CFR’s Julia Sweig, Friend of 6 Cuban Spies, Arranged Graham’s Cuba Visit 1

Former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida was in Havana last week on a trip “arranged by Julia Sweig, a Cuba analyst and senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations” reported Juan Tamayo in yesterday’s Miami Herald. Graham, now in his late 70s, made his first trip to Cuba as part of Sweig’s “group of environmental and disaster experts.” Sweig has long and public connections with senior officials throughout Cuba’s intelligence and political arenas.

During the visit, Cuban officials told her group Havana was negotiating with foreign nations for oil exploration off the northern coast. Large deposits of crude exist in deep waters off the northern coast the visitors were assured and drilling will certainly resume at some point. Predictably, these same officials informed Graham and the others that easing the US embargo would aid in their efforts. A former Democratic governor of Florida and longtime supporter of Cuba sanctions, Havana was undoubtedly delighted when Graham suggested that a limited exemption for oil efforts was an option.

Editor’s Note: For an excellent summary of the role of Cuban Intelligence Officers in forming Julia Sweig’s opinion, see Humberto Fontova’s September 2010 article, Latin-America “Expert”– or Castro Agent?

Today in History: MiG Pilot Landed at Florida Airbase – Havana Exploited Plane’s Recovery 2

October 5, 1969:  A Cuban defector flew his MiG-17 jet fighter to Homestead Air Force Base south of Miami. Air Force One was at Homestead at the time, waiting to fly President Nixon back to Washington.  The base was subsequently put on perpetual watch and additional radars added to prevent another surprise landing.  Subsequently, members of a Cuban delegation allowed onto Homestead to recover the MiG-17 secretly took highly detailed photographs of the airbase, reported General Rafael del Pino, the highest ranking Cuban officer to ever defect. The base had long been one of Havana’s military and intelligence targets.

Del Pino also claimed he participated in several exercises targeted against Homestead, the most recently in 1986, the year before he defected. Two squadrons of MiG-23s based at San Antonio de los Banos were assigned this mission. Headquartered 20 miles southwest of Havana, these squadrons conducted simulated strike exercises every three months. Their practice targets were airfields on the Island of Pines, selected because the flight time was 23 minutes, the same duration of a flight from their base to Homestead.

This Month in History: Cuban Spies Proposed Intelligence Exchange With Dade County Sheriff Reply

September 1959:  Comandante Abelardo Colome Ibarra and another officer traveled to Miami and offered to initiate an intelligence exchange with the Dade County Sheriff’s Department. Colome openly declared his intelligence affiliation and offered information on US organized crime operations in Cuba in exchange for material on Cuban exiles in the US.  The Intelligence Department of the Sheriff’s Office rebuffed the Cubans.  Law enforcement authorities suspected Colome’s real purpose was to establish a legal intelligence presence to further enhance the growing operations then underway by “Illegal” officers.

Editor’s Note:  An “Illegal” is a highly trained intelligence officer assigned abroad who operates with no overt contact with his government.  Since an Illegal is not protected by diplomatic immunity, he/she generally serves under a false identity with the appropriate supporting documents.