CIA responsibility in the Barbados
BY MANUEL HEVIA FRASQUIERI AND ANDRES ZALDIVAR DIEGUEZ
IT was 1967. The counterrevolution in Cuba had been crushed. The JM-Wave CIA station in Miami gradually began limiting its dirty war operations against Cuba after long years of crime and aggression. The communications radar and heavy machine guns were dismantled, along with the 57mm recoilless rifles on pirate ships, which were then sold or auctioned off. Its luxurious mansions in the Florida cays, once secret, were rented out. The entire war logistics were disassembled bit by bit. But over the following years, CIA paramilitary actions would continue against Cuban fishing boats and facilities. The terrorism had not ceased; instead, it was intensified against Cuban interests in other countries. The preferred “targets” were then diplomatic and trade officials, embassies, consulates and airline and maritime representatives, both Cuban and those of any country that had ties to Cuba. It was just a strategic change in the agency’s policy of terror.
According to his memoirs The Roads of the Warrior, a hired killer named Luis Posada Carriles, seated in a Miami bar at that time, meditated to himself: “...The operations aimed at Cuba’s liberation carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency were very much diminished, to the point that practically nothing was being done. Paramilitary operations were things of the past, along with contacts on the island, the caching of armaments, infiltrations and all of that activity that kept alive the hope of we Cubans who were working for the Agency. Gradually and inexorably, the bases on the Florida cays were being shut down, and gradually and inexorably, they were demobilizing all the Cubans who worked for the CIA. My turn had come a very short time before...”
Posada Carriles is deliberately lying. The CIA never abandoned its privileged Fort Benning pupils. Its top Cuban-born agents at JM-Wave were sent as counterinsurgency “advisors” to pro-Yankee governments in Latin America to repress any signs of revolution. His close friend Félix Rodríguez Mendigutía had departed for Bolivia to collaborate in operations against the heroic guerrilla, Ernesto Che Guevara. Later, the CIA sent him to Ecuador, Peru, Vietnam, Nicaragua and El Salvador, and in the latter he participated together with Posada in the Central America dirty war, under director orders from the White House.
Posada Carriles was “assigned” to Caracas, Venezuela in 1967 as a CIA mercenary, passing through its intelligence agencies and finally occupying an important post in what used to be the Department of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP). His main tasks: eliminating groups of “insurgents” and aiding CIA espionage in diplomatic circles hostile to the United States and the higher echelons of local politics. This assignment was not a coincidence; it was a show of trust in a country with weighty economic and geopolitical interests for the United States in the Caribbean and South America, very close to Cuba due to deep-going historical ties.
George Bush (senior) himself, as CIA director in 1976, privately told General Juan Manuel Contreras Sepúlveda, chief of the DINA (the Chilean secret police), during a meeting in Washington, that DISIP had been restructured using Cuban agents at the service of his agency, suggesting that when the general returned to Chile, he should pass through Caracas and visit the DISIP. According to Contreras, during his trip to Venezuela he met with Cuban agents there. One of them was Luis Posada Carriles.
The “restructuring” alluded to by the former CIA director included important resources of all kinds aimed at strengthening that police force. In his “memoirs,” Posada Carriles refers to this subject, but without mentioning the CIA:
“...The police had improved incredibly. Overseas courses, well-paid instructors, plus the purchase of costly but highly efficient equipment for tapping telephones, for ‘installing a sound system’ in a room with hidden transmitters, the purchase of patrol cars, motorcycles, and above all sufficient economic resources for establishing networks of collaborators in hotels, restaurants, rental vehicles, etc., supported our operations, by locating a given ‘client’ in a hotel room with a previously installed ‘sound system’ or leading him to an ‘equipped’ table in a restaurant. The most costly, but also most fruitful of the departments was that of ‘control and manipulation of live sources’ or informers. The Corps’s areas of interest were subversive leftist groups, military officers with coup tendencies, and any sector of the population that was of interest to the government; they were penetrated and infiltrated by our agents...”
Luis Posada Carriles never stopped his terrorist actions against Cuba during those years; instead, he intensified them, under the official mantle provided by his DISIP post in Venezuela, for which he was dubbed “Comisario” on October 4, 1971 by his friend and collaborator Remberto Uzcátegui Bruzual, who included him in the repressive group under his leadership known as “the 12 Apostles.” This designation gave him further possibilities for continuing actions in the CIA’s interest that he had been carrying out for years.
THE FAÇADE OF THE PRIVATE DETECTIVE AGENCY
In 1974, due to differences with the new government of Carlos Andrés Pérez, Posada Carriles was forced to resign, creating a difficult operative situation for the CIA. But overnight, new funds became available, some of them supposedly contributed by his old DISIP buddy Joaquín Chafardet Ramos, and a private detective agency was created in Caracas called “Investigaciones Comerciales e Industriales, Compañía Anónima,” headed up by Posada Carriles himself.
It was initially located in Office No. 78 of the Majestic professional center, on Libertador Avenue. But in 1976, the agency moved to a larger, more discreet location in the Las Palmas residential neighborhood, on Valencia Avenue, Quinta María Nina, in Caracas. According to statements by Posada Carriles, the “investigators” used to enter through the back door to avoid attracting attention. The ICICA later had a branch in the city of Valencia, state of Carabobo, near Puerto Cabello; because it was far from the capital, it facilitated movements in other regions.
This “agency” was active from early 1974 until October 1976, considered the years with the most terrorist violence against Cuban diplomatic and commercial offices and interests throughout the continent.
In his “memoirs,” Posada Carriles tries to cover up the subversive nature of ICICA and to justify the technical and financial resources available to him:
“...We never assumed responsibility for matters related to adultery or politicians’ problems, an area that seemed minimally important to us, compared to the more profitable and attractive commercial and industrial investigation, particularly in the field of technological, commercial and financial espionage for domestic and international companies... we took on investigations regarding conflicts of competition, theft and fraud; pre-employment investigations for important executives, particularly for multinational corporations... a network of portable communications equipment with their relays, operations cameras, sophisticated microphones, etc., supported our investigators in their work...”
According to declassified documents of the era, a large volume of the new “agency’s” equipment in weapons and explosives came from the DISIP. Other technical espionage tools were presumably “donated” by the CIA. Unconfirmed accounts charge the U.S. embassy in Caracas with having provided plastic explosives to the “agency” that were later used in anti-Cuba terrorist actions.
The efficient “agency” of Posada Carriles, transformed into a dangerous center of subversion against the Caribbean and South America, could also be considered a paramilitary structure, and maintained a relationship of “mutual benefit” with Venezuelan police officials. Posada continued to collaborate in torture and persecution operations against leftist groups in Venezuela while carrying out undercover work for the CIA and participating actively with Orlando Bosch Ávila in assassinations under Operation Condor, together with Augusto Pinochet’s fascist DINA. It is publicly known that some of those involved in the ICICA, particularly Hernán Ricardo Lozano, maintained close relations with an official at the U.S. embassy in Caracas named Joe Leo, indicated by some public sources as a Special Services official.
This terrorist center eventually had 36 employees, some of them former members of the Venezuelan secret services and Cuban-born terrorists, familiar with clandestine tasks of following and monitoring targets; illegal listening and interrogation techniques and violent actions with weapons and plastic explosives. The second-in-command and head of operations for this “agency was Diego Argüello Lastre, a former police agent in the Batista dictatorship.
THE CIA COULD NOT HAVE BEEN IGNORANT OF TERRORIST ACTIONS BY POSADA CARRILES
The level of aggressiveness and effectiveness of this group was only possible thanks to its equipment for telephone interception, miniature radio transmitters for clandestine applications and small microphones for embedding in walls (some commercial and others of unknown origin, presumably created by a professional espionage service); professional recording equipment; stethoscopes for listening through walls; locksmith equipment; portable equipment for mounting mobile stations for recording conversations and radioactive liquid for marking and following targets, among other aides.
Such equipment makes it possible to infer that the targets of their illegal work may have been political or government figures, foreign diplomatic or business personnel; leftist revolutionary leaders and/or businessmen.
It was in this “agency” that many terrorist activities were planned, and from which commandos left, armed and trained to place bombs in Cuban civilian facilities abroad and to plan all types of attacks and kidnappings, presumably in coordination with other groups of the Cuban-American mafia in Miami. According to various historical sources, the ICICA put together operative studies on Cuban diplomatic and commercial facilities in Trinidad, Barbados, Colombia and Panama, and it possessed maps of Cubana Aviation flight routes in the region.
The CIA could not have been ignorant of these actions. Posada Carriles continued to be their man of confidence and perhaps their most faithful and experienced illegal agent in the region, someone to whom they owed many favors.
Days after the Barbados crime, an intelligence memorandum declassified by the U.S. State Department and dated October 19, 1976, asked the CIA for some answers and commentaries. The first of those questions fingered a sore spot: Has the CIA had any relationship with Posada’s detective agency or any business that he may have had? We do not know if the CIA ever issued a response.
It was no coincidence that terrorist activity in the region intensified. It is estimated that just between March 1974 and October 1976, when the ICICA closed down, more than 40 bombs were placed in 50 Central American, Caribbean and South American countries, targeting Cuban diplomatic offices, airlines and the interests of other countries that had relations with Cuba. During that period, two Cuban technicians in Peru and Mexico and two Cuban officials in Argentina were murdered, along with the 73 passengers who were traveling on Cubana Aviation Flight 455, which exploded off the coast of Barbados.
A more detailed account of those brutal acts is provided by a historical investigation carried out in our country. In 1974, three attacks with explosives were carried out against the Cuban embassy in Jamaica and another four against the Cuban embassy in Mexico. Letter bombs were sent to Cuban embassies in Argentina and Canada. Further bombs were placed in Cuban and foreign diplomatic offices in Peru, Jamaica, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama, and the Bahamas. In Mexico, 13 bombs exploded in three different cities, in banks, businesses and government offices after the news of possible normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States.
In 1975, nine explosive devices were placed in five countries in the region. A bomb was found in the auto of the Cuban ambassador in Mexico, and the auto carrying the Cuban ambassador in Argentina, Emilio Aragonés Navarro, was shot at; he was unharmed. That year, the people of the United States were also victim to terrorist actions by the most violent anti-Cuban groups operating in their own territory.
An explosion in Puerto Rico in January left four dead and two injured. In February, a bomb was deactivated in the offices of the Colombian airline in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In March, two bombs went off in the tourism office in Panama and the Costa Rican consulate in Los Angeles, California. In May and July, two bombs blew up in the Venezuelan and Costa Rican embassies in Washington. In July, a Puerto Rican ship was sabotaged in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In October, two bombs went off in Miami, and on December 29 another blew up in the baggage room of the Dominican airline at LaGuardia Airport in New York, killing 13 and injuring 75.
WITH CORU, THE OPERATIONAL CAPACITY FOR TERROR ESCALATED LIKE NEVER BEFORE
Once again, the tolerance of and complicity of U.S. authorities with anti-Cuban terrorist groups began to create domestic problems. The most practical and advantageous solution for the U.S. government would be the creation of the Coordinating Committee of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU).
In June 1976, Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch participated in the formation of the terrorist group CORU in the Dominican Republic, created at the urging of U.S. intelligence services. A veteran officer of the anti-terrorist division of the Miami Police Department stated in 1979:
"...The Cubans carried out the CORU merger at the request of the CIA...the United States supported the meeting to have them once again all at the same address, under U.S. control. The indication was basically onward and do whatever you want, outside of U.S. territory...”
The CORU group was ideologically fascist and aimed at extending international terrorism against Cuba, integrating the most violent terrorists and dealing resounding blows to the Cuban Revolution. Its groups were comprised of the most active Cuban-born fascists operating from within the United States, such as Acción Cubana (Cuban Action), Brigade 2506, Frente Liberación Cubano (Cuban Liberation Front), Alpha 66, Abdala and Movimiento Nacionalista Cubano (Cuban Nationalist Movement). The designated leader of this bunch was Orlando Bosch Ávila. The details of this meeting in Bonao, the Dominican Republic, were well known to the FBI, whose undercover agents were present. While no FBI comments exist in its declassified reports, there is evidence of the presence of Luis Posada Carriles in Santo Domingo at the time.
The fascist CORU led by Orlando Bosch was the visible head. Backstage, with effective power in his hands provided by the ICICA, the CIA strongman – Luis Posada Carriles – participated most actively in that international conspiracy.
The operative capacity of the terror “agency” headed by Posada from 1974 and subsequently the terrorist effectiveness of CORU were demonstrative of a level of organization never seen before in criminal groups of the time; it was something that could only be achieved with the direct support of an agency like the CIA.
Contradictorily, the tragedy of the successful attack on the Cubana Aviation airliner in Barbados in October 1976 a few months later took these two criminals out of circulation for a few years, and frustrated — for a time — CIA maneuvers under the command of George Bush (senior).
Under the influence of CORU and the decisive operational of Posada Carriles from Venezuela, in many cases, acts of terror were carried out against Cuban offices in Peru, Colombia, Guyana, Canada and Venezuela. One group led directly by Posada, together with Orlando Bosch, and following a previous agreement at the founding meeting of CORU, planned the sabotage of the Cubana Aviation Flight 467 from Panama to Havana, an action that was unsuccessful.
On July 9, a bomb exploded in a bag aboard a Cuban passenger plane in Kingston, Jamaica, which had been delayed by 40 minutes for operational reasons. Thanks to that delay, a terrible catastrophe was averted.
On July 10, another bomb blew up in the offices of the British West Indian Airline, in Barbados, allegedly placed by Hernán Ricardo and Freddy Lugo, hired assassins working for Posada’s “agency,” and later the directly responsible for the sabotage of the Cuban airliner in that same country.
On July 11, another bomb went off in the offices of Air Panama Airlines in Colombia, and days later, shots were fired at the Cuban embassy in that country. It is believed that a terrorist commando under Posada Carriles’ command, which included Hernán Ricardo, traveled to this country at that point with the purpose of carrying out a terrorist action with high publicity value.
Days later on July 23, Artaignan Díaz Díaz, a Cuban technician with the Shrimping Fleet of the Caribbean, was murdered in Mérida, Yucatan, during an attempt to kidnap a Cuban consular official. One of those participating in that act was an old buddy of Posada’s, the criminal Gaspar Jiménez Escobedo, who repeated the action years later during an attempt to assassinate President Fidel Castro Ruz at the 10th Ibero-American Summit in Panama, in 2000.
On August 9, Crescencio Galañena Hernández and Jesús Cejas Arias, two officials with the Cuban embassy in Argentina, were kidnapped, tortured and murdered by paramilitary groups of the Argentine military dictatorship. There is information that links the murderers Orlando Bosch, Luis Posada Carriles and Guillermo Novo Sampol to this crime. Shortly afterwards, on September 21, in the city of Washington, Orlando Letelier, former foreign minister of Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government, and Ronnie Karpen Mofitt, his assistant, were murdered by CORU hired killers working for Augusto Pinochet, including the Cuban-born terrorists Guillermo and Ignacio Novo Sampol, Dionisio Suárez Esquivel and Virgilio Paz Romero.
On October 6, 1976, a Cuban airliner exploded in mid-flight over Barbados with 73 passengers on board. It was the most horrendous crime of them all, and even after 30 years, continues to fill our entire people with outrage and sadness.
A few days before the atrocious event, the U.S. embassy in Caracas refused an entry visa into Puerto Rico for Hernán Ricardo Lozano, one of the crime’s material masterminds. According to historical sources, the U.S. embassy in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago knew that Ricardo was in that country when the CORU placed a bomb in the Guyanese consulate on September 1, 1976. The CIA may have feared at the time that its longstanding relationship with Hernán Ricardo could bring them problems.
After their arrest by Venezuelan authorities on charges relating to their responsibility for the sabotage of the Cuban airliner, the U.S. government maneuvered so that Posada and Bosch would not be tried, and proposed instead that Posada should be released and Bosch turned over to their authorities.
The U.S. government was the mastermind behind that horrendous act. It was not an isolated incident. The declassified documents show that their intelligence services were not ignorant of CORU’s to blow up an airplane in mid-flight. Neither were they ignorant of the subversive work of the ICICA in the region, from which came the material masterminds of the act and the explosives used. That could explain, among other reasons, their refusal to extradite Posada Carriles to Venezuela.
The CIA and its government later facilitated Posada’s escape from prison in Venezuela, offering him an important mission in its dirty war in Central America. Years later, they gave Bosch permanent asylum in the United Sates, as they are about to do with Luis Posada Carriles because of his extensive services to the cause of terrorism.
Humanity will bring them to account someday.
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