El Salvador President Meets with Two Cuban Spies Convicted in U.S. 1

Salvador Sanchez Ceren celebrates election results / AP

Salvador Sanchez Ceren celebrates election results / AP

  Experts concerned about his willingness to work with U.S. on anti-drug, anti-gang efforts

By Daniel Wiser, Washington Free Beacon

El Salvador’s purportedly moderate new president met this week with two Cuban spies convicted in the United States, raising questions about his willingness to work with U.S. officials on anti-gang and anti-drug efforts.

Salvador Sanchez Ceren met with the spies as well as Cuban President Raul Castro on the communist island, according to a Salvadoran news outlet. The two men, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez (no relation), were members of the “Cuban Five” that were convicted on charges of conspiracy and espionage in the United States and later released to Cuba.

The visit received scant media coverage but could be a sign that the new president will govern as more of a hardline leftist. Ceren, a former Marxist guerilla leader in El Salvador, promised to govern as a moderate before narrowly winning the presidential election in March.

The other three members of the Cuban spy ring are still serving prison terms in the United States. One of them, Gerardo Hernandez, was linked to the deaths of four Cuban exiles in 1996. The exiles were pilots in the Brothers to the Rescue group that aided thousands of Cuban rafters fleeing the island.

Roger Noriega, former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs during the George W. Bush administration, said in an interview that Sanchez Ceren’s pledge to work together with the United States as a moderate leader now appears to be “pretty hollow.”

“He’s also sort of aligning himself with a failed [Cuban] model obviously in terms of economic policy and totalitarianism, and unrelenting hostility to the United States,” Noriega said. “It bodes very ill for where he wants to take El Salvador.”

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on Sanchez Ceren’s visit to Cuba and referred the Washington Free Beacon to the Salvadoran government. “We continue to work with the government of El Salvador on our many shared interests, including regional security,” the spokesperson said.

The direction of El Salvador’s government has important implications for U.S. security.

El Salvador is “a major transit country for illegal drugs headed to the United States from source countries in South America,” according to the State Department’s 2014 report on international narcotics control. Illicit drug shipments cost American taxpayers about $193 billion in 2007 for the health care and criminal justice systems, the latest data available.

Article continues here:  El Salvador President Meets with Convicted Cuban Spies

 

Today in History: Cuban-Supported Guerrillas Killed 65 in El Salvador, Including an American “Green Beret” 3

March 31, 1987: Sergeant First Class Gregory A. Fronius, an Army “Green Beret” in El Salvador, died organizing the defense against the unprecedented guerrilla attack on the Salvadoran headquarters of the 4th Infantry Brigade at El Paraiso, Chalatenango. The pro-communist insurgents called themselves the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).

The well-planned attack followed a visit to the camp by Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes weeks earlier. Sixty-four Salvadoran soldiers were killed and 79 wounded. Fronius, a member of the 3rd Battalion of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), posthumously received the Silver Star for his combat service. Many in the U.S. Intelligence Community believe Montes provided intelligence critical to the attack by the Cuba trained and armed FMLN.

Salvadorans Allegedly Rally for Cuban 5 1

Havana’s Prensa Latina (PRELA), long-known for its collaboration with Cuba’s Intelligence services, is reporting a Cuban 5 rally occurred in the Salvadoran town of Izalco (west of the capital of San Salvador). The gathering allegedly consisted of “political, religious and solidarity organizations.” According to Havana, “before the demonstration, a religious ceremony was held on the street to demand the release of the Cuban Five and pray for the health of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Protesters also demanded an end to the blockade against Cuba for more than fifty years by the U.S.”

PRELA cited its information source as the “Salvadorian Coordinator of Solidarity with Cuba.” The date and time of the event was not disclosed. Likewise, a photo was not provided nor was information on the size of the crowd. In fact, the only mention of attendees was a statement that unspecified members of the local Mayor’s office attended, as did former guerillas with the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).

Today in History: Defector Exposed Cuba’s Support to Terrorists 4

October 10, 1988:  Cuban diplomat Hector Aguililla Saladrigas defected to the US.  During his 14-years in the diplomatic corps, he served in Iran and Syria. He told US authorities that Palestinian radicals secretly provided Havana with large amounts of Western-made weaponry. Havana favored US, Israeli, and Italian weaponry since it helped mask Cuban involvement. These arms were then shipped to Cuban-supported guerrillas in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Chile. When he served as the deputy at the Cuban Embassy in Damascus, he routinely went to Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley to purchase weaponry. On larger acquisitions, a senior Cuban intelligence officer would fly to Damascus to assist him.

Judicial Watch’s Backstory on Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte 1

NCLR Official With Ties To Spy Confirmed As U.S. Ambassador

After years of bulldozing, President Obama finally got Senate confirmation for a scandal-plagued diplomat forced out of a U.S. ambassadorship for her close ties to a terrorist-sponsoring foreign government.

That means a leftist open borders activist (Mari Carmen Aponte) with a controversial past officially represents the administration abroad. In a 62-37 vote last week, the U.S. Senate approved the confirmation of Aponte, a former board member of the National Council of la Raza (NCLR) and Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), as the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador.

Obama originally nominated Aponte in December 2009 and made her a recess appointee about a year later in order to bypass Republican opposition. As her temporary, one-year tenure expired, Aponte’s confirmation hearing inevitably came up before the Senate. Incredibly, the attorney and independent consultant was approved to represent the State Department in the civil war-ravaged Central American country.

The highlight of Aponte’s career dates back to the late 1990s when Bill Clinton nominated the Puerto Rican activist as ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Aponte had worked as a volunteer in the White House personnel office and helped raise campaign money for Clinton. But she had a rather large skeleton in her closet, a decade-long romantic relationship with a reported Cuban intelligence spy named Roberto Tamayo. Aponte and Tamayo lived together and the couple met frequently with Cuban intelligence agents, according to various news reports.

Since 1982 Cuba has appeared on the State Department’s list of countries that have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. That means restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales and other financial restrictions. Iran, Sudan and Syria also appear on the list alongside the communist island.

Aponte’s relationship with the Cuban spy came out when the FBI vetted her for the Dominican ambassadorship years ago and inevitably resurfaced when Obama first nominated her to serve in El Salvador. To avoid discussing her relationship with Tamayo at Senate confirmation hearings, Aponte withdrew Clinton’s nomination to be ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Years later, the nation’s commander-in-chief acts as if none of it ever happened. In a statement celebrating the value of his “perseverance,” Obama praises Aponte as an “honest broker” who has helped advance programs and policies to enhance citizen security in El Salvador while weakening transnational crime that affects our own national security. The president goes on to call Aponte a “highly effective advocate for the United States in El Salvador” who has earned “respect from across the political spectrum.”

Mari Carmen Aponte Confirmed as Ambassador to El Salvador Reply

By Al Kamen, Washington Post

The Senate voted 62-37 Thursday to break a GOP filibuster and confirm Obama nominee Mari Carmen Aponte to be ambassador to El Salvador.

Aponte had served as ambassador there for 15 months after President Obama gave her a temporary recess appointment to the job. But Republicans, citing concerns that her long-ago boyfriend was a Cuban spy and an op-ed she wrote last summer supporting gay rights blocked her from serving after that appointment expired at the end of last year.

Talks at that time between Senate Democrats and Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in December to break the filibuster proved fruitless, ending in bitter recriminations on both sides.

Nine Republicans voted Thursday to end the filibuster: Rubio and Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), and Scott Brown (Mass.). Rubio, Lugar, Snow, Ayotte, Murkowski and McCain voted against breaking the filibuster last time.