Critics Fear Cuban Consulate in Tampa Would Become a ‘Spy Hotbed’ 5

Though diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba are warming, some in Tampa say establishing a Cuban consulate here would be a big mistake. ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Though diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba are warming, some in Tampa say establishing a Cuban consulate here would be a big mistake. ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

By Howard Altman | Tampa Tribune Staff

TAMPA — As civic leaders from both sides of Tampa Bay jockey to host a Cuban consulate, a small group of naysayers sees a darker side to the prospect — one rooted in continuing Cold War tensions and the island nation’s reputation for superior espionage operations.

A consulate “will be Cuba’s headquarters for intelligence operations in Tampa and Florida,” says Evelio Otero, a retired Air Force colonel who served at both U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command. “It will be a spy hotbed.”

The focus for Cuban spies would be Centcom and Socom, says Jim Waurishuk, a retired Air Force colonel who served as deputy director of intelligence for Centcom.

Otero and Waurishuk belong to a small group called “No to Cuban Consulate in Tampa,” which, as its name indicates, is opposed to having an outpost of the Castro government in the Tampa area.

Otero, born in Puerto Rico to a Cuban father, was head of Centcom’s coalition intelligence center and chief of intelligence operations forward in Qatar. His father was the first voice in Telemundo and a founder of Radio Martí, broadcasting U.S.-funded information to Cuba.

Waurishuk dealt with Cuba during his military career, including a stint as the senior intelligence officer on the White House National Security Council staff focusing on the island nation. This marks his first foray into the contentious world of Cuban-American politics.

They say their “no consulate” group consists of about a dozen people pushing officials in Tampa and St. Petersburg to reject calls to host the first Cuban consulate in the U.S. since the nation embraced Communism more than five decades ago.

Their effort includes lobbying Hillsborough County commissioners to vote against a resolution supporting a Cuban consulate in Tampa, perhaps Ybor City — a launching point for Cuban revolutions that ousted the Spanish and later brought Fidel Castro to power.

The Hillsborough County resolution has yet to come up for a vote.

But the city councils in both Tampa and St. Petersburg already have adopted resolutions inviting a Cuban consulate to their communities.

Feature continues here: Cuban Spying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Forgotten Spy: Ana Belen Montes 1

Convicted spy Ana Belen Montes

Convicted spy Ana Belen Montes

By Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), THE HILL

In the 12 months since President Obama publically announced his normalization effort with the communist Castro regime, the White House should have learned two painful lessons. First, the Castro brothers have not and will not change their oppressive ways. Second, the regime’s role as “intelligence trafficker to the world” ensures it will continue seeking opportunities to undermine U.S. national security.

The Cuban military and intelligence service will use this rapprochement as a pretext to expand Cuba’s espionage efforts within our borders.

One year ago, as a concession to the Castro regime, Obama made the grave mistake of releasing the last three of five incarcerated Cuban spies known as the “Cuban Five.” These five Cuban intelligence agents were arrested by federal authorities in 1998 and subsequently convicted on several counts, including failing to register as a foreign agents, using false identities, and conspiracy to commit espionage. The network’s leader, Gerardo Hernandez, was also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for his involvement in the shoot down of two U.S. search and rescue aircraft operated by Brothers to the Rescue, which led to the murder of three U.S. citizens and one U.S. legal permanent resident.

Cuban Military Intelligence officer Hernandez, head of the espionage ring known as the Wasp Network, was convicted in 2001. Soon thereafter, the Cubans aggressively aided the San Francisco-based National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. Now, the Cuban regime and their sympathizers are taking similar actions on behalf of Ana Belen Montes. Press reports suggest Washington and Havana are thinking about another spy trade, but this time for Montes, the highest-ranking American ever convicted of spying for Fidel Castro in our history.

A senior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Montes was arrested on September 21, 2001, just ten days after September 11. She later pled guilty to spying and was sentenced to a 25-year prison term. The timing of her arrest was based on the fact that the U.S. government did not want a spy in the Pentagon to endanger American combatants headed to Afghanistan.

Montes had learned of military plans for our operations in Afghanistan and we did not want her to pass along that information to our adversaries. For several years during the latter half of the 1980s, she routinely provided Cuba with information on El Salvador’s Armed Forces and its embedded U.S. advisors. In a notorious March 1987 incident, a major Salvadoran base was attacked mere weeks after Montes visited it. Sixty-eight Salvadoran soldiers and their Green Beret adviser were killed during the battle. Simply put, Montes probably has the blood of one American on her hands and the U.S. didn’t want to risk the lives of untold Americans, including American service men and women.

Feature continues here: Montes – Forgotten Spy

 

 

Arrogance Unbridled: Canadian Academic Claims Credit In Release of Cuban 5 Reply

The Five with the Kimbers: From left, Antonio, Fernando, Gerardo, Stephen, Jeanie, René and Ramon.

The Five with the Kimbers: From left, Antonio, Fernando, Gerardo, Stephen, Jeanie, René and Ramon.

How I Helped the Cuban Five Escape from a Cold War Prison 

Behind the Unlikely Havana-Washington-Halifax Connection

By Stephen Kimber, The Coast (Halifax)

Halifax: December 17, 2014 Inside the second-floor King’s College boardroom, close to a dozen of us huddled around a meeting table, wake-up coffees in hand, listening while our university’s director of finance walked us through her PowerPoint presentation of bad news we already knew, but in far more excruciating detail than any of us wanted to know.

We were in the trough of an existential crisis, struggling with a North America-wide decline in enrolments in liberal arts and journalism, programs we specialized in. I’d spent the last year on a succession of sub-committees, ad hoc working groups and now this College Task Force “to ensure… the institution is financially sustainable on an ongoing basis.” The projections on the screen starkly showcased the crisis. “Given our expected beginning cash balance at the end of 2014-15 and those assumptions,” the school’s finance director explained, “our deficit by the end of 2015-16 will rise to—”

Hi Hey Hello…

My iPhone was ringing! Worse, the phone was in my backpack. Worst, my backpack was on a chair on the other side of the room. Embarrassed, I scrambled to find it. My ringtone was the chorus from one of my hip-hop-musician son’s songs. Why not? Samsung thought the song’s lyrics so phone-perfect they’d built a slick, Hollywood-style video around them to advertise their Galaxy 4 phone. Normally, I found a way to work that father-brag into any conversation when my phone rang. But this did not seem the time or place.

I just want to say hello.

And hear your voice. And watch you talk.

And smell the breeze as you come across.

Hi Hey Hello.

I found the phone, stole a quick glance at the screen. The call was from Alicia Jrapko, the American head of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5. I quickly pressed “Decline.”

Feature Continues Here: Kimber Claims Credit

 

A Cynical End for Castro’s Faux-Beloved “Cuban Five” 4

Cuban FiveBy Chris Simmons

Several spies, collectively known as the “Cuban Five,” have been hosted and toasted before adoring socialist crowds around the world for several months. Decorated with much fanfare in Havana, these over-hyped “Heroes of the Revolution” are the latest circus performers in Havana’s theater of the absurd.

You see, in reality, the “Five” have been put out to pasture. “Golden Exile” you might say. Members of the Wasp Network, they were five of an estimated 42 spies in the largest espionage ring ever known to have operated in the United States. A rare joint venture between Havana’s civilian and military intelligence services, it was led by Cuba’s Directorate of Military Intelligence (DIM). Its primary targets were the Pentagon’s regional headquarters responsible for military operations in the Americas (SOUTHCOM) and the Middle East (CENTCOM), as well as US special operations worldwide (SOCOM).

In a massive sweep stretching 152 miles, the FBI arrested 10 of the spies in September 1998. Seven more Wasps were arrested or expelled over the next several years. Many of those arrested accepted plea agreements and turned against their masters in Havana. The “Five” held fast and were found guilty of espionage associated-crimes. Career DIM case officer Gerardo Hernandez, the former head of the deadly network, was sentenced to two life terms for conspiracy to commit murder in the February 1996 deaths of four Americans.

Once convicted, the regime could ill-afford for its lethal cabal to switch sides like their subordinates. The destitute island invested considerable monies to sustain their morale with family visits and a never-ending parade of diplomats from the (then) Cuban Interests Section in Washington and the Cuban Mission to the United Nations. A global propaganda campaign known as “Free the Five” was initiated. During the secret talks to restore diplomatic ties, the United States even helped artificially inseminate Adriana Perez, the spy-wife of incarcerated killer, Gerardo Hernandez. The effort, which tragically misguided Obama officials saw as a goodwill gesture, was prompted by Perez’s personal appeal to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), who passed the request to White House officials.

But to the ever cynical regime, its “heroes” are now little more than famous liabilities.

Moscow’s KGB long ago taught its Cuban allies that incarcerated spies can never again be trusted. The leftist dictatorship sees its freed spies as failures. After all, three were spy-handlers (“Case Officers”). Theoretically the best of the best, it was their mistakes – or that of their underlings – that had attracted the attention of US spy-catchers.

Despite the propaganda mission of the “Felonious Five,” there is an important lesson for America to learn. Given Havana’s extraordinary investment in five men who meant nothing to it — imagine what it can accomplish when it truly cares.

“New York Times” Comes Clean – Concedes Recurring “Source” Arturo Lopez-Levy Served As Cuban Spy 2

Former Spy Arturo López-Levy

Former Spy Arturo López-Levy

Kudos to the New York Times News Service for revealing to its readers that long time Cuba “source” and college lecturer Arturo Lopez Levyused to work for the Cuban intelligence services.”  Previously, the Times appears to have used biographic snippets provided by the long-time graduate student. Let us hope that in the near future, the esteemed newspaper will address Lopez-Levy’s close familial ties to Cuban President Raul Castro. After all, readers deserve to be told when a source has such vested interests.

 

 

 

 

‘Crazy Che’ (‘El Crazy Che’): Film Review 1

Courtesy of Metiche Films

Courtesy of Metiche Films

8:19 AM PST 11/28/2015 by Jonathan Holland, The Hollywood Reporter

An Argentinean doc about an American double agent in the 80s and 90s.

At giddying speed, Crazy Che strips back,the life and times of Bill Gaede, a driven American who during the 80s and 90s dealt in industrial espionage: first for Cuba and the Soviet Union, and then for the U.S. Anyone who’s ever suspected that the spying game is just that — an elaborate way for certain kinds of driven people to keep themselves entertained — will find their suspicions confirmed by a documentary that’s just as fast and frenzied as its distinctive hero.

Digital surveillance may mean that the days of the good old, raincoat-wearing, fast-thinking spy, of which Gaede is definitely one, are numbered, which makes Crazy Che, with its 80s cassette tapes and handicams, a bit of a nostalgic homage too. Festivals should warm to a well-put together package with no pretentions other than to properly tell a good yarn.

The original intention of directors Iacouzzi and Chehebar — whose radically different last film was about a plague of Patagonian beavers — was to shoot a doc about Argentinean scientists working abroad. But when they came across the unlikely figure of Gaede – now a physics professor working in Germany, and working on his theory of the universe – they understandably changed their minds.

In his 20s, Gaede became seduced by the high ideals of Communism and Castro, and decided to supply them with technical information about integrated circuitry produced at the large Silicon Valley company where he worked. Rarely has the manufacture of microchips been filmed as excitingly as it is here.

He was invited to Cuba to meet Castro, but that never happened — instead, the poverty he saw in Havana disillusioned him with communism. Falling in with the likes of Jose ‘Pepe’ Cohen and Roland (sic) Sarraf Trujillo (recently released from jail following the Cuban thaw and referenced by President Obama himself in one of the film’s final sequences) Gaede did an about turn and started supplying classified Cuban info to the FBI with the aim of overthrowing his former hero Castro. Gaede doesn’t seem to care much who falls, but it all ended for him with 33 months in jail.

Review continues here:  Crazy Che

 

 

 

“Former” Spy to Advocate for More Trade With Havana at December’s “US-Cuba Legal Summit” in New York 3

Former Spy Arturo López-Levy

Former Spy Arturo López-Levy

By Chris Simmons

On December 1st, the US-Cuba Legal Summit 2015 will convene at the University Club in New York City. Featured speakers include lawyers, a single US government official, pro-trade advocates and self-professed “former” Directorate of Intelligence (DI) spy, Arturo Lopez Levy.

Its published agenda insists “The U.S. Cuba Legal Summit looks to provide a platform for U.S. in-house counsel to investigate the legal system in Cuba with a sharp eye to potential pluses and minuses when opening lines of communications.” Which begs the question, why is Castro lackey Arturo Lopez Levy a panelist?

The real name of this faux “scholar” is Arturo Lopez-Callejas, the name he was known by for over 30 years. Additionally, he acknowledges his spy career in his book, Raul Castro and the New Cuba: A Close-Up View of Change. In the spirit of open disclosure, I hope attendees are advised that Lopez-Callejas is a nephew-in-law to Cuban dictator Raul Castro. More specifically, he is the first cousin of Castro’s son-in-law, Brigadier General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Primo Lopez-Callejas. General Rodriguez heads the Enterprise Administration Group (GAESA), placing him in charge of Cuba’s entire tourism sector.

The Miami Herald reported “Rodriguez, married to Castro’s oldest daughter, Deborah Castro Espín, is widely viewed as one of the most powerful and ambitious men in Cuba — smart, arrogant, frugal and a highly effective administrator of GAESA.” Retired Herald reporter Juan Tamayo also noted that Deborah Castro’s brother is Alejandro Castro Espín, Castro’s chief intelligence advisor.

Congratulations to Summit officials for a thorough vetting process. I’m sure Lopez-Callejas would never exploit such a lucrative opportunity to personally enrich his extended family and sustain a regime to which he pledged his life.

Dropping The Mask: Castro Spy Writes Foreword to Canadian Academic’s “Impartial” Book on the Cuban Five 8

By Chris SimmonsComrade Kimber

‘What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five’ is a fascinating piece of fiction by Castro apologist Stephen Kimber. Despite objective reviews which found his research unencumbered by facts, the Canadian writer has long sworn his manifesto is accurate and balanced. At long last, the charade is over. Comrade Kimber is currently in Havana celebrating the Spanish-language release of his work, with a new foreword by convicted spy René González, who described the novel as “the best written treatise on the case.  The Castro regime’s enduring love for Kimber was further demonstrated during Wednesday’s presentation at the University of Havana, when Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada – who served as Cuba’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations for nearly three decades – served as the keynote speaker.

US-Cuban Cooperation in Law Enforcement: Past Failures Reborn 3

FBI Wanted PosterBy Chris Simmons

Two days ago, the State Department proudly announced its hosting of an “inaugural Law Enforcement Dialogue” with the Castro regime.

While this idea may seem new to the White House, Washington and Havana actually have a long history of failed cooperation in the law enforcement and security arenas. For example, following Cuba’s November 1995 arrest of Directorate of Intelligence (DI) communications specialist Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, regime authorities rightfully assumed it was only a matter of time before the US began finding and arresting many of its US-based spies. In anticipation, several months later, Havana took the self-serving step of providing “intelligence reporting” to the FBI on alleged anti-Castro activities by Cuban exiles in Florida. Most of the “intelligence” was little more than newspaper clippings and summaries of TV and radio commentaries.

Viewed as a waste of time by Washington authorities, the meetings actually accomplished an important hidden agenda. In 1998, 10 members of the Wasp Network were arrested in South Florida. Almost immediately, Cuba revealed its previously secret 1996 meetings with the FBI and claimed it told the Bureau it had agents in Florida for “defensive purposes” to protect it from Cuban-Americans. During the Wasp’s subsequent trial, Havana incessantly highlighted its alleged cooperation with US law enforcement and was even allowed to send Roberto Hernandez Caballero, a career Directorate of Counterintelligence (DCI) officer, to testify on its spies’ behalf.

In 2011, Havana mocked the US legal system by again sending Colonel Hernandez Caballero to testify in a US court – this time against anti-Castro militant, Luis Posada Carriles.

Similarly, decades earlier, when several senior Cuban officials were indicted for their participation in regime-sanctioned drug trafficking, Havana quickly attempted to showcase past efforts at counterdrug cooperation with the US Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Administration.

Given the institutionalized consistency of the Castro regime’s senior leaders, this latest initiative is doomed to failure — just like every one of its predecessors.

The Castros Just Want the Embargo Lifted 4

FidelTranslated by Capitol Hill Cubans

Roberto Alvarez Quinones is a Cuban journalist who spent over 25-years in Castro’s state-run Granma newspaper, as an economic commentator. He also served stints at the Cuban Central Bank and the Ministry of Foreign Trade.

By Roberto Alvarez Quinones in Diario de Cuba

The Castros do not want normalization, just the embargo lifted

The Castro brothers have always understood U.S. presidents and the intricacies of political power better than the Americans have comprehended the Cubans. In Washington they still can’t fathom why the two brothers and their military junta don’t want friendly and harmonious relations with the U.S., but rather for the embargo to be lifted, and to receive loans and tourists from the north with bulging wallets. Simple as that.

With the Venezuelan crisis deteriorating by the minute, an end to the embargo has become urgent for the Castro regime. But having politically cordial and normal relations with Washington is not in their best interest. Hence, they will do everything possible to prevent them, or to sabotage them, even if the “blockade” (a military term that has nothing to do with a unilateral trade embargo placed by one country on another) is lifted.

The dictatorial elite’s view is that “too much” rapprochement with the US would generate great internal and external trouble, as it would mean “betraying” its history as an anti-American leftist leader in Latin America. But, above all, it could undermine the regime’s Orwellian control over all of Cuban society. People on the island feel would be less fearful of demanding more freedoms if the “Empire” were a strong ally.

The gerontocracy of “historical” commanders is not prepared – nor do they want to be – to grapple in a civilized way with the political, ideological, economic, cultural and psychological “contamination” that could spring from a close relationship with the U.S. The training of the Castro regime’s nomenklatura has always been based on the opposite: visceral confrontation with the “imperialist enemy.”

Castro’s Manifest Destiny

In reaction to U.S.-made rockets fired at a farmer’s house in the Sierra Maestra by Batista dictatorship aircraft on June 5, 1958, Fidel Castro wrote a letter to Celia Sánchez setting forth the Manifest Destiny of his revolution: “When this war is over, for me a much longer and greater war shall begin: that which I will wage against them. I realize that this will be my true destiny. ”

That war did not end with the reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington. And it will not end as long as the island is ruled by Castro and the commanders who joined the anti-U.S. crusade conceived by their leader. There will be no close relationship between Cuba and the United States until there is a new “de-ideologized” political leadership on the island.

Feature continues here: Castros Despise Normalization