Monday, August 08, 2005

The Castros Linked to Narcotics

By GONZALO GUILLEN/El Nuevo Herald
8/7/2005 - Translation by yours truly.

BOGOTA-The old and apparently more and more confirmed allegations of links between Fidel Castro and his brother Raul with international drug trafficking returns to the present discourse with the appearance of El gran engaño [The great deceit], the latest book from the veteran German-Uruguayan journalist Jose Antonio Friedl, who concludes that the name of Havana Cartel is befitting of the Cuban government and adds: that they have nothing to envy of other drug cartels.

Friedl reminds us that Fidel Castro is among the richest people in the world, according to Forbes Magazine, with an estate estimated at $1.4 billion, and occupies tenth place among the 200 wealthiest men on earth.

Castro’s fortune, says Friedl, citing Forbes, is comprised of deposits in different countries and banks through intermediaries.

However, this book, published in Buenos Aires by Editorial Santiago Apóstol, offers more evidence and narrative about links with the drug trafficking on the part of Raul Castro than of Fidel himself.

In this sense, Friedl’s work, whose distribution in Miami will be through Librería Universal, agrees with an upcoming book set to be released in a Mexican-Argentinean co-edition, by Jhon Jairo Velasquez Vásquez, Popeye, the private secretary and tenebrous head of security of the late narcotics trafficker Pablo Escobar Gaviria.

Last May Popeye said that he will reveal how Raul Castro, Cuban vice-president and brother of Fidel Castro, maintained close and constant contact with the Medellín Cocaine Cartel and for years protected drug shipments that arrived in Miami through Cuba.

The one that knew was Raul, I never knew if Fidel knew, clarified Popeye, who after a silence of twelve years in prison, has just caused the arrest of liberal Colombian ex-senator Alberto Santofimio Botero of whom he accuses of the orchestration of the murder, in 1989, of the presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán along with Pablo Escobar, a killing for which Popeye is serving a 30-year prison sentence.

Friedl’s books is, above all, a meticulous compilation of publications and unpublished official documents, some unedited, mostly American, that at various times have been collected regarding the illicit traffic of drugs and the Cuban government.

The great deceit whets the reader’s appetite with a revealing chapter in which he explains how Fidel Castro and his regime were supplied for the first time in 1956 with money from marijuana trafficking.

After surviving the disastrous landing from the famous yacht, Granma, in 1956, Castro sought the economic protection of a certain Crescencio Perez, a powerful farmer who controlled the commercialization of marijuana in several regions of the island, relates Friedl.

Documentation exists in the FBI archives, as of 1958, according to which there was already a primitive drug trafficking network that was called the Medellín-Habana-Connection operating from Havana, presumably tied to the growing Cuban revolutionary cause. A year later (1959), under the direction of the FBI, the Colombian authorities found in El Poblado, near Medellín, a laboratory equipped to process morphine, heroin and cocaine.

Friedl’s work cites declassified information from American security agencies, according to which Fidel Castro began to make use of cocaine money in the 60s, when that business was handled on global scale by Chileans. The Colombians began to take the control in 70s.

In the summer of 1961, according to the declassified information Cuban civil employees of the highest rank met with Chilean senator, Salvador Allende to discuss the establishment of a network for cocaine distribution to help to finance the revolution in Chile and, at the same time, the Cuban regime that was already scarce of funds, reveals Friedl.

These primitive links between the Castro brothers and drug trafficking would grow over time and would cause the leaders of the revolution to accumulate incalculable capital, most of which was laundered and hoarded by them through the office of MC (abbreviation for Convertible Currency), a part of the Department of the Interior. In Havana it was a very well-known joke to say that MC was the abbreviation for marijuana and cocaine, says Friedl.

This virtual tour of Castrism in drug trafficking has one its more and vigorous extended episodes in telling about the relationship with the American narcotics trafficker Robert Vesco, through which Fidel and Raul established an intricate network for moving Colombian cocaine with stations in Panama, Nicaragua and Cuba. The Cuban profits were in the multimillions.

The great deceit abounds with information and reviews of already known links between the famous Colombian narcotics trafficker Carlos Lehder, the Castro brothers, ex- Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega and the Sandinista regime of Nicaragua.

Raul Castro implicitly accepted the use of the drug trafficking as historical revenge against American imperialism, maintains Friedl and a threatening scuffle between Noriega and the main Colombian narcotics traffickers as a result of police leveling a productive cocaine laboratory in the Panamanian forests of the Darién, in the 80s, was diffused directly by Fidel Castro.

Among the main bases in Cuba that Raul Castro made available to the Medellín Cartel of throughout the 80s, were Cayo Largo and the town of Moa, in Oriente province, where one of the most important drug processing plants in the world was operating, expounds Friedl.

The complex at Moa was directly under the control of the General Staff of the Cuban Communist Army and was guarded by a special detachment under the control of general Fernando Vecino Alegret. Over the passage of time Moa become a paradise for a series of international narcotics traffickers evading the justice of their respective countries, assures Friedl.

The great deceit also abounds with details on the ties of Pepe Abrantes, Cuban minister of the Interior, to active routes of cocaine traffic through Cuba, Panama, Mexico and Nicaragua.

It also offers new details and reflections on the unfortunate general Arnaldo Ochoa, who after a summary judgment for drug trafficking was shot along with colonel Antonio La Guardia and captains Amado Padrón and Jorge Martínez Valdez. With their deaths potential witnesses to the links of the Castro brothers with the Medellín Cartel and other Mafioso organizations disappeared.

The drugs arrived directly in Cuba. Sometimes they did it through Central America or directly to Cuba, on airplanes, and from there in boats to Miami, maintains the Colombian, also known as Popeye, in his book Sangre, Traición y Muerte [Blood, Treason and Death], that, for its part, will coincidentally be circulating with chapters that touch on the same subjects as Friedl’s book.

Jose Friedl, was born in Montevideo 62 years ago. For more than three decades he has been a political analyst and international journalist for European and Hispano-American media.

He has published more than 10 books, one of them on the Cuban revolution and another one on Tania, the enigmatic spy who lived in the shadow of Che Guevara.

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I wonder why they don't publish this in the English Herald???

5 comments:

Jose Aguirre said...

Excellent to disseminate this in English, Conductor! We should send it to the Herald and ask them to print it in English!

daniel said...

man the herald/el nuevo are notorious for running articles in one but not the other, its almost like they "pander" to the audience.. they run more "anti castro" slant in el nuevo than in the herald.. look at defede.. his stuff never ran in spanish, and the recent articles on cuba would have been of interest, but didnt run.. you may not agree with them on most issues, but lesnik and aruca have been complaining about this for a looooong time now.. alvaro fernandez's "castro-friendly" site has an area dedicated to finding the stuff that runs in one but not the other and usually provides translations.. for better or worse, it is exposed..

Songuacassal said...

Daniel, man, I've noticed that too... it's like two different newspapers...

Robert said...

The thing is, technically they are 2 different newspapers. They used to be joined at the hip, with most if not all the articles translated from the English to the Spanish version. A few years back, they split up with separate leadership.

They still share a few stories, but they are largely independent, for better or for worse.

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Yes they are two papers and I don't have a problem with that. But they should have some sort of go-between editor that makes sure important stories are carried in both papers. I'm sure there are plenty of readers of the English version of the Herald that would have found this article interesting, particularly what we call (in the Hispanic ad business) the English dominant Cuban-Americans.