Clinton Administration Must Respond Forcefully To Cuban Espionage

Senate - September 24, 1998 - Page: S10914

Mr. HELMS: Mr. President, the recent discovery of a sophisticated spy ring operating in U.S. territory is a wake-up call to all who assume that Fidel Castro is no longer America's tireless enemy. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is to be congratulated for its excellent work, and, I ask unanimous consent that the Bureau's press release (dated September 14, 1998) be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Press Release--Date: September 14, 1998--contact: SA Mike Fabregas or Ausa John Schlesinger


Hector M. Pesquera, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Miami Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Thomas E. Scott, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida announce the arrests of ten (10) individuals for conducting espionage activities against the United States for the Republic of Cuba.

The arrest of ten (10) individuals in South Florida on September 12, 1998, marked the culmination of a lengthy investigation into subversive activities by the Cuban Intelligence Service. The ten (10) individuals arrested were directed to infiltrate and spy on United States agencies and installations. These agents also attempted to infiltrate and manipulate Anti-Castro groups within the South Florida community.

The individuals arrested by the FBI include: Alejandro M. Alonso, date of birth November 27,1958; Ruben Campa, date of birth September 15, 1965; Rene Gonzalez, date of birth August 13, 1956; Antonio Guerrero, Jr., date of birth October 16, 1958; Linda Hernandez, date of birth June 21, 1957; Nilo Hernandez-Mederos, date of birth March 31, 1954; Luis Medina, date of birth July 9, 1968; Joseph Santos-Cecilia, date of birth October 9, 1960; Amarilys Silverio-Garcia, date of birth September 23, 1961; Manuel Viramontez, date of birth January 26, 1967.

Search warrants executed at several locations in South Florida yielded disguises, radios, antennas, maps, computers, money, and other items.

Sac Pesquera and U.S. Attorney Scott would like to commend the efforts of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) who assisted greatly in this investigation. ###

Mr. HELMS: Mr. President, the fact that several U.S. military installations were among the targets of this spying is evidence that the Castro regime is a menace to the national security of the United States. According to a reliable 1996 report, Cuban commandos have been training in Vietnam at least since 1990 to carry out strikes against U.S. military bases, precisely the target of the attempted infiltrations of last week.

Mr. President, the Clinton Administration simply cannot and must not default on its clear obligation to respond to this and other hostile actions by Cuba.

First, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is obliged to pursue this espionage conspiracy relentlessly. Any and all Cuban personnel working in any diplomatic posts in Washington, D.C., and at the United Nations, who had contact with this spy ring should be detained, prosecuted, and/or expelled without delay.

Future requests by Cuban `diplomats' to travel beyond the confines of Washington, D.C., or New York--particularly to South Florida--should be summarily denied.

Second, U.S. officials, exile groups, and citizens who have been, or are, targets of Cuban spies should be warned by U.S. authorities of this threat.

Third, it is imperative to hold the Russians accountable for their continued eavesdropping on U.S. defense and commercial communications at the state-of-the-art intelligence facility at Lourdes, Cuba. According to reliable published reports, sensitive U.S. information gathered at Lourdes is in the possession of Castro's Cubans and made available to other rogue states to use against the United States. The Russians compensate Castro for this spy platform through a generous oil-for-sugar deal--at a time when Moscow looks to the United States and the international community for multi-billion-dollar hand-outs of the American taxpayers' money.

Mr. President, the Clinton Administration at this very moment is contemplating a huge increase in U.S. aid to Russia, has therefore soft-peddled this grave security threat for too long. The removal of the Lourdes facility and an end to the related compensation to the Cubans must be given top priority in U.S.-Russian relations--and as a subject to be considered in the instances of future U.S. aid proposals.

Fourth, this hostile espionage should put to rest the absurd notion--conceived by the Cuban regime and being considered by Administration officials--that the United States should 'cooperate' with the Cuban government to fight drug trafficking in the Caribbean. Any serious talk about anti-drug cooperation should be deferred until after Castro surrenders the half-dozen senior Cuban officials who have been indicated in U.S. courts for smuggling drugs into the United States.

Fifth, senior Administration policy makers have informed members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff that they see no connection between the spy ring and the Clinton plan to give U.S. food aid to the United Nations for Cuba. In light of the espionage revelations, it is incumbent upon the State Department and U.S.A.I.D. to make certain that any food that the Administration proposes to donate to needy Cubans must be conducted entirely through international, independent relief groups operating under scrupulous monitoring.

And, sixth, Mr. President, Americans have long awaited the Clinton Administration's getting around to holding Castro's officials accountable for the terrorist attack carried out by Cuban MIGs on two unarmed Cessnas in February 1996. The fact that this attack on two small planes which were over international waters went unpunished has emboldened the Castro regime to act against us.

The Department of Justice should proceed promptly with an investigation of this incident in connection with the indictment of the Cuban officials involved. It should be done under section 32 of title of the U.S. Code for the willful, premeditated destruction of two civil aircraft resulting in the deaths of Pablo Morales, Carlos Costa, Mario de la Pena, and Armando Alejandre.

Mr. President, the Clinton Administration has an obligation to defend America's national security against any country determined to do us harm. Surely, decades of fighting tyrants has taught us that appeasement and unilateral concessions serve only to tempt our enemies. If the administration fails to hold Castro accountable for his repeated acts of treachery against us, it will tempt him to escalate them.

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