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 (The end)

Néstor Baguer - Ricardo latched onto Raúl, because Ricardo is no journalist nor anything like one. He latched onto Raúl. Raúl's situation was that he was separated from all his friends. Who were his friends? The UPEC journalists and the UNEAC writers. So he was without friends. The only friend he had left was me, if you follow, and as we didn't think the same way - we didn't quarrel, but we didn't think the same way - months would go by without seeing each other - so he turned to this one who practically pushed him aside. Then he offered his house in Miramar to set up an editing center there with everything - I mean all the electronic equipment and he's got three salaried staff working there; so just about everything you need, and he handed it over to Raúl. Then Raúl set up the Márquez Sterling company with himself in charge; I mean, he's the one who runs things, while the other one is just a figurehead, there just for the sake of image.

Prosecutor - The other one is Ricardo, yes?

Néstor Baguer - The other one is Ricardo. He's the figurehead, the frontman, but he's nobody, he's nobody.

Prosecutor - Does Ricardo have any connections with the US administration, with the Interests Section?

Néstor Baguer - Yes, of course. He's the chairman of Márquez Sterling, that's where the connection is.

Prosecutor - And with some elements based in Miami? Does either of them have connections there?

Néstor Baguer - Well, Raúl does. As far as Ricardo's concerned, I don't know, because I don't know much about his background. I met him for the first time four or five months ago. Raúl yes, all the poets who've left, all the writers who've left, they're all friends of his, all of them, because they were buddies at UNEAC for years and years; drinking companions, went out on the binge together and that sort of thing. They're close fiends, he has lots. All the Cuban poets in exile, all of them are friends of Raúl.

Prosecutor - Do you know who Frank Calzón is?

Néstor Baguer - Yes, of course.

Prosecutor - Did either of these men have dealings with Frank Calzón, that you know of?

Néstor Baguer - Both Ricardo and the Fat Man (I mean Raúl), because Frank Calzón knows all of us. Since he left the agency, I've had no further contact with him. I've got his phone number and all that, but I've never had the need ...

Prosecutor - What can you tell us about Frank Calzón?

Néstor Baguer - Well, in the first place he's not a journalist. He's an old-CIA agent; he has worked for the CIA for years.

Felipe Pérez - I should clarify that Néstor Baguer, agent Octavio with the Cuban security service since 1960, is chairman of the Cuban Independent Press Association. They are two institutions, the one chaired by Raúl Rivero and the other by him. As you can see, he has a great deal of experience in this field.


Now let's turn to the subject of the advocates of human rights.

Prosecutor - Do you belong to any of these groups that profess concern with human rights?

Odilia Collazo - Yes

Prosecutor - Which one?

Odilia Collazo - The Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba

Prosecutor - What's your role there?

Odilia Collazo - Well, until now I'm President of the Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba.

Prosecutor - Have you visited the Interests Section?

Odilia Collazo - Yes. I go to the Interests Section to deliver reports on human rights violations and other reports.

Prosecutor - And these people here, do they go to the Interests Section for the same purpose, to deliver reports on alleged violations of human rights?

Odilia Collazo - Well, they may deliver allegations of human rights violations, but they may also talk about economic, political and social problems.

Prosecutor - Do you have unrestricted access to the Interests Section, or is it controlled?

Odilia Collazo - No, I have free access to the Interests Section, because my pass isn't just for this year. I've had an open pass since 1991.

Prosecutor - Are there other facilities for keeping in touch with the Interests Section?

Odilia Collazo - Well, yes. We have their phone numbers - the extension numbers, cellphone numbers and their home numbers.

Prosecutor - And is this exclusive to you, or do the rest of the defendants here have access to such information?

Odilia Collazo - Well, as far as I know, Héctor Palacios has it. I don't know whether the others do.

Prosecutor - Do you have the opportunity to photocopy documents, to print out documents?

Odilia Collazo - Yes. There are printers there, there are faxes, there are computers. Being able to use the equipment is extremely useful for our work.

Prosecutor - And on these visits, do they give you specific assignments?

Odilia Collazo - Well, yes. My specific assignments; everyone has their specialization. I focus on human rights violations, and I was able to get hold of the report, the results of all those years; those reports were going to the State Department, to Geneva, to Amnesty International, Americas Watch and other organizations. Which was to motivate me, of course: I could see the results, that the work I'd done was recognized in these reports, precisely so that Cuba would be censured in Geneva.

Prosecutor - Assignments, direction; were there other information requirements that were asked for in the Interests Section?

Odilia Collazo - Yes, they were always monitoring the Cuban situation, what things were like for the population at that time. It was like a barometer of the situation. They wanted to see if there could be a social outburst here.

Prosecutor - As regards to the officials at the Interests Section, given the length of time you were engaged in these illicit activities, did you witness any change between the time Vicky Huddleston was in charge and her successor, Mr. James Cason?

Odilia Collazo - Well yes, the change was obvious to everyone. Vicky and her predecessors, like Mr. Sullivan himself and Kozack - I had good relations with Michael Kozack too - never offered us their houses, or the Interest Section, or their residence to hold our meetings. When James Cason came, I had the opportunity with other people present here to attend that meeting, and he told us that the doors of his home were open to us to meet there, to debate, to promote civil society in Cuba. I can tell you I never agreed with that.

Prosecutor - All this information you've given us, your experience, your knowledge about the supplies, the constant monitoring by the Interests Section of the activities you and others like you have been carrying on, do you conclude that all these groups of so called human rights advocates are really made up of selfless persons interested in fostering a better future for our country ?

Odilia Collazo: Well, I would like to tell you that during all these years I was very disappointed because I saw that many of the members of the pro human rights parties, not only my own, within the civil society groups, within NATURPAZ groups, for example, dealing with ecological issues, and many other organizations which exist currently were looking for ways to leave the country. A person can be in jail for 12, 20 or 30 years and when he or she gets to the Interest Section, the Refugee Department, if that person does not have the support of an opposition organization which acts as a guarantor telling that his or her behavior has been proper, this person is not accepted into the Refugee Program, and other persons who have never been in jail became members of opposition or dissident organizations with only one purpose: to use them as travel agencies, as an easy way to leave the country. But then they realize that this is nothing but a drawing of lots.

Prosecutor: Do you believe that these persons were –besides their migration motivations-- profit-oriented people?

Odilia Collazo: Well, I know of people who wanted to join us because they realized our living standards were higher. I can show you the newspaper… I have it here… I can show it as testimony evidence, which it was supposed to be distributed among the population, not only for the dissidents, as I said before, to distribute it among the population, and there you could see how the US Interests Section, precisely, was helping the internal opposition groups.

Then, some people who were working and others who were unemployed saw this as a form of escape: "Well, if I join this human rights group, they'll send me money and I'll live more comfortably, I'll have things that other people don't have, I can have more things than a doctor or a teacher or an intellectual," because the standard of living of many of us was completely different at that time than a doctor or an accredited journalist here.

Prosecutor: Witness, Odilia Collazo Valdés, are you really a dissident? Are you only and exclusively the President of the Cuban Party for Human Rights?

Odilia Collazo: Well, I'm really not a dissident. Today, I have the privilege of telling you that I am one of the persons selected by the government of Cuba, by the Interior Ministry; precisely today, I can openly show everyone that I am an agent, Agent Tania (laughter).

Felipe Pérez: What are you laughing at, Anita? (Referring to Anita Snow, Bureau Chief of the U.S. press agency Associated Press). Why are you laughing so?


I think you might help us tell Mr. Cason that he should consider the task that he has undertaken, he should evaluate it; he should know that ten U.S. presidents and 20 CIA directors have come and gone.


He should be advised that no one in Cuba is a fool, that we have only revealed a small part of what we know; he should know that and he must realize that our people have learned to defend themselves and depend on the people because we have, more than anything, the support of the people; because we have the legitimacy that comes out of the transparency of our actions and service to the common well-being. He should know that there are no stupid people here, and that while he got here only a short time ago, he has to consider the task he has undertaken; or we will have to continue organizing his meetings and attending the cocktail parties he throws (laughter).


Finally, as it is apparent, our legitimate decision to defend ourselves, using our laws and our legal institutions, has generated reactions.


We witnessed, first, that on March 26, the White House issued a declaration when President Bush returned to the McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, in which he called on the Cuban government not to exercise its sovereignty; a hasty declaration that can only be understood as an evident gesture by President Bush toward the right-wing Cuban-American mafia in Miami, who were there in Tampa helping him to explain the war that no one understands and, apparently, made this gesture to respond to the wishes of the extreme right-wing Cuban-American community in Miami, issuing this declaration.


Later, the deputy spokesman of the State Department, Mr. Phillip Reecker, distributed a written statement describing the measures, the arrests made in Cuba, where it says, for example: "The United States calls on the international community to join with us in condemning this crackdown and to demand the release of these Cuban prisoners of conscience."


Mr. Reecker should know that the international community is really horrified at the war that his government has unleashed without any type of international authorization, against world public opinion, with enormous material damage, the deaths of civilians; and is also horrified by the more than 600 prisoners who are still locked up at the Guantánamo Naval Base, in a juridical limbo, who are not treated as persons and will be presented in secret U.S. military courts. He could include the accused having no access to a defense or documents that have been declared secret information. He must surely know that this is what has shocked the international community, and the more than 2 000 prisoners that are still being held in U.S. jails and not even their names are yet known, despite the many actions that civil society has protested as the creation of a parallel system of justice in the United States, where the accused are considered to be dangerous to national security, and there has been an extraordinary increase in measures of this kind.


Mr. Reecker should know that we are also concerned and that the government of the United States is the least qualified in the world to judge what has happened in Cuba. If there is any government that should be ashamed of saying anything, it is the government of the United States.


The Washington Post, in its December 1, 2002 edition, said that the Administration of President Bush has developed, and I quote: "a parallel legal system to investigate, incarcerate, interrogate, condemn and punish suspects, including U.S. citizens." This has not taken place in Cuba, and we haven't issued a decree creating special military tribunals, which are secret and summary. We don’t have such courts here.


"The procedures include indefinite military detention, authorized by the President. Authorization to record communications and forced entry into installations. Trials carried out by military commissions and deportation orders following secret hearings." This is The Washington Post.


An editorial in the December 27, 2002 edition of The Washington Post expresses opposition to the CIA "using torture and violence in their interrogations," and suggests that "these new tactics in the war against terrorism are being developed secretly."


It wasn't by chance that the United States was excluded from the Human Rights Commission, to which it was only able to return, as I have already said, with the help of Italy and Spain, who withdrew their candidacy so that the United States could come back without having to take it to a vote.


Mr. Reecker should know that it was made known around the world on April 6, 2003, that there were more than two million prisoners in the United States as of the end of June 2002; the first time in history that the United States reached this figure. I think there are major concerns and issues in the U.S. that need to be addressed, that should concern, really, the deputy spokesman of the State Department, before judging the actions that we have taken in self-defense.


Here is a cable about Mr. Cason in Miami. Mr. Cason, it seems, divides his time between Havana and Miami. He was in Miami yesterday. When asked his opinion about the accusations by Cuban authorities, that he is dedicated to conspiracies in Cuba, this cable from the France Press News Agency reports he responded: "Mentira!" "A Lie!" which he, Cason, said in Spanish.


Mr. Cason surely must know the fable of Pinocchio, that "when you tell a lie, your nose grows."


He also said, and this is very interesting, he said: "the arrests and indictments were coldly calculated to take place while the world's attention was concentrated somewhere else." One can't be sure what he was referring to when he used the discreet phrase "somewhere else;" apparently he didn't have the courage to say "while the war is going on in Iraq;" which is what he thought, so he avoided it and said: "while the world's attention was concentrated somewhere else," the Cubans have taken advantage of this.


I strongly reject this. I have proven here that the arrests and the decision to apply the Law came about before the war began, before the terrorist actions against planes and Cuban boats began. This has been completely proven here.


On the other hand, there have been statements by the European Union that were certainly missing when five Cubans were unjustly condemned in rigged trials in a Miami courtroom. At that time, the European Union did not express any concern. Nor have we seen the European Union voice any apprehension about the situation that is taking place at the Guantánamo Naval Base. And we also see that they have not been able to maintain unity and express a position against the war on Iraq, which clearly violates international law.


We recall that the European Union reached an understanding with the United States on the application of the Helms-Burton Law, which is what we are fighting and confronting now in Cuba; a text that is really embarrassing. And we know quite well that the European Union has not had the ability to project an independent position towards Cuba, and this explains its lukewarm reaction to the blockade against Cuba; it explains its alliance with the U.S. position against Cuba in Geneva; it explains the fact that they have not been able to put together a European position on Cuba, one that defends international law, that defends the right of our people to independence and sovereignty; that they have not demanded respect for Cuba, which is a country with European ancestry. This is the reality. As a result, I can't be anything but surprised by this.


I find it amazing that the European Union, precisely at this moment, is concerned about Cuba and does not provide an ethical and moral lesson to the world by opposing the violation of international law. The European Union has not said one word about the more than 2,000 prisoners in U.S. jails, whose names have not even been revealed. So, we have every reason to have reservations about the European Union declaration.


It has been said that this situation could make it difficult for Cuba to enter the Cotonú Agreement and that the European Union would now have to re-evaluate...well, some in the European Union, because we don't look at it as a block, the European Union cannot be considered as a block, as we know, it is not a block; there are different tendencies, factions, and there are certain countries whose point of reference is somewhere other than in the European construction.


There has been talk and speculation that, well, "this will put Cuba’s entry into the Cotonú Agreement in jeopardy and that this will, therefore, force us to maintain the Common Position". On this point we should recall that Cuba once withdrew its request to join the Cotonú Agreement and that if it has to do so again, it will.


Our country cannot be blackmailed or pressured. Our country has resisted the blockade of the world’s leading super power and has not bbent down, so there is no reason why it should bend now to the pressures of another international player.


Remember, too, that Cuba did not apply for admission to the Cotonú Agreement thinking either of money or European assistance, but at the request of the Caribbean nations that asked us to join the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of countries, recalling the support we have received from African, Asian and Caribbean nations that are members of the Agreement. Since we were given observer status we have maintained a position of solidarity and responded to their interests, and for this reason we requested admission. But no one should believe that anyone here has lost any sleep, or that we spend our time thinking and trying to find out how people over there view us, rather than look at the weather reports.


Taking all things into account and keeping our countenance we can assure you from now that our position is clear and firm. Although others might not defend their sovereignty, we do as it has cost us dearly. We know its price and we are not willing to relinquish it.


I also know that there have been statements made by the Spanish Foreign Minister who declared publicly on February 20 in Madrid … (INTERUPTION IN THE TRANSMISSION)…This is probably an action of the US Interests Sextion (laughter).


As I was saying, on February 20 some rather strange statements on Cuba by the Spanish Foreign Minister were published. She referred to the "deep differences we maintain with Cuba" and the "lack of commitment on the part of Cuban authorities to move forward in the democratization of the regime and respect for human rights".


I think that if there is any government in the world that should not be talking about democracy, it’s the Spanish government, which has been supporting a war that is opposed by 91% of Spaniards. Almost all Spaniards are opposed to the war. They elected the government. Presumably, the government should operate based on what the governed think. That’s what we do and that’s why they have not been able to defeat us with blockades and aggressions.


I imagine that I should respond to the Minister expressing our sympathies for yesterday’s deaths in Baghdad of two Spanish journalists. We regret what has occurred and wish to extend our sympathies to the Minister, the Spanish government, and the people of Spain for the death of these two journalists in a war the Spanish government has unconditionally supported.


Well, I had my doubts about whether to comment on the statements by the Spanish Minister of Education, Culture, and Sports, Mrs. Pilar del Castillo. She said that "most Cuban intellectuals are in prison". Let me see when she said this, it was April 6. She said that we "have taken advantage of the war to turn the screws on intellectuals". I haven’t heard that the Cuban Writers and Artists Union has complained about our "turning the screws" on them here, in fact, quite the opposite is true, and these are the "people tied to the world of culture". The Minister should know that we have acted against people tied to the U.S. Interests Section and the U.S. special services, and not to culture.


So, we have a hysterical reaction that shows total ignorance of what happens in Cuba. I don’t know, the Spanish Minister of Culture is all of a sudden in the media, and has made strident declarations about Cuba. The reasons behind this are unclear.


I also don’t know if the Minister is aware of the battle that we Cubans have had to wage for more than a century for our independence and human rights, following the talks in Paris in which Spain handed Cuba over to the United States. I don’t know if she is aware of this. I only know that I have seen these strange declarations.


Finally, I would like to comment here on the statement issued by the Director General of UNESCO, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, who says that "the information we have received concerning the arrests is alarming". I don’t know why Mr. Matsuura is particularly alarmed in the case of Cuba when no one has seen him alarmed about the prisoners in Guantánamo, the prisoners in the United States, the excesses of the war in Iraq, the death of children and the civilian population. No one has seen him alarmed and declaring that an aggression and violation of international law have taken place. No one has seen him do so. I don’t know why all of a sudden he’s become alarmed specifically over Cuba. He says that he has received information, that his advisors have explained it to him.


He says that "promoting the free circulation of ideas through words and images are part of UNESCO’s Constitution". We are well aware of this and have defended the exercise of these rights for more than 100 Third World peoples who belong to UNESCO and on whom they are trying to impose a new cultural model eliminating the right to enjoy their native cultures. So we have been waging this battle a long time before Mr. Matsuura arrived on the scene and assumed the post of Director General. It seems to me, speaking of the free circulation of ideas, that this could also hold true for the biased coverage of the war by the international media. This has been a disgraceful spectacle that has moved broad intellectual sectors and public opinion across the world, but about which Mr. Matsuura has not said a word.


He says that "according to information we have received, the accused had no right to a proper legal defense". I don’t know who gave him this information that he says he received. Now that the United States has decided to return to UNESCO, I don’t know if it was the new U.S. representative there, but the effect of their presence is evident.


He says that "we have urgently called on the Cuban authorities to respect…". We urgently ask Mr. Matsuura to attend to his mandate, to deal with the more than 800 million people in the world that don’t know how to read or write and that are an essential part of the work of this specialized UN agency. I am very surprised by the statement although I can imagine his motives and objectives.


So this is what I wanted to, briefly, (laughter) inform you about, although I feel very encouraged to see that you have all maintained great interest. In any event, if there are any questions I am willing to take them.

Moderator: If there are any questions, I would like to ask you to use the microphone, identify yourself, and your media outlet.

Mr. Medem (TVE): My question has to do with the reference you made to Carlos Alberto Montaner’s letter, which, if I recall correctly, was addressed to Osvaldo Alonso in which he mentioned certain ties of high-level Spanish officials in relation to, if I heard correctly, the Varela Project.


I would like to ask if, on the part of the Cuban Government, whether in the course of these trials any information has been discovered that has not been published and that would explain a little what has been the development of the Varela Project and if this is included in the definition of complicity with U.S. aggression against the Revolution, the Government, and the People of Cuba.

Felipe Pérez: Yes, it is included, and yes, we have information that at the right moment we will make public. No, we don’t know anything more of the letter. I think that more could be asked from Mr. Carlos Alberto Montaner who must know the names of the officials who he referred to in the letter that I read.


The Varela Project is part of a strategy of subversion against Cuba that has been conceived, financed, and directed from abroad with the active participation of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. It is part of the same subversive design and has no basis whatsoever in Cuban law. It is a crude manipulation of Cuba’s laws and Constitution. The time will come to delve into this more thoroughly.

Vanesa Bauzá (Sun Sentinel): There have been rumors that it is possible that the Cuban government will offer the exile to some of the people who were tried last week instead of serving their sentences here in Cuba. Could you deny or say something about this?

Felipe Pérez: I indeed deny that the Cuban Government is thinking about this. In addition, there are institutions in Cuba, the courts, that adopt decisions. The government cannot overrule the court decisions. The rule of law is in effect here, Vanesa.

Vanesa Bauzá: We have also heard the President say that Cuba could do without the U.S. Interests Section. Is there a real possibility of closing the U.S. Interests Section or your Interests Section in Washington?

Felipe Pérez: Well, we know that is the hope, the golden dream of those who sustain the blockade and the aggressive policy against Cuba. Perhaps this is also the dream of Mr. Cason, his heroic return, expelled from Cuba.


We know who would celebrate and be overjoyed by such a decision, but in any event closing the Interests Section in Havana and asking Cason to leave the country is a right that we reserve ourselves.

Gerardo Arreola (La Jornada): Minister, the Mexican Foreign Minister Derbez, has also made comments on the trials that you referred to and on Mexico’s possible vote in the Human Rights Commission. Do you have any comment?

Felipe Pérez: Foreign Minister Derbez was with Minister Ana Palacio of Spain in Madrid, and the news agencies reported that he said: "We are undoubtedly concerned over the recent events in that country. The issue was analyzed by the two delegations and will certainly have an impact and will be evaluated by the government before the meeting of the Human Rights Commission."


I think that Foreign Minister Derbez, has tried to offer an advance explanation, in a relatively careful fashion although that does not hide the fact that he is referring to the internal affairs of another country, of what we know will surely be Mexico’s position when the votes are cast at the Human Rights Commission on April 16, which will be a vote in favor of the resolution against Cuba.


We know that this will be the case because we understand that the Mexican government does not have room to do anything different and we think that this declaration somewhat prepares the way for what is for us a "Chronicle of a Vote Foretold" (play on Gabriel Garcia’s book)

Gerardo Arreola: Excuse me, if I could ask Minister if you feel this will affect bilateral relations?

Felipe Pérez: I don’t want to second guess this. I have a lot of things that remain to offer an opinion on. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. This does not mean that I won’t offer an opinion at some point, but for the time being I have said enough.

Fernando Rausberg (BBC): Minister, the day before the trials began, the five Cuban prisoners in the United States were removed from their punishment cells. Did the jailing have any relation with the situation of these five Cubans in the United States? Would it be possible at some point to negotiate?

Felipe Pérez: Such an idea has not even crossed our minds. In Cuba, no one has even thought of the possibility of negotiating the situation of those accused and sentenced in Cuban courts in recent days with the five Cubans unjustly sentenced in the United States. No one here has even thought of this.


It should be noted that there are differences. They are innocent. They were fighting against terrorism. They were judged without due process in a trial that was manipulated, which became a kangaroo trial dominated by groups of the Cuban extreme right. They were denied basic guarantees such as access to their lawyers. It should be noted that they faced a trial following 17 months of imprisonment in punishment cells in which they were not able to prepare their defense. It should also be noted that they were once again jailed (in such cells) to prevent them from participating in their lawyers’ preparation of the appeals to the Atlanta court.


There are deep differences in the motivation and moral quality and the circumstances of the crime charged here with those alleged crimes there, as well as the conditions of the trials. In any event, there is not the slightest idea of doing any such thing.

Moderator: Any other questions? I don’t see any more questions. Minister, we thank you for your presentation.

Felipe Pérez: Thank you for your presence here today. (applause)


Some probatory documents:



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