Guest Writings
  
16/10/04 Way Down South of the Border… by Edward Teague
The Commander in Chief of SOUTHCOM is responsible for all U.S. military activities in Central and South America, the Caribbean, and waters south of Mexico. North to south the distance is 7,000 miles, and from east to west more than 3,000 miles. Brazil is larger than the continental United States; Peru is three times the size of California. There are 32 sovereign nations in this theatre or Area of responsibility (AOR). SOUTHCOM had clearly derived advantages from a forward presence in Latin America over the years with U.S. military facilities in Panama and in Honduras. Until recently, these U.S. bases in Panama funnelled critical support to regional counter drug efforts (Drugs headed for the U.S. from South America pass through a 6 million square mile transit zone, roughly the size of the continental U.S), humanitarian operations, military-to-military contacts, and defence of the Panama Canal.

After the fall of President Noriega, SOUTHCOM relocated headquarters to Miami, Florida, where it occupies a state-of-the-art command and control facility. Gov. Jeb Bush has just clinched a deal to build new Southcom headquarters on 40 acres of state-owned land in an industrial park in Doral, a deal reckoned to be worth $170Mn to the State.

In exchange, the Department of Defence would sign a 10-year lease with the state of Florida to pay rent that covers building costs Gov. Bush wrote to Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld in a proposal released Thursday October 4th 2004.

Meanwhile Army General James T. Hill, commander of SouthCom, is retiring and 3 star Lt. General Bantz J.Craddock (currently Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's senior military adviser) is to assume command in November instead of the disgraced General Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, senior commander in Iraq since May 2003, is to be replaced this summer by a four-star general, most likely Gen. George W. Casey, officials said.

Although the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse happened on his watch, Sanchez's departure is not related to that, said Larry Di Rita, chief spokesman for Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Any suggestions to the contrary, he said, are “just wrong.” Sanchez has testified to Congress that he was not aware of the abuse until it was reported to him in January.

Hill testifying earlier this year before the United States Senate Armed Services Committee spoke on the “increasing threat to U.S. interests” posed by “negative developments in Bolivia, Venezuela, and Haiti”. He said that traditional threats, such as “narcoterrorists and their ilk… and a lesser but sophisticated threat from Islamic radical groups in the region…are now complemented by an emerging threat best described as “radical populism”, in which the democratic process is undermined to decrease rather than protect individual rights.” The radical populism to which General Hill obtusely referred is Hugo Chavez's brand of democracy. General Hill also expressed concern that regional leaders are “tapping into deep-seated frustrations over the failure of democratic reforms to deliver expected goods and services. By tapping into these frustrations, which run concurrently with frustrations caused by social and economic inequality, the leaders are at the same time able to reinforce their radical positions by inflaming anti-U.S. sentiment.”

In previous appearances Hill linked the Chavez government to the FARC terrorist organisation in Colombia. This “radical populism” has been the cause of comment from others in the region, Mexico's President Vicente Fox, Interamerican Development Bank President Enrique Iglesias and Carlos Slim Latin America's wealthiest citizen the direct beneficiary of the Mexican telephone privatisation, warned that regional lack of growth over the past 20 years and extreme concentration of wealth could lead to “nostalgia for populism” and “undesirable authoritarian, populist, and protectionist alternatives.” Alberto Núñez of the Mexican Businessmen's Association also said business must face “a head-on battle against populism.”

President Fox whose calls were echoed by US Ambasador Tony Garza urged businessmen to “demonstrate the viability of a socially responsible market economy to halt populist and demagogic proposals that divert us from the true route to development.” Garza gave the view that “society would move away from both the free market and democracy and toward the kind of demagoguery that has too often been the plague of other nations…”“ Populism in Latin America has been an enormous problem identified with ex Argentine president Juan Domingo Perón and Evita, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, Alberto Fujimori, and Luis Echeverria of México”.

Hill has also linked drug trafficking and armed leftist Latin American political movements to terrorist threats against U.S. national security. By extending the definition of terrorism to cover every bellicose act, the White House has rendered the term practically meaningless; it has become the definition du jour to provide Washington with an opportunity to continue its interventionist tactics based upon its anti-terrorist crusade and invented the handy concept of “narcoterrorism”. Bantz Craddock has promised to the Senate Armed Forces Committee to,”continue to prosecute the war on terrorism in the AOR” claiming further that, “narcoterrorism is one of the fundamental problems in the region”. The region of course includes the Guantanamo prison which is at the cutting edge of that war.

Visiting former Rodman U.S. naval base at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal in August 2004 , Vice Adm. Vincent Smith, head of SOUTHCOM naval forces, called for a multinational force to defend the canal from terrorists. “Today we face a global menace,” he said, “and the Panama Canal is a sensitive point for a terrorist attack because of its global importance.” There is a “moral duty” to “defend and guard it,” according to Smith.

Whilst SOUTHCOM has changed leaders so has Panama. The country was carved out of Columbia November 3rd 1903, with the help of Theodore Roosevelt. 15 days later the plans for the Panama Canal were published before the nascent country even had a constitution. 4 percent of the world's trade and 20 percent of U.S. trade and commerce now pass through the Canal, but Panama's economy has enjoyed little growth since the United States handed control of the Canal over to Panama on December 31st 1999.

From 1968 until his death in an airplane crash in 1981, General Torrijos dominated the Panamanian political scene. The plane crash which abbreviated Torrijos's life has been attributed to an undercover operation masterminded by the CIA and his Presidency was followed by the drug fuelled and financed Noriega.

His influence, greater than that of any individual in the nation's history, did not end with his death. The 1977 signing of the Panama Canal treaties negotiated with Jimmy Carter, gave Panama full control over the canal in the year 2000, actually added to the problems confronting Torrijos. There was considerable opposition in Panama to some provisions of the treaties, and it took all of the general's prestige to secure the needed two-thirds majority for ratification in an October 1977 national plebiscite.

Now his son 40 year old Martin Torrijos assumes the presidency of this country with 3.2 Mn people. He took office on September 1st 2004 promising jobs, better relations with Cuba and a referendum on a proposed $8 billion expansion of the Panama Canal.

Torrijos had tough words for his predecessor, Mireya Moscoso, calling her term “five years of wasted opportunities.”

He also criticized Moscoso for last week's pardon of four Cuban exiles who had been accused by the Cuban government of trying to kill President Fidel Castro at a summit in Panama in 2000. “For me, there are not two classes of terrorism, one that is condemned and another that is pardoned. . . . It has to be fought no matter what its origins,” Torrijos said.

The inauguration was attended by officials from around the world, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell (his 2nd visit in 10 months) and Bill Rammell, UK Foreign Office Minister for Latin America whilst on his way to North Korea.

On August 26 Panama's outgoing president, Mireya Moscoso, pardoned four Cuban-born right wingers arrested in November 2000 in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate Cuban president Fidel Castro Ruz while Castro was attending a summit in Panama City. The four-Luis Posada Carriles, Gaspar Jiménez Escobedo, Guillermo Novo Sampol and Pedro Crespín Remón-were convicted of lesser offences in April and given prison sentences ranging from seven to eight years. Moscoso cited “humanitarian reasons” for the release, saying she feared that her successor, Martín Torrijos, would accede to extradition requests for Posada Carriles and send him to Cuba and Venezuela, where “they'll kill him.” (La Jornada (Mexico) 8/28/04)

Miami “businessman” Santiago Alvarez chartered two small planes to fly the four men out of Panama after being pardoned. One took Jiménez, Novo and Remón, who are U.S. citizens and Miami residents, to Opa-locka Airport in Florida, where they were greeted by family and supporters from the Cuban American National Front (CANF) who gave $3Mn to George Bush's Presidential campaign.

Honduran officials told the Miami Herald that a U.S.-registered Learjet 31A landed at San Pedro Sula and discharged a passenger carrying a U.S. passport, No. 076050572, for “Melvin Cleyde Thompson.” U.S. officials said the passport number actually was assigned to an unidentified woman. An airport employee later identified “Thompson” as Posada Carriles, based on a photograph. Posada Carriles was apparently picked up by a wealthy Cuban-American-Honduran businessperson who could not be contacted afterwards. (Miami Herald 8/27/04, 8/29/04)

Posada Carriles has been charged in connection with the 1976 bombing of a Cubana de Aviación airliner, which resulted in the death of all 73 passengers, and a string of bombings in Cuba in 1997 in which one Italian tourist was killed. The three other men also have violent pasts. Jiménez served six years in a Mexican prison for the attempted kidnapping of Cuban diplomat Daniel Ferrer in Mérida in 1976 and for the death of a man accompanying Ferrer. Jiménez escaped from prison and returned to the U.S. He was also indicted for a 1976 bombing that blew off the legs of Miami radio personality Emilio Milián; those charges were later dropped. (Miami Herald 8/27/04)

Moscoso's decision to release the men brought widespread worldwide condemnation. Cuba broke diplomatic relations with Panama in protest, although the rupture was repaired as soon as Torrijos took office. The Venezuelan government withdrew its ambassador and announced that President Hugo Chávez Frías would not attend Torrijos' inauguration “to avoid a meeting with the president, Mireya Moscoso.” The Venezuelans were protesting Mosoco's claim that Posada Carriles would be killed if he was extradited to Venezuela, where he faces charges in connection with the 1976 airline bombing; Venezuela doesn't have a death penalty. The US administration refused to condemn the pardon, which came one day before Bush was to appear at a campaign rally in Miami.

The U.S. has denied allegations that it pressured Moscoso to release the men. On August 28, the Cuban press agency Agencia de Información Nacional (AIN) reported that after issuing the pardon, Moscoso left a message on the answering machine of Simón Ferro, U.S. ambassador to Panama from 1991 to 2001. “Ambassador, hello,” she reportedly said. “It's the president, to inform you that the four Cubans were pardoned last night and have left the country. Three are going to Miami, and the other to an unknown destination. So long. A hug.” ( 8/29/04 Prensa Latina)

It was at this time (August 23rd) that Marti TV was broadcast using USAF C130 aircraft to Cuba. Joe Garcia, Director of CANF said, “We are extremely pleased with the Bush Administration successful transmission of TVMarti into Cuba, it is irrefutably one of the most critical tools at the disposition of US policy to help precipitate a democratic transition on he island,” said Joe Garcie, who heads the CANF.

US Government funded TV Marti has for years used a static balloon, anchored near Key West, for its transmissions. It had many shortcomings including, line of sight communication is not possible due to the 90 mile distance to Cuba and the earth's curvature, a low power limit imposed by the small load and the equipment the balloon can carry, the limited altitude to which the balloon can be raised due to prevailing winds fluctuation, the fact that a unique fixed signal can be easily interfered with. The transmitter for TV Marti is tethered 10,000 feet above Cudjoe Key. It's mounted on this balloon called Fat Albert. Many say it's simply hot air because Fidel Castro's government is jamming the signal and has jammed it ever day since TV Marti went on the air in 1989. Even $150 million in taxpayers' money hasn't changed that. It was said Americans are paying to send snow to Cuba.

This is what the US Government officially said in a Government Press release, “On Saturday, August 21, the United States successfully broadcast Radio and TV Marti to the Cuban people for several hours from an airborne broadcasting platform operated by the Air National Guard. The Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba recommended that such broadcasts be carried out on a regular basis to break the Castro regime's information blockade on the Cuban people. Radio and TV Marti have transmitted their signals to Cuba for over a decade, and they are routinely jammed by authorities that are fearful of the truth and of their own people. These broadcasts will give the Cuban people uncensored information about their country and the world, and will help bring about a rapid and peaceful transition to democracy.”

CANF is represented on the GOP's list of presidential electors from Florida by Treasurer, Feliciano M. Foyo, a good friend of Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Foyo has another friend named Luis Posada Carriles who in his Honduran published 1994 autobiography named Foyo as one of his financial backers. Businessman Armando Codina, is also a regular GOP donor and activist and close associate of Jeb bush in land and property deals.

In June 1976, while George H. W. Bush (the elder) was head of the CIA, a CIA operative, Cuban expatriate Orlando Bosch, founded and led the Commanders of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU). Posada was one of those “commanders.” As revealed later in FBI and CIA documents, CORU was soon involved in more than 50 bombings and, quite likely, political assassinations. Venezuelans and U.S. authorities reported that a network of terrorists carried out a “vast” number of attacks in seven countries against Cuba and against countries and individuals considered friendly to Cuba.

Another Cuban Florida based expatriate Félix Rodríguez, another notorious terrorist, took Posada to El Salvador where Rodríguez was working with Col. Oliver North in supplying Contras against the Sandinistas government of Nicaragua. During the Bush CIA years, the loyal Rodriguez, who had been involved in the Bay of Pigs disaster was also involved with the Phoenix program, Air America, and heroin smuggling in Southeast Asia.

The exposure of North's operation eventually led to the Iran-Contra hearings of 1987. At those hearings before Congress, Rodríguez was asked about “Ramón Medina.” He replied that Medina was an alias in El Salvador for Posada, a “good friend of mine,” an “honourable man.” He testified that he brought Posada to El Salvador from Venezuela, claiming that Posada “deserved to be free.” Not another question was asked about Posada. Instead Rodríguez was complimented on his role by Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fl), one of his questioners. Rep. Peter Rodino (D-NJ) also told him that we all appreciate his fighting against communism.

AUGUST 2002 FLORIDA GETS NEW SUPREME COURT MEMBER

“I have named a person who is one of the finest appellate lawyers in the state,” Gov. Bush said. “Above all else, [he] is a man of exceptional character.”

In his application for the job, the nominee wrote: “As an American whose family escaped a totalitarian (Castro) regime, I have learned to appreciate and defend democratic values and the rule of law. I know the price a society pays when it lacks freedom to speak, freedom to worship, freedom to dissent.”

Joe Garcia, the CANF group's executive director, calls the appointment “fantastic.” Garcia adds that “Gov. Jeb Bush is making the bench look more like the state of Florida.”

Who is Raoul Cantero III? He is a 43 year-old Cuban-American, born in Spain and brought to the U.S. by his parents when he was 9 months old. He is the grandson of the late Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista the last of the nasty pre-Castro, U.S. sponsored despots to rule that country. Cantero's “father served under Batista as an intelligence officer in the Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities or BRAC, notorious for torture and assassination.”

Raoul Cantero has been with the Miami firm, Adorno and Yoss. Who have a long association with the family businesses of Jorge Mas Canosa and his son Jorge Mas Santos, late chair and current chair, respectively, of CANF.

Cantero was a junior associate in 1989 when [his] firm, then Adorno & Zeder, helped Orlando Bosch stay in the U.S. and out of prison after he was released from jail in Venezuela for his alleged role with Posada in blowing up a Cuban airliner with 73 passengers aboard. Jeb Bush also has connections to Bosch, having worked as the campaign manager for Bosch's leading champion Havana born U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Hispanic woman US Congress member and also recipient in August 2001 the Friend of Zion Award at ceremony from the municipality of Jersualem and the Jerusalem Fund.

Jeb Bush also visited pro-Bosch hunger strikers in Miami, of course it was Jeb's dad who agreed to release Bosch.”

Acting Associate Attorney General Joe Whitley wrote in his decision to deport Bosch: “The October 6, 1976, Cuban airline bombing was a CORU operation under the direction of Bosch. CORU is the name of Bosch's terrorist outfit.” That bombing marked the first time that a civilian passenger jet was turned into a weapon of terrorism in the Americas.

In an editorial, the St. Petersburg Times said that “Cantero did more than plead and argue the law. He took to talk radio in Miami 15 years ago, when Bosch was facing deportation, to describe him as a 'Cuban patriot.”

The main culprits for the airliner bombing in have never been brought to trial or sanctioned. Those who conceived, planned and directed this act of genocide have a long history of terrorism that began in the 1960's under the auspices of the CIA. The role they played in the blowing-up of the Cubana aircraft and the cold-blooded murder of all those on board are well known by the U.S. government. On June 23, 1989, the Department of Justice of that country admitted that it possessed information on the case, which it had kept a secret.

Amid lobbying from Cuban-American political leaders, the Bush administration released Bosch in 1990 after he renounced violence and agreed to be monitored by federal agents.”

So, in a period defined by his brother's devotion to the absurd “war against terrorism,” Jeb Bush has the chutzpah to appoint a defender of terrorists to the Florida Supreme Court.

WHO IS, WHERE IS, ADNAN SHUKRIJUMAH?

Adnan G. El Shukrijumah (for FBI most wanted information) is a Saudi terror suspect with a $5 million bounty on his head. The FBI has been looking for him for a long time. He has been billed as the next Mohammed Atta. Only unlike Atta, he isn't flying in and out of our airports. He's apparently dancing around the southern border, down Mexico way. Officials on both sides of the border have asked law enforcement officials, including Border Patrol agents and El Paso’s bridge inspectors, as well as the community at large to be on the lookout for Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, 29, a native of Saudi Arabia who may be using a Guyanese, Canadian or Trinidadian passport.

Shukrijumah was spotted in Honduras earlier this year, FBI officials said, and used to reside in Trinidad and Tobago, off the coast of Latin America. “He is believed to be one of the most dangerous cell leader below the leadership of al-Qaeda who plans to hurt the United States,” Art Werge, spokesman for the FBI in El Paso, is reported as saying.

Of more interest is a visit Shukrijumah made to Panama for 10 days in April 2001 and later to Trinidad and Tobago. US records show he returned to the US later in the month. It is claimed he has connections to Jose Padilla. On June 9, 2002 Jose Padilla—a.k.a. Abdullah Al Muhajir, was arrested at Chicago O'Hare airport and subsequently transferred from control of the U.S. Department of Justice to military control. Since that time, Padilla has been held in a naval military prison in South Carolina.

Padilla has not been charged with a crime, and does not have access to a lawyer in his detention. This is a clear violation of the 5th Amendment, and probably a violation of the 6th Amendment to the US constitution and is clearly abominable violation of the democratic traditions of the United States.

Padilla has been accused of plotting heinous acts of terrorism, particularly planning the setting off of a “dirty bomb”. He has been accused of conspiring with members of al-Quaeda, and planning to scout for that terrorist organization, using the benefits of his U.S. citizenship. President Bush has designated Padilla an “enemy combatant”.

NOW THEN WHAT DOES THIS TELL US?

SOUTHCOM is the US backyard. A terrorist event, fuelled and funded by the narcoterrorists would bring home to the US voter the dangers on their doorstep.

Just imagine if those narcoterrorists became “nukoterrorists” and put a “dirty bomb” on one of the 35 ships transiting the Panama Canal at any time.

Of course this won't happen. Especially when a Presidential election is looming.

Edward Teague can be contacted eteague1@btinternet.com

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