The most recent evidence for Cuba's involvement in drug trafficking came in three indictments handed down between October 1987 and March 1988 by the aforementioned grand jury in Miami. All three indictments involved the connections between drug rings and Cuban officials in the routine use of Cuban ports for trans-shipment of Colombian cocaine destined for the United States. In one case the prosecutor played a tape-recording of a defendant stating that `the money went in Fidel's drawer.' The indictments implicated Noriega in drug-trafficking with the Medellin Cartel in Colombia, Fidel Castro in Cuba and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.
There is abundant evidence as well that the Castro regime lost little time after the consolidation of the Sandinista regime in Managua to harness its Nicaraguan allies to the narcotics operations. Antonio Farach, a former minister in the post-revolution Nicaraguan Government, testified that he first learned of Nicaragua's involvement in drug-trafficking to the United States on the occasion of a visit by Raul Castro to Managua in 1981. According to Farach, a purpose of the Cuban Defense Minister's visit was to establish a narcotics infrastructure `for the Nicaraguan Revolution' with Cuba's help. When he questioned this, Farach was told by Nicaraguan officials of two moral and political justifications for their state-sponsored drug-trafficking:
In the first place, drugs did not remain in Nicaragua; the drugs were destined for the United States. Our youth would not be harmed, but rather the youth of our enemies. Therefore, the drugs were used as a political weapon, because in that way we were delivering a blow to our principal enemy. In addition to a political weapon against the United States, the drug trafficking produced a very good economic benefit which we needed for our revolution. We wanted to provide food to our people with the suffering and death of the youth of the United States.
Today, the Sandinistas continue to use the drug-and-arms traffic not only to obtain badly needed foreign currency, but also to cut in-roads of undermining influence into neighboring Central American countries. Their principal method is that of providing cocaine at discount-value as payment for support and services rendered to the Sandinistas.
It is hardly a coincidence those countries in the Western Hemisphere most deeply involved in the narcotics-flows to the United States are also principal hosts and sponsors of the funding, arming and training of terrorist organizations. Nor can it be considered a coincidence that those countries also enjoy close ties with Cuba and/or the Soviet Union. A State Department and Department of Defense report in 1985 on Soviet influence in Central America and the Caribbean warned of an `emerging alliance between drug smugglers and arms dealers in support of terrorists and guerrillas.' It is inconceivable that Cuba will pursue the international drug-trafficking policy without tacit approval from the Kremlin.
Not only have the Soviets aknowledged the use of terrorism and the promotion of drug abuse as legitimate weapons in the `battle against imperialism,' but they have officially linked the two forms of warfare. The 1979 edition of the Soviet Military Encyclopedia provided a list of measures to be used in peace-time in order to promote Soviet foreign policy objectives. These measures are contained in the definition of razvedkas: the literal English translation of that term is `reconnaissance,' but it embraces more broadly all functions of intelligence and the clandestine operations associated with it. The Encyclopedia gave the definition as follows: `reconnaissance [is] carried out with the aim of supervision of the political, economic, military and moral potential of actual or possible enemies; basic tasks within special reconnaissance include the organization of sabotage and diversionary terrorist acts and the conduct of hostile propaganda for these purposes.' It followed with the recommendation of the use of `biological weapons, narcotics, terrorist activities, poisons' and other methods.
In significant respects, the strategic linkage between Moscow and Havana have been strengthened by Gorbachev's `new thinking' in foreign policy, which was codified at the 27th Soviet Communist Party Congress in February 1986. Essentially, in keeping with the priority domestic objective of restructuring and bolstering the Soviet economy, the `new thinking' calls for sustaining the `march of socialism' at lower cost--of avoiding the creation of client regimes, particularly in the Third World, that would impose chafing burdens on Soviet treasure and resources. Cuba, which has been such a burden over the years and which is forever sensitive to a further dwindling of Soviet assistance to Havana, can well sympathize with this imperative. The joint agenda of Soviet-Cuban strategy in the Hemisphere thus reads: preservation and expansion of Marxist-Leninist regimes with minimum economic support, and the further estrangement of the United States from Latin America, in large part by moving the Organization of American States (minus the United States) toward the ranks of the global `nonaligned movement.'
The flows of narcotics, arms and terrorism fit ideally into that agenda of a strategy that has the added advantage, especially from Moscow's vantagepoint, of being economically self-sustaining. It is this strategy that forms the background for the spectacle that has unfolded in Panama. Thus Blandon has described how Castro acted as a mediator among Noriega, the Medellin Cartel and the M-19 Movement in order to keep the flows of drugs and money-laundering activities in place, and how he, Blandon, was sent by Noriega to Havana to arrange for Castro's intervention in the latter's behalf. He found Castro eager to cooperate: `* * * Fidel feared that Noriega would be replaced in Panama. * * * His [Castro's] interests were political, they were economic and they were interests linked to the war which was being waged with the U.S.' Blandon continued: `Fidel Castro made Panama a window, or as an opportunity for business, in order to get Western technology and in order to export some of his goods from Cuba. * * *'
The evidence is thus compelling that narcotics, more than `simply' a plague spawned by festering forces in modern `post-industrial' society, have been shaped into a powerful, `strategic' weapons system. It is a weapons system which wreaks its direct damage in lethal and disabling addiction, and is `collateral damage' in the corruption and other socially enervating criminal activities that flourish around the drug trade, as well as in the more general undermining of the target society.