When the United States finally intervened in Panama on December 20, 1989, it would seem that far more impetus was provided by the need to bring an end to the growing military presence of Cuba (and, hence, of the Soviet Union) than to the assistance Noriega was providing to drug-traffickers and money-launderers. The drug business provided the rationale to remove Noriega; but the growing potential of Cuban and Soviet control mechanisms in Panama was even more serious25.
The importance of Panama is obvious. Panama occupies a geostrategic position of exceptional importance, which may well explain why Panama was one of the first targets for the Soviet-Czechoslovak-Cuban drug-trafficking expansion into Latin America.
Evidence also surfaced concerning drug and narcotics trafficking by the Government of Nicaragua, and of its close relationship with Cuba. This evidence was provided, among other sources, by Antonio Farach, Former Minister Counsellor to the Nicaraguan Embassies in Venezuela and Honduras; by James Herring, an American who assisted the Government of Nicaragua in establishing cocaine production and transportation; by Ubi Dekker, a European hashish trafficker who dealt with Nicaraguan officials in establishing trade routes for Nicaraguan drug-trafficking into Europe; and by Alvaro Jose Baldizon Aviles, an official in the Nicaraguan intelligence service.
Antonio Farach's first knowledge of Nicaraguan drug-trafficking materialised in
1981, when he learned that Raul Castro had visited Nicaragua in September that year and had met Humberto Ortega. The visit signalled the beginning of a 'new and special business' relationship. Farach deduced from other information that Cuba had offered to guarantee in a reasonable and safe manner the entry of the Nicaraguan Government into drug- trafficking. When asked whether Castro offered or ordered the Nicaraguans' entry into the drug business, Farach could not state which. But he did say that the relationship between the two countries was never one of respect. The Cubans always spoke as if they were the bosses. They were always very arrogant and demanding. They do not suggest in Nicaragua. They order in Nicaragua'26.
Baldizon, a former Nicaraguan counter-intelligence officer, confirmed the arrogant role of Cuban advisers in the Nicaraguan intelligence and military services. The presence of Cuban advisers and instructors was 'pervasive', he explained. Their mission was to provide substantive advice, to implement security systems and methods employed in Cuba, to support the Nicaraguan leadership in the planning and execution of combat operations, to oversee ideological development, to ensure close coordination between Nicaraguan and Cuban security services, and to prepare war plans. The Cuban influence
on decision-making in the Ministry is virtually complete and Cuban advice and observa- tions are treated as though they were orders'. Cubans operating out of the Cuban mission also performed a counter-intelligence role in Nicaragua. Other advisers and technicians identified by Baldizon were from East Germany, North Korea, Bulgaria, and the USSR27.
Similar observations were provided in 1988 by Major Aspillaga [see page 81 ], who described the Marxist Sandinistas as being under Castro's 'complete control'. In particular he described communications intercepts from 1980 in which Castro ordered the Nicaraguan Defence Minister, Humberto Ortega, to arrange for his brother, Daniel Ortega, to assume the post of Nicaragua's political leader, so that Humberto could maintain control of the armed forces. The key advisers in the Nicaraguan Government, including the intelligence chief, were Cuban intelligence officers, Aspillaga [see page 81] explained28. He also said that the Cubans were training Nicaraguan Sandinista agents and performing counter-intelligence work. Moreover, a key intelligence official in the Nicaraguan Interior Ministry is a Cuban who married a Nicaraguan woman, but who still works for Cuban intelligence29. Additionally, Colombian drug-traffickers met Raul Castro regularly in Cuba, Aspillaga said. Raul is Fidel's right-hand man for all clandestine operations and Fidel viewed drugs as 'a very important weapon against the United States, because drugs demoralise people and undermine society'30.
The nature of Cuban advisers in Nicaragua as described by Farach, Baldizon, and Aspillaga appeared to be remarkably similar to the nature of Czechoslovak advisers in Cuba in the early 1960s who launched the Soviet takeover, with the Cubans in Nicaragua performing the role that the Czechoslovaks had played in Cuba. In line with this, one should suspect that half of the 'Cuban' advisers and instructors in Nicaragua might well have been Soviets operating under Cuban cover and that the real Cubans present were probably recruited and trained by the Soviets and now operated as Soviet intelligence agents. This might help to explain the arrogance observed by Farach and Baldizon.
When Farach asked other Nicaraguan officials why their revolutionary government should become involved in drug-trafficking, he was told: 'In the first place, drugs did not remain in Nicaragua. The drugs were destined for the United States. Our youth would not be harmed, but rather the youth of the United States, the youth of our enemies. Therefore, drugs were used as a political weapon because in that way we were delivering a blow to our principal enemy'31. The second reason he was given was 'in addition to a political weapon against the United States, drug-trafficking produced a very good economic benefit which we
needed for our revolution. Again, in a few words, we wanted to provide food for our people with the suffering and death of the youth of the United States'32.
Nicaragua's participation in drug and narcotics trafficking into the United States sprang from Raul Castro's meeting with Humberto Ortega. The narcotics operation itself was placed under the Nicaraguan intelligence service, with Tomas Borge, the Minister of Interior and head of the intelligence service, in charge of the operation, and his deputy, Frederico Vaughan, the chief of staff.
Frederico Vaughan was indicted in 1986 in the US District Court, Southern District of Florida, along with Carlos Lehder, the Ochoa family, Pablo Escobar Gaviria, and others, on twenty-four counts of producing and smuggling cocaine into the United States, conspiracy,
obstructing justice, and related crimes. James Herring, an American who was recruited by
Robert Vesco for various nefarious tasks, has described how he was introduced to Nicaraguan and Cuban Government officials, and his work in 'drugs and high-tech smuggling'. He made a total of four trips to Cuba and four trips to Nicaragua. He
was always 'escorted and treated very well by dignitaries from both governments'. In
Herring's opinion, the operation was government-initiated33.
Ubi Dekker is a cover name for a European who was a prominent Interpol fugitive and international narcotics trafficker; his true identity is concealed for security reasons. When he was asked if the trafficking was not really just the work of a few corrupt officials Dekker responded, 'Completely doubtful. If s impossible.... It is the total [Cuban] Gov- ernment'. The Cuban Government provided security, facilities, manpower, in short, everything; and there was a direct linkage between Cuba and Nicaragua34.
Baldizon's debriefing by US officials was particularly revealing. From 1982 until his defection on July 1, 1985, Baldizon was the chief investigator of internal abuses within the Nicaraguan Ministry of Interior. In 1984, Baldizon's office received reports linking Interior Minister Tomas Borge with cocaine trafficking. Baldizon was instructed to investigate this as a compromise of a state secret. He thought this was a mistake, because he could not believe his government was involved in narcotics trafficking. Thus, he went to the chief of his office, Captain Charlotte Baltodano Egner, and asked her if the matter should not be investigated as a slander against the Minister. Baltodano was taken aback and said that the office should not have received the report.
The fact that Borge had involved the government in narcotics trafficking was highly classified, she explained, and known in the Ministry only to Borge, his assistant [Frederico Vaughan], the chiefs of police and state security, and to her. Outside the Ministry it was known only to members of the FSLN's National Directorate. Baldizon also provided additional details concerning Borge and cocaine trafficking and the use of the money 'for mounting clandestine operations by the Intelligence and State Security Department out- side Nicaragua'35. Baldizon died in 1988, in California36.
In 1987, another high-ranking official from the Nicaraguan Government defected to the United States: Major Roger Miranda Bengoechea. Miranda also confirmed Nicaragua's involvement in drug-trafficking. He reported how, one day, the Defence Minister, Humberto Ortega, told him that trafficking was Borge's operation, and added: 'It's a way of waging war on the United States. It also provides a profit/37.
Reports on narcotics trafficking in other Latin American (and Caribbean) countries, including Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, the Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Honduras, Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina are similar, differing mainly in degree and in respect of how advanced the trafficking operation has become. The primary similarities are drug-related corruption, participation of high government officials, the growing involvement of the military or police, and linkages to Cuba or Nicaragua. Communist involvement tends to be present, but is not as directly evident as is the case in Cuba and Nicaragua.
The principal differences between reported conditions in the non-Communist countries listed above and in Cuba and Nicaragua are that, in the case of Cuba and Nicaragua, drug- related activities are directly performed as initiatives of the Communist Government - so that there are no problems between the government and the drug-traffickers, nor do serious instabilities arise because of drug-trafficking.
The destabilisation potential inherent in the corruption which accompanies drug production, trafficking, and money-laundering may be even more dangerous and damning than the social problems caused by drugs, because it provides the foundation for revolution and takeover. This is where narco-terrorism has its primary impact, with the narcotics oper- ations sabotaging law, order, economics and societal cohesion. When the situation has suffi-
ciently deteriorated, the revolutionary terrorists can proceed to overthrow the government.
This destabilisation process was described in 1985 by Jon Thomas, Assistant Secretary
for International Narcotics Matters, US Department of State, as follows: The traffickers in fact may have killed their golden goose. They have polluted their own countries with their drugs. Now added to the incentives for controls... [are] the undermining of economies, the prosion of public institutions, the corruption of law and order, the violence and the threats of narco-terrorists, and insurgent groups who capitalise on the drug trade, and the desta- bilisation of governments'38. In one sense, Thomas is absolutely correct. However, there is another dimension - namely, that these 'incentives' which contribute to destabilisation are not unwanted results, but rather desired objectives. They are not killing the golden goose; they are building a revolutionary base for their own golden goose.
Nor is this where the story ends, because there is an even more important dimension. In his testimony, Thomas was addressing the situation in Latin America. But what is happening
is not limited to Latin America. It is happening around the world, including the United States. The breakdown of law and order is especially evident in those US States most closely associated with drug-trafficking and money-laundering; for example, Florida, Arizona, New Mexico and California. A prime example of the erosion of police capabilities, for a time, was evident in Washington, D.C., where the police frankly admitted they were out-gunned. On March 24, 1989, D.C. Police Chief Maurice T. Turner, Jr. said that the police could do little about the escalating homicide rate, other than wait until local drug dealers finished carving up the city into markets39. This echoes the sentiments of police in more than a dozen major cities. In a special report published in 1989 on growing anarchy within urban America, US. News & World Report concluded that 'combat like conditions' exist in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Miami, Cleveland, New Orleans, East St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Oakland and Los Angeles40.
The challenges and human frailties that give rise to these problems are not limited to Latin America. They exist everywhere, the United States being of course no exception, which is another reason why drug-trafficking is far more serious than public and official government perceptions of the problem allow.
References to Chapter 8:
1. Cuba's participation in all these activities has been explained by numerous defectors and former narcotics traffickers. A collection of news media reports following the November 1982, indictment has been published as Castro and the Narcotics Connection (Washington, D.C: The Cuban American National Foundation, Inc., 1983) and Castro's Narcotics Trade (Washington, D.C: The Cuban American National Foundation, Inc., 1983). See also Ra'anan, Hydra of Carnage, op. cit., pages 431-476.
2. A 'revolutionary centre' is a base for the training and export of revolutionary activity. See Footnote 3, Chapter 3, for further information about 'revolutionary centres'.
3. See US Congress, Senate, The Cuban Government's Involvement in Facilitating International drug-traffic, Joint Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism of the Committee on the Judiciary and the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs of the Foreign Relations Committee and
the Senate Drug Enforcement Caucus, Miami, Florida, April 30, 1983 (Washington, D.C: US Government Printing Office, 1983). Detail on the Soviet connection by former Cuban intelligence agents can be found in US Congress, Senate, The Role of Cuba in International Terrorism and Subversion, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism of the Committee on the Judiciary, February 26, March 4, 11, and 12,1982 (Washington, D.C: US Government Printing Office, 1982).
4. For a presentation of the growth of the Colombian cocaine cartels and linkages to terrorists, see
Gugliotta and Leen, Kings of Cocaine, op. cit.
5. US Senate, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Opera-
tions of the Committee on Foreign Relations, February 9,1988, unpublished stenographic transcript,
morning session, pages 68,71, afternoon session, page 41.
6. See US Congress, Senate, Terrorism: The Role of Moscow and Its Subcontractors, Hearing
Before the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism of the Committee on the Judiciary, June 26,1981 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1982), page 10. For an excellent review of the evolution of the Americas Department, see Rex A. Hudson, Castro's Americas Department (Washington, D.C.: The Cuban American National Foundation, Inc., 1988).
Interestingly, Pineiro was one of two men Castro despatched on a secret mission to Chile's embattled Marxist-Leninist President, Salvador Allende, only six weeks before Allende's overthrow in 1973. Pineiro and the Cuban Deputy Prime Minister, Carlos Rafael Rodriguez - who also headed Cuba's Communist
Party - bore a hand written note from Castro urging Allende to fight to the death should revolution materialise. Pineiro succeeded as secret police chief Luis Fernandes Ona, sent by Castro to aid in shoring up the Allende regime in its early days, and who subsequently married one of Allende's daughters. Whelan, Out of the Ashes, op. cit, page 407.
7. See, for example, Bradley Graham, 'Colombian Supreme Court Overturns Extradition Pact With
US', Washington Post, June 27,1987, page A16.
8. US Senate, International Terrorism, Insurgency, and drug-trafficking: Present Trends in Terrorist Activity, Joint Hearings Before the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on the Judiciary, May 13,14 and 15,1985 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1986), page 31.
9. Drugs and Terrorism, 1984, op. cit.
10. Workman, International Drug-trafficking op. cit, pages 2,28.
11. US Congress, Senate, The Cuban Government's Involvement in Facilitating International drug-
traffic, Joint Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism of the Committee on the Judiciary
and the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs of the Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate
Drug Enforcement Caucus, Miami, Florida, April 30,1983 (Washington D.C.: US Government Printing
Office, 1983), page 23.
12. Ibid., page 45.
14. Testimony of the witnesses is contained in The Cuban Government's Involvement in Facilitating
International Drug Traffic, op. cit.
15. US Congress, Senate, The Role of Cuba in International Terrorism and Subversion, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism of the Committee on the Judiciary, February 26, March 4,11 and 12,1982 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1982), pages 6-26.
16. US Defence Intelligence Agency, The International Terrorist Network, Report 6 010 5026 83, May
6,1983, cited in Workman, International Drug-trafficking, op. cit, page C-1.
17. The expansion of the Cuban drug operation in about 1978, followed by the Mariel boatlift, a
Cuban intelligence operation, in 1980, may have been facilitated by the massive destruction of US internal security that began in the early 1960s and had reached about 95 percent of its peak by 1978. There was no mistaking what was happening, and it included a massive curtailment of FBI internal security investigations. In 1974, the FBI had over 55,000 open cases on subversives and extremists. As a result of the Privacy Act, self-policing during the Church and Pike committee investigations, and the initial impact of the Levi guidelines, the number of domestic security cases had fallen to roughly 20,000 by the summer of
1976. One year later, the number had plummeted to 102. By 1982, the number of active FBI cases was only
14; four organisations and 10 individuals. By 1978, the United States was a ripe and vulnerable target for
foreign intelligence operations, which the Mariel boatlift could well have been designed to exploit. See
Joseph D. Douglass, Jr. and Neil C. Livingstone, Terrorists Find That US Offers Inviting Targets', Detroit
News, April 29,1984, page 23A. 1976 also appears to be the year when the first Jamaican gangs (posses)
which figure so prominently in the distribution and sales of crack, entered the country. DEA, Crack Cocaine
Overview 1989 (Washington, D.C.: US Department of Justice, 1989), page 7.
18. Bill Gertz, 'Castro Runs a Resort for Narcotics Dealers', Washington Times, March 23,1988, A1.
19. As explained by Sejna, special troops, or spetsnaz in the Soviet vernacular, are specially trained
intelligence sabotage forces whose missions support strategic intelligence operations. Their work is per-
formed for the strategic intelligence directorates in civilian and military intelligence, which is also responsible
for narcotics trafficking. The duty of spetsnaz units is to undermine the political, economic, military and
moral stability of the enemy.
20. Carlos Alberto Montaner, 'A Conversation with a Cuban Intelligence Agent', El Nuevo Herald,
Miami, June 5-6,1988, translation by Cuban American National Foundation.
21. Bill Gertz, 'Castro Wants to Destroy US with Drugs, Defector Charges', Washington Times, August
28,1989, page A3. See also Don Podesta, 'Ex-Cuban Officer Says Castro Profited from drug-trafficking',
Washington Post, August 26,1989, page A17.
22. Michael Hedges, 'Drug Money Ends Up in 'Drawer of Fidel", Washington Times, March 10, 1989, page A5.
23. See, for example, Joe Pichirallo, 'Cuba Used Noriega to Obtain High-Tech US Goods, Defector
Says', Washington Post, April 27,1988, page A24.
24. See, for example, Lou Marano, 'Marxist Brigade Infiltrates Panama to Defend Noriega', Wash-
ington Times, April 5,1988, page A1; Peter Almond and Bill Gertz, 'Shadow of Cuba Grows in Panama',
Washington Times, April 29,1988, page A1; Peter Samuel, 'Cuba Tightens Grip on Panama', Washington
Inquirer, June 24,1988, page 1; Georgie Anne Geyer, 'Castro's Insidious Hand in Panama', Washington Times December 27,1989, page F1; and Roger W. Fontaine, 'Who Is Manuel Antonio Noriega?', in Victor H. Krulak, editor, Panama: An Assessment (Washington, D.C.: United States Strategic Institute, 1990).
25. In an action such as this, there are usually a number of motivating factors. Certainly, Noriega's drug operations and his growing links to Cuba are two very persuasive and obvious ones. But, there are others not so evident, that may be equally, if not more, important. For example, there was almost certainly
a growing antagonism towards Noriega within the US policymaking establishment. This establishment is generally anti-military, and is strongly against military dictators. The strong bias against military leader-ship in Latin America which came out into the open in 1969, is reported by Richard A. Ware, then- Principal Deputy Secretary of Defence (International Security Affairs): 'In 1969 individuals in State were allied with come in ISA in an almost messianic mission of social reform in Latin American countries. Essentially, this meant removing the military from positions of authority, with the resultant ascendancy of left-wing forces. Contacts with the military were minimised, and Defence was substantially removed from any role in the formulation of US policy. It was as if there were no national security interests south of the border'. Richard A. Ware, The Pentagon's Office of International Security Affairs 1969-1973 or Two Citizens Go to Washington (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1986).
Juan B. Sosa was Ambassador of Panama to the United States from October 1987 until the closing of the Embassy following the May 1989 election. He writes that 'Noriega's difficulties mounted during 1986, even as he continued to tighten the reins of his control over the military and political sectors of Panamanian society. His image abroad was damaged by a series of articles in the New York Times linking him to the narcotics trafficking. The Political and Economic Crisis of Panama', Panama: An Assessment (Washington, D.C.: United States Strategic Institute, 1990), page 18.
The articles Sosa probably referred to were: Seymour M. Hersch, 'Panama Strongman Said to Trade in
Drugs, Arms and Illicit Money', New York Times, June 12,1986; Seymour M. Hersch, 'US Aides in 72 Weighed Killing Officer Who Now Leads Panama', New York Times, June 13,1986; and Seymour M. Hersch, 'Panama General Said to Have Told Army to Rig Vote', New York Times, June 22,1986. The first article appeared in the week that Noriega was visiting the United States. The articles were not just focused on drug-trafficking and money-laundering. Equal weight was given to a wide variety of activities, including providing arms to South American guerrillas, notably the Colombian M-19, assassinating a political opponent, providing intelligence information to Cuba, enabling and profiting from Cuban technology theft operations run out of Panama, buying secret National Security Agency [NSA] documents from a US Army sergeant and transferring them to Cuba, and overturning the results of the 1984 election. As an interesting aside, when the US forces took over Noriega's office and home following the invasion on December 20,1989, they found a variety of witchcraft or voodoo paraphernalia. Among the collection was a tamale inside which were two pieces of paper with the names Seymour Hersch and John Poindex-ter written on them.
In the five years prior to the attack on Noriega in the New York Times, Noriega ousted several civilian challengers and tightened his grip on Panama. As part of this operation, he also appears to have been asserting his control (and profit sharing) of the money-laundering process that involved all the banks in Panama. This may have further antagonised the US policymaking establishment. Additionally, William R. Gianelli, former Chairman of the Panama Canal Commission wrote that the economic sanctions imposed in April 1988, extended for an additional year in April 1989, to drive Noriega out, were unsuccessful; and that, as a result, American businesses were having to curtail or close activities, so that the international banking community was also seriously affected. 'The Panama Canal and the Canal Zone: Status and Prospects', Panama: An Assessment, op. cit., page 10. Adding insult to injury, in January 1989, Noriega opened his own bank, Banco Institucional J1. These events may also have contributed significantly to the decision to invade Panama implemented in December 1989.
26. US Senate, Drugs and Terrorism, 1984, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse of the Committee on Labour and Human Resources, August 2,1984 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1984), page 83.
27. Information Supplied by Alvaro Baldizon Aviles, unedited and unpublished draft produced during
debriefings with US Government representatives, S/LPD 6326751, pages 16-17. Testimony by Miguel Bolanos, a counter-intelligence officer in the Sandinista State Security apparatus, also supports the important role of Soviet Bloc advisers in Nicaraguan intelligence. In Bolanos's counter-intelligence section there were two Soviet advisers and one Cuban adviser. Bolanos reported that in State Security there were 70 Soviet, 400 Cuban, 40-
50 East German and 20-25 Bulgarian advisers. Inside Communist Nicaragua: The Miguel Bolanos Transcripts
(Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation, September 30, 1983), pages 8-9).
28. Gertz, 'Castro Runs a Resort for Narcotics Dealers', op. cit., page A6.
29. Joe Pichirallo, 'Cuba Used Noriega to Obtain High-Tech US Goods, Defector Says', Washington Post, April 27,1988, page A24.
30. David Brock, The World of Narco-terrorism", The American Spectator, June 1989, page 27.
31. Drugs and Terrorism, 1984, op. cit., page 79.
32. Ibid., page 80.
88 RED COCAINE
33. US Congress, Senate, Role of Nicaragua in drug-trafficking, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Children, Family, Drugs and Alcoholism of the Committee on Labour and Human Resources, April 19,1985 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1985), pages 27,32 and 34.
34. Role of Nicaragua in drug-trafficking, op. cit., page 41.
35. Information Supplied by Alvaro Baldizon Aviles, op. cit., page 11.
36. The coroner's report states that death was caused by an aneurysm in the brain (stroke). Unofficial
reports say that this happened several hours after Baldizon had dinner at his favourite Nicaraguan
restaurant. There is, of course, the possibility of assassination. A class of Soviet-preferred assassination
weapons are poisons that result in deaths by apparently natural causes hours to days after the poisons are
administered. The types of 'causes' employed include heart attacks, strokes, and fast-acting cancers and
37. Trevor Armbrister, 'Nicaragua's Secret Plan', Reader's Digest, April 1988, page 76.
38. US Congress, Senate, International Narcotics Control Report, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on
Children, Family, Drugs and Alcoholism of the Committee on Labour and Human Resources, March
13,1985 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1985), page 8.
39. Eric Pianin, Turner Says Police Can't Halt Killings', Washington Post, March 25,1989, page A1. See
also Sari Horwitz, 'Berry Says Slayings Are Unstoppable', Washington Post, October 20,1989, D1.
40. Thomas Moore et al., 'Dead Zones', US News & World Report, April 10,1989, page 22.