| 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
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
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
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
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
"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
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.-
Presiding Judge.- Go
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
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
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
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,
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
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
Prosecutor.- What is
your name in the state security services?
Néstor Baguer.- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Néstor Baguer - They
pay him in the US, the money goes to his daughter who lives in the
Prosecutor - What can
you tell us about Ricardo?
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