Sunday, September 15, 2019

Wall Street Journal reports that "Venezuela's Hugo Chávez worked to flood U.S. with Cocaine"

Where do you think he got the idea to do that from?

Hugo Chavez was mentored by Fidel Castro
Juan Forero and José de Córdoba in The Wall Street Journal have written an important expose on the role played by Hugo Chávez in flooding the United States witch cocaine. The report is based on documents provided by federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York. According to The Wall Street Journal report:
In 2005, Chávez convened a small group of his top officials to discuss plans to ship cocaine to the U.S. with help from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said a participant in the meeting who, at the time, was a justice on Venezuela’s supreme court, according to the papers. The Bush administration was strongly criticizing his governing style then and had publicly approved of a 2002 coup that failed to oust him.
“During the meeting, Chávez urged the group, in substance and in part, to promote his policy objectives, including to combat the United States by ‘flooding’ the country with cocaine,” said an affidavit in the documents written by a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent. The former supreme court justice was identified as Eladio Aponte, who fled to the U.S. in 2012 and has been a witness on drug cases, said a person familiar with his role in the investigations.
Nicolas Maduro has continued this practice, and family members have been caught smuggling cocaine. Reuters reported on December 14, 2017 "[t]wo nephews of Venezuela’s first lady were sentenced to 18 years in prison following their convictions in New York on U.S. drug trafficking charges."

There are those who are questioning what is the motive for the Chavista regime in Venezuela to flood the United States with cocaine. The answer requires a broader and strategic look through the perspective of the Chavista regime in Venezuela and the Castro regime in Cuba. 

The Wall Street Journal argues that Bush Administration criticism of the Chavez regime and public approval of a failed 2002 coup were the reasons for the cocaine smuggling, but relations between the two countries remained normal, and U.S. diplomats had warned the Chavez regime of the threat. Furthermore this policy continued during the Obama Administration.

One needs to go further back and look at a key Chavez ally.

On March 1, 1982 the Cuban dictatorship was placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. This was less than three months after the US State Department confirmed that the Castro regime 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. 

Drug traffickers: Raul Castro with Aldo Santamaria-Cuadrado
According to the UPI in 1982 the following high ranking Cuban officials were indicted by the United States for operating a drug ring out of Cuba: Aldo Santamaria-Cuadrado, head of the navy and a member of the Communist Central Committee; Fernando Ravelo-Renedo, ambassador to Colombia; Gonzalo Bassols-Suarez, a former staff member at the Cuban embassy in Colombia; and Rene Rodriguez-Cruz, a Central Committee member and president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People. 

According to  the July 18, 1989 Heritage Foundation report, Castro's Show Trials Do Not Mean an End to Cuba's Drug Trade, the links to building narcotics networks to the United States stretch back to the earliest days of the dictatorship.

"Documented evidence of Cuba's role in drug trafficking dates back to the early 1960s. According to a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) intelligence report released in 1982, a meeting was held in Havana in 1961 between communist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Moises Crespo of the Cuban Secret Police, and future Chilean socialist president Salvador Allende, to.discuss creating a narcotics network to smuggle illegal drugs to the U.S."
This was at a time when Soviet aid to Cuba made the U.S. Embargo irrelevant to the Castro regime, and the purpose of sanctions was to increase the cost to the Soviet Union to operate in Latin America.

Despite receiving massive and increasing Soviet subsidies between 1960 and 1987 the Castro regime engaged in massive arms smuggling and drug trafficking in the service of ideological objectives and as can be seen in Venezuela today in establishing a Cuban imperial presence in the hemisphere, and striking at the soft underbelly of the United States.
In a 1991 Frontline documentary, Cuba and Cocaine, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Jeff Karonis, stated, "We would observe in the middle of the day an air drop going on inside Cuban waters. The scenario would be for a small twin-engine airplane with maybe 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of cocaine to fly over Cuba, drop the drugs to a predesignated rendezvous point to several boats. Then it would exit back down off Cuba, and many times a Cuban military vessel would be in the immediate vicinity, right on scene with them.'' 

The results of this decades long effort can be seen in reports on drug abuse in the U.S. military and the wider American populace. Members of elite units with drug addictions committing suicide. Flooding the United States with drugs is an effective way to reduce military readiness.

When the FBI broke up the Wasp Network in 1998 it discovered, among other things, that they were "compiling the names, home addresses, and medical files of the U.S. Southern Command’s top officers and that of hundreds of officers stationed at Boca Chica Naval Station in Key West." It is a safe bet to make that there are other networks of Cuban spies monitoring U.S. military facilities and personnel, and their readiness.

The links between the Castro regime and narcotics trafficking stretch back decades and across the Americas.

Manuel Noriega and Fidel Castro embrace
During Panamanian strong man General Manuel Noriega's 1992 trial information emerged publicly implicating the Castro regime in drug trafficking that 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. 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."
At the same time convicted cartel leader Carlos Lehder implicated Raul Castro and U.S. fugitive Robert Vesco "to route cocaine flights through Cuba." 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.
This would not be the first time that drug trafficking was carried out to advance political objectives.

In the mid-19th century the British Government imposed the trade of opium upon China, generating huge numbers of addicts, weakened and compromised China’s territorial sovereignty and economic power for almost a century. This was done in order to redress the trade imbalance between the two countries that favored China.  Great Britain  in the 19th century had a population of 10 million and China had a population of 300 million. These population numbers are approximate to the population of 11 million in Cuba today and 327 million in the United States today.

The Castro regime sees itself as a revolutionary world power that has projected itself into conflicts in Asia, Africa, and the Americas over the past sixty years with successes in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Angola, Ethiopia, and Venezuela.

The Cuban dictatorship has also viewed the United States since 1959 as an existential enemy and has sought out creative means to effectively attack and destroy the fighting capacity of the United States.
 
This is what the Castro regime has sought to do to the United States since at least 1961, and is using its client state of Venezuela to carry on its agenda of undermining the United States. 

It is not surprising that Hugo Chavez, who was mentored and guided by Fidel Castro, would collaborate with Cubans in advancing this long term objective of flooding the United States with deadly drugs. It is also not surprising that the Castro regime would deny all of this and gas light the American public. It has done the same thing with the case of U.S. diplomats who have suffered brain injuries at the Embassy in Havana. What is surprising is that this is not understood by either the mainstream media or many policy makers in the United States who seek to downplay it.

Jackson Diehl in The Washington Post reported on Venezuela, the FARC, Cuba trafficking axis on May 24, 2015 in the article "A drug cartel’s power in Venezuela":
Ever since Colombian commandos captured the laptop of a leader of the FARC organization eight years ago, it’s been known that Chávez gave the Colombian narcoguerrillas sanctuary and allowed them to traffic cocaine from Venezuela to the United States with the help of the Venezuelan army. But not until a former Chávez bodyguard [ Leamsy Salazar] defected to the United States in January [2015] did the scale of what is called the “Cartel of the Suns ” start to become publicly known. [...] The day after Salazar’s arrival in Washington, Spain’s ABC newspaper published a detailed account of the emerging case against Cabello, and last month, ABC reporter Emili Blasco followed up with a book laying out the allegations of Salazar and other defectors, who say Cuba’s communist regime and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah have been cut in on the trafficking."
Consider the following: the Castro regime provides safe haven for the FARC in Cuba because it has appeared in Wikileaks. The close relationship between the regimes in Havana and Caracas has been long and well documented. Tens of thousands of Cuban advisers have been operating in Venezuela for years. Drugs are flooding into the United States at unprecedented levels fueling overdoses and an epidemic endangering American lives.

Shouldn't their role and the shared strategic objectives of the Castro and Chavez regimes be reported on?

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Martin Luther King Jr.,Ernesto "Che" Guevara and their contrasting visions of struggle

“Blind hate against the enemy creates a forceful impulse that cracks the boundaries of natural human limitations, transforming the soldier in an effective, selective and cold killing machine. A people without hate cannot triumph against the adversary.” - Ernesto "Che" Guevara (1967)
"We aren't engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying -- We are saying that we are God's children. And that we are God's children, we don't have to live like we are forced to live." - Martin Luther King Jr. (1968)

Both died at age 39 but their legacies could not be more different.
Cuba Archive has taken on an important educational campaign. In recent months Mia Farrow, Mayor Di Blasio and now Barnes and Noble have been caught promoting Che Guevara. The Ernesto "Che" Guevara cult is not only offensive to the families of victims he murdered, but dangerous for free societies. Che Guevara's writings were borrowed from Mao Zedong and were all about guerrilla warfare. This cult celebrates violence, killing and dehumanization. In 1967, as on many other occasions the Argentine spoke clearly celebrating brutality: “Blind hate against the enemy creates a forceful impulse that cracks the boundaries of natural human limitations, transforming the soldier in an effective, selective and cold killing machine. A people without hate cannot triumph against the adversary.”
Guevara was also an advocate of nuclear war if it meant destroying the imperialists declaring in November 1962: "What we affirm is that we must proceed along the path of liberation even if this costs millions of atomic victims.”
Many were not taken in by this call to mass murder. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. told his staff in 1968 to combat the “romantic illusion” of Che Guevara style guerilla warfare among young radicals concluding: “We must not be intimidated by those who are laughing at nonviolence now.
Critics of nonviolence like to point out that Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in 1968, but fail to mention that he succeeded in transforming the United States into a better country by successfully and nonviolently addressing historic injustices.
What did Reverend King accomplish? He led the successful Montgomery bus boycott that ended segregation on buses in Montgomery, Alabama in 1956. He led the Birmingham campaign in 1963 that faced off with the Birmingham Police Department, led by Eugene “Bull” Connor, who used high-pressure water jets and police attack dogs on children. The campaign ended with Connor losing his job and the city’s discriminatory laws were changed.
Reverend King played an instrumental role in the August 28, 1963 march on Washington, D.C. with over 250,000 participants. It was done to pressure for the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 in Alabama demonstrated African Americans desire to vote. The violence by local authorities, racists, and the Klu Klux Klan and the nonviolent resistance of the civil rights activists were key to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. These laws gave African Americans political power that had been denied them.
Ernesto "Che" Guevara was executed in Bolivia in 1967. What did he accomplish? Installing a communist dictatorship that killed thousands, and left millions in misery. Inspired guerrilla wars and international terrorism across the world that in Latin America helped give rise to a new generation of military dictators to combat the guerrilla threat. Che Guevara and Fidel Castro created the conditions for Augusto Pinochet to become the dictator of Chile. This is but one example.
Reverend King spent the last few hours of his life making the prophetic Mountaintop speech courageously predicting that he would not lead a long life and campaigning for the rights of poor people. What about Che? He was hunted down, while trying to overthrow the Bolivian government to impose a communist dictatorship and executed while trying to beg for his life.
Both the civil rights leader and the communist revolutionary died at the age of 39. However their legacies could not be more different.
The Barnes and Noble bookstore, Mia Farrow and Bill Di Blasio should not be promoting this individual or his ideology. Worse yet the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decided on June 18, 2013 to add “The Life and Works of Che Guevara” to the World Registrar in order to provide funds to preserve and disseminate Che Guevara’s papers.

Need to celebrate non-violent icons like Oswaldo Payá
This is literally spreading hate and fanaticism to new generations that will result in more bloodshed, and already has in the past. The Che Guevara cult needs to be fought with facts, historical context and when necessary economic boycotts and social ostracism.
What the world needs is less Che Guevara and more Martin Luther King Jr. In the Cuban context that would mean elevating the writings of martyred Cuban opposition leader Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, who advocated love and freedom not hatred and tyranny. It would also mean sharing the facts surrounding his untimely death and demanding justice. Not to mention more friends of freedom wearing Oswaldo Payá t-shirts.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Cubans arrested to stop them gathering with sunflowers in parks across Cuba for human rights

Why we resist the regime in Cuba.
Witnessing the events that unfolded today in Cuba brings to mind the words of George Orwell: "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever." This is what Castroism seeks to perpetuate in Cuba and has succeeded over six decades. Orwell's dystopian vision realized.
Photos of repression in Cuba from the 1980s, the 1990s, and the 2000s.
However, witnessing the resistance to Castroism, the words of Mohandas Gandhi come to mind: "When I despair, I remember that all thru history the way of truth & love have always won. There have been tyrants & murderers, & for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always."

Prisoner of conscience and MCL nat'l coordinator Eduardo Cardet meets with compatriots
We must never forget that Communism in Cuba wasn't accepted but imposed, first by the lie, then by firing squads, concentration camps, and political terror.  These are the tools that the Castro dictatorship's agents are still using today to hang on to power.

First the lie, then the firing squad, and political terror.
Think of it. They unleashed forces of repression to prevent Cuban citizens from peacefully gathering in parks across Cuba, with sunflowers, to show their solidarity with the Ladies in White, who Sunday after Sunday are mistreated for peacefully assembling to call an end to the laws that run afoul of international human rights standards.

Police investigating "suspects" discovered with sunflowers.
Dozens of activists and human rights defenders have been taken and are missing. The full tally is still not known. Rosa María Payá  reported over Twitter in Spanish below that the "detained and disappeared ascends to 72 in Cuba just hours before EU high representative Federica Mog 's arrival to meet with dictators in Havana."
However there are some questions that must be asked as the EU's representative arrived in Havana to meet with the dictatorship and not the democrats. "What will Federica Mogherini do? Speak out for human rights? remain silent and complicit? or worse actively embrace the dictatorship again?"

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Sunflower Uprising?: Cuban dissidents announce call for nonviolent protests in public parks across Cuba

"#8S MARCH CUBA Sunday, September 8 we call for a national protest for our rights, for our freedom, to greater repression of the tyranny, greater firmness and solidarity for a free, democratic, just and prosperous Cuba at 10:00am to the public parks in any part of the country, with a sunflower in hand." - translated from the poster below


There are times when we need to recognize signs, when things come together in unexpected patterns. The European Union has behaved terribly in its new policy towards Cuba legitimizing the oldest dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere. On September 8-9, 2019 the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini will be visiting Cuba. She is the same European leader who called the regime in Cuba a "one party democracy."
But Europe is not of one voice on this matter.
The Swedish government on June 17, 2019 withdrew a proposal that would have ratified the EU-Cuba deal covering trade and political dialogue because two of Sweden's political parties, the Liberals and Christian Democrats, said they would vote against it if it was taken to parliament because "they would not back the agreement until there are significant changes in the Cuban regime's stance on human rights."
There have not been significant changes, and prisoners of conscience continue to exist in Cuba. On August 26, 2019 Amnesty International identified five new prisoners of conscience in the island. According to the Spanish based NGO, Prisoners Defenders, they have identified 125 imprisoned opposition activists. Independent journalists in Cuba continue to be beaten up and jailed for practicing their profession and attempting to report on government abuses.
The One Free Press Coalition launched their seventh monthly "10 Most Urgent" list (ranked in order of urgency) on September 3, 2019, calling attention to the most pressing cases of journalists under attack for pursuing the truth in the world. Number one on the list is Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered by agents of Saudi Arabia. Sixth on the list is independent Cuban journalist Roberto Jesús Quiñones. He is presently at home waiting for the political police to take him to prison.
Cuban journalist Roberto Jesús Quiñones sentenced to a year in prison
Yesterday in an interview published by Cubanet, the independent journalist explained, "I am waiting for them, at any moment they will come to confine me." In that interview Roberto Jesús explained his pessimism with the upcoming visit of EU representative Federica Mogherini to Cuba next week. What was done to him by Cuban government agents as outlined in the One Free Press Coalition website deserves condemnation by the European Union not complicit silence:
On April 22 Cuban police beat and detained Roberto Jesús Quiñones while he was covering a trial as a contributor for CubaNet. Upon his release five days later, Cuban authorities alleged his conduct during detention constituted “resistance” and “disobedience,” for which they imposed charges and a fine. On August 7, a municipal court of the Cuban city of Guantánamo sentenced him to one year in prison for refusal to pay the fine. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Cuba’s “flagrant disregard for legal norms.”
Human rights violations in Cuba are systematic. Cubans are not free to travel outside of Cuba and many are arbitrarily denied that right by the dictatorship. This led Guillermo del Sol Pérez to initiate a hunger strike on August 15, 2019 after his son was denied the right to travel. He has lost 42 pounds and his health is worsening.
Guillermo del Sol Pérez: on hunger strike since August 15th
September 8th is the feast day for Our Lady of Charity, known affectionately as "Cachita", and she unites Cubans together both inside and outside of the island. This year it falls on a Sunday. She is also a touch stone of Cuban identity. Catholics take sunflowers to the shrine to Our Lady of Charity which is located in Santiago de Cuba.
September 8th is also the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Christian Liberation Movement, whose leader Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and youth leader Harold Cepero Escalante, were extrajudicially executed by Castro's secret police on July 22, 2012.
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante
Sundays in Cuba, since 2003, is a day when the regime's state security services target, harass, detain, and physically assault, women who are peacefully assembling to demand for an end to prisoners of conscience in Cuba. These women formed a movement in the Spring of 2003 called the Ladies in White.
Laura Inés Pollán Toledo:  February 13, 1948 – October 14, 2011
Like Oswaldo and Harold, the founding leader of this movement, Laura Inés Pollán Toledo , died under suspicious circumstances in 2011. Today people of good will fear for the life of another Lady in White, Xiomara de las Mercedes Cruz Miranda who is suffering from a mysterious illness that Cuba's doctors at one point say is tuberculosis and at another say it is lung cancer. Either way her condition continues to deteriorate.
Xiomara de las Mercedes Cruz Miranda before and during her jailing.
These are some of the reasons why on September 8th brave souls will be protesting in Cuba to reject repression and to demonstrate their solidarity with the Ladies in White, who are regularly assaulted for nonviolently gathering on Sundays.
Rosa María Payá Acevedo tweeted in Spanish, "On September 8th Cubans bring sunflowers to the Virgen of Charity, many are sold on the streets for several days before. Now, after our announcement, they tell me that they CAN'T FIND SUNFLOWERS in Havana. A dictatorship that fears flowers and people! #S8GoOutToTheStreet"
It is also why the secret police are working over time to shutdown the protests before they start with preemptive arrests and sunflowers have disappeared in Havana.
It is all the more reason why people of good will should denounce the oldest and most ruthless dictatorship in the Western hemisphere and go to the street on September 8th with a sunflower in hand and love for liberty in their hearts.

Statement taken from UNPACU website.
Solidarity and Firmness:
UNPACU and Cuba Decide call for peaceful demonstrations
Our response to the increased repression of the regime against peaceful opposition and citizenship on the occasion of the celebration of the Joint Council between the Dictatorship and the European Union in Cuba.
Members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and promoters of Cuba Decide, after a thorough analysis of the notable increase in repression for political reasons and violations of the rights of the Cuban people, have decided to summon Cubans to demonstrate publicly next Sunday, September 8, at 10 am. Let’s go to parks and other public places in our country, to express:
  1. Our solidarity with the brave Ladies in White , repressed week after week by the dictatorship; journalists and independent artists; defenders of religious freedoms and LGBTIactivists who suffer persecution; and all the peaceful people and organizations that promote respect for human rights and the change of system towards democracy in Cuba.
  2. Our rejection of repression against the Independent Civil Society and the people in general:
-No more political prisoners.
-No more police abuse against defenseless citizens.
-No more Cubans victims of violations of their right to leave and return to their country.
-No more beatings and torture in prisons.
-No more assaults and robberies in the homes of dissidents.
-No more violent detentions, harassment and persecution against peaceful human rights defenders.
  1. Our repudiation of the implementation of a Political Dialogue, Cooperation and Trade Agreement (PDCA) between the European Union and the Castro-communist regime that has not been conditioned to concrete changes in the country’s political-economic system that guarantee the cessation of repression and Respect for the basic freedoms of citizens, in open contradiction with the principles practiced by European nations.
     
  2. Our request to the European Union to demand the participation of civil society and the opposition in any negotiation process with the dictatorship; and slow down the implementation of the PDCA until the specific reforms required by the regime are clarified. Reforms that should include:
    • The release of all political prisoners and the total harassment and violence of State Security and the police against human rights defenders and citizens.
    • The recognition of the civil, political, economic and cultural rights of Cubans , including the right to change the country’s political system into a binding referendum to allow citizens to participate in free, fair and plural elections for the first time in more than 60 years.
We appeal to the solidarity of the international community to curb the impunity of the tyranny that intends to lash out at our coordinators and activists with new assaults, robberies, violent detentions and imprisonment, as they have done in the past in the face of the silence of European negotiators.
We hope that this time the voice of Europe will be raised in the person of its High Representative to support those who defend the same democratic values that the European Union professes.
To a greater repression of tyranny, greater firmness and solidarity of those who fight for a free, democratic, fair and prosperous Cuba.
Members of the UNPACU and promoters of Cuba Decide.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The WASP Network: Movie glitz and glamour versus the harsh reality

In defense of truth and memory.

Glitz and glamour versus the harsh reality: Castro spies took part in murder conspiracy
The Cuban intelligence service should not be either romanticized or underestimated.  It appears that the new film by Olivier Assayas errs on both counts.

The Wasp Network engaged in espionage: targeting U.S. military facilities, planned to smuggle arms and explosives into the United States, provided information that led to the extrajudicial killings of four Americans, infiltrated two non-violent exile groups, and carried out numerous other activities to sow division and shape public opinion.

They were "compiling the names, home addresses, and medical files of the U.S. Southern Command’s top officers and that of hundreds of officers stationed at Boca Chica Naval Station in Key West."  

This is not surprising because apologists tend to avoid open and transparent debates due to the weakness of their position, and the Castro regime and its agents of influence have conducted an effective disinformation campaign to smear the victims and white wash the Cuban spy network, better known as the Wasp Network (Red Avispa).

This campaign to spin an act of state terrorism reached the highest levels of the U.S. government. Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Ana Belen Montes facilitated a meeting between U.S. government officials and retired U.S. Navy admiral Eugene Carroll on February 23, 1996 to relay recent threats by the regime that provided Admiral Carroll a lot of television interview time on February 25 to place the Cuban government in a more favorable light and place the blame for the shoot down on the victims. 

U.S. counterintelligence officer Scott W. Carmichael in his book True Believer describes how they thought this was an "influence operation" - a covert attempt to influence public opinion. Her behavior raised questions that led to Montes eventually being uncovered as a high ranking Cuban mole in the heart of the Pentagon in 2001.

Ana Belen Montes spied for Castro in the Pentagon until 2001
The Castro regime and their agents of influence have sought to portray these agents as unsophisticated and not a threat. "They were just trying to stop violent exiles from carrying out terrorist acts." However the two groups the Wasp Network targeted and infiltrated: Movimiento Democracia and Brothers to the Rescue were (and are) nonviolent. Secondly, the reality is that the Cuban intelligence service is incredibly sophisticated, ruthless and punches above its weight.

This requires providing some historical context.

First, the Cuban intelligence service has gone by different names over the years. It was initially called the Direccion General de Inteligencia (DGI), later renamed the Direccion de Inteligencia (DI), but it was also known as G2. The Soviet intelligence service (KGB) played a role in its founding, but the much more effective and feared East German intelligence service (the Stasi) played a more formative role. John O. Koehler on page 297 of his book Stasi: the untold story of the East German secret police outlined the relationship between the Cuban and East German intelligence services.:
"The Stasi's first major task abroad was in Cuba, after Fidel Castro and Vice Premier Anastas Mikoyan signed the Soviet-Cuban pact on February 13, 1960, officially placing Cuba in the Soviet bloc. As Soviet arms shipments began, Mielke sent a number of Stasi officers of General Wolf's HVA to Havana. Led by Colonel Siegfried Fiedler, they assisted in setting up what became a first-rate intelligence service and an oppressive secret police. As a result Cuba's relations with East Germany developed as closely as those with the Soviet Union. Intelligence gathered in the United States by the Cubans was routinely shared with the Stasi. Much of the information contained in the dossier the Stasi maintained on President Ronald Reagan, for example, originated with the Cubans."
Commander Ramiro Valdes, "a historic leader of the revolution", is the Cuban founder of the Castro regime's feared Ministry of the Interior and was the head of the organization between 1961 and 1968. Ramiro Valdes is an architect of Cuban totalitarianism's repressive control apparatus.

Havana did not only look to the East for their experts in repression.

Fidel Castro personally approved the use of four former Waffen SS Nazi officials to train the Cuban army, and bought weapons from a high ranking Nazi who crushed the Operation Valkyrie conspiracy against Adolf Hitler in 1944.

Fidel and Raul Castro were not shy about using unconventional methods, weapons and alliances. This also included drug trafficking. Havana has sought to smuggle narcotics into the United States since 1961, and been implicated time and time again. Indictments have been issued and documentaries produced that have caught the illicit activities of this dictatorship on film.

According to the UPI in 1982 the following high ranking Cuban officials were indicted by the United States for operating a drug ring out of Cuba: Aldo Santamaria-Cuadrado, head of the navy and a member of the Communist Central Committee; Fernando Ravelo-Renedo, ambassador to Colombia; Gonzalo Bassols-Suarez, a former staff member at the Cuban embassy in Colombia; and Rene Rodriguez-Cruz, a Central Committee member and president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People.

In a 1991 Frontline documentary, Cuba and Cocaine, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Jeff Karonis, stated, "We would observe in the middle of the day an air drop going on inside Cuban waters. The scenario would be for a small twin-engine airplane with maybe 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of cocaine to fly over Cuba, drop the drugs to a predesignated rendezvous point to several boats. Then it would exit back down off Cuba, and many times a Cuban military vessel would be in the immediate vicinity, right on scene with them.'' 

The Castro brothers began a purge of military and intelligence officers on June 17, 1989. One week later the Cuban government revealed that Fidel Castro's closest aides were involved in smuggling drugs to the United States. Why are the two connected? Because Fidel Castro had been mentioned in the Noriega indictment. National Security Council member Jacqueline Tillman followed Cuba for the Council from 1984 to 1988 said:
''The evidence of Cuban involvement in narcotics trafficking was becoming so abundant that the regime moved to protect Fidel Castro by dissociating him from those activities.''
Less than a month later on July 13, 1989 all the officials that could directly tie Fidel Castro to the Medellin Cartel and Manuel Noriega were executed by firing squad. Eleven top officials of the Ministry of the Interior were found guilty of drug trafficking and four were executed. The closest and most powerful of these aides was Colonel Tony de la Guardia
Patricio and Tony de la Guardia: twin brothers implicated in drug trafficking
If one still has any doubts then take a look at the role the Castro regime played in Venezuela with regards to narcotics trafficking. Consider for a moment that one of Cuba's most high ranking spies was executed in a show trial allegedly for his role in massive drug smuggling, a short time after Manuel Noriega was taken prisoner by the Americans for drug trafficking. 
Partners in Crime: Manuel Noriega and Fidel Castro
During General Manuel Noriega's 1992 trial information emerged publicly implicating the Castro regime that 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. 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."
Meanwhile convicted cartel leader Carlos Lehder directly implicated Raul Castro and U.S. fugitive Robert Vesco "to route cocaine flights through Cuba." 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
  
This brings us back to the WASP Network (La Red Avispa). The network was made up of over forty officers and agents, four escaped to Cuba when the FBI began rounding them up. Ten were captured, and five of them pleaded guilty and cooperated with the prosecution. They are unpersons in Cuba.  

The Cuban Five should have been the Cuban Ten
The remaining five spies, who had refused to cooperate with U.S. authorities or plead guilty went on trial and the evidence against them was overwhelming.

The Cuban "WASP" spies arrested in 1998 used coded material on computer disks to communicate with other members of the spy network.

Below are two excerpts from the 1,300 pages taken from those diskettes translated and used during the spy trial that demonstrate the criminal nature of the Cuban regime's operation in South Florida.

In the first excerpt it declares that their primary objective was "penetrating and obtaining information on the naval station located in that city." In the next excerpt intelligence operatives communicated about "burning down the warehouse" and sabotaging Brothers to the Rescue equipment. Also requested that they attempt to identify who would be flying at certain times.
Ten captured Wasp Network spies
In the final excerpt operatives discuss plans to prepare a "book bomb" so that it evades post office security while at the same time phoning death threats to a man they describe as a CIA agent and then having him killed via the mail bomb.
The seriousness of these planned action items would be confirmed by the February 24, 1996 shoot down where two MiGs hunted Brothers to the Rescue planes in international airspace and used air to air missiles to destroy two of the planes killing two pilots and two passengers based on intelligence supplied by the WASP network.

 
Why was Brothers to the Rescue targeted? 

Brothers to the Rescue volunteers risked their lives in the Florida Straits to rescue Cuban rafters and at the same time Brothers to the Rescue challenged the Cuban exile community to abandon both the failed violent resistance and appeasement approaches in order to embrace strategic nonviolence.  This path followed the way of Martin Luther King Jr. with both civil disobedience and a constructive program. What was the end result? Brothers to the Rescue saved more than 4,200 men, women, and children ranging from a five-day old infant to a 79 year old man, and rescued thousands more during the 1994 refugee crisis.




One year after the July 13, 1994 tugboat massacre in which 37 men, women and children were killed Cuban exiles organized a flotilla to travel in a civic non-violent manner to the spot six miles off the Havana coastline where the "13 de Marzo" tugboat had been attacked and sunk to hold a religious service for the victims. The Brothers to the Rescue overflight of Havana, where they dropped bumper stickers in Spanish that read "Comrades No. Brothers" was in response to Cuban gunboats ramming the lead boat of the flotilla.

The real story is that Havana targeted Brothers to the Rescue for slander, infiltration, sabotage and extrajudicial execution on February 24, 1996 because it viewed the organization’s nonviolent approach as an existential threat to the Castro dictatorship.
 
International organizations recognized that Armando Alejandre, Carlos Costa, Mario de la Peña and Pablo Morales were murdered by agents of the Cuban government on February 24, 1996 when they were blown out of the sky by air-to-air missiles fired by a Cuban MiG.  This was a criminal conspiracy organized by an outlaw regime.

The first of the participants in the conspiracy to be held accountable for his actions was Gerardo Hernandez who was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder

Transcribed and translated excerpts from seized diskettes:
DAV-118 (E) RTF (AIRPORT.DIR)
WORK DIRECTIVES FOR OPERATION “AEROPUERTO”
1-. THE IDEA OF THE OPERATION:
SINCE THE VERY BEGINNING THE ESSENTIAL IDEA OF THE OPERATION WAS FOR A-32 TO JOIN WITH THE ILLEGAL CENTER THAT WAS BEING DIRECTED BY A-4 AND WAS FUNCTIONING IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA.
2-. OPERATIONAL OBJECTIVES:
THE FUNDAMENTAL OBJECTIVE OF THE OPERATION IS TO ESTABLISH S/A A-32 IN KEY WEST FOR THE PURPOSE OF PENETRATING AND OBTAINING INFORMATION ON THE NAVAL AIR STATION LOCATED IN THAT CITY.
ALSO, TO MAKE CONTACTS WHICH CAN PROVIDE US WITH MILITARY, POLITICAL , BIOGRAPHICAL AND OPERATIONAL INFORMATION AS AS TO STUDY COUNTERREVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATIONS EXISTING IN THE AREA AND CARRY OUT STUDIES ON THE OPERATIONAL SITUATION OF ROADS, MAINLY IN KEY WEST.
3-. PARTICIPANTS
A-32 WILL BE THE MAIN PARTICIPANT AND HE WILL BE DIRECTLY UNDER I.O. A-4.
WORK DIRECTIVES FOR OPERATION “GIRÓN.”
1-. IDEA OF THE OPERATION
Reviewed by: LS Salomon
Declassified by: KMDJr / RJG
Cred. #10517
11/27/00 1

[…]

DHo-101 (E) CMA (Disk 17).wpd
OPERATION “PICADA’
OBJECTIVES:
1.-) TRY TO IMPEDE THE CONSUMPTION OF INTENTIONS OF THE OPERATION P.A.L. (PAN, AMOR Y LIBERTAD) OF THE COUNTERREVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION BROTHER’S TO THE RESCUE.
2.-) AFFECT AND DISCREDIT THE IMAGE OF SAID ORGANIZATION.
ACTIONS TO BE DEVELOPED:
1.-) PERFORM THE OPERATIONAL SITUATION STUDY OF THE HANGAR AT THE OPA LOCKA BASE WHERE THE ORGANIZATION KEEPS AND OPERATES THEIR PLANES.
2.-) THE POSSIBILITY OF BURNING DOWN THE WAREHOUSE OF THE COUNTERREVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION, AND AFFECT THEIR PLANES, MAKING IT SEEM LIKE AN ACCIDENT, NEGLIGENCE OR SELF DAMAGE.
KEEPING IN MIND THAT THIS PLACE MAY BE SECURED AND THAT IN CASES LIKE THESE, INVESTIGATIONS ARE PERFORMED, RUMORS WILL LEAK THAT BASULTO AND HIS PEOPLE CAUSED THE DAMAGE THEMSELVES TO COLLECT THE INSURANCE AND GET MORE MONEY FROM THEIR CONTRIBUTORS.
3.-) ATTEMPT TO DISABLE THEIR EQUIPMENT AND TRANSMISSION ANTENNAE ON LAND, THE ONES THEY USE TO COMMUNICATE WITH DURING THEIR MISSIONS, MAKING IT SEEM LIKE NEGLIGENCE.
NOTE: THESE THREE POINTS WERE REQUESTED OF CASTOR VIA RADIO MESSAGE. IT HAS TO BE DETERMINED WHAT HE HAS BEEN ABLE TO OBTAIN.
4.-) ANALYZE WITH CASTOR IF HE COULD INFORM US AHEAD OF TIME (DETERMINE PRECISE TIME) WHEN THE BROTHER’S TO THE RESCUE PLANES WILL BE TAKING OFF, WHO IS IN THEM AND IF THEY ARE GOING TO LAND AT A SPECIFIC PLACE. WHAT PERSONNEL KNOWS THIS INFORMATION BEFOREHAND. AT SOME POINT, CAN IT BE DETERMINED WHO PROVIDED THIS INFORMATION.
5.-) ACCORDING TO THE FEATURES OF THE PLANES, THEIR SECURITY SYSTEM, AS WELL AS THE HANGAR WHERE THEY ARE LOCATED, IF AT ANY SPECIFIC MOMENT HE COULD HIDE SOME TYPE OF MATERIAL AND KEEP IT THERE WITHOUT BEING DETECTED. WHAT SIZE WOULD THAT MATERIAL HAVE TO BE
OPERATION PARALLELO:
THE OBJECTIVE OF THIS OPERATION IS TO DEVELOP A SERIES OF ACTIONS AGAINST CIA AGENT JESUS CRUZA FLOR.
THESE ACTIONS WOULD BE:
1.-) PHOTOGRAPH OR VIDEO TAPE HIS HOUSE, LOCATED AT:
1440 S. BAYSHORE DR.
MIAMI, FLORIDA 33131
TELEPHONE (305)358-0762
2.-) ONCE THE HOUSE IS PHOTOGRAPHED, MAKE VARIOUS THREATENING TELEPHONE CALLS (TWO OR THREE) CONCERNING HIS NEARING EXECUTION.
THESE CALLS WOULD BE AT DIFFERENT HOURS AND DIFFERENT DAYS. TRY TO USE THE EQUIPMENT (CALLED SCRAMBLER OR SOMETHING SIMILAR) TO CHANGE THE VOICE. PHONE BOOTHS SHOULD BE SELECTED THAT ALLOW A QUICK EXIT OUT OF THE AREA. KEEP IN MIND THAT THE MEASURES IS AGAINST A CIA AGENT AND HE COULD HAVE CALLER ID TO FIND OUT THE TELEPHONE NUMBER THAT IS CALLING AND THE ADDRESS WHERE IT IS LOCATED. ON THE OTHER HAND, KEEP IN MIND THE REST OF THE SECURITY MEASURES THAT SHOULD BE TAKEN IN THE BOOTH, SUCH AS FINGERPRINTS, HAIR, ODORS, SALIVA, DRESS, THAT THERE BE NO PERMANENT PERSONNEL IN THE AREA TO RECOGNIZE THE CALLER. DO NOT LEAVE THE CAR WHERE IT CAN BE OBSERVED, THE DURATION OF THE CALL. DO NOT RESPOND TO ANY QUESTIONS ASKED.
3.-) PREPARE AN ALLEGED BOOK-BOMB (BOOK, CABLE, BATTERIES, PLASTIQUE, ETC., AND SEND IT VIA EXPRESS MAIL. KEEP IN MIND TO WRAP THE BOOK IN A PROTECTIVE PAPER, WHICH IF THE ENVELOPE IS PASSED THROUGH THE X-RAY MACHINES, IMPEDES THE DETECTION OF WHAT IS INSIDE, AND THEREFORE IT WILL NOT BE ROUTED THROUGH THE MAIL.
KEEP IN MIND TO OBTAIN THE ENVELOPE, AS WELL AS THE POSTAGE, MANY DAYS IN ADVANCE AND SELECT A BUSY PLACE. USE A SPECIFIC CAMOUFLAGE.
STUDY THE MAILBOX WHERE THE PACKAGE WILL BE DEPOSITED, AS WELL AS THE TIME IT WILL BE DEPOSITED. ANALYZE HOW YOU WILL GET OUT OF THE AREA.
DURING THE ENTIRE PROCESS KEEP THE SECURITY MEASURES IN MIND, SUCH AS THE ONES MENTIONED BEFORE, GIVING SPECIAL ATTENTION TO FINGER PRINTS DURING THE ENTIRE PROCESS.
EVALUATE THE POSSIBILITY OF USING MANOLO TO MAKE THE CALL, THE TOPOS TO DEPOSIT THE ENVELOPE AND A-4 TO PREPARE THE BOOK-BOMB.
--------------
FEBRUARY 1, 1994
CONTACT AGENDA WITH 0-4 “ESELIN”
Reviewed by: LS Salomon
Declassified by: KMDJr
MM-#10517
9/24/00 2-6


This is not my first time commenting on a film by Olivier Assayas in which Edgar Ramirez had a starring role. Back in 2010 I saw the film Carlos and highly recommended it.  However on this occasion, The WASP Network movie, leaves a lot to be desired, and this is without having seen the film. The description on IMDb reads "The story of five Cuban political prisoners who had been imprisoned by the United States since the late 1990s on charges of espionage and murder."

Technically they are political prisoners but they are not prisoners of conscience. The two should not be confused with each other, but are on too many occasions. Both Adolf Hitler and Fidel Castro had been political prisoners because they killed people in the service of a political purpose, were caught, tried in a court room of their peers, and justly imprisoned for their crimes.  This is very different from a prisoner of conscience, someone jailed for non-violently exercising their fundamental human rights.

The Wasp Network had planned to burn down a airport hangar, first terrorize then send a mail bomb to kill someone, and provided material intelligence that assisted in the shoot down of two civilian planes on February 24, 1996 killing four. This came out during their trial. Gerardo Hernandez, the head of the network was convicted of murder conspiracy and espionage and condemned to a double life sentence.

There has been an effort to erase the crimes of Castroism. Both the Brazilian director, Olivier Assayas, and  Mexican actor, Gael García Bernal, at the WASP network press conference, perhaps unintentionally, took part in this process when they claimed that the Cuban spies had done nothing violent and were not spying but were acting out of love. This is not reality, and a slander against the victims.

It is important to recognize that this was not an isolated incident or restricted to Cuba. The founder of the Cuban intelligence service and his spy networks have played and continue to play an important role in Venezuela today.

Cuban Comandant Ramiro Valdes and President Hugo Chavez
Ramiro Valdes went to Venezuela in 2010 supposedly to address the then already existing electricity crisis . In February of 2010  Ramiro Valdes, then age 77, was hired "as a consultant for that country's energy crisis" but his expertise is not in energy. He is viewed by some Cuba experts as "the No. 3 man in the Cuban hierarchy."

Valdes in 2010 was the Vice President of the Council of State and Minister of Communications in the Cuban government. His role in Communications was figuring out in 2007 a way to muzzle the internet, what he called a "wild colt of new technologies." Afro-Cuban scholar Carlos Moore offered the following observation on Commander Valdes in 1961 and in 2010:

Ramiro Valdes was an inflexible, totalitarian and brutal person. He was the most feared man in Cuba. The repressive policies of the regime were crafted by him. Valdes struck fear into the hearts of Cubans (even revolutionary ones). Today, he apparently continues to be the same dogmatic, sectarian and brutal person he was at the height of his power, but he is no longer the powerful figure that he used to be.
In 2013, Juan Juan Almeida, the son of another commander of the revolution, listed some of his nick names:  "The Master of Censorship; The Prince of Terror; The Cuban Dzerzhinsky; … and in his native district he is known as the Butcher of Artemis."

In addition to domestic repressive forces there is a foreign presence heavily embedded in the Venezuelan military and intelligence services. The head of the opposition National Assembly of Venezuela on May 15, 2016 complained, over social media, of the presence of 60 Cuban officers. This included a Cuban general, who he identified by the last name Gregorich, who had a leadership role that included issuing orders to Venezuelan troops. Capitol Hill Cubans identified the Cuban General as Raul Acosta Gregorich. 

The Venezuelan regime, that Cuban spies and military helped to build, looks remarkably more similar with each passing year to the dystopian regime they created in Cuba.