|Partners in Crime: Manuel Noriega and Fidel Castro|
Wikileaks has revealed the United States and Cuba, since at least 2009 have been "cooperating" on drug trafficking. Even Fox News Latino has published favorable reporting on this relation ship as recently as January 12, 2015. Unfortunately, the experts cited in news reports regarding the drug problem in Cuba and the regime's relationship to the international drug trade bears no resemblance with reality. The State Department in its 2014 country report on Cuba repeats these claims.
The public discussion surrounding cooperating with the dictatorship on counter-narcotics efforts goes back 25 years. Representative Charlie Rangel on July 3, 1989 in a letter to The New York Times started to make the case for the United States and the Castro regime to cooperate to stop regional drug trafficking. First General Manuel Noriega, an authoritarian dictator, that the U.S. shared drug intelligence with to counter drug trafficking and "showered with letters of commendation and grateful thanks by the Drug Enforcement Agency in Washington" was not what U.S. officials claimed in their official reports. Secondly, high ranking Cuban military and intelligence officials had just been revealed to be smuggling large quantities of cocaine into the United States. The timing to be advocating such a policy was on the surface madness. On the other hand it was a good first step in a propaganda campaign to white wash the Castro dictatorship's criminal complicity in the trafficking of hard drugs into the United States.
Placing this into context
General Noriega was revealed, by Florida prosecutors, to be involved in the smuggling of narcotics into the United States. Frontline in a chronology for the program Thirty Years of America's Drug War revealed that "Panamanian General Manuel Noriega and Pablo Escobar cut a deal which allows Escobar to ship cocaine through Panama for $100,000 per load. The two had met in 1981 when Noriega mediated negotiations for the release of Marta Ochoa.
Seven years later on February 5, 1988 a federal grand jury in Miami issued an indictment against Panamanian General Manuel Noriega for drug trafficking. On December 20, 1989 the U.S. military invades Panama and after eluding capture for 22 days Manuel Noriega surrenders to the DEA on January 3, 1990 and is brought to Miami. On July 10, 1992 Noriega is convicted on eight counts of drug trafficking, money laundering and racketeering, and sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.
With regards to Cuba, the U.S. State Department on March 1, 1982 declared it a state sponsor of terrorism whose government was was using a narcotics ring to funnel both arms and cash to the Colombian M19 terrorist group then battling to overthrow Colombia’s democratic government. In 2001 at Georgetown University when I questioned General Barry McCaffrey, who at the time was advocating sharing intelligence on drug trafficking with the Castro regime, about this relationship between Cuba and Colombia's drug trafficking guerrillas and he recognized it and expressed his concerns.
During General Manuel Noriega's trial information emerged in 1992 publicly implicating the Castro regime as the Sun Sentinel reported at the time:
"Federal prosecutors say Noriega traveled to Havana to ask [Fidel] Castro to mediate a potentially deadly dispute with top members of Colombia`s Medellin cocaine cartel. They say the cartel chiefs were upset because a major drug lab had been seized in Panama despite payment of millions of dollars in protection money to Noriega.At the same time convicted cartel leader Carlos Lehder directly implicated Raul Castro and U.S. fugitive Robert Vesco "to route cocaine flights through Cuba."
According to the Noriega indictment, Castro negotiated a peace accord between the cartel and Noriega at the 1984 meeting. The allegation forms a cornerstone of the racketeering and drug trafficking charges against Noriega."
Capitol Hill Cubans blogged how two years later, a federal indictment listed General Raul Castro as part of a conspiracy that smuggled seven and a half tons of cocaine into the United States over a 10-year period but the Clinton administration overruled prosecutors.
Needless to say sharing drug intelligence with the Castro regime considering its past history and current behavior is not prudent and frankly criminal considering what it will do to some of the most vulnerable in the United States.