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“Narco-Stalinism” at the End of the Cold War

bush castro

Thug life: Castro snubs Bush I

Two years ago, I wrote a speculative article titled “Have a Cigar”, in which I considered the allegations that Fidel Castro’s Cuba was a hub of the cocaine trade and that it had – allegedly – served in this capacity ever since the revolution. Juan Reinaldo Sánchez, a former Castro bodyguard who was imprisoned and eventually escaped to Mexico and the United States and claims to have become aware of El Líder Máximo’s secret life as a drug kingpin in 1988, suggests that the cocaine trade became more essential to Cuba’s economy as the Cold War era thawed:

If the Yanks were stupid enough to use drugs that came from Colombia, not only was that not his problem – as long as it was not discovered, that is – but, in addition, it served his revolutionary objectives in the sense that it corrupted and destabilized American society. Icing on the cake: It was a means of bringing in cash to finance subversion.

And so, as cocaine trafficking increased in Latin America, the line between guerrilla war and trafficking drugs gradually blurred. What was true in Colombia was just as true in Cuba. For my part, I never managed to accept this twisted reasoning, in absolute contradiction to my revolutionary ethics.

In 1986, when economic aid from Moscow was starting to dry up, Castro founded the MC Department (for moneda covertible, or “covertible currency”), which traded in goods – illegal and legal – for hard currency from third parties, principally Panama.

The MC Department soon acquired another nickname, the “Marijuana and Cocaine Department.”1

I was reminded of this line of inquiry and of my “Have a Cigar” post recently when I came across an article in the July 1992 issue of Soldier of Fortune campily titled “Cuban Cocaine Cabal: Narco-Stalinists Plot to Subvert America”. The author, Mitchell Henderson, is a Tampa police officer who says he was tapped by the DEA to guard an injured Cuban intelligence operative, Elices Rodriguez, who had been apprehended after receiving a shipment of Colombian cocaine in Florida:

Although he was in pretty bad shape, Rodriguez seemed glad to have someone to talk to. He admitted he was a DGI [Dirección General de Inteligencia] agent and claimed he wasn’t just smuggling cocaine into the United States to get money to pay for intelligence operations. The dope was also intended as a weapon used to weaken the moral and social fabric of America.2

 

Among other eyebrow-raising and convoluted claims, Henderson goes on to implicate the Sandinistas and deposed Chilean socialist Salvador Allende in Castro’s cocaine empire:

sof July 1992In May 1983, James H. Michel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, testified before the U.S. Senate that the Cuban communist party presidium and Fidel Castro had decided to use Cuba as a bridge for narcotics smuggling to help the Cuban economy and to “contribute to the deterioration of American society.” At the same hearing, another witness stated that the 1980 Mariel boatlift had been used to ship some 7,000 DGI agents into the United States, and that these in turn were to help drug smugglers inundate America with illegal narcotics. By April 1984, treasury officials in Miami estimated the Cuban government earned $700 million annually from the illegal drug trade.

Furthermore, there is documented evidence of the Cuban drug connection as far back as 1961. A DEA report leaked in 1982 revealed a group including Ché Guevara and Chilean communist leader Salvador Allende met in Havana to set up drug smuggling through Cuba.

While in La Paz, Bolivia, in April 1984, I was told by a prominent individual [citation needed] that Allende used money derived from cocaine smuggling to help finance his 1964 presidential campaign against Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei. Frei won the election, leaving Allende in debt. With the help of the growing cocaine trade, however, Allende amassed enough funds to pay off his debt and to finance his 1970 election win. Once in power, Allende used cocaine trade earnings to purchase arms for communist people’s militias.

In 1973, the Chilean army decided enough was enough and Allende was overthrown. Until Allende’s downfall, most of the cocaine smuggled into the United States was processed in Chilean labs. Pinochet, his successor, put an end to the cocaine processing business in Chile; after 1973 the bulk of cocaine processing and smuggling operations shifted to Colombia.

By 1975, Cuba was already getting a share of the Colombian drug trade. Cuba’s ambassador to Colombia held a meeting in Bogota with all the major traffickers to offer them safe passage through Cuba, for a fee. Part of the fee was to carry arms on their return trips to the M-19 guerrillas, an emerging force of leftist Colombians supported by Castro. The traffickers went for the deal and there was an exponential growth in the drug trade to the United States. Cooperation between the drug lords and Cuba became so flagrant by 1981 that Colombian President Julio Cesar Turbay broke relations with Cuba and kicked the Cuban ambassador and his thugs out. By then, however, the Cuban government had another middleman to take the ousted ambassador’s place – fugitive American swindler Robert Lee Vesco. […]

After Vesco was kicked out of Costa Rica in 1978, he and [Norman] Le Blanc fled to the Bahamas where Vesco also became partners with Colombian drug lord Carlos Lehder Rivas in shipping cocaine into the United States.

castro noriegaVesco eventually moved to Cuba and coordinated Costa Rica’s drug trade from his office in Havana. In 1981, Vesco connected Lehder Rivas with Raul Castro to work out a money-laundering and transshipment deal to use Cuba for funneling drugs to the United States. […]

Vesco and Cuban DGI official Manuel Pineiro also paid the Sandinistas a visit in 1984 to gain their cooperation. What led Vesco and Pineiro to Nicaragua was the unreliability of Panama’s General Manuel Noriega. Noriega was doing deals with both the Medellin Cartel and Castro. […]

For Castro, Noriega allowed Panama to be used as a conduit for guns to the M-19 guerrillas. Of course, Noriega broke deals with both; he busted a cartel cocaine lab in the Darien jungle in May 1984, and earlier he tipped the United States off to a Soviet army brigade stationed in Cuba.

However, Noriega’s raid on the Darien lab was to the advantage of Castro and the Sandinistas. After it was destroyed, the Sandinistas established a large cocaine processing lab south of Managua to take its place. DEA informant Barry Seal reported being contracted by the Medellin cartel to fly cocaine […] from Bolivia to Nicaragua for processing. Once processed, the cocaine would be flown directly to the United States or pass through Cuba, depending on its destination. Seal also documented Sandinista complicity in the drug trade when he photographed Sandinista officials supervising a cocaine shipment at Los Brasiles airfield in Nicaragua.3

“By summer of 1989, Castro decided to follow Noriega’s lead and act like he was cooperating with the anti-drug effort,” Henderson writes. “After all, the Soviets had cut aid drastically and Castro felt that the Soviet empire might collapse altogether. If that happened, Castro wouldn’t have anyone to protect him if he were indicted as a drug trafficker,” he adds, claiming that Castro had a group of reformist generals arrested and executed on drug charges in a cover-up. “In one move, he got rid of the reformers and took the heat off of himself for the trafficking.”4

Cuba and Cocaine

The Soldier of Fortune article followed the lead of a February 1991 Frontline episode, “Cuba and Cocaine”, which pointed to Castro’s government’s complicity in drug transshipment. One of the program’s interviewees was smuggler George Morales, who claimed in Senate subcommittee testimony to have been transporting narcotics through Cuba since the early eighties5. Not mentioned in the Frontline episode is that Morales had in 1988 testified in Senate hearings that he had delivered weapons and funds to the Contras and flown cocaine back to the United States for the CIA6. Another of the figures interviewed for the “Cuba and Cocaine” episode is Rafael del Pino, a Cuban Revolutionary Air and Defense Force general who defected in 1987 and later formed the pro-democracy “Cuban American Military Council” with Erneido Oliva, one of the leaders of the CIA’s predestined-to-failure Bay of Pigs invasion force. This Frontline program was co-produced, co-written, and co-directed by William Cran, who would go on to co-write and co-direct the 1993 Frontline episode “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?”, in which narrator Will Lyman closes the book on the JFK assassination with, “In the end, there is only Oswald.”7

What becomes apparent from all of this is that the Castro-the-nasty-drug-pusher narrative, however much truth it contains, was utilized by CIA-friendly elements of the U.S. media to shift attention away from George H.W. Bush and other key players in the trade who had come under unwelcome scrutiny in the wake of the Iran Contra scandal and the publication of exposés like Peter Dale Scott’s book The Politics of Cocaine: Drugs, Contras and the CIA, which was published in 1990. Soldier of Fortune, which had made its bread and butter from the various hot little theaters of the recently terminated Cold War, was more than willing to endorse the Cuban cocaine narrative, keeping the red menace alive in its readers’ minds by spicing the magazine’s increasingly stale and irrelevant anticommunism with narco intrigue. Henderson, who admits to having been contracted by the Secret Service to augment security for President Bush in Florida8, makes the diversionary motive of his article ham-handedly explicit in his final paragraph:

The whole time Castro was orchestrating a drug plague upon America, the liberal media was covering for him by trying to convince us that the U.S. government, the CIA and the contras were the ones running drugs. The liberal media demanded action against Noriega because they thought his trial would finally implicate the U.S. government. The plan backfired: Noriega’s trial ended up implicating the Castro brothers instead of George Bush.9

As you and your loved ones give thanks this year for the freedom to enjoy a holiday meal unimpeded by narco-Stalinism, be sure to remember George H.W. Bush and American capitalism in your thoughts and prayers.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

Endnotes

  1. Sánchez, Juan Reinaldo. “Inside Fidel Castro’s Double Life as a Drug Kingpin”. New York Post (May 3, 2015): https://nypost.com/2015/05/03/former-bodyguard-unmasks-fidel-castros-corrupt-double-life/
  2. Henderson, Mitchell. “Cuban Cocaine Cabal: Narco-Stalinists Plot to Subvert America”. Soldier of Fortune (July 1992), p. 36.
  3. Ibid., pp. 37-39.
  4. Ibid., pp. 71-72.
  5. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/archive/cubaandcocaine.html
  6. Houston, Paul. “Gave Contras $4 Million, Drug Smuggler Testifies”. Los Angeles Times (April 8, 1988): http://articles.latimes.com/1988-04-08/news/mn-1147_1_drug-smuggler
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsRUboJz8Y8
  8. Henderson, Mitchell. “Cuban Cocaine Cabal: Narco-Stalinists Plot to Subvert America”. Soldier of Fortune (July 1992), p. 36.
  9. Ibid., p. 72.
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About icareviews

Author, Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies

16 comments on ““Narco-Stalinism” at the End of the Cold War

  1. icareviews
    November 17, 2018

    Reblogged this on icareviews.

    Like

  2. bob saffron
    November 18, 2018

    Enjoyable movie, Liman’s American Made, though it didn’t press home the Arkansas point.

    Like

    • icareviews
      November 18, 2018

      Well, they do insert that goofy moment where Bill Clinton makes a call and gets him off the hook. There were three things about the movie that more than anything else stood out as dishonest to me. One is the impression the movie gives that Seal is not smuggling cocaine specifically for the CIA, but rather just happens to do that as a side venture while conducting his arms deliveries. The second is the specious eureka moment at the end in which Iran Contra spontaneously comes into being, totally exonerating Michael Ledeen et al. The third and most obvious problem with the movie, of course, is that they have handsome Tom Cruise playing slob Barry Seal, innately glorifying his misadventures and turning him into a hero.

      Like

  3. Boopedybop
    November 18, 2018

    These Americans messed with the wrong melon farmers.

    *Cocks shotgun*

    Like

  4. Hipster Racist
    November 18, 2018

    “Professional Defector” was a common career on both sides of the Cold War. In the early years of the USSR, there were a number of Westerners who defected to the Soviet Union and were used as examples of how awful capitalism was and how communism was leading humanity to a glorious future. It seems like Lee Harvey Oswald attempted this for a while, likely as part of his “sheep dip” cover.

    In the Christian subculture of the 1980s, there were a number of Soviet “defectors” who did (paid) appearances to churches telling Christians how awful communism was and how religious people were oppressed by the official atheism of the USSR. Sometimes these speaking gigs were complete with tearful confessions of how Jesus rescued them from a life behind the Iron Curtain. They even sold comic books in the Christian bookstores about intrepid preachers smuggling Bibles to East Germany and a famous film strip about a Christian family that escaped over the Berlin wall in a hot air balloon.

    There’s a promoted video on youtube of a Soviet defector in the 80s that became a professional speaker telling conservatives how they were right about everything and that 1980s “liberal Democrats” were all receiving their marching orders from Moscow, purposefully trying to “demoralize Americans” by political correctness and the welfare state. I seem to remember as a child being told that catalytic converters in cars were a conspiracy by communist homosexuals to discredit capitalism under the guise of “environmentalism.” (The homosexual angle should be obvious, because all heterosexual men are manly enough to handle toxic gas fumes and also because unleaded gasoline is for nancy-boys.)

    So it wouldn’t surprise me that at the height of the drug war a Cuban “defector” would make the rounds doing paid speaking gigs telling Reagan voters that the Commies were behind the cocaine epidemic of the 80s. I’m sure the CIA’s George H. W. Bush officially endorsed this theory. In fact, wasn’t this a regular plot line in Miami Vice episodes?

    Who knows, it may have even been somewhat true.

    Liked by 1 person

    • icareviews
      November 19, 2018

      The weirdest thing about Soldier of Fortune’s “Cuban Cocaine Cabal” article is that the author, Mitchell Henderson, actually comes across as a highly suspicious individual and inadvertently offers an indirect link between Bush and the cocaine trade, which would seem to fly in the face of his purpose. This Tampa police officer, who also just happens to have worked for the Secret Service and the DEA, claims to have personally known some of the figures connected to the Cuban transshipment business:

      “I had some personal experience with Vesco’s tangled business dealings. During the summer of 1989, a hotel and real estate company owner named Loren Pogue from Golfito, Costa Rica, asked me if I would run his businesses for about six months so he could take a vacation in the States.

      “Just after I started to work for Pogue, he was convicted of attempting to murder several squatters on some Pacific Coast property near the Panamanian border. Pogue had been helping the owner, Danny Fowlie, sell his properties because Fowlie was stuck in a Mexican prison awaiting extradition to the United States for drug trafficking. Fowlie wanted to sell his property before the Costa Rican government confiscated it under their narco-trafficking laws.” (p.38)

      So some Central American drug trafficker’s real estate agent hired some Tampa police officer to “run his businesses” and this gangster-connected cop just happens to also be on call for the Secret Service and DEA in Florida? It’s a small world, after all! Soldier of Fortune’s readership was probably just expected to automatically assume that Henderson was an upright individual because 1. he was a cop and 2. he was writing for Soldier of Fortune.

      Like

    • guest
      November 20, 2018

      It’s still a good watch, Yuri Bezmenov on subversion:

      Like

      • icareviews
        November 20, 2018

        Just substitute cultural Marxism for communism and it might still sound relevant.

        Like

  5. Pingback: “Narco-Stalinism” at the End of the Cold War | Hipster Racist

  6. james
    November 19, 2018

    Cheers.

    Like

  7. Apollonius
    November 23, 2018

    ICAreviews, do you have any information on the CIA drug trafficking connections to the Lebanese Civil War? I have heard bits and pieces about this, but I honestly never quite figured that particular event out. Peter Dale Scott does mention this somewhere.

    If I recall, it is significant for being a kind of early test run for the Gladio B style ISIS and AL-Qaeda psyops. This would have been before the invasion of Afghanistan and the “official” beginning of Osama Bin Laden’s career as jihadist.

    Like

    • icareviews
      November 23, 2018

      No, I know nothing about that. I’ve only skimmed Scott’s voluminous body of work.

      Like

    • Apollonius
      November 24, 2018

      Oh well.

      If you do come across any good information, I think it would definitely make for an interesting article. As I said, I have had some difficulty getting a full picture of those events from a more “truther-oriented” perspective. I would be very curious to know what really happened.

      Like

  8. soren schopenhauer
    December 2, 2018

    My Name is Mitchell Henderson, there was not a single sentence in my Article “Cuban Cocaine Cabal” that Soldier of Fortune Magazine did not make me provide documented evidence for. Only a Convoluted reading would lead someone to assume that I worked for the DEA or Secret Service. I was a Vice Cop in Tampa in the Early 80’s and after a big bust the DEA would hire Cops that they knew to work as an “Off Duty” Job to guard their Prisoners in the Hospital. They knew me because I was in “Vice.” It was a Similar situation with the Secret Service, they wanted Street Smart Cops to work with them when they come to a City and have to protect a Principal. Vice has the Cops that are the most Street Smart. In this case I was working WITH the Secret Service, but not FOR them, that work was paid for by the Tampa Police Department. It was a part of my regular job.
    The Fact that I was on the Protection Detail For then Vice-President George Bush had no connection with my work in Latin America.
    I also was on the Protection details of Ronald Reagan, Walter Mondale, Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson. Does that mean that they had an involvement in shipping Cocaine to the United States? That is a pretty loose connection. I have also met Elvis Presley- does that connect him to Drug Trafficking?
    I do not know personally of any connections between Bush or Clinton and Cocaine Smuggling into the United States. What I know comes from the same conspiracy theory publications that were prevalent at the time. I cannot say for certain that Bush was or was not involved. I am not a witness to that, nor to the Clintons Involvement in the same. The Proof that I can offer that I have no first hand knowledge is the fact that I am still alive. Seems like those with firsthand information had bad accidents or were “Arkancided.”
    The “Campy” title was Soldier of Fortune’s Idea.
    Soldier of Fortune had some Journalistic integrity. They fact checked. One of the Editors LTC Alex Coll even made me call him from El Salvador to make sure that I was not Full of Bullshit.
    I am an admitted Cold Warrior and Anti-Communist. I detest Cultural Marxism. I was in the Army- Active, Reserves or National Guard from 1971 to 1999. I held a Top Secret Clearance. Do they just pass out Top Secret Clearances to “Highly Suspicious Individuals?” I think not.
    What I was doing in Latin America was in the January 1992 Issue of Soldier of Fortune Magazine. An Article called “Undercover in Colombia” which told of my work with US Customs (Not the DEA) to infiltrate the Cali Cartel. That was a successful Infiltration and the Cali Cartel is gone. I met personally with Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, Cali Cartel Boss and Colombia put him in Prison based on my Work. He is now in a US Prison.

    Like

    • icareviews
      December 3, 2018

      Guess we’ll have to take your word for it!

      Like

      • soren schopenhauer
        December 4, 2018

        Not a bad idea since I am the one who was there.

        Like

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