen, Otto Reich has always been, and still is a lobbyist for and a representative of the lowest causes. He has a pretty long history of doing that . Eduardo Dimas can give us the details.
Eduardo Dimas.- I only have a tiny bit of this record.
Actually, Otto Reich became a lobbyist in 1998. Lobbyists are people paid by the big transnational, companies, to influence the decisions of members of Congress. As a lobbyist he represented three big corporations, Lockheed-Martin, which is one of the Military Industrial Complex’s companies, it makes F-16; Bacardi-Martini, and in addition to those two, the American Tobacco Company, at a time when the American Tobacco Company was the subject of certain state legal proceedings and legal claims.
But, well, the main business of all of this was Lockheed Martin. He was sales advisor for Latin America and there was Chile’s proposal to buy F-16 planes for a worth of $6 billion. Of course, Lockheed Martin wanted Congress to approve the sale because there was a moratorium put in place by then President Carter in 1977, which forbade the sale of high technology to Latin America, as a way of keeping a low military profile. That is to say, the aim was twofold: to keep things calm and too avoid a race which makes no sense in Latin America, since they are the ones who give the orders.
Now, here comes this sale. This sale would mean $6 billion dollars to Lockheed Martin and the man responsible for wooing, for inviting people to dinner, for doing anything to get members of Congress to approve the sale was none other than Otto Reich.
If the sale went through, it would obviously break the military balance, which had existed for quite some time, and there would be other nations, too, interested in buying arms from Lockheed Martin or from other big transnationals. I am talking about Brazil, about Peru, I am talking about Argentina and about other countries that would be equally interested. In other words, this was the main job he had and his main goal, because he is in dire need of money, I don’t think that has been mentioned here. He really needs money, because of his personal domestic situation.
As for Bacardi, well, it’s already been said. The problem is that the Helms-Burton Act might just as well be called the Barcardi Act. And in the case of the American Tobacco Company, we should point out that this company, the same as other big American cigarette manufacturing companies, you know that during Clinton’s administration limits were placed on where you could smoke, claims were being brought by thousands of people who had been harmed by cigarette smoke in the United States, who had died of cancer, relatives of people who had died of lung cancer, and all of that landed in the lap of the cigarette companies and one of Mr. Reich’s objectives was to make sure that these companies didn’t have to pay the huge claims by applying Congressional laws which prevent such things.
DNA was discovered in 1954, isn’t that right? He was born in 1945, because we were talking a while ago about whether he could have been man-made, but no, he is a natural product.
And something important, Randy, is that many of those who questioned his nomination, many members of congress, analysts, observers questioned his nomination precisely for this reason. How can a man who has been a lobbyist, who has defended the interests of certain corporations, who has defended arms sales which could upset the military balance in a region that has suffered from the phenomenon of militarism for so many years, and which might disturb this balance and create complicated situations, how can he do the job which is the most important job for this region?
Randy Alonso.- Many opinions opposed to Otto Reich being a member of the U.S. Government are based on this precise issue.
I have here an article published on February 8 in the Guardian Unlimited magazine, which its author, Duncan Campbell calls "Terrorism’s Friends". He says that "the U.S. Government’s decision to turn to Otto Reich at a time like this exposes the hypocrisy of the war against terror", which the United States is promoting. That is what this article from Guardian Unlimited says, a magazine, which speaks precisely about Otto Reich’s returning to work for the U.S. government. The article is evidence of the growing and increasingly overt opposition of important U.S. and Latin American personalities to this appointment.
Arleen Rodríguez- I don’t know of any other case, really, in which the protest has been as widespread and generalized as it has been over this man’s appointment.
I am going to start with the opinion given by Larry Burns from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. He said that "with Reich the current Administration is taking a leap backwards with regard to strengthening relations with Latin America. Otto Reich is ideologically a radical right-winger", a fundamentalist — I added that term which is what they mean when they talk about a radical right -wing ideologue— "in the first place he is not a diplomat, he is a compulsive ideologue, I am sure that he will be the Bush Administration’s American Vladimir Montesinos". This is what people have been saying.
Larry Burns also said that Reich’s hatred for Cuban president, Fidel Castro´s regime, is known to anyone who has heard him speak on the subject and, according to Burns, he has even spoken of the need for the United States to launch a military invasion to get rid of our country’s regime.
But this also has a lot to do with his upbringing and with his ties to the Reagan era and the Santa Fe document, which also adopted this as an article of faith.
The wave of criticism against Reich’s appointment has even included a page on the Internet, where various academic associations and research centers publish their views to show who this character is. So you see, all the information we have given out here today is completely public, it is available everywhere,. You can find this information because there has been an outpouring of heavy criticism all over the place and this criticism stresses, above all else, the profound harm that this man can cause to U.S. relations with Latin America.
It is stated explicitly in this material that this is also the political pay-off to the extreme right wing faction of Cuban descent who have held U.S. policy to Cuba hostage for decades. Well, they insist that they only have one obsession, and that is Cuba. They have been lobbying consistently to tighten the blockade in the hope that one day the Cuban people, worn down by the blockade will rise up and overthrow the Revolution.
This nomination, according to what is said in almost all this material which circulates on the Internet, will have serious consequences for the agricultural states that want to sell their products to Cuba, because putting Reich in this job means the continuation of a policy, the same policy of the group that worked on Elián’s kidnapping, when the United States’ image was seriously damaged by getting involved in a political affair of this nature. From a more general point of view he is described as a mediocre politician, who is not fit to conduct policy towards a conflictive region like Latin America, or to deal with the situation in Colombia and the instability in several Southern Cone countries.
"The Center for International Politics, which is one of Reich’s strongest critics, says that Reich confirmation as undersecretary of State jeopardizes the Bush administration’s opportunity to implement a state policy towards Latin America, and "to give this important hemispheric post to a politician long known as being focused on one cause only, sends a disheartening message to the professionals in the State Department. This man divides, he does not unite, and the policies which he encourages are bound to be polarizing, both at home and abroad":
"The Council for Hemispheric Affairs also considers Reich to be from the far right and a leader of the ultra-right-wing faction in the Cuban American community and reminded people that he was the extremely controversial head of the Office of Public Diplomacy which Taladrid talked about at the beginning, during the Reagan administration, at the time of the war in Nicaragua.
The Democratic senator from Connecticut, Christopher Dodd has made a very full statement and said that he would have voted against Reich’s appointment, if it had gone to a vote. "I don’t believe that in these circumstances he is the right person for this job in these critical times," he said.
The Democratic senator for Massachusetts, John Kerry also said that "his concerns were not centered round whether or not this candidate has conservative credentials, but rather on the activities that he has been engaged in"—those dirty activities during Reagan’s government that have been described here.
Oscar Arias, former Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace Laureate, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Reich’s appointment would be a real step backwards for hemispheric cooperation, plus the fact that he was part of the campaign —as a lobbyist for Lockheed Martin— to sell F16 planes to Chile, thus putting an end to the U.S. policy of opposing the sale of high-tech weapons systems to Latin America, make him feel "very nervous about what plans might be implemented under his possible leadership in our hemisphere".
Meanwhile former congressman, Lee Hamilton, former member of the House’s International Relations Committee of which he was president during the Iran-Contra scandal said that "Reich’s nomination will affect U.S. Latin American policy since he is very divisive and will make it more difficult to conduct this policy".
To sum up, Randy, I think that the voices raised all over, not only in Latin America come from a wide spectrum. This was the reason why he had to be installed by decree. He has to be a year under those conditions, and I would conclude by saying what you said precisely, last year when this nomination was reported on in Juventud Rebelde: "Washington sprayed with Bacardi". You recalled many of these opinions which I don’t have time to read now, they are long because the list of people opposed to Reich is endless and you said, at the end, "looking at this character’s history we have to expect a period in which the empire’s foreign policy towards Latin America will be characterized by its Cubanization, the opening up of military sales to the whole region, by more blackmail and pressure on international organizations, all washed down with a little Bacardi. A bitter draft.
I really liked the words you used to finish talking about the subject of how this character has been rejected all over the world and whose appointment by decree has really cost the new US administration a lot.
For this shady character is now, starting this week, the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs in the U.S. State Department and has already started to cause trouble. Pronouncements have been flying around since last Monday and Tuesday he put forward one of his most interesting and cynical suggestions for our region. With a completely straight face, Otto Reich had the nerve to pronounce himself against corruption Juana Carrasco will tell us about it.
Juana Carrasco:- I will read what he said. "We’re not going to let them into the United States of America, they won’t be retiring to Key Biscayne, neither will they be going to Disney World and their wives will not be going shopping on Fifth Avenue... They will not be going to Houston for a heart check-up. When we are sure that there is an individual or individuals who have robbed the public treasury in their country, we are not going to let them in. We do not want them as neighbors, just as we do not want war criminals or drug smugglers as neighbors."
Although you won’t believe it, that is how Otto Reich replied to the question Taladrid posed about how was he going to solve Latin America’s problems. He is going to solve them by fighting corruption, He doesn’t want corrupt people as neighbors, he doesn’t want drug traffickers as neighbors, and he doesn’t want terrorists as neighbors. What has been said here is answer enough to that.
These are very interesting things. What Otto Reich means by this is that they will not give visas to or that they are going to revoke the visas of people like that. If that were true it seems to me that it would reduce the U.S. population a bit, among the people who have been there quite some time now, or those who have been coming and going back and forth for many years. And above all it would really affect the Anti-Cuban community in Miami if it were true.
In fact, these words are hypocritical because they are verging on the ridiculous, or they’re enough to make you cry and as one of our greatest comic actors would say: "and to think there are bakers who get up at 3 :OO in the morning so that this man can have breakfast"
Really what Otto Reich is doing and saying has a lot to do with ethical problems, not with his ethical problems, because he has no ethics. But they are dilemmas, precisely for many of the people who would have approved him and who were not even able to debate whether he should or shouldn’t be the man to fill the role of assistant secretary of state for hemispheric affairs.
What is the problem? Now, holding this post, he has to interpret, formulate and implement the United States’ Latin American policy and, of course, this is going to be in conflict with his interests and his businesses. He is an individual who has represented all those lobbies, which Dimas spoke about, earlier and is in conflict with Latin American policy.
There are opinions in the political circles about his extreme right-wing stances and about the role he has played in everything dirty in U.S. politics. And neither are Otto Reich’s personal financial affairs very clear.
Dimas, you mentioned his wife and his personal problems. His wife, or rather, he is already divorced from Connie Zynn Dillinger. She has sued him and Reich has lost the case. And, naturally, a divorce case costs a lot of money in the United States. That is why Otto Reich has financial problems.
He also has to solve the problems of his consulting firm, RAM, the one that represented Bacardi and all the rest, and he has to clear up this situation in order to be able to take over this job.
What has he proposed that worries so many politicians in the United States? Quite simply, he wants to cut a deal. He keeps his private consulting company, but the company won’t be active, all of its business will be passed to a company in Virginia, which will pay him a commission for transferring his clients to them. Of course, nobody believes him. His clientele, we repeat, is Bacardi, the company that has paid him more than $600,000. There are also the $3 million the Government gave to the Center for a Free Cuba, precisely to try to subvert in our county. That is the way he is trying to keep receiving money from these companies, inventing a ghost company in Virginia. Of course, Virginia is a tobacco state, I say this because if he has something to do with the American Tobacco company...
In fact, it is quite a shady deal he is trying to pull and he wants to get members of Congress mixed up in it, to have them support what is in fact a conflict of interest for this specimen. Furthermore he is a habitual liar.
I say that he is a liar because on November, 2001, Otto Reich in no less a place than before the White House Ethics Committee, he omitted some things from his statement. He delivered a report to the Senate in which he said he had never been a lobbyist for Bacardi. That’s the last straw, ladies and gentlemen! That he had never lobbied for the Helms-Burton Act! There is a report which very clearly states that in 1995 Otto Reich, executives from Bacardi and Lincoln Diaz-Balart met precisely to ensure that the Helms-Burton Act be passed, to exchange opinions on some aspects of this law.
This guy is really the epitome of hypocrisy, the epitome of all the schemes, all the dirty business that could occur in that country. And he says that he is going to deny entry to the corrupt of Latin America, that he doesn’t want them as neighbors. No, he doesn’t need them, because the United States is so full of those types, the boat is so full that there is not room for even one more.
Randy Alonso.- The corrupt are already inside and are even in the State Department. The man who also helped to corrupt U.S. society by introducing drugs into the United States, the man who has such dirty and shady businesses now declares war on corruption. The same war, it seems, and in the same key as his personal war against the Cuban Revolution and against the Commander in Chief.
As soon as he took office, Otto Reich declared that Cuba is still his obsession and he would devote his time in the Government of the United States to that. He has given various statements, I just want us to see a little bit of the statements Reich gave on Monday to the mob’s TV mouthpiece.
Reporter (from Channel 51).- This afternoon the Cuban-American Otto Reich took office as Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs. Just minutes before being sworn in, Reich gave us an exclusive interview. Jorge Luis has the details.
Jorge Luis.- On the current review of U.S. Cuba policy he said:
Otto Reich.- The president ordered a review of policy toward the island and requested that I head it, because it is obvious that U.S. policy has not paid attention to it, has not given priority to Cuba and we must examine what has not been properly done and how we can reach our goal of a peaceful and rapid transition to democracy.
Jorge Luis.- And concerning the U.S. blockade against Cuba he added:
Otto Reich.- The blockade is simply one element in a component, which is the economic component of the various components which any foreign policy must include. These components are political, economic, diplomatic, informational, various elements. In some cases, more priority must be given to one than to the others.
Randy Alonso.- Well, so that is what Mr. Otto Reich said: all-out war against Cuba on all fronts.
Rogelio Polanco.- I should like to refer to those words which have been said repeatedly over the last few days, in several articles and interviews that "we will find the ways to communicate with the Cuban people and try to bring about the speediest and most peaceful transition to democracy possible", and that "U.S. policy will be in line with our policies all over the world: to move the cause of freedom forward". He said this to the mob’s scandalmonger on January 16, but he has gone around repeating it, as we saw in that TV footage.
On March 8 he spoke about this other idea of reviewing Cuba policy in which "all areas will be looked at, including economic sanctions and that will be ready in the next few weeks". He said, therefore, that he is not going to weaken the blockade against our country and that "if the government of Cuba does not change its policies, I do not see how we can make the economic and trade sanctions against Cuba any less tough".
I think that these statements go along with his most recent made this week, where he repeated that he is not going to loosen the blockade to breathe life into what he called "a failed, corrupt, dictatorial, murderous regime in Cuba". Look at what this man is saying, his insolence.
I think, Randy, it’s obviously a stepping-up of the rhetoric and the hostility towards Cuba, in order to cause a confrontation, to try and provoke incidents which worsen the bilateral climate between the two countries. These statements, which don’t only come from him but also from other officials under him, reject any possibility of an improvement in bilateral relations, going against the growing trends and the various sectors in that country that are showing to be more and more opposed to this blockade policy. In this way, Otto Reich is trying to place unacceptable political conditions on our country as well as applying the brake to this growing tendency among many sectors in the United States, which want normal relations with our country. This is yet more evidence of the priority he gives to supporting what they call the internal opposition, the counterrevolutionary factions, which are minuscule in our country, supported and financed by the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba and funded by USAID and by other U.S. subversive and interventionist sources.
Reich has also spoken of increasing the "Flow of information", as they call it, by all possible means, and naturally, of boosting the ill-named Radio and Television Martí, the very stations that have caused so many incidents and serious provocations against our people, the latest of which was recently discussed here.
He is also talking about the regulations affecting travel by Cuban diplomats in the United States and of stepping up the strict, inflexible policy of clamping down on U.S. travel to and exchanges with Cuba and that more and more sanctions and regulations will be used to make an example of anyone breaking these laws.
And the one million USD grant to the International University of Florida for a "Project for a Democratic Transition in Cuba" is already a done deal.
Randy Alonso:- A project financed by USAID with State Department approval.
Rogelio Polanco.- It is public funds that are used once again and are filched from the U.S. people to subvert our country. It is not necessary to say that Otto Reich would be in favor of strengthening the Helms-Burton Act, in favor of pressures on foreign investors in our country and in favor of the interests of those who pay him, of Bacardi and Company. Furthermore, he would use and continue to manipulate the human rights issue and the alleged war against terrorism, which is the new battle horse in the Administration’s foreign policy.
We have to say that Reich today continues to swim against the current of the American people’s most legitimate interests, that his statements cannot intimidate Cuba, that no one intimidates our country nor our people, and much less a terrorist- turned-official of the U.S. Government.
There is no proconsul, there is no interest peddler, nor corrupt person, nor arms nor drug trafficker nor lies that can do away with our people’s dignity and courage.
What has to be reviewed is the policy. Yes, we agree, U.S. policy on Cuba has to be thoroughly reviewed, but for the purpose of putting an end to hypocrisy, an end to interference in the internal affairs of other countries, an end to the double standards to double morale, and to the arrogance with which the United States behave towards Cuba and the rest of the world.
That is why policy must be reviewed, so that the criminal blockade against our country is lifted. And that’s why we can state that no official like this man, no terrorist can ever hurt the dignity, the courage and the example set by Cuba. Which is why I believe that today we have unmasked this terrorist-turned-US. Government official.
Randy Alonso.- Just let me add, Polanco, in the closing moments of our round table, that Otto Reich’s accession, that is, the accession of one of the most sinister of the Cuban-American mob to the ranks of the U.S. Government has also meant an increase in pressures on our region.
Significantly, this man, who was a soldier in Panama, has reached a position of power in the State Department to look after relations with Latin America at the very time when in Panama there is talk of releasing, of reducing the charges against, of looking for alternatives for his friend to leave, his godson in terrorism, Luis Posada Carriles, and when it is agreed that the U.S. president will visit the region where he will meet with Central American presidents in El Salvador. I think this indicates just where the new administration’s policy towards Latin America is going and what can be expected from this so-called review of relations with Cuba.
I would like to thank you who have been with me on this panel this evening, I think we have offered our people sufficient information to evaluate this sinister character, who today represents the U.S. to Latin America. I would also like to thank the guests we have had with us in the studio.
A shady and sinister character is the new Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs in the U.S. State Department. A terrorist has reached the high levels of U.S. Government by appointment.
He represents the lowest interests of the U.S. extreme right, a faithful ally of the Anti-Cuban mob. He was a party to the genocide of the Central American peoples during the U.S. dirty war. He was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. He is a professional liar, a party to drug trafficking, godfather to notorious terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, a lobbyist for Bacardi and a driving force behind the criminal Helms-Burton Act, a promoter of the arms race in Latin America, Otto Reich is repudiated by many politicians and important people in the United States and Latin America.
Will the U.S. Administration be able to have a serious anti-drug policy for Latin America, a policy to fight against the dreadful scourge of terrorism and to achieve stability in countries when the man representing its policy has a well-known history as a drug trafficker, a terrorist and prolific arms salesman?
How will we know the truth proclaimed by the United States in its relations with Latin America if its chief spokesperson is a professional liar?
Will Latin America be able to find the appropriate interlocutor in Washington in a character that is considered mediocre, compulsive, slow and whose only obsession is the Cuban Revolution?
The petulant, aggressive, and treacherous remarks that mob chief Reich has made about Cuba which exude his visceral hatred of our people, do not scare us nor will make us go without sleep.
As Fidel said yesterday, in the moving celebrations for March 13, "Nothing can now prevent that the humble footprints that our Revolution is leaving on its march through history, be followed by many other peoples in the world.
One way or another, we shall overcome!
That we swear!
We are still fighting!