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Painting Cuba with narcotraficante colours

There is a concerted effort to paint Cuba as a drug trafficking nation.  To those who have visited the island, with its strict laws on trafficking and drug consumption, this does seem a little excessive.  Then you examine the source of these allegations in the Cuban exile community and remember that same community's prediliction for cocaine trafficking in particular... Perhaps they should pause and think before really getting going on this course lest they should wind up in the spotlight instead!

CIA Probes Cuban Link to Drug Trade, 8/15/99

Sections of the US Government continue a series of moves to criminalize Cuba.   Bottom line: Cuba is supposed to spend scarce resources patrolling their water and air space to keep the supply down for our huge drug economy so prices can stay artificially inflated.  And the US gets to label Cuba non-compliant at the hands of the same CIA that has protected and encouraged so many traffickers around the globe!

CIA Probes Cuban Link to Drug Trade        by George Gedda, 8/15/99

WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department and the CIA are looking into a possible Cuban connection in the U.S. drug trade, with water and air space lightly patrolled by Fidel Castro's government offering a tempting route for Colombian cocaine and heroin. [The State Department and the CIA so ably uncovered all the drug trafficking around the Contras, then before that Afghanistan, then Bolivia, then Laos - Vietnam - Thailand.  And let's not forget Columbia, Peru, Burma, etc.]

But for Castro, who has been portraying himself as an effective warrior against drug trafficking, the latest concern mixes the message from Washington.

Hours after the Senate voted earlier this month to ease restrictions on the sale of food and medicine to Cuba, anti-Castro Republicans scored a victory in their quest to focus a spotlight on use of Cuban waters by drug barons.

They convinced the Clinton administration to look into an abortive cocaine shipment intended to go through Cuban waters last December. There is no suggestion that the Cuban government itself had any involvement with the shipment.

Cuba has vowed to pursue the drug war vigorously. Three weeks ago, Castro even invited the United States to join him in an anti-drug campaign so the two countries could become "one of the greatest alliances against drug trafficking."

Gen. Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, acknowledges that traffickers have been making increased use of Cuban air space and territorial waters. But, he notes, Cuba maintains it does not have the resources to patrol these large areas, especially its territorial waters.

"There is no conclusive evidence to indicate that Cuban leadership is currently involved in this criminal activity," McCaffrey says.

Castro's detractors object even to the limited U.S.-Cuban anti-drug cooperation now in place, saying the evidence suggests an official Cuban role in supporting drug trafficking. [what evidence?  That cooked up by their Felix Rodriguez, who was in charge of cocaine trafficking to resupply the Contras?]

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said it is preposterous for the administration to give Castro credibility on the drug issue, contending the Cuban leader is notorious for helping drug traffickers. Similar objections were raised by Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who, like Ros-Lehtinen, is a Cuban-born South Florida Republican. [Just what are their ties to Felix Rodriguez, Frank Sturgis, etc etc etc?]

But congressional critics of the embargo are showing surprising strength of late. The Senate vote to ease restrictions on the sale of food and medicine represented a rare defeat for anti-Castro hardliners.

It was a victory for farm groups eager for an expansion of U.S. markets abroad. Two Democratic senators from farm states, Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, led a U.S. delegations for talks over the weekend with the Castro government.

Impetus for the inquiry into a Cuban drug connection came with a House committee report on the seizure of a 7.5-ton cocaine shipment by Colombia's narcotics police.

According to the report, a senior Drug Enforcement Administration official told investigators that "in all likelihood the Dec. 3 shipment of cocaine to Cuba was eventually meant to transit through Mexico and on to the U.S."

Cuba says the shipment was earmarked for Spain. The State Department initially agreed but now is not so sure.

Earlier in August, on the day after the Senate vote on easing the embargo, the State Department asked the CIA to "conduct an all-source review of intelligence community and law enforcement community data to shed further light on the ultimate destination of this shipment."

A CIA finding that the shipment was intended to reach U.S. markets after passing through Cuban waters could lead to Cuba's placement on the so-called "Major's List" of drug trafficking countries.

Castro's opponents in Congress are pushing for the State Department to apply that designation to Cuba. That would subject Cuba, much like Colombia and Mexico, to a State Department evaluation of its anti-drug performance each year.

Countries found to have lax counterdrug programs can be subject to sanctions. Such a finding would have no impact on Cuba, which is already under comprehensive sanctions.

Still, it would be a blow to Castro's efforts to build an anti-drug image. It also could be used as a weapon by his U.S. critics, many of whom suspect the Clinton administration is seeking cozier relations with the island.

The campaign for Cuba's inclusion on the list is being led by the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., and the chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, Dan Burton, R-Ind.

Being on the list, which has 28 countries, does not imply that the government in question is working with traffickers.

Virtually all Andean countries plus Mexico are on the list. As of the most recent State Department evaluation, all were "certified" as fully cooperating with U.S. counternarcotics efforts.

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.

Related pages

Luis Posada Carriles and the Cuban American National Foundation: Coca Contra lives on

Felix Rodriguez: Coca Contra Airport Manager: Che's Miami CIA killer in his role as CocaContra guru.

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