He Now Hunts Cuban Human-Rights Abusers In The U.S. Was He Once An Offender Himself? 3

Juan Antonio Blanco, director ejecutivo de la Fundación por los Derechos Humanos en Cuba. (Courtesy: Miami Herald)

By Nora Gámez Torres, ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com 

Juan Antonio Blanco — the academic, activist, and executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba — recently announced an initiative to unmask and deport Cuban human-rights abusers now living in the United States. He declared that the drive was not “a witch hunt” against people just because of their political beliefs or affiliations with political organizations on the island.

What Blanco didn’t say: He once belonged to the Rapid Response Brigades, which were created by Fidel Castro in the 1990s to repress dissidents and contain popular unrest.

“I myself am a member of the Rapid Response Brigades in my building,” Blanco said during a conference in the United States in 1993, after he had broken with the Cuban government.

The brigades were organized along paramilitary lines and have been frequently deployed by the government to repress the dissident Ladies in White and other opposition groups. In 1994, Brigade members, along with police and military members dressed in civilian clothes and armed with clubs and steel rods, cracked down on a large Havana protest known as El Maleconazo, which gave way to the mass departures of the Balsero Crisis.

“It’s true that there have been cases where such encounters have gotten out of hand. I joined the brigade precisely because I think it is important to make sure that there will be no excesses or abuses,” Blanco added in 1993, according to the book “Talking About Revolution,” which was written by activist Medea Benjamin and based on conferences that Blanco held in several U.S. universities at the time.

Twenty-five years later, Blanco still finds it difficult to explain his statements.

“I did not belong to a Rapid Response Brigades unit,” he initially told el Nuevo Herald during a telephone interview. “The most that I recall participating in was one time when there was a protest against a neighbor in my building, and what I did was precisely to block any abuses against that person. What I did was to break up the activity.”

“I say there [at a 1993 conference] that I am a member because I belonged, not because I signed anything or was involved in anything,” Blanco said. “Sadly, the way that I was talking about that at that time, well, you evidently seize on that now and you take it out of context, and that doesn’t help.”

Feature continues here:  Devoted Spy to Human Rights Champion?

 

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The Sound and the Fury: Inside the Mystery of the Havana Embassy 2

One of the U.S. diplomats affected by the health incidents reportedly lived in this home in Havana. (Courtesy of NBC News)

More than a year after American diplomats began to suffer strange, concussion-like symptoms in Cuba, a U.S. investigation is no closer to determining how they were hurt or by whom, and the FBI and CIA are at odds over the case. A ProPublica investigation reveals the many layers to the mystery — and the political maneuvering that is reshaping U.S.-Cuba relations.

by Tim Golden and Sebastian Rotella

It was a cool night for Havana, with the temperature falling into the mid-70s, and the diplomat and his family were feeling very good about their assignment to Cuba. They were still settling into their new home, a comfortable, Spanish-style house in the lush enclave that had been called “el Country Club” before wealthy families abandoned it in the early years of the revolution. “We were just thrilled to be there,” the diplomat recalled. “The music, the rum, the cigars, the people — and a very important moment for diplomacy.”

Eight months earlier, in March 2016, President Barack Obama had swept into town to commemorate the two countries’ historic rapprochement, vowing to bury “the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas.” Now, weeks after the election of Donald Trump, that entente was suddenly doubtful. Fidel Castro had just died, opening a new chapter in the Cuban saga. The diplomat could hardly have imagined a more fascinating time to arrive.

As the sun slid into the Florida Straits on that late-November evening, the diplomat folded back the living room doors that opened onto the family’s new tropical garden. The warm night air poured in, along with an almost overpowering din. “It was annoying to the point where you had to go in the house and close all the windows and doors and turn up the TV,” he recalled. “But I never particularly worried about it. I figured, ‘I’m in a strange country, and the insects here make loud noises.’”

A few nights later, the diplomat and his wife invited over the family of another American embassy official who lived next door. Around dusk, as they chatted on the patio, the same deafening sound rose from their yard again.

“I’m pretty sure those are cicadas,” the first diplomat said.

“Those are not cicadas,” his neighbor insisted. “Cicadas don’t sound like that. It’s too mechanical-sounding.”

The colleague had been hearing the same noises at home, sometimes for an hour or more at a stretch. After he complained to the embassy housing office, a couple of Cuban maintenance workers were dispatched to look around. They checked for electrical problems and scanned the yard for strange insects, but they left without finding anything out of place. In February, the nightly racket finally began to fade. Then it went away altogether.

Feature continues here:  Sound & Fury

Miami Cuban American Faces Long Sentence in Havana Under Alleged Espionage Charges 2

Alina López Miyares – Courtesy of Telemundo 51

By Nora Gámez Torres, ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

The parents of Alina López Miyares left Cuba in 1969 to escape Fidel Castro’s revolution. But that did not keep her from falling in love and marrying a former Cuban diplomat years later, and then traveling frequently to the island to be with him.

Now López Miyares seems likely to stay on the island for a while, serving a 13-year prison sentence allegedly on charges of spying after an Oct. 2 trial. Her husband, the ex Cuban diplomat Félix Martín Milanés Fajardo, was reportedly sentenced to 17 years in prison.

López Miyares, a 58-year-old former Miami teacher, was arrested in January in Havana after she traveled there to be with Milanés Fajardo, said her mother, Alina López, 89. She added that for months she did not know what had happened to her daughter, and learned about her arrest only after she went to Havana to ask.

The mother told el Nuevo Herald that she was allowed to see her daughter before and after the trial and was allowed to visit her in a Havana prison, but she declined to confirm reports by a son, Eugenio López, and Martinoticias that she was charged with spying. It’s not clear for which country Cuban authorities allege López and her husband were spying for.

El Nuevo Herald has not seen the court documents in her case, but Eugenio López has said that his sister was accused of spying and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

“My sister is the furthest thing from a spy. They made a fool out of her,” he told el Nuevo Herald. He told Telemundo 51, which first reported the case, that she was also accused of trying to help her husband escape the island.

“That man was evil-minded. He did his dirty business and involved her,” the mother said. She described the husband as a “degenerate” and supporter of the Castro government. But she added that neither she nor her husband had never met him. The couple wed in Cuba.

Her daughter “has lost weight (under arrest), been sick four or five times,” the mother said. “She suffers from high blood pressure, and has never experienced anything like this. She can’t eat that food. I have to go and buy whatever there is.”

According to information posted online, López Miyares worked as an “itinerant teacher” at the Merrick Educational Center and Bruce Ball Educational Center, which are part of the Miami-Dade public school system, teaching special needs students at their homes or in hospitals. The school system did not answer questions about her employement.

López Miyares’ brother said she met Milanés Fajardo in 2007 or 2008 in New York, where he worked as a Cuban diplomat. The details of the relationship are not clear, and it’s not known if López Miyares has established legal residency on the island.

Read more here: American Jailed for Espionage

 

Former Cuban Spy at Center of South African Bribery/Drug Case 1

Former Cuban spy Nelson Yester-Garrido is at the centre of the alleged payoff Picture: BONILE BAM

Former Cuban spy Nelson Yester-Garrido is at the centre of the alleged payoff
Picture: BONILE BAM

An Ex-Spy, Drugs And a Briefcase Full of Cash

By Gareth Wilson, The Herald

NPA probing claim R700 000 was paid to make prosecution go away

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is investigating allegations that a briefcase containing R700 000 was dropped off in Port Elizabeth to stop a drug prosecution in its tracks. Implicated in the alleged bribery is a former Cuban spy linked to Czech mob boss Radovan Krejcir.

Organised Crime specialist prosecutor Advocate Selvan Gounden confirmed earlier this week that an internal investigation had been launched into claims that a member of the state prosecution team was paid R700 000 to ensure that a R418-million drug case did not proceed.

The probe was launched by the NPA through its integrity management unit last month after a Herald reporter started asking questions about the allegations.

The Hawks have refused to be drawn on the matter, saying they will not comment on an ongoing investigation.

At the centre of the allegations is former Cuban spy Nelson Yester-Garrido, who was released on R600 000 bail by the Motherwell Magistrate’s Court in October 2011 after his arrest.

Yester-Garrido has had two criminal cases in Port Elizabeth withdrawn by the state.

His name surfaced in the drug-trade network trial of Krejcir, former national police boss Jackie Selebi and convicted drug dealer Glenn Agliotti.

Full article can be accessed here:  The Herald  

 

Former Cuban spy Nelson Yester-Garrido is at the centre of the alleged payoff

Picture: BONILE BAM

Donald Trump Crackdown Looms For Cuba as Repression Continues After Obama Outreach 3

Cuban President Raul Castro and his government have benefited more than his people from the Obama administration’s détente. (Associated Press)

Cuban President Raul Castro and his government have benefited more than his people from the Obama administration’s détente. (Associated Press)

By Dave Boyer – The Washington Times

President Obama’s historic move to normalize relations with Cuba hasn’t slowed repression by the Castro regime, and the incoming Trump administration is likely to take a tougher stand on restricting tourism, recovering stolen U.S. assets and demanding human rights reforms by Havana, analysts say.

In the two years since Mr. Obama announced a thaw in the United States’ half-century policy of isolating the island nation, the administration has paved the way for increased engagement, approving such measures as daily commercial flights, direct mail service, cruise ship ports of call and the reopenings of long-shuttered embassies in Washington and Havana.

But Mr. Obama’s policy has not been fully embraced on Capitol Hill and is vulnerable to reversal under the Trump administration, though the president’s aides say his détente is already bearing fruit in Cuba and beyond.

“We’re seeing real progress that is making life better for Cubans right now,” said White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. “Sustaining this policy will allow for further opening, further travel, further U.S. business opportunities.”

But critics say the U.S. money now flowing to Cuba is being pocketed directly by the military and the Cuban intelligence services, not benefiting Cuban entrepreneurs. They also say the government of President Raul Castro has become more repressive since the formal resumption of diplomatic ties with Washington.

“This year, they’ve had over 10,000 politically motivated arrests,” said Ana Quintana, an analyst on Latin America at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “During President Obama’s visit [in March], there were 498 people arrested in those three days.”

Judging by the standards Mr. Obama laid out in December 2014, she said, “the policy has been a failure.”

“It was originally intended to help the Cuban people by providing greater freedoms,” Ms. Quintana said. “It’s been diluted, because they found that they’re not going to get the concessions from the Cuban government that they expected. The vast majority of people who have benefited from this have been the Cuban military and the Cuban government.”

President-elect Donald Trump is likely to take a less rosy view than Mr. Obama of the U.S. engagement with Cuba, say those familiar with his team’s thinking. During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. Obama and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for “turning a blind eye” to Cuba’s human rights violations and denounced Mr. Obama’s initial deal with Havana as a “very weak agreement.” Several anti-Castro Cuban-American conservatives are part of Mr. Trump’s transition team.

Article continues here:  Espionage & Repression Continues

 

 

 

 

 

 

New JFK Assassination Theory: Cuban Double Agent Led Plot 7

Rene Dussaq

                     Rene Dussaq

By Joshua Rhett Miller, New York Post

More than 50 years after President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas, new evidence uncovered in the secret diaries of a Cold War spy and assassin implicates another clandestine figure believed to be working as a double agent for Cuba, an explosive new book claims.

The never-before-revealed diaries of Douglas DeWitt Bazata, a decorated officer for the United States Office of Strategic Services — the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency — claim that his longtime close friend and fellow spy, René Alexander Dussaq, was a “primary organizer and plotter” of Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.

The diaries reveal that Dussaq might even have fired the fatal “shot or shots” that killed the 35th president of the United States, according to author Robert K. Wilcox’s latest book, “Target: JFK, The Spy Who Killed Kennedy?,” which goes on sale Nov. 14.

“Douglas Bazata was deeply embedded in the world of secrets, especially those surrounding JFK’s death,” Wilcox writes. “He was there at the birth of the CIA as an early and major player in that murkiest of worlds … He was an insider.”

In his diaries, Bazata wrote that the two men first met in Havana, Cuba, during the early 1930s, when Bazata, a US Marine, was given his first mission as a hitman: to assassinate a Cuban revolutionary. The mission failed, but the pair’s bond was sealed forever after Dussaq saved Bazata’s life.

The bond deepened in 1944, when both men were part of WWII’s Operation Jedburgh, in which more than 250 American and Allied paratroopers jumped behind enemy lines across France, the Netherlands and Belgium to fight against German occupation. Dussaq’s larger-than-life legend began here: He was nicknamed “Captain Bazooka” for demonstrating the Army’s new anti-tank rocket launchers to the Maquis, French resistance guerrillas. He’s also credited with bluffing a German general into believing he was surrounded by American troops, leading to the capture of up to 500 Nazis.

Dussaq — who was born in Buenos Aires and educated in Geneva and Cuba — became a naturalized US citizen in 1942. The son of a Cuban diplomat, he had tried to enlist after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor but was deemed a potential security risk. However, the US Army was desperate for infantrymen at the time and ultimately accepted him. Dussaq quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a lieutenant instructor for the elite 101st Airborne Division, the “Screaming Eagles.”

One top-ranked OSS official told his counterparts in London that Dussaq, who spoke six languages, was an exceptional athlete and a master of “unusual and hazardous work of a physical nature,” references to earlier work as a deep-sea diver, treasure hunter and Hollywood movie stuntman.

Article continues here:  Cuban Double Agent Led JFK Plot

 

A New Cuban Connection to JFK’s Murder 1

target-jfkBy Robert K. Wilcox, American Thinker

Days after the John F. Kennedy assassination, top White House aides read an eyes-only report that Cuba was behind the shocking Dallas murder.  Castro had warned he’d retaliate if the Kennedy administration kept trying to kill him, and they continued.  New president Lyndon Johnson ordered the secret report buried.  If made public, the U.S. would have to attack Soviet-backed Cuba and thus start World War III.

It’s been 53 years since that terrible day in Dallas, and the “Cuban Connection” has resurfaced in newly revealed secret diaries of a deceased Cold War spy and assassin.  Douglas Bazata was a decorated OSS special forces “Jedburgh” in World War II and a celebrated freelance spy who, after the war, worked for the CIA, among other intelligence agencies.  His now decoded secret diaries tell for the first time the extraordinary story of his close friend, Rene A. Dussaq, a fellow “Jed” and larger-than-life clandestine, who, he says hatched the assassination plan and led it as a shooter in Dallas.  The fascinating story and evidence, pro and con, is in my new book, Target: JFK — The Spy Who Killed Kennedy?, a mystery story that could be the key to that famous murder.

Dussaq, Argentine-born and naturalized as an American in 1942, was the son of a Cuban diplomat.  While being educated in Switzerland, he spent summers in Cuba and considered himself Cuban.  Per the diaries, he hatched the assassination plan to free Cuba from U.S. domination – exploitation vividly illustrated in the movie The Godfather, when gangsters cut a cake shaped as Cuba.  Suave and fearless, Dussaq was an Olympic athlete, Cuban revolutionary, Hollywood stuntman, and deep sea diver and treasure hunter.  During WWII, he became the legendary “Captain Bazooka” in France, who helped the Maquis defeat the Nazis.  Almost singlehandedly, he captured a garrison of over 500 Germans.

Few in America have ever heard of Dussaq, although some of his exploits have been chronicled.  He kept a low profile as a successful post-WWII Los Angeles insurance agent while secretly working undercover for the FBI against Hollywood communists in the 1950s.  It also appears that he was a double, and perhaps triple, agent working ostensibly for the CIA, but also for Cuba, if not others.  Characteristically, the CIA will neither confirm nor deny that.  Bazata, too, after the war, worked for the CIA and was a good friend of William Colby, who headed the CIA from 1973 to 1976.  Because of who Bazata was and his level of access, his secret diaries must be taken seriously.

Dussaq and Bazata met in Cuba in the 1930s.  Bazata was a young marine assigned to assassinate a Cuban revolutionary.  The mission went awry, but Dussaq saved his life; therefore, Bazata was in his debt.  He also admired Dussaq for his intelligence and fearlessness.  As Jedburghs, both men jumped into occupied France, where their bond deepened.  After the war, writes Bazata, Dussaq grew angry at U.S. exploitation of Cuba, and once JFK became president, Kennedy’s administration’s Bay of Pigs invasion and continual attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro gave justification in Dussaq’s mind for implementing “Hydra-K,” the JFK kill-plot detailed in the diaries.

Read more: Target:  JFK

 

Intelligence & Security Experts Concerned Over Increased Openness With Castro Regime 4

Cuba's Ministry  of the Interior -- home to its security and intelligence services

Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior — home to its security and intelligence services

Obama Administration Hosts Cuban Border Guard Visits

By Bill Gertz, The Washington Free Beacon

Trips to Coast Guard facilities raise security concerns

The Obama administration is hosting visits to U.S. Coast Guard facilities by Cuban Border Guard officials as part of its policy of seeking closer ties with the communist government in Havana.

The visits are raising concerns among officials and security analysts that closer ties with Cuba will benefit aggressive Cuban intelligence operations in the United States that have been underway for decades.

A delegation of Cuban officials arrives this week for visits to Coast Guard bases in Florida and Alabama following an earlier visit two months ago.

The Department of Homeland Security, which arranged the visits, refused to provide details of the Cuban delegation. But a spokeswoman said they are part of an exchange program.

“These visits represent professional exchanges between the U.S. Coast Guard and the Cuban Border Guard to discuss issues of mutual interest such as at-sea rescue operations,” DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told the Washington Free Beacon, without elaborating.

Cuban officials on March 18 visited three Coast Guard port facilities in the south, including one near Mobile, Alabama. The group also toured an oil refinery in Alabama, according to a Coast Guard spokeswoman.

A State Department official said the Cuban Border Guard tours of Coast Guard bases are an outgrowth of the president’s pro-Havana tilt. “‎The administration’s new policy of engagement has enabled U.S. agencies to discuss and coordinate on topics of mutual interest as we work to normalize relations.”

The official referred further questions to the Cuban government. A Cuban Embassy official did not respond to email requests for comment.

President Obama traveled to Cuba in March as part of what the White House has called his rejection of “the failed, Cold War-era policy” of isolating the communist regime in Havana.

Alexandria Preston, a Coast Guard spokeswoman, said the March visit was arranged by Coast Guard headquarters as part of the International Port Security program.

The Cubans were given public information briefings and presentations about Coast Guard operations in Mobile followed by a question and answer session on the Maritime Transportation Security Act, she said. At the refinery, the Cubans were given a briefing and tour by the refinery’s security officer.

Cuba’s Border Guard troops are part of the Cuban Interior Ministry that directs the Intelligence Directorate, the political police, and an intelligence service modeled after the Soviet-era KGB intelligence service. The Border Guard in the past has been involved in liaisons with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Cuba’s intelligence services also cooperate with Russian intelligence services.

Feature continues here:  Security Concerns