Press conference by Foreign Minister of the Repúblic of Cuba, Felipe Pérez Roque on the mercenaries at the service of the empire who stood trial on April 3,4,5 and 7, 2003. Havana City, April 9, 2003 (3rd Part) 

We, who have had to defend the Revolution for more than 40 years, we have heard Mr. Cason declaring in Miami, "The future of the Cubans is up to themselves; we want them, those inside and those outside Cuba to come to an agreement." He means those who think the same way as the Batista supporters, that they will come back here to claim the wealth that they stole from the people and that the Revolution nationalized.


We recall that this is exactly what they said to the patriots who fought for Cuban’s independence, and declared that "Cuba must be fully and truly free," through a resolution of the U.S. Congress, and then the country was militarily occupied and the Platt Amendment was imposed and the natural resources of the country were stolen.


When we hear Mr. Cason, we remember that they are also saying now that "the future of the Iraqis is up to the Iraqis," including, perhaps, the management of the oil wells and the new oil contracts, I guess.


We have much experience in the defense of our sovereignty and we do not believe in such fairy tales. We know that subversion is fabricated from abroad, that they are attempting to create a Trojan horse here. Thus, we are exercising our sovereign right to legally confront it, abiding by the law and ethics, never resorting to such things like kidnapping and assassination, never creating death squads, never violating anyone’s physical and moral integrity.


Now, I have said that the United States Interests Section in Havana creates dissident groups, organizes them, and I maintain this. Here is one of photographs presented in one of the trials. (He shows it) Hundreds of photographs were presented.


Here is Mr. Cason at the moment when he, a foreign diplomat accredited in Havana, is founding the youth branch of the Cuban Liberal Party. It is inconceivable, the founder of a party in Cuba. A foreign citizen founding a party in Cuba, it’s amazing. There is no legislation in the world that allows foreign citizens to form parties within a country. Well, here he is, captured by the camera at the moment when he was founding the youth branch. In other words, not only the party, he was creating here the youth branch, or rather, the next generation, those who will try to overthrow the Revolution in 2080 or 2091. By the looks of things, it is going to be a long war.


Here he is at a meeting, at the moment when the organizing committee, there are four people, the four members of these new group that is being founded. Here he is with the full membership of this new movement, an assembly, there are the four of them and there is Mr. Cason right there, looking very elegant. You can see on the living room table there, trays of ham, some glasses over there, surely there was a little something to quench their thirst, right? There he is.


The United States Interests Section creates these groups in Cuba. I maintain this, and it has been proven in the trials.


I want to repeat, I am not in any way confusing the actions of the government, of some of its agents, of a U.S. diplomat in Havana; I am not confusing this with the attitude of the people of the United States towards Cuba. I distinguish very well between the two, and an anti-American bug has bitten none of us, nor do we cultivate hatred or chauvinism. We do defend our right to independence and our homeland with the same passion that we put in our solidarity with the world and our respect for all of its peoples, including the people of the United States.


I have something else here that is very interesting. Free access passes, open access at any time of the day or night for some of these mercenaries to enter the United States Interests Section in Havana; all they have to do is show their pass.


We Cubans cannot enter, because there are mechanisms of protection. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Cubans to enter: They are taken their fingerprints, they are searched, frisked.


Well, there are some who do not have to go through all of this. As we can see here, there is an Open pass for Mr. Oscar Elías Biscet, for any time of the day or night. An Open pass for Mr. Héctor Palacios.


The new restrictions imposed by the Department of Homeland Security, which have reinforced the protective measures in U.S. official buildings that have made it more difficult to get across the border –which is a logical reaction to the terrorist acts of September 11– do not apply to these people, because they have the status of officials there. They can walk right in like Mr. Cason, just show their passes and walk right in. I think that, in time, since they are already known there, they will simple be told, "Come right in." That is the truth.


Now then, how is it possible for an ordinary, everyday Cuban to have unrestricted access, with an official pass signed by the Section Chief, to enter any part of the United States Interests Section in Cuba at any time of the day or night? It seems that you would have to be someone on very intimate terms, because I have never had this kind of pass or possibility. When I go to an embassy, the ambassador is informed in advance, and authorizes the people at the entrance to let me in. Even the Cuban security personnel who protect the embassy itself are advised.


Here is another moment of celebration (he shows a photograph). Here is Mrs. Vicky Huddleston, and everyone is full of smiles, wishing her the best of luck on her new mission in Mali, where she has been appointed an ambassador. They wished her the best for her work and her surroundings. They were the conversing, a meeting had concluded, there are also a few other officials from the Interests Section.


Thus, we are very much aware of the responsibility of the Interests Section in the creation of these groups.


Here is another one –I do not want to bore you– here is another interesting one. You can see a table, numerous photographs and a table. There are the little American flags, it looks like there was a reception, and here there is a bottle, which looks to me like a bottle of Baccardi rum. I am almost certain it is a bottle of Baccardi. Well, there are the bottles, there was a celebration, and there are photographs. This is the way plans are made to try to overthrow the Cuban Revolution.


Mr. Cason should know that we know, he should know that before he arrived in Cuba, we were already dealing with these kinds of things. And, well, he will probably persist in his efforts to achieve his goals, but he should know that it will not be easy, because he is not dealing with naive people, inexperienced in defending their sovereignty and independence.


Now then, I have said that the government of the United States directs these groups. Now I will say that it finances them. The money for these groups is official money from the United States government. This is only the program of the United States Agency for International Development, USAID; as they have said what they give is the smallest part.


"To increase solidarity with Cuban activists in the world," to provide for their trips, prizes, recognition, the money allocated for the year 2002 was 8,099,181 USD. If the United States Agency for International Development, in a climate of normal relations with Cuba, were to devote this money to the real economic and social well-being of the Cuban people, Cuba could use this money to build schools, furbish polyclinics, construct housing; but the money is given for subversion.


And it is not that we want that money, far from it, nor do we need it. We are developing our country despite the blockade they have imposed on us, and our people know this, and we have confronted the difficulties.


"To help create independent NGOs in Cuba", 1,602,000 USD; "to give a voice to independent journalists", 2,027,000 USD; "to plan the transition in Cuba", 2,132,000 USD; "to assess the program", how it is working, 335,000 USD. How have they done this? By creating groups in the United States that receive this money, and that keep most of it, since business is business, and then send part of it to these groups in Cuba.


The Center for a Free Cuba received 2,300,000 USD in 2002. It receives information from the human rights groups, then sends it out, disseminates it, distributes it; Internal Dissidence Working Group, 250,000 USD; Freedom House, the ones in charge of the Program for the Transition in Cuba, in other words, the ones involved in the most strategic area –Frank Calzon was in on this– 1,325,000 USD; the Institute for Democracy in Cuba... All of this is in Miami, a few groups are in Washington, but most are in Miami. There are always plenty of quick-witted Cubans there who know that part of this money does not have to be justified, so it goes directly into "representation costs", and the rest they send it here.


The International Republican Institute, one of the organizers of the prizes and the tours abroad, one of the financers of the trips made by some of the "illustrious" patriots who have been awarded prizes around the world; Dissidence Support Group, 1,200,000 USD. They have been spreading it around. Basically, those are the groups.


Cubanet receives news reports and publishes them, 98,000 USD, their budget has been cut; American Center for International Labor Solidarity –look what they are devoted to, working to "persuade foreign investors not to invest in Cuba," that is their declared social goal– they get 168,575 USD from the United States government annually.


That is where the money comes from and, of course, from the special services.


How does it get here? For example, Frank Hernández Trujillo, head of the so-called Dissidence Support Group, based in Miami, naturally, received 400,000 USD in 2001 – that is, from USAID alone– and 1,200,000 USD in 2002, they tripled the money they gave him. This is published in the official websites of the United States government. What did he do with the money? He sent things to Cuba by smuggling or sending them with people who were coming.


I have here one of his lists, because he has to justify his expenditures --this was seized during the investigations for the trials– and this is one of his lists, explaining what the money was used for. So, here we have: computer, series number, really, all very professional. Here are the names of the people in Cuba, these "patriots" who are going to bring about a transition and fight for "democracy" in Cuba, and next to each name is the money they were given and what they have used it for here. In other words, over there Frank has to say, "I gave him the money, and the money is for such and such." Here we have the list of things that were being smuggled into the country, a number of containers, violating customs regulations:


So-and-so, two lamps. Lamp, VCR, VCR, two lamps. Lamp. Special package for Armando Villar. Electric stove for Angel Jiménez. Telephone, telephone, telephone. For Marta Beatriz Roque, Kit No. 1.


There are a few packages, like "gift bags", with a variety of things inside, and this one is referred to as Kit No. 1.


Ana María Espinosa Escabillo, set of pots and pans (Laughter), to fight for democracy in Cuba. Lamp, television set, VCR, package, package. Packages of food and medicines.


Because it must be said that one of the cruelest ironies of the work of these groups has been that the government of the United States has facilitated their access to food and medicine, so that in the neighborhoods where they operate, they can take advantage of the shortages, and the need, and the desperation of a parent who is looking for a certain medication during these years when we have not been able to guarantee its supply, despite all our efforts. And they use this to do their recruitment work, as a way of getting people to owe them favors, and they have set up so-called "distribution centers" to give people food and medicines that they would not normally have access to, precisely because of the U.S. blockade, which they help to maintain.


So, it is truly ironic. Here you have it: money, money, television set, lamps, set of 21 pots –it does not say for what– baby layette. This is what Idelfonso Hidalgo received, a baby layette. We do not know what this has to do with the "struggle for democracy" in Cuba. This is one of these groups. Money to live off of this money. They do not work, the majority of them, they have lived off of this for years and years.


Here is something else that is interesting: receipts for the delivery of money; that is, proof that the money was received. This is money that was distributed by Héctor Palacios to other people, money that came from Puerto Rico to Cuba, also illegally. Here Mr. Héctor Palacios is writing to the gentleman in Puerto Rico responsible for this financing operation, his name is Enrique Blanco, Independent Libraries of Cuba is what it says on the letterhead of the paper.

"Mr. Enrique Blanco, August 1, 2002.

"I am enclosing receipts to justify expenditures, with regard to the money you sent and your instructions for its distribution." Is that clear? I am reporting to you on what I did with the money you sent me and how I fulfilled your instructions, addressed to this gentleman based in Puerto Rico.

"There are 160 dollars left in the fund, which will be frozen until I receive further instructions from you." A very precise accounting, it complies with the generally accepted principles, seemingly.

"Sincerely, Your friend, Héctor Palacios."

Here are the receipts, bills.

"This is to confirm delivery of 30 USD to Mr. Iván Hernández Carrillo, coordinator for the province of Matanzas" –because in Cuba, 30 dollars is a lot of money, since none of these people have to use these dollars to pay for healthcare, to send their children to school, to have a pension when they get old; all of these people can enjoy a baseball game at the stadium for one peso, so 30 dollars is a heck of a salary, these people can live like company executives in the United States– "provided as aid for the independent libraries project..." And so on, there is a long list of receipts, bills (he shows it), which proves where the money comes from.


Here we have a gentleman called Oscar Espinosa Chepe, some of us at the Foreign Ministry remember that name. This gentleman received, between January of 2002 and January of 2003, in one year, according to the receipts and bills, 7154 dollars. I imagine that this is more than what almost all of the serious journalists who are here and who work hard for their money, receive, that is 7154 USD. In his house, he had hidden in the lining of a suit –who knows why, it was money well earned, and in Cuba there is no prohibition against possession of hard currency, you can put it in a bank and earn interest on it– 13,660 USD, his savings, in addition to the 7000 USD in a year. He has not worked for approximately ten years. Where did he get this money from for submitting what he was told to publish?


He got the money from Cubanet. Cubanet, as I already said, received 343,000 USD in 2001 and over 800,000 USD in 2002 for this purpose.


Now, here is something really interesting. It is the record of the money received by Oscar Manuel Espinosa Chepe, and the dates, January 14, 165 USD; February 15, 220 USD; March 14, 140 USD; July 23, 1,750 USD; August 22, 1,996 USD; September 16, 1,923 USD. It is a record of all the payments he received.


Héctor Palacios had almost 5,000 USD in his house. Anyone can have dollars, who knows why he had the money hidden in a medicine bottle. If it was money honestly earned, he had no reason to hide it.


I should say that in the work carried out prior to these trials, tens of thousands of dollars were seized, but strangely enough, only 1,200 Cuban pesos. Almost all of these people are unemployed, they do not work in Cuba, they do not have jobs, they live off of this, off of "fighting for freedom and democracy."


As you can see, all of the accounting in the "struggle for democracy in Cuba" is in dollars, 1,200 Cuban pesos was all that was found in the homes of all these people, out of everything they could have had. I believe I have to say this, and I try to contain myself and not lose my patience, you can understand, and our people understand, how irritating it is to know that there are people who receive money and live off of this, in the service of a foreign power that attacks their people, while in Cuba there are tens of thousands of doctors and hundreds of thousands of professors who work in the greatest austerity to bring well-being to the people, to serve the people, to guarantee their basic human rights, which are not guaranteed for millions of people in the world today. To guarantee them the right to healthcare, which is denied to 40 million U.S. citizens who do not have the right to healthcare guaranteed, to guarantee them the right to education, which is denied to almost 900 million people in the world who cannot read and write. And then see these people "fighting for democracy" is really something that...


Now I would like for us to take a look at the testimony that was voluntarily given at the trial by Mr. Osvaldo Alfonso, whose name has also been heard these last few days, over and over again.


(A video is shown)

Presiding Judge.- The law grants you the right to testify or to abstain from doing so. Do you wish to testify?

Osvaldo Alfonso Valdés.- Yes, I do.

Presiding Judge.- Do you wish to express yourself freely?

Osvaldo Alfonso Valdés.- Yes.

Presiding Judge.- Go ahead.

Osvaldo Alfonso Valdés.- Can I read my declaration?

Presiding Judge.- Yes.

Osvaldo Alfonso Valdés.- I, Osvaldo Alfonso Valdés, recognize that in our opposition work we may have been used by officials from the U.S. Interests Section, which means that in our intent to undertake a peaceful struggle, we have responded in one way or another to the interests of the United States.

We know that the resources we receive for our work come from funds approved by the government of that country. I recall an occasion, a meeting with an official from USAID, in his office, when he had come to verify if the resources from the office reached us. At that time a number of alternative routes were being studied for getting these resources to us, some were in agreement, others were not, because it would mean obviously demonstrating that we were supported by the Interests Section, something we denied. Some proposed that the money be sent through representatives abroad, so as not to demonstrate the direct link between the U.S. government and the opposition. He asked us about what we were going to do for the Ibero-American Summit, if any document was going to be sent. The need for unity in internal dissidence was also addressed.

On that occasion it was recommended that it was important for us to meet with people from former socialist countries, like Poland, Czechoslovakia and others, since they have experiences that could be very useful to us in the fight against the socialist regime currently in power in Cuba.

Participating in this meeting, on behalf of the Interests Section, was Mrs. Vicky Huddleston, the visitor, whose last name I do not remember very well, I think it might have been Muller; and on behalf of Cuba, among others, Mr. Jesús Llanes Pelletier, who has since passed away.

I recognize that I have received funds and material aid from organizations based in Miami, and that these resources come from the government of the United States, as a result of which, to some extent, we have been serving those interests."

Felipe Pérez Roque.- This is the declaration he made when they said to him at the end, "You have the right to testify or not, do you want to do it?" "Yes. Can I read?" "Yes." This is what he said.


Here is a receipt for money delivered to this gentleman (he shows it).


"This is to confirm the delivery to Mr. Osvaldo Alfonso, member of the Todos Unidos rapporteur commission, of 400 USD, which was sent to him as humanitarian aid by the brothers of Cuban Democratic Action," an organization in Miami, which in 2002 received 400,000 USD from the United States Agency for International Development.


Here is something else interesting.


It is a letter sent by Carlos Alberto Montaner. (He reads out)

"Dear Osvaldo:", he says, "Here you have 200 USD." –January 26, 2001– "Unfortunately there is not much to say, except for what we all know, that the regime is becoming tougher and everyone’s horizon is the death of Fidel. Then, we’ll see. It’s all very sad, but that’s the way things are. Sincerely, Carlos Alberto Montaner."

Well then, that was January 26, 2001: 200 USD.


March 22, two months later: "Dear Osvaldo, a friend you know has been kind enough to get these 30,000 pesetas to you." The euro was still not the official currency, I suppose. "Very soon you will receive a call from some high-level Spanish friends to talk about the Varela Project. I recommended five names to found this new idea: Payá, Alfonso, Arcos, Raúl Rivero and Tania Quintero."

I am going to repeat it: "Very soon you will receive a call from some high-level Spanish friends to talk about the Varela Project," March 22, 2001. "I recommended five names: Payá, Alfonso, Arcos, Raúl Rivero and Tania Quintero. I’m sending you my best wishes and a copy of Encuentro magazine. Carlos Alberto Montaner."

Two days later, March 24, 2001: "Dear Osvaldo, a common friend has been kind enough to bring you these 200 USD" –that is, two days after the 30,000 pesetas, there might be cash flow problems, you know how these things are sometimes– "and a personal message that Raúl will give to you. Call me in Spain when you get this note. Sincerely, Carlos Alberto Montaner." This is an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency, publicly recognized and confessed, in Miami and in Cuba, and in Madrid by those that know him well.


This is the story behind the financing. I said that they create them, I said that they direct them, I said that they finance them, and I say that they stimulate and protect them.


Now I’m going to read this bizarre letter, it’s something really quite astonishing. We found out about it first through a television report from Miami. It turns out that Luis Zúñiga, a terrorist and a member of the military branch of the Cuban-American National Foundation, involved in the financing of the bombs planted in the hotels in Havana, linked to the plots to assassinate President Fidel Castro, this gentleman, who has been the representative of the Miami-based groups at the Commission on Human Rights over these last years, pulls out and reads a letter to the press in Miami. Take a look at how Channel 51 in Miami reports it:

"Despite being in the midst of a war" –this was on March 27, 2003– "President Bush has sent a strong backing in the form of a letter to a well-known opposition leader imprisoned in Cuba, which demonstrates that the White House has not forgotten the dissidents. Juan Manuel Cao says that this has not been the only sign from President Bush".

I think this coincided with his visit to the South Command and, well, just imagine, with all the mob gathered there, he had to do something with them.


Juan Manuel Cao says, "A bell of hope has rung out for dissidents in Cuba. The president of the United States, George Bush, has made a stop on the road to Baghdad and written a letter of solidarity with Cuban prisoner Oscar Elías Biscet," something truly moving.


Then Luis Zúñiga takes over, reading an excerpt that says: "...Your effort and your example are the incarnation of democratic values, including self-determination..." President Bush talking about democracy, self-determination; Kafka pales in comparison. Our curiosity led us to seek out the full text of the letter, which is right here (he shows it).


Letter dated March 26: "Dear Dr. Biscet." Signed: "The President of the United States, George Bush.


"Congratulations for the recognition you have received from the International Republican Institute," the one that we saw had received 1,600,000 USD for the year 2002, the one that creates awards with this money by arranging prizes in Europe and trips to receive the recognition.


"Congratulations for the recognition you have received from the International Republican Institute with the prize awarded by them, the popular democracy prize. Your effort and your example are the incarnation of democratic values, including self-determination (...) Laura and I continue praying for you... Sincerely, George Bush."


I have never seen a letter from President Bush congratulating, for example, Dr. Concepción Campa, also known as Conchita, the head researcher and leader of the team that created the Cuban vaccine against meningococcal meningitis, the only one of its kind in the world, thanks to which not a single child has died of this disease in Cuba in years and of which millions of doses are used around the world, and who has earned an international prize from the World Intellectual Property Organization, the most prestigious organization in this field. Has anyone seen a letter from President Bush congratulating Conchita? I have not seen one.


I have not seen a letter from President Bush congratulating any of the Cuban athletes who have become world champions or Olympic champions and have now reached the time for retirement. Instead, I have seen how they denied visas to our national wrestling team, keeping them from participating in the World Championship held in the United States, after two years of training for this competition.


So, I am rather taken aback by this letter that President Bush wrote to that Cuban, while he has never written to any scientists, writers, journalists, outstanding Cubans, men and women of the arts, the sciences, culture, and production I have never seen it. I did not see him write to Comrade Lazo to congratulate him on the eradication of the Aedes aegypti mosquito here in the City of Havana, which guarantees the good health of all of the inhabitants of the capital, just like the rest of the country.


So I am bound to have my suspicions when I see a letter from Mr. Bush to Mr. Oscar Elías Biscet, at the moment when Mr. Bush went to Miami to soothe public opinion after the events of the war in Iraq were unleashed.


Here we have another example, the Revista de Cuba (he shows it), a publication of the Manuel Márquez Sterling journalists society, the December 2002 edition. Can anyone guess where this magazine was published? I will give you a hint, it was not at the Foreign Ministry (laughter). Where could they have printed the Revista de Cuba magazine of the Márquez Sterling journalists society? You are getting closer. Yes, at the United States Interests Section in Havana! That is how they do it, each edition is printed there. In other words, the Interests Section is like the press, you could say, like the publishing house for the magazine put out by the "independent Cuban journalists".


That is why when they try to say that these are non-governmental organizations, I always clarify that they are governmental since they belong to the government of the United States and act in its service.


Well, we also have here a copy of El Disidente magazine, this is another case. The Interests Section distributes it. In this case the Interests Section distributes it, but it does not print it; it is printed in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, the magazine received 60,000 USD from the United States government for its publication, and then they send it here in the diplomatic pouch, and the Interests Section distributes this magazine, which is called El Disidente, La carta de Cuba, and other pamphlets. They distribute all of it.


Well, I think I have provided you with some interesting information. Finally, I think these two testimonies that we are going to show now will be of great interest to you. We will watch them now, they are rather short.

Prosecutor.- Tell us your name, where you live, and what you do.

Néstor Baguer.- With pleasure.

My name is Néstor Baguer Sánchez Galarraga. I live in Centro Habana. I am a journalist by profession; but in addition, since 1960, I have worked for the state security services.

Prosecutor.- What is your name in the state security services?

Néstor Baguer.- Octavio.

Prosecutor.- Octavio. Let’s call him Octavio.

Now, Néstor, would you be so kind as to tell us about the origins of the Independent Press Association, if you have been associated with this kind of activity.

Néstor Baguer.- This was suggested to me by counterrevolutionary individuals, because they needed a journalist, first of all. But I took it on as a job to do for the state security services, so that, instead of falling into the hands of those who were going to do a lot of harm, I could try to minimize this harm.

Prosecutor.- And it helped you to receive information, and led people to come to you who were interested in giving information to the enemy?

Néstor Baguer.- Precisely.

Prosecutor.- How did it work? How is this kind of information passed abroad?

Néstor Baguer - A first point: the people who first got me involved were the US Interests Section. I didn't know anyone there and one of them called me, invited me to go and talk to them and showed great interest; they said they'd support me in every way so I could get the job done. Right after that, the journalists arrived. Well I say journalists, but of the 30 or 40 who turned up, only two were actually journalists. I was one and there was one other; of the rest, no-one. Because I can tell you that of the 100 and more people who call themselves independent journalists, there are no more than five or six professionals. The rest are mercenaries paid to slander, because they tell lies, insult, show disrespect for our head of state and our government. They're not journalists, they're information terrorists.

Prosecutor - When they cook up this information, who do they send it to?

Néstor Baguer - They send it to me, and then I - as I've got the phone connections, direct lines - I used to talk directly to Radio Martí; but then they come from the US, Cuban counter-revolutionaries who set up agencies to help those of us here in Cuba.

Prosecutor - What sort of agencies are these? Do you remember the names of any of these agencies?

Néstor Baguer - Certainly. There was CUBANET, CubaPress - they started springing up like mushrooms.

Prosecutor – Néstor you used the word "mercenaries".

Néstor Baguer - Yes.

Prosecutor - Meaning that someone was paying them.

Néstor Baguer - Of course.

Prosecutor - How were these payments made?

Néstor Baguer - I'll explain it to you. They - the US administration - hand over millions: I've got the figures and I can prove it. For instance, CUBANET gets about 2 or 3 million dollars for those working for them. For instance, my agency worked for CUBANET.

Prosecutor - What means did they use to send the money?

Néstor Baguer - For instance, the majority use Transcard. There are some, when the amount involved is a rather large, which they send by mail, they call them couriers. The embassy hands out a lot of things - presents, you know, lots of parties, lots of little attentions - plastic bags arrive with pocket radios tuned to Radio Martí, with tape recorders, cameras. Basically everything you need for your work. You go there on the days when they're receiving visitors and they give you a party, then they show you into a room with hundreds of carrier bags full of all these presents so you can choose what you want - not just one or two, you can take whatever you want. And what happens? Some people take eight or ten of the bags because these little radios are special, they're very good radios, and they sell them for $20 each. They keep one and sell the rest. The same thing with the cassette players: to have a tape recorder today is a good business, because then they sell it straight away.

Prosecutor - Now when you go to the US Interests Section, do they give you some sort of indication of what you should be doing here?

Néstor Baguer - They tell you what subjects to deal with. "You should write about this, you should write about the food shortage, about the blackouts, about the transport situation, the lack of medicines, the treatment in the hospitals, the treatment in the prisons". In other words, they tell you what subjects they're interested in -not what Cuba's interested in, but what they want published abroad.

Prosecutor - Which officials in the US Interests Section did you mainly have contact with?

Néstor Baguer - It's always with the head of the Press and Propaganda section; the head and his Number Two. They're the ones who deal with such matters.

Prosecutor - As far as the money they pay you is concerned, as you were saying a few minutes ago. When it has come by different routes, are there discrepancies between the different members of the group because of losses, disappearances, share-outs of the money?

Néstor Baguer - Not just discrepancies. There have been thefts, they steal from each other. There are journalists who've worked six months without getting a penny, then when they look into it, it turns out the money was sent to Cuba by the agency, but because it's almost always addressed to the leader of the group, he takes it for himself. There was a case just recently, someone kept six months' money sent for all the journalists.

Prosecutor - Which case was that?

Néstor Baguer - A self-styled journalist called Jorge Olivera. He kept the money sent for the people working for him over a period of six months.

Prosecutor - Nestor, if you can, we would like you to tell us who are the main officials at the US Interests Section who you've dealt with during these activities.

Néstor Baguer - Yes. The first was Kozack, then Vicky and then Cason, the one who's there now. And then, naturally, with the people in Press and Propaganda. They've put Gallegos there now; before, there were several, Beagle for example. Dozens of them, because the turnover there is pretty fast. So I've dealt with quite a few, including women - one called Mary who was married to an Argentinean and spoke perfect Spanish. In other words, I've had dealings with all the people who've passed through that Section.

Prosecutor - And to get access to the section, how did you ...?

Néstor Baguer - You have to ask for a pass. They give you a pass for a set day and time. But mine is a special one, they call it an open pass. That means I can go there any day, any time.

Prosecutor - What are the main activities these officials arrange with you, that they get involved in? Or rather, what are the various kinds of activity they arrange with journalists like yourself?

Néstor Baguer - Whenever there's an event attended by Cubans, they all come. They all come and bring their wives. Because what they want is to talk to as many Cubans as possible, to see who they can get on board. "Listen, what about the prices in the shops, at the market? Are there shortages or what?"

Prosecutor - When you go to the section office, do you get the chance to do any kind of journalistic work there, or get access to information?

Néstor Baguer - Well, there's the Internet Room, full of computers, and you can use them. For example, I can use them without having to book a slot. That's what the Cuban journalists have to do; they give them a two-hour slot on a specific day.

Prosecutor - This room you've told us about, do you have the possibility of taking any publications from there?

Néstor Baguer - They always send me the publications; they send them to my home. All the publications that arrive there - newspapers, magazines - they send them to my home.

Prosecutor - Were you there at an event on March 14?

Néstor Baguer - Yes

Prosecutor - What was the aim of that event, and where was it held exactly?

Néstor Baguer - It was in the dining room at Mr. Cason's residence - in his home, that is. Then it split up; we were split into three groups: one, the journalism ethics group, was chaired by me; another dealt with contacts and relations with the foreign press; the third also discussed the subjects to be worked on and those questions.

I got the ethics group at the request of the Americans themselves; but you can image, I ... France Press was there, Spanish TV was there, so was German TV. There were about five of these channels (Laughter).

Prosecutor - Can you tell us anything about Raúl Rivero and his involvement in activities of this kind?

Néstor Baguer - He's an alcoholic, and alcoholism has pushed him over the edge. He made a scene at UPEC and at UNEAC, shouting obscenities, and got himself banned from everywhere. So he went to pieces, and started sending poems and stuff abroad to earn a living. And then when he saw that journalism had changed, was deceitful, but made money, he got onto his old comrades in UNEAC and UPEC in exile, because they were all traitors, and used his friendship with them to get somewhere to write. So these people got in touch with the American journalists and got him work with the Miami Herald, which is the most conservative paper in South Florida and, of course, paid very well.

Later, they put him in touch with the US press association, which all the American press barons belong to - it's called the InterAmerican Press Association (IAPA/SIP) - and with their influence and that of the Miami mafia they managed to get Raúl appointed Caribbean Vice-President of the Association, of course getting the salary of a vice-president of an American concern.

Prosecutor - Do they pay Raúl for the information he offers?

Néstor Baguer - Of course. And very well-paid he is.

Prosecutor - How does that work?

Néstor Baguer - They pay him in the US, the money goes to his daughter who lives in the United States.

Prosecutor - What can you tell us about Ricardo?

[1st Part - 2nd Part - 3rd part - 4th part]


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     Revisado: lunes, 14 de abril de 2003