Congressional Record: February 27, 2002 (Senate)
Page S1241-S1244                      

                         TRIP TO LATIN AMERICA

  Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I would like to report briefly on a trip 
to Latin America which I made last month before the Senate went into 
session in January.
  This trip took me to a number of Latin American countries to discuss 
issues of trade and drug control. The

[[Page S1242]]

first stop was in Havana, Cuba, where I had an opportunity to talk to 
President Fidel Castro about the serious situation in Cuba on the 
deprivation of human rights, and about the failure in Cuba to have 
contested elections. I urged President Castro to run in a contested 
  I had the opportunity to meet with President Castro about 30 months 
earlier in June of the year of 1999 and made the same points to him. 
However, emphatically, again, when I challenged President Castro to run 
against someone in a contested election, he told me he did have an 
opponent. His opponent was the United States of America. He said this 
in more of a humorous way. The United States policy toward Cuba, I 
think, has tended to make, if not quite a martyr, at least a 
sympathetic person in President Castro.
  We talked about a great many things. With my background as assistant 
counsel of the Warren Commission, I asked President Castro if there was 
any connection between Lee Harvey Oswald and Cuba. There had been 
rumors at the time that Castro and Cuban officials may have put Oswald 
up to the assassination of President Kennedy. Those rumors were based 
upon the CIA efforts to assassinate Castro in that era. Oswald was a 
part of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, which had a rally in New 
Orleans. When I asked that of President Castro, he said he was not 
responsible for Oswald. He was a Marxist, and not a madman. We talked 
in some detail about the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and why Castro 
permitted the Soviets to have missiles in Cuba. He tried to defend 
that, I think unpersuasively, with the threats to himself from the Bay 
of Pigs invasion and the CIA assassination attempts.
  Before going to see him 30 months ago, I checked with the records of 
the Church Committee, and found, in fact, that there was evidence about 
efforts to assassinate Castro--maybe 8 or 9 such attempts. When I told 
Castro that number, he laughed, and said that there had been many, many 
more attempts than that--something in the 300 range. I asked him how it 
felt to be the subject of assassination attempts.
  He said: Muy bien.
  This is Spanish for "very good."
  I said: No, no. How did it really feel when they were trying to 
assassinate you?
  Again, he said: Muy bien.
  I said: No. How did it really feel?
  He said: Do you have a sport?
  I said: Yes. My sport is squash.
  He said, through the interpreter: Well, avoiding assassination is a 
sport for me.
  I talked to Castro in some detail about his willingness to have Cuban 
airspace and Cuban waters used by the United States to detect drug 
trafficking. Toward that end, I offered an amendment to the Foreign 
Operations Appropriations bill a year and a half ago, which was 
defeated in conference. I offered a milder bill this year which was 
accepted, calling for a report from the State Department. However, when 
Castro makes an offer to allow Cuban waters and Cuban airspace to 
interdict drug traffickers, that is an offer we ought to accept. Drugs 
are polluting a generation of Americans and they are a major cause of 
street crime in America, which is something that I fought against as 
District Attorney of Philadelphia. If we can stop the flow of drugs 
with Castro's assistance, we ought to take him up on that offer.
  There have been some changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba. The House of 
Representatives submitted a bill with a provision to ease travel 
restrictions, which was dropped in conference. It is my view that it is 
a very small step which ought to be uncontested.
  We then traveled to other Latin American countries. We were in 
Argentina, where it is well-known that there is a tremendous financial 
crisis. Argentina has lived beyond its means. They have the inability 
to pay major suppliers, after having talked to major U.S. firms, such 
as Exxon-Mobil, IBM, and General Motors. They cannot withdraw money 
from their bank accounts to pay their suppliers. The International 
Monetary Fund is working on the matter.
  It would be my hope that the United States would provide some 
leadership and some expertise to try to bring Argentina out of this 
economic crisis. I think a good bit of the record from the United 
States and the International Monetary Fund has been too harsh. I think 
we can make our point without language which borders on arrogance or 
borders on insults because Argentina is a very important country in 
Latin America.
  One of the problems with Latin America is the frequency of the 
dictatorships, such as Juan Peron in Argentina, as well as those in 
Chile and Brazil. It is just a way of life there. Trade with the United 
States, I think, is very important to promote democracy.
  In Peru there was great concern regarding the trade agreement with 
the United States that had lapsed in December. It is my hope that this 
trade bill will be acted upon by the Congress at an early date.
  In Chile they are waiting for a trade bill to be enacted, with some 
ten rounds of negotiations. The President of Chile is willing to have 
an agreement, even if it is not fast tracked, and even if there would 
be amendments offered on the floor of the Senate or the House of 
  In Uruguay we met with the distinguished President Jorge Batlle. We 
have a very distinguished U.S. Ambassador there, Martin Silverstein, a 
Pennsylvanian. We took a look at the coastline, with the attractive 
apartment houses in Montevideo. Uruguay is quite a contrast to the 
barren coastline of Havana, Cuba, showing what free enterprise and 
democracy can do if it is permitted to operate.
  Mr. President, I would just like to add another comment or two about 
Brazil, where we met with the equivalent of our National Security 
Adviser. There is a little area where Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina 
meet where there are supporters of Hezbollah posing quite a threat to 
that area. In Buenos Aires, we met at the Jewish Community Center with 
leading Jewish officials there and were told, in detail, about the 
bombing of the Jewish Community Center in 1994 and the attack on the 
Israeli Embassy. I was pleased to note that the Brazilian officials are 
looking into this issue as to the potential terrorist activity arising 
out of this group in that little section where Paraguay, Brazil, and 
Argentina meet.
  On January 2, 2002, we arrived in Havana, Cuba for two days of 
meetings with human rights activists, religious leaders, medical 
researchers, our U.S. country team, and President Fidel Castro. When we 
arrived in Cuba, we were met by the U.S. country team, who briefed us 
on the current situation in Cuba.
  We began by meeting with a delegation of human rights activists, all 
of whom had been jailed during the Castro regime on various charges. 
When asked why he was jailed, one of the dissidents, Oswaldo Paya 
Sardinas, President of the Christian Liberation Movement, expressed the 
general sentiment of the group that he was jailed for the anti-Castro 
opinions he publicly expressed. When I asked them their opinion on the 
embargo, the group of Cuban dissidents was split on the advisability of 
continuing the U.S. embargo with Cuba.
  Next we traveled to the Finlay Institute in Havana, a research center 
dedicated to the development and testing of vaccines. Our briefing on 
the Finlay Institute's work was conducted by a team of researchers 
including Dr. Concepcion Campa, Director of the Institute and leader of 
the team that developed the vaccine for meningitis B. Supported 
entirely by the Cuban government, the Finlay Institute, which I had 
previously visited in June 1999, is one of the forty-five biotechnology 
facilities supported by government funds. The Cuban government has 
demonstrated a commitment to medical research and cooperative 
agreements, such as the one the Finlay Institute entered into with 
GlaxoSmithKline in 1999, licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department. This 
agreement represents a positive and productive relationship with this 
ostracized nation.
  The next morning we met with a delegation of Cuban officials, 
including the Minister of Justice Roberto Sotolongo and Oliverio 
Montalvo, the Drug Enforcement Chief. Minister Sotolongo responded to 
my question regarding the advisability of cooperation between the U.S. 
and Cuba on the drug issues with his hope that the issue not be 
politicized. He further stated that exchanges of information between 
the U.S. and Cuba could net real results in preventing drugs from 

[[Page S1243]]

the U.S. through this region. The Ministers wanted us to know that Cuba 
is actively involved in intercepting and destroying contraband found in 
Cuban waters en route to the U.S. and elsewhere.
  Minister Sotolongo detailed the 1996 incident involving the Limerick, 
a successful joint U.S.-Cuba drug interdiction operation. The Limerick, 
carrying 6.5 tons of cocaine drifted into Cuban waters and was 
impounded. All the evidence was turned over to the United States, and 
those involved were tried and convicted in a court with the 
participation of Cuban officials.
  Our time in Cuba concluded with a meeting with President Fidel 
Castro, which lasted six and one-half hours. Many issues were 
discussed, including our earlier meeting with the dissidents. President 
Castro did not directly respond to the merits of the dissidents' 
issues, but chose instead to reprimand our congressional delegation for 
holding meetings independent of the schedule that his functionaries had 
in mind for us. We flatly rejected his objection.
  Our conversation with President Castro began with a wide-ranging 
discussion on drug interdiction. President Castro suggested a formal 
relationship with the U.S. in order to make progress on drug 
interdiction efforts in the area. This was a suggestion made to me by 
General Barry McCaffrey, former head of U.S. drug policy in the 
previous administration. When asked if he wanted the embargo against 
Cuba lifted, President Castro responded, "Can you doubt that?"
  We spoke of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America and 
President Castro was asked to condemn Osama bin Laden. While making 
general statements against terrorism, President Castro would not 
condemn bin Laden, feigning a lack of evidence in his possession to 
make such a condemnation. The President also offered that he had not 
heard of Osama bin Laden prior to September 11, 2001 incidents and 
closed our meeting with a call for a bilateral agreement with Cuba to 
fight terrorism.
  As we arrived in Cuba, the United States' decision to transfer 
detainees from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay was being announced 
publicly. President Castro had issued a press release saying that the 
Government of Cuba had too little information to comment on the U.S. 
plan to use Guantanamo Bay for Afghan detainees. At the news conference 
on January 4, 2002, before our departure, I was asked about the issue 
and said that my apprisal was that President Castro was not going to 
object to the U.S. plan to use Guantanamo Bay because if he had an 
objection, he would have already expressed it. My meetings with 
President Castro, religious leaders, human rights activists, and 
medical researchers lead me to believe that we must continue to support 
and expand our people-to-people relationships with Cuba. There are many 
areas of mutual concern between our two countries, including drug 
interdiction and medical research.
  On January 4, 2002, Senator Chafee and I traveled to Lima, Peru and 
were met by Ambassador John Hamilton. Our meeting with President 
Alejandro Toledo included Foreign Minister Diego Garcia Sayan, First 
Vice President and Minister of Industry and Trade Raul Diez Canseco, 
Trade Vice Minister Alfredo Ferrero, and drug czar Ricardo Vega Llona. 
We first exchanged welcoming statements and our expressions of sympathy 
to Peru for the tragedy that took place just a week before our arrival 
in downtown Lima. A fire, stemming from fireworks, had set ablaze a 
shopping district and killed over 250, according to reports at that 

  The President made clear his desire for a renewed and expanded Andean 
Trade Preference Act (ATPA) and for continued assistance in combating 
the drug trade. President Toledo expressed concern that the trade 
agreement between the United States and Peru had lapsed on December 4, 
2001, and urged that the Congress give it prompt consideration. He said 
that Peruvian farmers would be tempted to grow products for drug 
production instead of textile production, if the agreement was not 
extended. I told him I would urge prompt consideration by the Congress. 
The President and Ministers made the case that eliminating the coca 
trade in Peru is essential to combat terrorism, and spoke strongly to 
the elimination of the narco-terrorism as a "matter of national 
security." With regards to the general state of the Peruvian economy, 
the President reported that they were coming off of three years of 
little or no growth, further reporting that the Peruvian economy is 
affected by the overall world economy. Senator Chafee and I were 
further debriefed on the state of the Peruvian economy by the Minister 
of Economy and Finance Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
  The President further described his "full commitment" to reform of 
the Peruvian judicial system. In a separate meeting, I queried the drug 
czar and his colleagues further on the progress of the drug war in Peru 
and the region. There was general agreement with my point that progress 
is difficult without a reduction in the demand for drugs. Meeting 
participants reiterated the need for the Andean anti-drug plan, which 
offers increased intelligence sharing, regional air coverage, and 
maritime cooperation among the Andean nations. Further, it was 
emphasized that an alternative crop or industry to drug crops was 
essential for local farmers.
  From Lima, Peru, Senator Chafee and I traveled to Santiago, Chile on 
January 6, 2002. After our meeting with President Ricardo Lagos, I 
wrote a letter to President Bush and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill 
expressing President Lagos' strong support for the U.S.-Chile Bilateral 
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) without linkage to passage by the U.S. 
Congress of trade promotion authority. President Lagos expressed his 
concern that ongoing congressional negotiations with the White House 
regarding trade promotion authority may further delay consideration of 
the Bilateral FTA with Chile. The President further stated that Chile 
wants "trade not aid."
  Additional topics discussed included the potential F-16 sale to 
Chile, as well as the Pinochet and Letelier/Moffit cases. On December 
27, 2000, the Chilean Ministry of Defense announced that the Government 
of Chile had authorized the Chilean Air Force to initiate discussions 
on the purchase of ten Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons, Block 50, 
from the United States. The F-16 was chosen over the French Mirage and 
the Swedish Gripen on its merits in a competitive, transparent 
selection process.
  Regarding the Letelier/Moffit case, which involved the 1976 car bomb 
murder in Washington, D.C. of former Chilean Ambassador the U.S. 
Orlando Letelier and his American citizen assistant, Ronnie Moffit. I 
told the President that the jail sentences of six, seven, and eight 
years, which were given to those involved in this terrorist act on U.S. 
soil, were not sufficient in my opinion and asked his opinion on the 
extradition of those individuals to the U.S. for trial. President Lagos 
responded that he cannot take a position that would appear to pressure 
the Court, but that his impression was such that the Court, on its own, 
might well order extradition.
  Concerning counter-terrorism and the events of September 11, 2001, 
the President expressed strong condemnation of the terrorist attacks. 
This expression is in keeping the Lagos Administration's action 
immediately following the terrorist attacks in the U.S. As head of the 
RIO Group of Latin American countries in 2001, Chile leads the 
coordinated counter-terrorism efforts for the Group.
  On January 8, 2002, Senator Chafee and I arrived in Buenos Aires, 
Argentina, just one week after the latest President was installed 
during this tumultuous time in that country. Newly-installed President 
Eduardo Duhalde, the fifth president in thirteen days, is confronted 
with a bankrupt government and a citizenry deeply dispirited after four 
years of a worsening economy and recent political instability. It is 
unclear at this time if this administration is capable, or willing, to 
put together a viable long-term economic plan to pull Argentina out of 
its very serious economic situation.
  President Duhalde told us that his administration would have a new 
budget passed within fifteen days with a plan to retire his country's 
industrial debt, which could then justify further aid from the 
International Monetary Fund. Corporate representatives from Bank of 
Boston, General Motors, IBM, and ESSO detailed the extremely difficult 
business environment, including

[[Page S1244]]

a freeze of all bank that precluded the paying of suppliers and 
subcontractors. This issue, along with the ongoing currency crises, 
made for an extremely precarious business environment as described by 
the executives.

  Senator Chafee and I visited the Jewish Community Center and the site 
of a 1994 terrorist attack that killed eighty-four people. Upon our 
arrival to the Community Center, it was explained to us that the line 
in front of the building was persons visiting the visa office applying 
for travel to Israel as an escape from the Argentine economic 
  On January 10, 2002, Senator Chafee and I proceeded next to 
Montevideo, Uruguay for meetings with President Jorge Batlle and the 
Chief of Staff and National Drug and Anti-Terrorism Coordinator 
Leonardo Costa. We were accompanied by Ambassador Martin Silverstein, a 
Pennsylvanian, who is serving with distinction.
  We met with President Batlle for over one and one-half hours 
discussing Argentina, International Patent Rights (IPR), free trade 
issues, and narcotics. Regarding the Argentine economic crisis, the 
President was generally optimistic, providing that the new government 
follows the programs of the newly-installed Economic Minister Jorge 
Lenikov. President Batlle stated that President Duhalde appeared to 
have a strong majority within the Parliament.
  On International Patent Rights, the President expressed disagreement 
with the U.S. Government's approach to IPR legislation. While he favors 
drug legalization, he would not implement such a policy without an 
international consensus. I took the opportunity to praise the 
President's support for Free Trade Area of the Americas and free trade, 
pointing out that this seemed to contrast with the government's 
unwillingness to enact a strong copyright bill, which is an essential 
tool for attracting investment.
  On January 11, 2001, we traveled to Brasilia, Brazil where our first 
meeting was with representatives from the Brazilian Ministry of Health 
to discuss the government's response to HIV and AIDS. A comprehensive 
presentation by Claudio Duarte da Fonseca and Rosemeire Munhoz with the 
Health Ministry detailed Brazil's national response to their growing 
numbers of HIV and AIDS cases. Governmental lead efforts include 
prevention campaigns, mass media campaigns, behavioral interventions, 
condom distribution, and a policy of universal and free-of-charge 
access to ARV drugs.
  Our meeting with General Alberto Cardoso, the counterpart to our 
National Security Adviser, provided assurances of cooperation from his 
country with the U.S. and Israel efforts to oppose financing of 
Hezbollah terrorism from an enclave at the border of Paraguay, 
Argentina, and Brazil. There was no reason to believe that support has 
come from residents of that area for the bombing of the Israeli Embassy 
in Argentina in 1992 and the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 
1994. With the worldwide focus on cutting off terrorist funding, the 
tri-border area is under international scrutiny.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut is recognized.
  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, first of all, I ask unanimous consent to 
speak as in morning business for 2 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.