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.
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
By Nora Gámez Torres, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
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
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
“Declassified” goes inside the FBI covert operation that led to the arrest of a Cuban spy with access to U.S intelligence. Watch Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Source: CNN
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
Juan Juan Almeida, 19 October 2015 — The G2, Cuba’s domestic spy agency, is nothing more than a fun-loving caricature of the former KGB. What is difficult to believe is that the special services headquarters which direct espionage operations against Cuba have shown themselves to be even more inept.
The Cuban government neither has nor could maintain an army of spies. We have bought into this myth. Espionage is an expensive proposition and recruiting spies is not like planting rice. Though difficult for us to accept, Cuban authorities are talented and treacherous enough to know how to stoke paranoia, distrust and confusion by creating a constant and frantic struggle for reaffirmation against “a person unknown.” This has made us prone to isolation, some degree of lunacy and a few too many hallucinations.
Albert Einstein, that most international of physicists, said, “You cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.”
Now is the time to find common ground in order to face the obstacles that divide us. There is no point in inventing yet more informants, those agents created for a specific task and trained for a specific mission. We routinely label people as “agents” with dangerous and contagious certainty. We should realize that no single nation can simply go around recruiting and sending infiltrators out into the world like spores in search of information.
From the enigmatic Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to a young physicist named Klaus Fuchs, from former CIA officer Aldrich Ames to Soviet military intelligence colonel Oleg Penkovsky, and to the legendary James Bond, history and literature are replete with spies who have captured our imagination. Adventurers or idealists, altruistic or greedy, heroes or informers, the world certainly knows of spies who succeeded in altering the course of history. But such cases are a far removed from our all too mundane reality. The fact is there are fewer Cuban spies in Miami than bullfighters with mustaches in Madrid.
Feature continues here: Agent Friar
Editor’s Note: Another rambling piece of fantasy promoting the “Cuba is not a threat” propaganda espoused for decades by other Castro spies, including Ana Montes, Kendall & Gwen Myers, etc. Cuba remains a long-time intelligence trafficker, stealing US secrets and selling or bartering them to any country with something to offer. Countless defectors and émigrés report the trafficking of US secrets is now one of the major revenue streams sustaining the regime. As such, the Obama administration’s misguided outreach to Cuba will intensify Havana’s self-serving and dishonest claims of espionage innocence as improved relations drive down the cost of Cuba’s spying.
Editor’s Note (Addendum): The pseudonym Juan Juan Almeida is used by Cuban agent Percy Alvarado, a Guatemalan asset.