Monday, 10 February 2003 By MonsvenerisOn LUIS POSADA CARRILES
Four bloody decades
BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD (Special for Granma International)
February 28, 2002
The bloody record of the terrorist gang headed by Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles includes not only the explosion of a Cuban airliner in mid-flight; more than 50 attacks in the United States, Cuba, other parts of the Americas and Europe; and murderous collaboration with the military regimes in Argentina and Chile: it has also been confirmed that the gang has been extensively involved in the world of drug trafficking. Through the years, the U.S. press has published precious little about this hot topic, and few journalists have been brave enough to delve into these activities, in which the CIA has always played a part in one way or another. But there is at least one exception that proves the rule: that of a professor at Tufts University, also an investigative reporter, who exposed himself to the worst reprisals by revealing previously unpublished information about the "private lives" of the CIA and the Miami mafia.
In two alternative Internet publications, Professor Jerry Meldon released a "biography" of the best known Cuban exile drug traffickers, especially the central figure: arch-terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.
Basing himself on a series of declassified secret documents, Meldon bravely describes Posada Carriles' relationship with the late Jorge Mas Canosa, founder and leader of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) and frequent guest at the White House under Reagan, Bush Sr. and Clinton. In an article entitled "The CIA's Dope Smuggling `Freedom Fighters,'" published in December 1998, Meldon explains how the CIA's ties to the Cuban-American mafia and its drug traffickers originated with the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, for which the CIA trained hundreds of Cuban exiles in addition to seeking out the worst of Havana's gangster elements from the '50s who had taken refuge in the United States.
A top-secret element of the invasion plan was Operation 40, whose personnel included Posada Carriles; Felipe de Diego, a former commercial representative in Cuba of Firestone Tire and Rubber and future Watergate burglar; F‚lix Rodr¡guez, later head of covert operations and drug trafficker for the Nicaraguan contras; and various henchman identified by the mafia. That parallel force was to enter the island clandestinely as the invasion was under way, in order to carry out various actions aimed at destabilizing the Revolution.
After the invasion's spectacular failure, the CIA continued to utilize elements of Operation 40 for various covert missions, until in 1970 a small aircraft used by the group crashed in Southern California with several kilos of cocaine and heroin on board.
The pilot was Juan Restoy, a former congressman during the Batista dictatorship. Restoy's dope network had grown out of the organized crime empire of Florida godfather Santos Trafficante, who had assisted the CIA in numerous attempts to assassinate Fidel in the early years after the triumph of the Revolution.
Operation 40 was disbanded, but the members' participation in the lucrative smuggling continued. That same year, Meldon notes, the federal government arrested 150 suspects in what was called the largest roundup of major drug traffickers in the history of U.S. federal law enforcement.
"President Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, celebrated the destruction of `a nationwide ring of wholesalers handling about 30% of all heroin sales and 70 to 80% of all cocaine sales in the United States.' Mitchell did not mention all the Operation 40 `heroes' who had been netted in this grand operation," Meldon wrote.
Among those busted was Juan Restoy.
Two of Restoy's drug runners, Ignacio and Guillermo Novo, belonged to the Cuban Nationalist Movement, an organization on the extreme right with cells in Miami and Union City, New Jersey.
Guillermo Novo is one of three individuals currently under arrest along with Luis Posada Carriles in Panama, and also the "concern" of the Miami mafia. His brother Ignacio perpetrated the spectacular bazooka attack on the Cuban pavilion at the 1967 Montreal World's Fair.
Juan Restoy eventually broke out of jail and was slain in a shootout with federal agents, but his narcotics network would remain true to the "cause" - i.e., attempts to topple Fidel.
Professor Meldon explains that in June 1976 the most extreme counterrevolutionary elements met in the Dominican Republic and set up the Commando of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU), at a time when George Bush Sr. was CIA director and, logically, guided the anti-Cuba organizations' activities.
"Numerous dope-linked terrorists were in attendance - Luis Posada Carriles, Guillermo Novo, and so on - who would later assist the Reagan White House in running its contra re-supply operations in Central America. There was also Frank Castro, the Bay of Pigs vet running the militant Cuban National Liberation Front. Castro would be indicted in 1983 for smuggling over 500 tons of marijuana, and then have the charges magically dropped after setting up a contra training camp in the Florida Everglades."
Also present at the meeting, according to other sources, were the leaders of Alpha 66 and the former president of the Bay of Pigs veterans, Roberto Carballo. "At this June 1976 convention in Santo Domingo, the CORU mob laid out a plan for major bloodshed, and that fall its myrmidons carried out two of the most sensational terrorist acts ever witnessed in the Western hemisphere."
On September 21, 1976, a car-bomb exploded in broad daylight in Washington, D.C., killing Orlando Letelier, formerly foreign minister of Chile, and human rights pioneer Ronnie Moffitt.
Meldon continues, "Two of the CORU thugs on Pinochet's terror budget turned out to be the Novo brothers. Though then-CIA director George Bush stonewalled the investigation to the best of his patriotic ability, Guillermo was eventually busted in Miami with a pound of coke; he was ultimately found guilty of the Letelier-Moffitt terror homicides, but the conviction was overturned on appeal when his confession was thrown out."
Later, on October 6, 1976, the monstrous explosion of the Cubana passenger plane occurred, killing all 73 people on board. Four of the crime's authors were arrested and charged in Venezuela: "Dr. Death" Bosch, Luis Posada Carriles and two of their henchmen. Bosch and Posada Carriles managed to escape Venezuelan justice, thanks to the collusion of the State Department, the CIA and the Miami mafia.
Meldon also reveals that Jorge Mas Canosa, the multimillionaire leader of the CANF, bought Posada's escape from Venezuelan prison with $26,000 and underwrote the defense costs of Jos‚ Dionisio Su rez, a codefendant with the Novo brothers in the Letelier case. "Su rez pled guilty to killing Letelier, but jumped bail and continued with what he knew best, blowing up a TWA airliner and firebombing Moscow's UN mission, before becoming the contras' instructor in sabotage and demolition techniques. At last report, Su rez was a hit man for Colombian dope cartels."
Immediately after his escape, Posada Carriles reappeared in El Salvador, supervising the contra resupply flights under the direction of his old comrade-in-arms Felix "Max G¢mez" Rodr¡guez, until October 1986, when an old plane from the CIA fleet was downed over Nicaragua, exposing the Reagan White House and its whole Iran-Contra operation.
When the scandal broke out, Luis Posada Carriles disappeared in Guatemala and was seriously wounded by gunfire. He later explained that the CANF paid $22,000 USD for his hospital expenses.
In 1994 the terrorist, who enjoyed multiple benefits from the mafia elements in El Salvador, failed in an attempt to kill Fidel Castro during a trip to Colombia.
Meldon states that even after Mas Canosa died from cancer in 1998, Posada Carriles remained active, as he demonstrated publicly when he confessed to The New York Times that he had organized the bombings in Havana hotels.
Meldon concludes, "Pretty impressive loyalty for someone who, according to a CIA report, was investigated by them in 1967 for supplying explosives, silencers and grenades to Santos Trafficante's organized-crime hoods. And not bad considering that the Agency six years later supposedly warned that `Posada may be involved in smuggling cocaine from Colombia through Venezuela to Miami.'"
Beneath all this information exposed by Meldon lies the incredible tolerance of the U.S. judicial system in regard to the terrorism and drug trafficking carried out by enemies of Cuba who benefit from a very specific piece of legislation. Other analysts state that CORU's activities over several years, totaling more than 50 attacks, were almost exclusively financed by drug money.
It's interesting to note that Orlando Bosch, a CIA agent and founder of the terrorist CORU, was "liberated" in 1988 from a Venezuelan prison by the then U.S. ambassador to Venezuela and now the State Department's liaison with Latin America - Otto Reich - who also secured Bosch's pardon, without much difficulty, from President George Bush Sr., a former CIA director.
In the midst of the "war on terrorism" proclaimed by the current administration, a Florida court has handed down very harsh sentences to five young Cubans with absolutely no record of violence, who are dedicated to the fight against terrorism. Meanwhile, a Panamanian court hasn't been able to find "sufficient proof" to try Luis Posada Carriles, a well-known terrorist with four decades of bloody actions and now accused of trying to kill a head of state in a building full of students.