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30 July 1998 Edition

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Castro clears Clinton

Cuba does not blame current US administration for bombing



By Dara Mac Neil

Cuban President Fidel Castro has accused the US of direct complicity in terrorist attacks against Cuba.

Significantly, however, Castro chose to exempt current US President Bill Clinton from inclusion in this roll of international terror.

``I do not want to make false accusations, we do not blame the current US administration; we sincerely do not believe Mr Clinton to be capable of planning such terrorist actions against another country,'' said the Cuban president.

Castro was speaking on the 45th anniversary of the 26 July assault on the Moncada barracks that signalled the beginning of armed resistance to the regime of Fulgencio Batista.

However, Castro's ``exemption'' of the Clinton administration would not seem to extend to all sections of the US political and military establishment.

Thus, the Cuban president characterised the series of no-warning bombs in Havana last year as but the latest manifestation of US agression against Cuba. The bombs claimed the life of an Italian tourist.

The Cuban leader said last year's bombing campaign against Cuban hotels was directed against tourism and the Cuban economy - ``as if the criminal and cruel blockade against our country were not bad enough''.

Recently, Luis Posada Carriles - a CIA-trained veteran of the US campaign against Cuba - claimed that the bombing campaign had been organised by the late head of the Cuban American National Foundation, Jorge Mas Canosa.

The powerful Cuban American National Foundation has enjoyed close links with successive US administrations, while Jorge Mas Canosa was said to be close to fomer presidents Reagan and Bush.

President Castro asked if it was possible that such a bombing campaign could be organised without the ``complicity, tolerance and support'' of the US authorities.

``Based on the evidence at hand, it is guilty of many crimes and terrorist attacks against our nation,'' he added.

He instanced one of the most notorious of these attacks: the blowing up in October 1976 of a civilian Cuban airliner in Barbados. The attack claimed the lives of 73 civilians, including a junior sports team returning to Cuba following their participation in an international competition.

It is believed that Luis Posada Carriles was centrally involved in the plot to blow up the airliner. And, given Posada Carriles' acknowledged involvement with the CIA in Latin America, strong suspicions about the intelligence agency's role in the atrocity remain.

At a ceremony in Barbados to mark the 26 July attack on Moncada, plans were announced to inaugurate a monument to those killed in the 1976 attack. The monument is to stand as a ``permanent condemnation of international terrorism.''

Meanwhile, representatives of over 70 US organisations opposed to the US blockade are in Cuba to participate in the first ever US Cuba Friendship Conference. Among the participants will be members of the Friendship Caravan which recently arrived in Cuba with over 150 tonnes of humanitarian aid.

The Caravan is organised by the US-based Pastors for Peace who each year collect and bring humitarian aid to Cuba, in direct defiance of the US ban.

The Caravan travels through the US and Mexico to Cuba each year. This year there were two Irish participants, Spanish Civil War veteran Michael O'Riordain and Bernie Dwyer of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.

Financial aid collected by the two Irish particpants was initially seized by US authorities. However, it is now expected the money will be released in the very near future.


Colombian rebels reject US involvement



The Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) has rejected the proposed deployment in Colombia of an international force, organised under the banner of the United Nations.

Pablo Beltran, a senior member of the ELN told a Colombian newspaper that the UN had chosen the wrong option with the deployment of the force.

Beltran claimed that such forces were typically composed of ten soldiers of varying nationalities and ``a thousand US soldiers.''

The ELN has repeatedly rejected any role for the US in resolving the long-running Colombian conflict. The guerrilla group argues that the US does not possess the moral authority to serve as either a mediator or facilitator in conlict resolution in the country.

Earlier this year, following serious reversals suffered by the Colombian army at the hands of the larger FARC guerrilla organisation, newspapers throughout the region were filled with rumours that the US planned a military intervention in Colombia in the guise of an international peace-keeping force.

The United States has been accused of promoting the right-wing death squads in Colombia, courtesy of the training received by Colombian army personnel in the notorious US Military School of the Americas.

The training school has in the past been home to some of the most infamous of Latin America's military commanders. It is known throughout the region as the School of the Coups.


Salinas family blamed for drugs sales



The father and brother of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas were allegedly involved in drug trafficking and money-laundering, according to witness testimony obtained by the US authorites.

Carlos Salinas left Mexcico in disgrace in 1995 and has been a resident of Dublin since 1996. The former president has been accused of corruption, during his term of office.

The witness, Magdalena Ruiz, claims to have worked for the ex-president's family and to have been knowledgeable about their financial affairs. She has claimed that the father and brother of Carlos Salinas maintained contacts with drug baron Amado Carrillo. This occurred while Carlos Salinas occupied the Mexican president's office.

Magdalena Ruiz alleges that the former president's father and brother had built up an extensive drug trafficking and money-laundering operation, in cooperation with some of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels.

The ex-president's brother, Raul Salinas, was cleared recently by Mexican authorities of involvement in money-laundering, ``illegal enrichment'' and complicity in the assassination of a senior member of the ruling PRI party.

The charge of illegal enrichment stemmed from Raul Salinas' role as a government official, while his brother was president.

Nonetheless, the thrifty Raul managed to amass a number of secret Swiss bank accounts containing in excess of $80 million, during his time in office. The bank accounts were opened under false names. Swiss authorities, who believe the secret funds may have resulted from illegal activities, have continued to freeze the bank accounts until the source of the money can be traced.

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