Monday, August 18, 2008

Cuban Espionage Continues to be a Threat to the Americas

Monday, August 18, 2008

By Jerry Brewer

Totalitarian dictatorships still exist and, as a matter of fact, they are very much alive in Latin America. Democracies throughout the Americas must immediately address their governments' counterintelligence missions, and their strategic long and short range vision to monitor aggression and other forms of insurgency within their homelands.

Cuba's intelligence and spy apparatus has been described as a "contingency of very well-trained, organized and financed agents." Too, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has adopted the previous Soviet-styled Cuban intelligence service (DGI) as his model for Venezuela's security service, known as the DISIP, utilizing Cuban intelligence counterparts and advisors.

What is the history of Cuba's communist trained spies?

Cuba has trained thousands of communist guerrillas and terrorists, and has sponsored violent acts of aggression and subversion in most democratic nations of the southwestern hemisphere. U.S. government studies within the intelligence community documented a total of 3,043 international terrorist incidents in the decade of 1968 to 1978. Within that study, "over 25 percent occurred in Latin America."

Recent reports are that Cuba has been expanding intelligence operations in the Middle East and South Asia. This reported by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

Cuba has consistently maintained a well-organized and "ruthless" intelligence presence within Mexico, as have the Russians. Much of their activity involved in U.S. interests that include recruiting disloyal U.S. military, government, and "private sector specialists."

With narcoterrorism a primary concern in the Americas, as are links established between Middle Eastern terrorists and Mexican drug cartels, the deadly concoction is essentially communism mixed with Islamic fascism. Leaders of non-democratic nations and vociferous critics of the U.S., such as Chavez of Venezuela and President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, have been quick to end any form of support to their neighbors or the United States in drug and terrorism interdiction efforts. And the stark significance of their subterfuge and rhetoric in resisting U.S. drug and terrorism initiatives in defense of their Latin American neighbors is indeed suspect.

With the successes of Colombia against the FARC guerrillas, as well as Mexico's valiant fight against its narcotrafficking cartels, one becomes either part of the solution or part of the problem.

The Mexican cartels have pushed as far south as Argentina. Last month Buenos Aires police found three corpses "killed execution style." The three were identified as "pharmaceutical industrialists." Police reported ties to Mexican narcotics traffickers, this due in part to six Mexicans apprehended in Buenos Aires, as police described the "first mounted synthetic drug laboratory in Argentina."

The successes of the U.S. Southern Command and drug enforcement operators in Latin America are well-documented. Ecuador's refusal to renew the lease to the United States at Manta was dismissed simply with language describing a revision of the nation's constitution under Correa's leadership that "bans foreign military bases" on their soil. Panama, Colombia and Peru, recognizing the critical need to fight narcotrafficking and terrorism, quickly expressed interest in alliances with the U.S. efforts and needs to establish operating locations.

Cuban espionage has been linked to nefarious associations with the Chinese, Iranians, as well as with Venezuela. Their mission has been, in part, to subvert U.S. interests globally. Affiliation with radical terrorist organizations and other state sponsors of terrorism is widely reported. Hezbollah fundraising activity in the form of "financial transactions" on Margarita Island in Venezuela calls for the attention of President Chavez, a dedicated disciple of Fidel Castro, to denounce and combat such activity for the safety of his Latin American neighbors.

An emerging threat in counterterrorism should serve as a wake-up call to the Americas – the concept known as "lone wolf" Islamist terrorists, who operate somewhat independently at their own grassroots levels. Osama bin Laden has encouraged followers to "take action independently;" this, obviously in frustration to successes against the organized elements, as well as leaders killed and captured. This form of flattening the organized cells certainly encourages the terrorist to lash out with creativity to invoke death and destruction at any level.

Mexican drug cartels already have somewhat of a track record throughout the Americas. The corruption and collusion of hostile foreign intelligence organizations remains a significant catalyst in launching, recruiting, and supporting organized criminal elements in similar mission based agendas for profit and revenge.

Narcoterrorism, as well as all other forms of terrorism, requires the democratic neighbors of the Americas to stand tall in the face of hostile threats and insurgency by state sponsors of terrorism and its agents of violence, death and control. This war will not be won alone and requires unity of purpose and spirit.


Jerry Brewer, the Vice President of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global risk mitigation firm headquartered in Miami, Florida, is a guest columnist with

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