Informative round table meeting on the statement of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the important drug trafficker arrested in
Cuba, carried out in the studios of Cuban Television on March 18th 2002.
(Stenographic Version – Council of State)
Randy Alonso.- Good afternoon, esteemed viewers and listeners.
Due to the importance for our people of today’s statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its international repercussions, we will dedicate this afternoon’s round table meeting to develop some of the inherent elements of this statement somewhat further.
Accompanying me today on the panel are comrade Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power; Brigadier General Lázaro Román Rodríguez, Head of the Border Patrol Division in our country; Rafael Dausá Céspedes, Director of the North America Division at the ministry of Foreign Affairs and Colonel Oliverio Montalvo Alvarez, Head of the National Anti-drugs Bureau.
Also with us here today in the studio are comrades from the National Institute of Economic Investigation, comrades from the National Office of Tax Administration and officials from the Ministry of Interior.
(Brief images concerning the theme are shown)
This morning, in Granma newspaper and in the national media in our country, the following statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was broadcast:
Last March 6, at 9:45 am, a Colombian by the name of Rafael Miguel Bustamante Bolaños was arrested in a private house at the Siboney area, in the municipality of Playa, where he had rented a room. He had arrived in the country on January 6, 2002, after traveling from Jamaica with a Venezuelan passport under the name of Alberto Pinto Jaramilllo.
Through cooperation mechanisms established with several drug-interdiction services in the region, information had been obtained since January 31, about the presence in our country of Bustamante Bolaños, who faces numerous charges related to drug-traffic in the region.
It was through the aforementioned mechanisms that we learned, among other things, that Bustamante Bolaños has connections with a major gang of Bahamian drug-traffickers and that approximately 10 years ago he had escaped from prison in Santa Marta, Colombia where he was serving a sentence for money laundering. It has also been known that he is a target of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for his involvement in operations to introduce drug in that country.
Additional information indicates that this individual is also claimed by the U.S. authorities for his escape from a federal prison in Alabama, where he was serving a sentence for money laundering and cocaine traffic. He is also involved in a major drug-traffic case presently under investigation by the DEA and related to the introduction of cocaine in the United States from Jamaica.
Another person was arrested with Bustamante. This is a Bahamian citizen named Robert Lewis also accused of serious charges related to drug trafficking. Both are still in detention and being arraigned on charges of drug trafficking and the use of false documents.
In view of the seriousness of the case, the investigation proceeds with great rigor. Our people are well aware that the crimes of which these two men are accused have been very clearly defined in the Cuban Penal code that provides the most severe penalties for drug-traffic related crimes.
On the other hand, last January 12, in a goodwill gesture that clearly shows our government’s serious disposition to cooperate with all countries in fighting drug-traffic, the Cuban authorities handed over to the U.S. authorities an American citizen by the name of Jesse James Bell, a fugitive of the United States justice, accused of 15 charges directly or indirectly associated to drug-traffic in the United States.
Bell had been in detention in our country since October 10, 2001 when he was detected, as a passenger in transit, leaving the country with a false identity. Our authorities immediately informed the United States Interests Section in Havana about his detention.
On October 19, 2001, the U.S. authorities acting through the U.S. Interests Section presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the diplomatic Note 573 officially requesting that the detainee be handed over to them. Our government responded that request positively after it had been clearly established that Bell had not taken part in any illegal action inside our country.
An exception was made in this case to hand over this individual to the DEA authorities since, despite the expressed willingness of Cuba and the proposals it has submitted, there is not a cooperation agreement between the governments of Cuba and the United States of America on drug-interdiction, therefore, our country was under no obligation to relinquish the aforementioned outlaw to the U.S. authorities.
Likewise, it should be noted that on November 29, 2001 the director of the North America desk in the Foreign Ministry, comrade Rafael Dausa, presented in Havana to the head of the Cuba Bureau in the State Department an Aide Memoire containing several proposals made by the Cuban government to the Government of the United States aimed at reaching agreements on migratory issues, that is to fight illegal migration and the traffic of people; on cooperation to fight the illegal drug-traffic; and, on a program of bilateral cooperation to fight terrorism. The proposal for a migratory agreement had been previously submitted to the U.S. authorities on September 2000.
On July 26,1999, while addressing the rally in commemoration of that date in the province of Cienfuegos, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro offered a description of the actions undertaken by our country as part of the struggle against drug trafficking. Then, referring to his meeting with the outstanding and prestigious republican Senator Arlen Specter, who had visited our country on June that same year, he said that "three forms of cooperation were possible: a modest cooperation, a larger and more efficient cooperation or a comprehensive kind of cooperation.
"I ask you to inquire from the top authorities in your country what level of cooperation they wish to have: if they wish the present level, a middle level cooperation or a full cooperation. I simply say that we are willing to work on any of these forms of cooperation".
A few days later, in a similar commemoration in Matanzas province, the Commander in Chief touched on the issue of the illegal emigration fostered by the United States against Cuba throughout forty years, the Cuban Adjustment Act, the high toll in human lives it has taken from our country and the necessity to find a solution to that grave problem.
At the latest round of talks on migratory issues between Cuba and the United States held in Havana last December 3, 2001, comrade Ricardo Alarcon, Speaker of the National Assembly of People’s Power and leader of the Cuban delegation to the talks, again submitted to the American delegation the three proposals of agreement on migratory issues, on drug trafficking interdiction and on fighting terrorism. On that occasion, however, the American delegation alleged that the proposed agreements were beyond the framework of the migratory talks and suggested that they be presented through the existing diplomatic channels.
Taking into account that suggestion, on March 12, 2002, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cuban Interests Section in Washington officially delivered three diplomatic notes to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and the State Department in Washington, respectively, to which the texts of the agreements proposed for the three major issues were annexed.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, considering the mutual benefit of the agreements on migratory issues, drug-interdiction and the struggle against terrorism, reiterates the willingness of the Cuban government to discuss and sign such agreements with the Government of the United States of America.
The possibility now exists for the U.S. Administration to show that it is truly willing to seriously undertake the fight against those grave scourges of Humanity, while avoiding a double-standard approach.
It is in the hands of the United States government to prove, both to the American and the international public opinion, that it is capable of sidestepping the mean interests of small anti-Cuban groups and defend the real interests of the American people.
Now, it is for the United States to respond.
Havana, March 17, 2002
I should add to what was indicated in this statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in relation to the arrested Colombian, Rafael Miguel Bustamante Bolaños, that he has already admitted his participation in more than 12 drugs operations, some involving the transportation of between 800 and 1500 kg of cocaine. He confirmed that most of these shipments were carried out in high-speed boats, although he did admit to having carried out some operations through the postal service and some by air, using sophisticated masking techniques, diluting the drugs in fuel tanks, hiding them in the differentials of cars or impregnating sheets of paper and clothing with them.
(Brief images concerning the theme are shown)
The statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has had an immediate repercussion in the news and television agencies who have correspondents in Cuba.
I have here a copy of the cables sent by the Notimex agency entitled: “Cuba hands over drug trafficker as a goodwill gesture.”
AFP agency: “New gesture of goodwill from Cuba to the United States.”
Another cable, this time from the EFE agency says: “The Cuban government announced today the arrest in Havana of an important Colombian drug trafficker and the extradition to the United States of another trafficker of North American nationality.” And reference is made to the proposals that were delivered to the United States government last March 12.
Another AFP cable talks of Cuba’s handing-over of the U.S. citizen Jesse James Bell to the United States, fugitive from justice in that country, and it refers to the statement when announcing the proposal for the three agreements on migration, cooperation to combat the illegal traffic of narcotics and psychotropic substances and cooperation to the fight terrorism, delivered on November 29th, 2001.
The BBC television channel also broadcast a report today, replicated on its internet site, entitled “Drug trafficker falls in Cuba”, which mentions the Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement.
AFP sent a third cable today, announcing the arrest of the Colombian citizen Rafael Miguel Bustamante Bolaños, linked to a Bahamian drug trafficking gang and fugitive from justice in his own country and in the United States.
The German agency DPA reported that “ the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the arrest today in Havana of the Colombian Rafael Miguel Bustamante Bolaños, considered an important drugs trafficker”.
The DPA also mentions the handing-over of Jesse James Bell, fugitive from justice, to the United States government.
The Italian agency ANSA said: “Cuba announced today the arrest of the Colombian drug trafficker Rafael Miguel Bustamante Bolaños and the handing-over of Jesse James Bell to the DEA, according to a communiqué from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.
The Mexican agency Notimex said that “Cuba handed-over a drug trafficker to the United States as a gesture of good will”.
Another cable, also from Notimex declared that “Cuba aims to establish three bilateral agreements with the United States”.
These are the first repercussions from this important declaration made by the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs today which, I repeat, informs of the detention of an important Colombian drug trafficker in our country and the handing-over – as an exceptional gesture to the U.S. authorities- of a fugitive also linked to drug trafficking arrested in our country. The statement goes on to mention the proposals that have been delivered at different moments to the U.S. authorities aimed at the establishment of three cooperative agreements with the Cuban government on migration, the fight against drugs-trafficking and the war against terrorism.
Drug-trafficking is one of the central themes in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement. This also highlights two important and concrete cases over the last few months in the Cuban operations against drug trafficking. This was one of the themes presented to the US government for possible cooperation between our countries.
The war against drug-trafficking has always been a theme addressed by the Revolution from the very outset; a blight that the triumphant Revolution sought to eradicate and a topic of special importance to today’s revolutionary authorities.
I would like to invite Colonel Oliverio Montalvo, Head of the National Anti-drugs Bureau, to explain to the audience the main actions implemented by our government in the war against drug trafficking, focusing especially on the last decade that witnessed a rapid and ever increasing importance placed on the theme of drug and psychotropic substance smuggling.
Oliverio Montalvo: Thank you Randy
The Cuban Revolution’s determined struggle against drugs has been a constant over the last 43 years, but its historical roots go back to the fight for liberation in the Sierra Maestra.
There is a historical document, which perhaps we know far too little about called Rule No. 6 for the Civil Administration of the free territory, in which the Revolution already committed itself to combat this phenomenon.
I will only mention one of the THEREFOREs, that states:
“The rebel army, totally immersed in a fight to the death against the army of the dictatorship, had been unable to take radical measures to eradicate this social blight in those areas it did not dominate completely unlike today, after the victorious battle against the tyranny’s final offensive, enabling the adoption of those measures”.
This document, signed by our Commander-in-Chief, bears witness of the efforts made from those early days to combat the slightest manifestation of drugs.
In the current decade –as we have seen- this phenomenon affects us in a complex way, primarily because it includes an external component: Cuba is not a drug-producing country, Cuba is not an in-transit country for drugs, Cuba is no market for drugs. It is our geography, our location on the path from the main drug-producing countries to important consumption centers around the world, that exposes us to the phenomenon of international drug smuggling. (A map of Cuba and the main affected areas is shown)
Without going into too much detail, we can say that these red lines indicate the constant speed-boat traffic in our territorial waters carrying drugs from close to intermediate points on their way to the United States. In the corridor of the extreme East near Las Nuevas drug planes pass through our airspace, posing an additional threat to air traffic and carrying out air droppings to the North of our central-eastern provinces (Las Tunas and Camagüey in particular).
Marine currents carry these drugs from the East to the West implying a super-human effort to pick these up and prevent, as has been mentioned, unscrupulous elements from capturing these drugs and attempting to sell them.
These are the phenomena that affect us today.
If we were to examine some recent statistics without going into too much detail, we would see that the political will and transparency in this country around this topic are borne out by actual events.
From 1991-2000, the Cuban authorities decisively supported by the population, particularly the fishermen and villagers from the regions involved, captured 65 439. 86 Kg of drugs, clearly demonstrating the tremendous efforts made.
Looking at the figures for the last five years, the quantities of cocaine and marijuana, being precisely the principal substances captured owing to the nature of the operations around our country, totalled 42 516. 33 Kg. This is 42 tons of cocaine and marijuana. These tons of drugs captured by Cuba were destined to the American market, most of it to poison young people and adolescents in the United States.
Between 1997 and 2001 our authorities arrested 190 foreigners, 141 of these on our aerial borders and 49 on our maritime borders, for activities related to international drug smuggling and they have all been processed by Revolutionary justice.
This is some of our historical background and events in recent times concerning the drugs phenomenon.
Randy Alonso: Oliverio, you mentioned that the flow of drugs fought against by our country was mainly headed towards the United States and we are certainly aware that this is a problem affecting the American society.
In the Cuban authorities’ efforts against drug trafficking and their attempts to prevent our country becoming a staging-post for drugs bound for the United States, what steps have been taken and what areas of cooperation have been discovered with our American counterparts in the war against drug smuggling that is a modern day scourge afflicting humanity as a whole.
Oliverio Montalvo: It’s worth repeating the position of the Cuban Revolution in the words of our Commander-in-Chief on July 26, 1999, in Cienfuegos. Then and before, the Cuban authorities have expressed their complete willingness to cooperate with any country according to international standards in the field of mutual respect, and respect to all countries integrity and sovereignty. To work with complete transparency and dedication, despite economic limitations to equip the country with the necessary technical resources and training required by the forces involved in order to undertake this task.
I’d like to briefly refer to a summarized chronology we have drawn up covering the period from 1991 to the present day. I think this is quite self-explanatory, since it does include a series of previously unreported events that have repeatedly demonstrated the disposition of the Cuban government from as early as 1991 before the American authorities:
Talks were held between the 15th and 16th of July in Havana between officials of the DEA, the Coastguard Service, Customs Office and the United State Interest Section in relation to Operation Tenaza (Pincers); carried out with the support of the Revolutionary Armed Forces to fight drug smuggling on our northern coast, particularly in the eastern region. As a result of this operation three drug-smuggling groups and 505 Kg of cocaine were captured.
Photographs of the drugs seized and the detainees, criminal reports and 59 checked samples of cocaine, 5g each, were handed over to the Americans.
On April 27, 1992, on the basis of information supplied by the Coast Guard Service, we were able to apprehend boat named Janaken sailing under the American flag. The crew was arrested and later charged by the United States.
On September 18, 1993, in the “José Martí” International airport, two individuals of Cuban origin then residing in the U. S. were handed over to the DEA. They had been seized in waters close to our shores by the Border Patrol troops. This was the first time this had occurred in the 1990’s.
On November 30, 1993, the United States requested information on a thwarted air drop of cocaine in Villa Clara province. The descriptions of the wrappings, 24 samples 5g each, charts and the corresponding expert reports were handed over to the DEA in “José Martí” International airport.
On July 3, 1995, on the basis of information from the U.S. Coast Guard Service on an alleged shipment of 2 300 Kg of drugs on board the motor cruiser Marshall, a profound and minute search was carried out but nothing was found. A video of this search was delivered to the American authorities.
From October 1996 and June 1997 the action surrounding the Limerick case unfolded. This was a ship flying under the Honduran flag that was refloated at great risk to the lives of our Border Patrol troops. A complex search was carried out and a total of 6 617.4 Kg of cocaine were found.
Randy Alonso: I believe this is a case, Oliverio, that could be used to demonstrate the Cuban efforts to collaborate and the cooperation offered to resolve issues such as this, an important event in the fight against drugs-trafficking.
Oliverio Montalvo: Yes, no doubt, this case was an important step forward because on the invitation of the Cuban authorities, members of the DEA, the Coast Guard Service and the Department of Justice participated with our staff from the different branches of the Ministry of the Interior and the Customs Office in the search and later investigation. What is more, 11 defense lawyers were given the opportunity to visit our country and receive first-hand information related to the case from our officials.
The Cuban authorities not only handed over the 6 617. 4 Kg of cocaine, but also all official documents and photos, everything. Later, officials from the Ministry of Interior the Border Patrol went as witnesses to the trial in the U.S. This case clearly demonstrates, through a concrete and crucial event, the political will and decision of the Cuban government in this area.
On January 22nd, 1998, a meeting was held with the Democrat and Congressman for New York, Charles Rangel, in which information was offered and exchanged on the results of the war against drugs in Cuba.
On August 3rd, 1998, an official meeting was also held with the advisors to the US Senate Intelligence Committee, Alfred Cumins and Donald Mitchel, whom were also presented with information on the efforts and results in our countries struggle against drugs.
Official talks were held on June 21st, 1999, between delegations from both sides on how to improve cooperation in the struggle against drugs.
In May 2000, the Coast Guard Services Liaison Officer, Peter Brown, assumed his post in the Interest Section as a result of the meeting I have already mentioned.
On August 8th, heads of the Ministry of Interior and Peter Brown, the aforementioned Liaison Officer, made a tour of the northern keys in Camagüey, Ciego de Ávila, Villa Clara and Matanzas provinces, during which Brown was able to appreciate the huge efforts made on the ground by our country and the measures adopted to firmly confront the whole phenomenon of drug-trafficking and also activities related to the illegal human smuggling, terrorism and search and rescue.
On December 7th, 2000, a meeting was held with Peter Brown to present the new Coast Guard Service’s Liaison Officer, Harry Schmidt.
On February 1st, a meeting was held with Patricia Murphy, the U.S. Interest Section Consul, in Havana, in which Harry Schmidt also participated. The case of both Cuban immigrants based in the U.S. and those based in Cuba wanted by Justice Officials (marshalls) for the possession and attempted distribution of cocaine was discussed.
On February 9th and 10th, 2001, Schmidt, together with the heads of the Ministry of the Interior, made a tour of the regions and centers involved in the war against international drug smuggling in Camagüey, Granma and Guantánamo.
A delegation from the Center for Defense Information of the United States, visited our country from the 11th to the 16th of February and exchanged information and experiences on this theme.
A meeting was held on March 2nd, 2001 with analysts from the American government, Fulton Amstron and William Heaten, dealing with their interests in evaluating the drug trafficking situation in the Caribbean and around Cuba and bilateral relations.
These investigations continued and from May 11th to 13th 2001, at the request of the Coast Guard Service representative, a thorough search of the motor-cruiser Thadee Express (registered in Panama) was carried out but the results were negative.
On May 30th 2001, a meeting was held with the US Congressman and member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence,Tim Roemer, where he was presented with a dossier containing the Commander-in-Chief’s speech in Cienfuegos on July 26th 1999, a map showing the areas affected by drug smuggling, official statistics for the year 2000 and a video entitled “The war against international drug trafficking in marine channels”.
From August 27th to 29th 2001, the Coast Guard Service’s Liaison Officer participated along with a multi-disciplinary group including specialized staff from the Border Patrol and the Customs Office in a search of the boat Anisia sailing under the Bolivian flag that was anchored in Puerto Padre, Las Tunas, on information supplied by the U.S. The results of the search were negative.
On October 18th, 2001, on the basis of a note received from the Interest Section in Havana, the presence of Jesse James Bell, for whose arrest a warrant had been issued, was confirmed.
On December 4th, authorization was formulated by the U.S. Interest Section to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to import Ionscan and Sabre 2000 equipment for use by the Coast Guard Service’s Liaison Officer.
A meeting, presided over by the Cuban Justice Minister, was held on January 3rd 2001, with Senator Arlen Specter where the issue of drug smuggling was also broached.
On January 7th 2002, a meeting was held with the American delegation made up of the Democratic Congress people: William Delahunt, for the State of Massachusetts; Vic Snyer, for Arkansas; Hilda Solis, for California; William Clay, for Missouri; with Phillip Peters, vice-president of the Lexington Institute; Saly Grooms Cowall, president of the Cuban Policy Association; and Dana Broocks, assistant to Jo Ann Emerson, Republican Congresswoman for Missouri, who could not be present. The delegation was offered detailed information on Cuba’s efforts and achievements in the war against drugs and reference was made to the “Gallegos” case, in which two Spanish citizens had mounted a drugs operation through an international joint venture with a Cuban company.
On January 12th, the Cuban authorities responded to the request of the U.S. government for Jesse James Bell and a dossier was handed-over to American authorities at the “José Martí” International airport containing documents relating to the investigation and migration procedures, a deed drafted by the Immigration Office on the identity of the American national and the passport confiscated from him.
On March 2nd, 2002, the Head of the Border Patrol Office met with Harry Schmidt and two retired Generals, Barry McCaffrey and Charles Wilhelm and offered a detailed explanation of ‘Operation Aché II’.
On March 8th, 2002, the Coast Guard Service’s Liaison Officer carried out a practical demonstration of the Sabre 2000 equipment for the detection of drugs.
On March 5th, 6th, 12th and 13th 2002, meetings were held with the Liaison Officer to discuss the cases of the detainees mentioned in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement published in the official organ of the Party, Granma.
In the period mentioned, between 1991 and March 13th 2001, 57 personal contacts were made with American Officials and personalities; six photo-portfolios, official documents from our criminal laboratories, 27 diverse documents, nine videos, 6 617.4 Kg of cocaine plus 59 samples in 5g bottles were handed-over.
I think that these events speak for themselves. They offer unquestionable proof of Cuba’s position and of our willingness to develop total cooperation if the American authorities were ready to do so.
Randy Alonso: You used the term “cooperation” and it seems obvious that in order to combat an important and increasing phenomenon such as drug smuggling, cooperation between many countries is needed.
Cuba is in the Caribbean, an area of much drug trafficking and the cooperation of everyone in the area is required. Even the statement ―to give it its proper name- of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs published today,― recognizes the fact that the arrest of the Colombian Miguel Bustamante Bolaños, is the result of cooperation with and information from specialized services of other countries which offered their assistance to arrest this person.
What kind of cooperation exists with specialized services in the area and at the international level?
Oliverio Montalvo: Yes, Randy.
Cuba has signed 29 governmental agreements and each one has an operational authority for its implementation. What is more, we cooperate with 12 services from countries with whom we have no governmental agreement.
There are official representatives from the Spanish and French Ministries of the Interior in Cuba, for whom anti-drugs cooperation with our authorities ranks amongst their highest priorities. Links also exist with the Liaisons Officers of other countries, such as Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Holland.
A brief résumé of the operational cooperation in 2001 would include the working meetings and strong links with Liaisons Officers from Holland, Italy, Canada, the UK and with the attaché from the Spanish Ministry of the Interior and the representatives of the French Ministry of the Interior’s Cooperation Service.
We were visited by the head of the Italian anti-drugs Central Office with whom we have worked extensively to develop mutual cooperation.
The exchange of information with counterpart services, rising to 467 messages sent in just one year, enabled the development of numerous investigations of foreigners visiting Cuba suspected of involvement in drug trafficking. This has meant a great increase in the quality and effectiveness of this exchange.
Meetings were held with delegations from the UK, Venezuela, France, the U.S., Mozambique and with the Regional United Nations Caribbean Training Program Office. Detailed and comprehensive information was offered in all these meetings on Cuba’s efforts to combat, tackle and prevent drug smuggling.
Ukranian and Belarussian authorities, with whom no exchange currently exists, have expressed an interest in anti-drugs cooperation and meetings have been held to this end.
The Second Bilateral Meeting on anti-drugs cooperation, Cuba-Bahamas, was held in the Bahamas, and similar meetings were held in Cuba with Argentine, Brazilian and Portuguese delegations.
At the request of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, a conference on anti-drug policies and results was given to foreign military attachés accredited to Cuba.
The International Day of the War Against Drugs was celebrated with a meeting between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of Ambassadors to whom information on the drugs theme was offered.
Cuba participated in the XI Meeting of heads of national bodies responsible for the war against the ilicit drugs trade that was held in Panama in 2001. Cuba took advantage of the occasion to hold a further Cuba-Panama Bilateral Meeting.
At the beginning of this year we were visited by Mr. Ronald Noble, General Secretary of Interpol, and the president of that institution, Mr. Jesús Espigares, visited us in 2001.
Cuba has been an Interpol member since 1952 and continues to play an active role. We have links with 78 national Interpol offices.
Between 1999 and 2000, 1527 messages were exchanged with the Interpol Secretariat and other countries on various themes, including drugs.
In terms of international cooperation, I’d like to give you a few, although cursory, examples:
From November 6th to 15th, 1998, a joint operation was undertaken with Canada that thwarted five drug smuggling operations, led to the arrest of 18 foreigners and the seizure of 53.5 Kg of cocaine and 1.3 Kg of hashis in activities on the aerial frontier.
We cooperated with Great Britain on “Operation Maya” that led to the capture of the ship China Breeze in international waters, carrying 4000 Kg of cocaine that had been loaded after setting sail from Cuba, which were seized.
In the same operation, the British authorities seized 4500 Kg of cocaine on board the Castor, arrested 8 people in Greece and found over $ 4 million belonging to an organization responsible for transporting more than 50 000 Kg of cocaine to the U.S. using both of the above ships.
June 2001 saw Cuba involved in the “buscado” (hunted) case with the Bahamas in which two Bahamanian drug smugglers, Nehru Newton and Carllam Cambridge, were arrested in Cuba, where they had fled to escape justice. They were later extradited. Both were connected to the organization headed by Samuel Knowles, one of the biggest traffickers in the area who is now under arrest and awaiting trial in his country.
The “Gallegos” case involving Colombia, Spain, France and Panama began to operate in December 1998. José Royo Llorca and José Anastasio Herrera had set up an international joint venture as a screen to cover operations by which drugs were shipped in containers from Colombia to Spain via Cuba.
This case has been widely publicized and I would just like to add that on March 1st , 2000, the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic of Cuba sent a request commission to Number 1 Court of First Instance in Madrid, Spain, and to the Attorney General’s Office in Colombia.
On December 21st 2001, Spain replied saying, amongst other things: “on José Anastasio Herrera Campos, the Valencia Narcotics Unit claims to have investigated him in 1997 due to information linking him to an important international cocaine smuggling ring and putting him at the head of movements of huge sums of money belonging to the Cali cartel to be laundered and then sent overseas”.
In the declaration of Royo and Herrera’s defense attorney in the trial against them in Colombia, it was stated that Royo Llorca was visited in Cuba by two of the previously cited Uribe Arango’s brothers, called José Luis and Lisandro Roberto. Royo claims he only agreed to meet the two brothers as a favor to Herrera Campos.
Herrera Campos still associates with the Spaniard, Fernando Sánchez, known as Tatú, investigated in 1996 for his links with the Colombian cocaine trafficking gang that smuggled the drug into Spain through Galicia, later distributing it by land.
The Spanish authorities confirm that there was no record of the Spaniard Josefa Querol, wife of Royo Llorca, being admitted to hospital or treated in the Tarragona region on 4/12/98, the reason cited by Royo for his sudden departure from the country (on the day the public accusation was made against him).
On January 28th 2002 an answer was received in response to the request commission sent to Colombia, stating: José Ignacio Enao Vergara and his brother Marco Antonio Alvarez Vergara, both Colombians and owners of the currency exchange business J & Ros, accused of having financed the commercial operations of the company E.I.-Caribe, that sent the containers to the business set up by Royo in Cuba, pleaded guilty to the crimes of narcotic trafficking, asset laundering and conspiracy to commit crime, being sentenced to 13 and 12 years respectively. Enao Vergara is a fugitive from the American justice for drug smuggling.
The information from the investigation carried out by the Spanish authorities in relation to elements involved in drug smuggling in that country, as recorded in the corresponding documents, was passed to the attorney representing Royo and Herrera in the trial underway in Colombia.
These request commissions that have been duly answered constitute a legal and public document.
Our country rejects the idea of not having these two drug traffickers being brought to justice. The identity of both has been passed to INTERPOL to aid in their arrest and they would be tried in Cuba if they arrived or were sent here.
In terms of
international cooperation I believe it is necessary to mention, albeit
summarily, Cuba’s participation through the training of the appropriate forces.
From 2000 to 2001 more than 35 000 soldiers have been trained; 422 trainers have been prepared; support has been received in the training of 169 comrades from the Ministry of the Interior and the Customs Office through courses given by foreign experts, 138 in Cuba and 31 overseas; a course was also taught by the Barbadian Projects and Training Office, an institution from the UN system that taught six additional courses in the Dominican Republic, all attended by staff from the Ministry of the Interior and the Customs Office.
We have received important assistance throughout these years in the preparation of our anti-drugs forces from the UK, France, Spain, Canada and from the UN system. Our National Drugs Commission has also made an enormous effort to prepare our professional staff, cadres and officials in general who participate, one way or another, in prevention and treatment tasks.
These are all concrete facts, unquestionable examples of Cuba’s position, of the efforts made towards a broad and total international cooperation free from any kind of manipulation. These facts clearly demonstrate the true activities of our country, its main results, and the principled policy that, even before the triumph of the Revolution, have, as I already mentioned, followed the lead offered by our Revolution and particulary by our Comander-in-Chief.
Randy Alonso: Thank you very much Oliverio for that information.
(Brief images concerning the theme are shown)
In our country’s battle against drug smuggling the Border Patrol plays an especially important role.
With us in this round table meeting today is General Lázaro Román Rodríguez, head of the Border Patrol Transport Cuba. Could you briefly explain to us, General, the participation of our Border Patrol in this struggle against drug smuggling and the cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard Service in this sense?
Lázaro Román: I think it is a good opportunity, so that our people are put completely in the picture, to make it clear that from the very moment the Revolution triumphed in our country we have struggled to ensure that our airspace and territorial waters were not used by international drug traffickers.
Ever since 1959, an infinite number of boats and aeroplanes carrying drugs have been captured passing close to our country or using our territorial waters. Others have had to make emergency landings or have been forced down by our combat forces. In this manner, our country has a permanent strategy, by which to combat drug trafficking and for the Border Patrol this has been a central mission: to fight this scourge. With this in mind, and obviously within the restrictions imposed upon us, the government has provided us with the necessary resources to cope with this.
We recently explained the activities we carry out to the U.S. Coast Guard Service representative. Firstly, “Operation Aché”, based in the eastern region, was launched as a pilot plan in response to the growing number of suspicious aeroplanes passing from North to South in the region of Granma and Camagüey. This was initially implemented over 45 days in order to assess the results and the potential cost of the operation for our country.
As a result of this operation 457 Kg of cocaine were seized,a 449 Kg drop over the north of Camagüey was thwarted, two wash-offs were seized, and one speed boat was captured and three Bahamian citizens were arrested.
Two other planes were spotted over Granma and Camagüey provinces.
As a result of this, our government decided to permanently implement this operation and increase the forces and media involved in order to strengthen the whole project and attempt to prevent our territorial waters (particularly to the South of Guantánamo and to the North between Ciego de Ávila and Las Tunas) being used for drugs drops.
The forces used in this permanent mechanism were increased, with more aerial cover and radiotechnical equipment for aeroplane detection provided by the Anti-Aircraft Defense Division of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. An increased number of ground surveillance with 19 devices implanted in the region also aided our operations.
More than 1500 troops are permanently involved in this campaign.
As a result, up to January 31st, we had thwarted 7 operations in the region, seized 4544.9 Kg of marijuana, arrested three foreigners, captured two speedboats and prevented two drug drops.
The consequences of this harassment of speedboats operations are that 8498.6 Kg of drugs have been seized, of these 5801.8 Kg of marijuana; 2695.7 Kg of cocaine and 1.1 Kg of hachis, 363 wash-offs were intercepted and a similar number was aborted by our forces within Cuban territorial waters and other operations were interrupted by other forces in the area, including the U.S. Coast Guard Service.
Randy Alonso: Does this imply, General, that some type of communication exists between our Border Patrol and other specialized services in the region for the pursuit of drug smuggling cases?
Lázaro Román: Since 1979, the Border Patrol Troops have had a convention to cooperate on a case by case basis. This is not an official convention, but rather the provision of punctual information on events ocurring on the frontiers, particularly those related to drug trafficking, seach and rescue and the illegal trafficking in persons.
During this operation, we covered the areas or regions concerned accompanied by the two aforementioned representatives, one from the U.S. Coast Guard Service (in coordination with the Border Patrol), that was based in the Seventh District of Miami, and later with the Liaison Officer based in the U.S. Interest Section, Mr. Smith.
Throughout the operation we have exchanged many messages, exclusively concerning drug trafficking. (266 messages passed from the Border Patrol to the U.S. Coast Guard Service, and we received 71 messages in return).
Randy Alonso: That’s during approximately 18 months of operation?
Lázaro Román: Yes, after July 2000. That’s right, it has been about a year and a half now.
During the course of this operation, between the thwarted drug runs and wash-offs, 13 218.8 Kg of marijuana, cocaine and hachis have been seized, and all of these messages have been passed to the U.S. Coast Guard Service. We have even requested replies to our messages from the U.S. Coast Guard Service, usually about boats and planes we have harrassed on Cuban territory but that have escaped towards the North, mainly towards Bahamas.
It is important to point out that this information exchange agreement has been going on for more than 20 years. It has had its peaks and troughs, but since 1995 it has been maintained much more stably and sytematically. What is more, this exchange has led the U.S. Coast Guard Service to intercept 12 drug trafficking operations, 7 drug-carrying boats, to capture 9 speedboats and one aeroplane and to arrest 41 alleged drug trafficking crew and 18 persons who were found in the posession of drugs. All this within and near to our territorial waters.
It is also important to note that although this operation covers the region from Ciego de Ávila to Guantánamo on the northern coast and from Granma to Paso de los Vientos in Guantánamo province on the southern coast, we have also detected drug drops in the western region, close to San Antonio Point, in the Straits of Yucatán. And as colonel Oliverio was pointing out, as a result of the ocean currents (although not as frequently) to the south and north of Pinar del Río province drugs are washed ashore. Practically our entire territory is therefore affected.
For all of these factors, the effort our country has had to make, within all the limitations that affect us, to maintain a general mechanism throughout our territory, as well as the upgraded mechanism in the eastern region under “Operation Aché II” has been stupendous. This has been recognized in various meetings by the very authorities of the United States who praised our upholding, despite the limitations mentioned, of this drug combat mechanism and the seriousness with which our country works in this field. This praise applies not only to the Border Patrol but to all the organizations involved in the struggle including the active participation of our armed forces, particularly the air forces offering support to the operation in Paso de los Vientos and in the drug dropping zones.
As more media have become involved in this operations, so the amount of drug smuggling has reduced, both in our airspace in the region I have already mentioned as well as in our territorial waters.
I’d like to mention that since drug traffickers use the same modus operandi as the human smugglers and the terrorists, who often share other common characteristics, there has therefore also been an important flow of information with the Miami Coast Guard Service in the battle against illegal immigration. This amounts to 970 faxes sent, 28 telephone conversation on our part, and we have received in turn 463 faxed and 19 telephone calls. This also demonstrates Cuba’s willingness to cooperate in this area.
Randy Alonso: This is certainly part of this cooperation, part of this whole war that our country has fought against drugs-trafficking in which –as you yourself said- many different forces and diverse Cuban bodies have participated. I was reading the Ministry of Foreign Relations statement, however, and studying the additional information we have offered, and I saw that the statement affirms that Jesse James was handed-over to the U.S. government as an exception, after it had been clearly established that Bell was not currently involved in any illegal activity in Cuba.
In the case of the Colombian citizen, Rafael Miguel Bustamante Bolaños, we have said that so far he has said he has been involved in more than 12 drug operations. We have released that piece of information and there are some people who have asked us if he used Cuban territory for these operations. I will ask comrade Oliverio if he could tell us whether, based on the investigation they have done, there is a concrete reply to that question.
Oliverio Montalvo.- Yes, Randy. In fact he operated in various countries. His worst crime, as far as we know thus far, is that he organized some operations from our territory, which is an equally serious crime, according to our law.
Randy Alonso:- That is to say that this is the key fact that has so far been corroborated by the investigation.
Oliverio Montalvo.- That is what we have, up to the present stage of our investigations.
Randy Alonso:- I thank you Oliverio, for that clarification and I also thank the General for his comments.
(Short, pertinent film clips are shown)
The Cuban government’s proposal to deliver three draft proposals to the United States about establishing cooperation on migration issues, drug trafficking issues and on anti-terrorist measures was reported today in the statement from the ministry of Foreign Affairs.
We have been dealing most particularly with the head-on confrontation by the Cuban authorities and the Cuban government against international drug trafficking, its attempts to pass through our territory and the way in which drugs are destined principally for or have their principal market in the United States.
What kind of response has this Cuban proposal for a common response to drug trafficking, for a way to find international cooperation and, particularly, for ways to reach cooperation with the United States had from U.S. authorities, comrade Dausá?
There have been, I know, some attempts made in the U.S. Congress to discuss the subject but, on the whole, they have failed. I think that it would be a good idea to evaluate what has been achieved in this field and what have been the most important junctures, so to speak, in the political discussion in the United States.
Rafael Dausá.- Yes, of course Randy, thank you.
I think that when we talk about the subject of drug use and trafficking, we are, there is no doubt, talking about one of the most sensitive problems facing any society. I think, however, that U.S. society is especially affected by this evil, which is why it is hard to think, it is hard to understand why there is such a lack of political will in the U.S. administration to make a serious commitment to cooperating with our country around the issue of drug trafficking.
When we are talking about the problems of drug trafficking and drug use in the United States, we are talking, in a general way, about the more than 12 million people who use drugs regularly, we are talking about more than 5 million chronic addicts, we are talking about 52, 000 drug related deaths a year, we are talking about a phenomenon which involves $110 billion a year and we are talking about the fact that two thirds of the prison population in the United States, which exceeds 2 million, were directly or indirectly connected with exactly that, drug trafficking offenses.
I think that, as has been said here, the crystal-clear position of the Cuban government, even from before the triumph of the Revolution, has been very clear, very open. Over the course of all these years there have been countless contacts, talks with members of Congress, important people, U.S. government officials, during which our authorities, our government have repeatedly expressed, have directly raised the issue of their willingness, their readiness to step-up and improve cooperation around drug trafficking matters.
I think that there are countless examples of this. The note itself mentions the talks the Commander in Chief had with Arlen Specter, the Republican Senator for Pennsylvania, in 1999. I think that it would be a good idea to look at Arlen Specter’s experiences. He is, perhaps, one of those who has been at the forefront of these initiatives in the U.S. Congress.
For two consecutive years, Senator Specter introduced amendments to bills in the U.S. Federal Congress. And for two years, as well, the anti-Cuban mob has been maneuvering to remove these words from the bills. I think that here we can see the repetition of a modus operandi which we see not only in this drug trafficking area, but it is also well-known in things to do with the blockade, to do with a general relaxation of policies concerning our country. In other words, a bill on X or Y favorable to Cuba is introduced, the bill moves forward and then finally in the conference committee the anti-Cubans manage to have the text removed. This has occurred on two occasions with bills put forward by Senator Arlen Specter.
Specifically, in 2001, in September, Specter introduces an amendment, Section 580, to the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. The idea behind the amendment was to allocate $1½ million for cooperation with Cuba in areas concerned with drug trafficking. This amendment managed to get passed in the Senate full meeting. In fact, the bill containing this amendment was passed in the Senate by 92 votes for and 2 votes against. Nevertheless, when it goes to the Conference Committee, because a similar amendment had not been introduced into the version in the House, the anti-Cubans, backed by the Republican leadership, succeeded in removing the amendment from the joint version of the bill. Then, finally on January 10, 2002, the president signs a law which no longer contains Specter’s text. This, I repeat, happened in the year 2000 as well.
In other words, we can see how, in spite of there having been initiatives in Congress, in spite of our government’s having made clear, time and time again, its political will to move in this direction and step-up cooperation with the United States, the anti-Cuban mob, the anti-Cubans in Congress are still capable of manipulating and removing any initiative which is favorable to increased cooperation.
I think, Randy, that it is also important to comment on some points raised by Colonel Oliverio and General Román, to the effect that our stance, the Cuban Revolution’s stance is a totally transparent stance and a position we have historically held on this issue.
It is important to point out that in the middle of 1999, in June, to be more exact, talks took place in our country between a U.S. delegation made up of officials from the State Department, the U.S. Coast Guard and some officials from the American Interest Section, and a Cuban delegation whose members included officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and from the Ministry of the Interior. The main purpose of these talks was to try to make some progress on this issue, to try to see how we could work out some measures that would allow us to make progress in the area of cooperation around issues concerning the war against drug trafficking.
It is important to point out that these talks once again made evident our country’s political will to step-up cooperation with the United States in the struggle against the scourge of drugs.
The following points were agreed to within the framework of these talks:
In the first place, improving bilateral communications by installing a hot line between the Coast Guard Service 7th district and the General Staff of Cuba’s Borden Patrol.
In the second place, a proposal was made to increase communications between the U.S. Coast Guard Service and the Cuban Borden Patrol by establishing direct transmissions, ship-to-ship, or plane-to-ship and directly to operations centers.
It is important to point out that a permanent post was established in the U.S. Interest Section in Havana for a U.S. Coast Guard Service officer to act as liaison with his counterpart in the Cuban Border Patrol.
Similarly, an agreement was reached in these talks to increase the exchange of technical experiences for using ion detector equipment, known as an Ionscan, to detect secret compartments used for transporting drugs on ships.
All these proposals, it is important to point out, that were not objected to, were welcomed by the Cuban side, even those that did not automatically entail a reciprocal measure for the Cuban side. An example of this is that we were going to accept another liaison post, a Coast Guard Service officer, in the U.S. Interest Section, which didn’t automatically mean that we could have another official in our Interest Section in Washington.
All these measures have been implemented, except for the ship-to-ship or plane-to- ship communication, owing to some technical difficulties which we still have to overcome.
If we wanted to add some more elements on this willingness, these gestures from the Cuban side on the subject of the war against drug trafficking, we would also have to mention that last November 9 and 10 a Regional Conference on Drug Control in the Caribbean was held in Cuba. All Caribbean countries, Canada, several European countries and the United States were invited to this conference which was organized in cooperation with the UN.
Unfortunately, in spite of the fact that official and personal invitations were sent to the head of the U.S. Coast Guard Service, to the DEA Administrator, to the General Counselor of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and to the U.S. Customs Service Commissioner, when our comrades made inquiries about what the response to our invitation was, the reply from the State Department to our Interest Section in Washington was simply that none of the high-ranking officials who had been invited would attend the conference and that neither would anyone from their respective agencies be going.
Really, it is somewhat hard to get one’s mind around such double standards around this subject, which is of crucial importance for U.S. society.
Randy, it is important to point out and remind people that, in fact, when the note of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs refers to the exceptional way —you remarked on it— Jesse James Bell was handed over last January, this is because, even though we have shown our willingness, we have shown complete readiness to create one, there is no concrete agreement, there are no regulations in effect between Cuba and the United States which control or regulate cooperation in matters concerning the war on drug smuggling. I think that this calls into question the US’s seriousness about and its real commitment to the war against drug trafficking.
What do we see in practice? We see the Specter case, we see all those cases in which narrow and illegitimate anti-Cuban interests prevail over the real interests of the U.S. people.
Having attended an international conference in our country was something that would have done the U.S. authorities a world of good. Cooperating or increasing cooperation with us would benefit U.S. society. For, in fact, what we are talking about here is that most of these drugs don’t go to Europe, most of these drugs end up on the street in the United States, end up harming children and adolescents in the United States. Which is why one has to wonder about such an inconsistent and incoherent position from the United States.
We don’t only find this double morality, these double standards in all the examples we have given, we all remember that the subject has been touched on in these round tables as well, that every year the United States puts out the so-called drug certification reports. These reports have been criticized internationally, have been strongly attacked and precisely because they embody this double morality and this U.S. government fallacy.
I just want to read the short part referring to Cuba from the report issued in November, 2001, just to show that what we are talking about is corroborated by this report.
It states: “The geographic position of Cuba, in the middle of one of the main routes used for smuggling drugs into the United States, continues to make it a good candidate for putting on the list” — the list of the major producing and trafficking countries.
“Whereas in the past there were some anecdotal reports on the use of Cuban territory by some traffickers to move drugs, we have no confirmation that this traffic brings significant quantities of cocaine or heroin to the United States”. In other words, they can’t invent what doesn’t exist, they can’t invent what really isn’t there.
“Over the last few years, most suspicious air traffic which used to cross over Cuban airspace, has been detoured to the island of Hispaniola.”
Now comes the threat, now comes the hard policy, the meaness: “ We shall continue to keep Cuba under strict observation, so as to be aware if there is any change in this pattern. If there is evidence that significant quantities of drugs are in transit through Cuba to the United States, Cuba will be added to the list of major illegal drug producers or the list of those coutries whose territories are used for transporting drugs.”
Here we just see that the United States cannot hide, is not able to conceal that Cuba is clean as far as drug trafficking goes, as far as drugs transiting through our country goes. Nevertheless, there are to be threats, there is to be coercion against our country, there is to be that anti-Cuban rhetoric; all of that, of course, for the forthcoming elections in the United States.
Randy, to conclude, I think that it would be worthwhile to mention that the transparency and correctness of the Cuban stance can be found in, can also be seen reflected in recent remarks made by General Barry McCaffrey, the former U.S. drug czar, as he was wrapping up a recent visit to our country with a group of U.S. academics —I am just going to very quickly refer to a couple of cables:
“During a press conference in Havana, General McCaffrey stressed that ‘Cuba does not pose any threat to the United States’, and said he was in favor of increasing bilateral cooperation in the war against drugs and terrorism.”
“I suggest that the Cubans do not facilitate drug trafficking in any way whatsoever.
“Furthermore, he said that he firmly believes that Cuba ‘is an island of resistance’ to drug smugglers.”
Another cable —the one I just read was from AP and this one is from Univision— stated: and it said: “Cuba poses no military threat, there is zero threat. I see no evidence that Cuba is aiding drug trafficking, I firmly believe that Cuba is an island that resists drug trafficking”
They are examples of, they are statements from the former anti-drug czar, a highly respected official, a General who has been given high honors in the United States. He made these statements last March 3 and 4.
And finally, I think it is important to highlight, Randy, that our government’s decision to issue these three notes, that is, the proposed agreement on immigration issues, the proposed agreement to fight illegal trafficking in drugs, and the bilateral program to fight terrorism, show once again the continuity of our policy and the Cuban government’s determinaton to do battle in a serious and determined way with these serious problems which affect humanity.
Randy Alonso:- I think, Dausá, that this is a forceful demonstration of that verticality of principles, which is also reflected — as you said— in the important remarks by a person who is so highly respected in the United States, retired General Barry McCaffrey. I would like to remind you, as well, that in 1998 he had given a similar opinion before a U.S. Congressional committee and was rabidly attacked by Ileana Ross, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and the Anti-Cuba menagerie in the U.S. Congress. And he reiterated once again, after his visit to our country in the company of U.S. academics, his stance that Cuba is an island of resistance to international drug trafficking.
Thank you very much Dausá.
(Pertinent film clips are shown)
Today the Statement issued by our ministry of Foreign Affairs contained information on several instances when Cuban authorities have presented draft agreements to U.S. authorities. The latest of these was on March 12 and concerned immigration issues and the war against drugs and terrorism.
We have with us Comrade Ricardo Alarcón who participated directly on one of those occasions, on December 3 of last year when he delivered the texts of those draft agreements to the U.S. delegation taking part in the migration accords talks. As our round table draws to a close, I would like you, Alarcón, to give us some idea of how important, how significant these three Cuban proposals to the U.S. government are.
Ricardo Alarcón. - Of course, Randy.
I think that we must begin by pointing out that these three issues are inextricably linked. It is not that it occurred to us to present one proposal on this issue here and another on that one there and another on a third over there. They are three interrelated matters, and has been defined as such by the international community and in practice. And, furthermore, it seem to me it is important to stress that Cuba has repeatedly expressed its readiness and willingness to reach bilateral agreements with the United States, as we have done with many other people, it is not just a question of circumstances. As affirmed in the statement issued by the Minisry of Foreign Affairs we presented a draft agreement to them in September, 2000. Furthermore, one could say that the U.S. delegation received that same text, an expanded version, with new points, on December 11 of that same year and then later, at the end of June, 2001. Which is why it is very strange that on December 3, 2001 when they were given the same document for the fourth time during the migration talks, — as the Foreign Ministry note points out— they said that it was outside the scope of the migration talks.
It is an interesting question so that some American would explain how on earth a project whose aim is to fight against human smuggling and illegal migration can have nothing to do with the subject of migration.
It not only has to do with the subject of migration, but it also has to do with terrorism and drug trafficking.
When you spoke to me about coming to this round table, it occurred to me to bring my personal notes from that meeting and I am now, very quickly, going to repeat to you what the Americans heard about this, about the relationship between the three issues, here in Havana on December 3, 2001. I began with a chronology: January 25, 1999, the press in Miami reported that Mr. Juan Bautista Márquez had been arrested. He was accused of smuggling 365 Ks of cocaine into the United States and of conspiring to smuggle another 2000 Ks. Who is Juan Bautista Márquez? Juan Bautista Márquez became notorious when he and some of his cronies from the Cuban American National Foundation were arrested, two years earlier, in June 1997, in Puerto Rico. They admitted that they were on their way to Margarita to try to assassinate Comrade Fidel.
Of course, what happened to them in Miami for the crime of an attempt on the life of a Head of State? They were found not guilty and since they were not guilty they kept the boat and they kept their rifles and they kept on with their other occupation, which is smuggling cocaine into the United States. I have found nothing further in the Miami press. Is Mr. Márquez free again? Is he again devoting his time to human smuggling, to drug smuggling, to terrorism? God knows. But there you can see the specific connection.
The DEA arrests him as a drug trafficker and on that occasion the press reminded its readers that he had previously been detained and found not guilty of an attempt to assassinate Comrade Fidel.
September 2, 1999, Mike Sheeny, head of the Border Patrol in South Florida made some statements which appeared in the Miami press and which I am going to quote. Speaking of human smugglers, he said the following: “These groups of smugglers are well organized and know how to operate without being detected. In most cases they learned their job by smuggling drugs.” He added: “They are connected to drug smuggling. Human smugglers often double up as drug smugglers.” Mike Sheeny, head of the South Florida Border Patrol, September 2. 1999.
On September 20, of that same year “A high-ranking government official” said the following in Washington: ‘Most of illegal inmigrants smugglers were involved in drug trafficking and are protected by their Miami clients’.” End of quote
On December 12, 1999, Mr. Dan Geoghegan of the U.S. Border Patrol said more or less the same thing. I don’t know if it was this high-ranking official but he said more or less the same about the connection between the two things.
In December of 1999 the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency published a study entitled: “Global Trends: 2015” — a series of forecasts about what the world will be like in the future — and I quote the following: “Immigrant trafficking is becoming a serious threat to national security, owing to the fact that it is forging alliances with arms, drug and human smugglers and to those involved in money laundering.”
In July, 2002, another incident occurred which was analyzed here in one of the round tables. Someone is kidnapped in Miami, someone who had been ilegally smuggled in. When he reached Miami he was kept hostage and the human smugglers, those who had taken that person there, demanded a large sum of money from his relatives in Miami or else they won’t release this man and they even threatened his life. An operation was organized, the police got involved, freed the man and captured the two smugglers.
Who were these two smugglers, according to reports published in the Miami press on July 18, 2001? Two runaways from federal prisons where they had been kept for drug trafficking. This is another concrete example of the connection between drug trafficking, human smuggling and terrorism, because kidnapping and threatening someone’s life is a form of terrorism. Just as the case of Mr. Márquez and the attempts planned against Fidel’s life were more evidence of the connection between drug trafficking and terrorism.
December 5, 2001, the State Department —the same State Department which claims that the subject doesn’t belong in such and such a meeting and that another way be found, and excuses of that ilk — has a public information service which published document which, among other things, states the following, and I quote: “The connections between terrorism and drug trafficking are real and growing, according to current and former U.S. government employees who attended a special symposium on December 4 in the DEA Headquarters.” Look how funny this is, at the same time as they were saying here in Havana that they were not prepared to discuss the subject, because there was no connection, over there in Washington they were discussing and examining the connection between these issues and, furthermore, publishing the discussion in their information bulletin.
“That same day the head of the U.S. anti-drug agency (DEA), Asa Hutchinson, referred to — and I quote— the strange connection between drugs and terrorism”.
Towards the close of that same year 2001, an official U.S. government publication was put out by the National Drug Control Strategy, a federal body which analyzes how to fight against drug trafficking from a strategic perspective. I am going to quote just this sentence: “These drug traffickers copy their operations from international terrorism”. End of quote.
November 27, 2001, on the eve of the meeting we were going to have in Havana, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a special appeal to the international community asking for cooperation with the efforts that she said she wanted to promote for fighting against the illegal traffic in persons, and among other things, she said, —and I quote—”The traffic in persons is extremely closely connected with other sensitive political questions, such as irregular emigration, organized crime on a transnational scale and public sector corruption.”
Finally, in this rapid chronology, on December 14, 2001. Mr. Pino Arlacchi, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations who attended the Caribbean meeting here that Dausá mentioned, said the following: “Terrorism, organized crime and illicit drugs are closely related.”
But if that’s not enough, there is something that should have made the US delegation meditate more seriously about it when it came here last December, which is this (He holds a document up to the camera). This is a UN Security Council resolution, passed unanimously on September 28, 2001. Who drafted it? Who proposed it?. The U.S. government delegation did. In the context of the alleged war on terrorism, they had the Security Council pass a resolution which sets forth a number of things. We can’t read it all —there is no time for that— but I want to highlight the following:
In the first place, before beginning to describe what has to be implemented, that is, their decisions, they include this sentence at the end of the preamble: “Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.”
Anyone who has had anything to do with the United Nations knows that this is like a magic formula and everyone one in the UN knows what it means. What it means is that what comes next is binding on everybody, it is binding, and that even the Security Council can oblige States to abide by what it decides, including sanctions, up to and including military force.
O.K., so what did the Security Council decide at the US suggestion under Chapter VII? Decides that all States shall:
a) Refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts, including by suppressing recruitment of members of terrorist groups and eliminating the supply of weapons to terrorists;
b) Take the necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist acts;
c) Deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts, or provide safe havens;
d) Prevent those who finance, plan, facilitate or commit terrorist acts from using their respective territories for those purposes against other States or their citizens;
e) Ensure that any person who participates in the financing, planning, preparation
or perpetration of terrorist acts or in supporting terrorist acts is brought to justice.
I imagine that Orlando Bosch hid when he heard this, when he heard that the government that had sponsored him, that had supported him was going to do all this. But then his old buddy Otto Reich would have called him and would have said: No, man, no, these are trifles. This is to give the world the impression that we are against terrorism, we’ve got to do it”, because in fact this is a regime that has been inextricably involved in international terrorism.
But going back to the Security Council document, the U.S. document, which in another paragraph calls upon all States to, among other things:
Subparagraph c) paragraph three: Cooperate, particularly through bilateral and multilateral arrangements and agreements to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks and take action against perpetrators of such acts.” That was paragraph three.
Let’s see what paragraph four states:
“ Notes with concern the close connection between international terrorism and transnational organized crime, illicit drugs, money-laundering, etcetera, and emphasizes the need to enhance coordination of efforts on national, sub-regional, regional and international levels, in order to strengthen a global response to this serious challenge and threat to international security.”
A delegation from the government which had proposed this resolution turned up here, in Havana, the government that had told all the States in the world that this was binding, that we had to implement that. We delivered them three concrete proposals in English and Spanish, not at the meeting itself, but four days before —to make their work easier we gave these proposals to the delegation in Spanish and English so they could be prepared. They, who had this resolution passed, who claim to be against terrorism, so that they could take one tiny step, which would be to act according to their obligations, as per that resolution which they had passed, using that phrase, which sometimes sounds sort of like a threat… “acting under Chapter VII”.
By the way, the resolution established a committee which had to be reported to three months after the resolution was passed. I have not seen the U.S. report, but it would be amusing to see what they say about this, what they say about the paragraph which states that it is binding to reach bilateral and regional agreements on these issues which are closely connected.
They have had, for three months now, three proposals, some of which they were given two years ago now, which deal with this question and, as affirmed by the Foreign Ministry statement: Now it is for the United States to respond. It is in the hands of the United States government to prove, both to the American and the international public opinion, that it is capable of side stepping the mean interests of small anti-Cuban groups, “the Miami clients” of which that high-ranking Washington official spoke, and defend the real interests of the American people.
And, furthermore, I would say that the United States has the opportunity to show the world if there is even a pinch, a tiny bit of sincerity in all that anti-terrorist rhetoric, or if that rhetoric only serves to threaten world peace, to attack weak and poor countries and, in doing so, to continue sheltering their terrorist cronies who are both human smugglers and drug smugglers in the United States.
Cuba has been fighting, since the very beginning of the Revolution, against all these evils. We overthrew a terrorist dictatorship imposed on our country by the Yankees, a terrorist dictatorship, and what is more, a drug trafficking dictatorship.
Randy Alonso:- Which allowed pretty extensive drug trafficking in this country.
Ricardo Alarcón:- Frankly, as a Cuban, the only guilt I feel with regards to the Americans is that when the Revolution triumphed Cuban drug traffickers, those Batista police thugs who controlled drugs and prostitution in Havana went over there to Miami and took drugs and prostitution with them to Miami. But as soon as they arrived there they joined forces with the government of that country which has been supporting them day and night for 43 years. But now the time has come when the United States has to say to the world, to give it an answer that conforms to what they themselves had the Security Council pass, which obliges them to give an answer to the U.S. people, to give an answer to the international public opinion and to the international community.
For our part, I think that we have complied with a moral and political duty, which is completely in line with our country’s principles, in line with the policies and practices we have followed with regard to these scourges. Moreover we are doing something which we think is essential, because if the American people is not allowed to know what is happening, then these criminals could get away with it to feign anti-terrorist stands and to continue to have drinks with their terrorist buddies, to continue to shelter Posada Carriles, to continue to shelter Bosch, which is what they do when they go as for as to appoint an Assitant Secretary of State who comes from this same terrorist dunghill.
It is important that world and U.S. public opinion know this: We acted with moderation, prudently, we have spent years calling upon them, trying to persuade them to adopt the position that they should have adopted and we have spent months making concrete proposals, repeatedly, of which they were informed in time. And if we don’t let the world know about this, they would be able to continue down their two-faced way more easily. Now, however, it is for them to respond and they will have to.
Randy Alonso.- Thank your very much, Alarcón, for your comments. I think that this is a reflection of the position that Cuba has always adopted and which has also been reinforced after September 11, after this so-called “world crusade against terrorism”. The concrete steps that our country has taken by signing the 12 international agreements that have to do with anti-terrorism and by making concrete proposals to the United States, are proof of the Cuban government’s and the Cuban people’s commitment to the international community. And, as affirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement well, it is for the United States to respond.
I thank the comrades who have been with me tonight at the round table and I thank our studio guests.
Cuba has once again demonstrated the verticality of the Revolution’s principles and its transparency and its clear determination to face up to and do combat with the scourges harmful to humanity, such as illegal migration, drug trafficking and terrorism. This was made patently clear in the events reported on today’s statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the important proposals for agreements on migration, the war against drug trafficking and the battle against terrorism made by the Cuban government to U.S. authorities.
I want to conclude by rereading the last part of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement issued today which states:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, considering the mutual benefits of the agreements on migratory issues, drug-interdiction and the struggle against terrorism, reiterates the willingness of the Cuban government to discuss and sign such agreements with the Government of the United States of America..
The possibility now exists for the U.S. Administration to show that it is truly willing to seriously undertake the fight against those grave scourges of humanity, while avoiding a double-standard approach.
It is in the hands of the United States government to prove, both to the
American and the international public opinion, that it is capable of sidestepping the mean interests of small anti-Cuban groups and defend the real interests of the American people.
“Now it is for the United States to respond.”