News

DATE=5/5/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-231748
TITLE=CUBAN EXILE INVESTIGATION (L-ONLY)
BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE
DATELINE=MIAMI
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 



INTRO: FEDERAL AUTHORITIES ARE INVESTIGATING WHETHER THE LEADERS 
OF AN INFLUENTIAL CUBAN-EXILE ORGANIZATION IN MIAMI WERE INVOLVED
IN A PLOT TO ASSASSINATE CUBAN PRESIDENT FIDEL CASTRO LAST 
NOVEMBER. NEWS OF THE WIDE-RANGING INVESTIGATION IS BEING 
REPORTED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES NEWSPAPER WHICH SAYS SEVERAL 
LEADERS OF THE CUBAN-AMERICAN NATIONAL FOUNDATION APPEAR TO BE 
LINKED TO AN ALLEGED PLOT TO KILL MR. CASTRO.  VOA'S JIM TEEPLE 
HAS MORE FROM OUR MIAMI BUREAU.       

TEXT: LAST OCTOBER THE COAST GUARD CUTTER "BARANOF" ON ROUTINE 
PATROL OFF THE COAST OF PUERTO RICO STOPPED A 12-METER CABIN 
CRUISER, ON SUSPICION THE VESSEL WAS CARRYING DRUGS.   

WHEN THEY SEARCHED THE "LA ESPERANZA" U-S CUSTOMS AGENTS FOUND NO
DRUGS.  HOWEVER WHEN THEY OPENED A SECRET COMPARTMENT BELOW DECK 
THEY DID FIND TWO ASSAULT RIFLES CAPABLE OF HITTING LONG RANGE 
TARGETS, PORTABLE RADIOS, A SATELLITE TELEPHONE, MILITARY 
FATIGUES AND SEVEN BOXES OF HIGH-POWERED AMMUNITION.     

// OPT //  ON BOARD LA ESPERANZA WERE FOUR CUBAN-EXILES.  UNDER 
QUESTIONING, ONE OF THEM, ANGEL ALFONSO ALEMAN, CLAIMED OWNERSHIP
OF THE WEAPONS SAYING HE PLANNED TO USE THEM TO KILL CUBAN LEADER
FIDEL CASTRO AT A LATIN AMERICAN SUMMIT TO BE HELD ON MARGARITA 
ISLAND OFF THE COAST OF VENEZUELA LAST NOVEMBER.  MR. ALEMAN SAID
HE PLANNED TO ACT ALONE AND THAT HIS THREE CREWMATES HAD NO 
KNOWLEDGE OF THE PLOT.   

MR. ALEMAN'S CREWMATES DENIED KNOWING OF THE ALLEGED PLOT, BUT 
COAST GUARD OFFICIALS REPORTED THAT LA ESPERANZA'S NAVIGATIONAL 
COORDINATES HAD INDEED BEEN SET FOR MARGARITA ISLAND. // END OPT 
//    

A SUBSEQUENT FEDERAL GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION FOUND ONE OF THE 
ASSAULT RIFLES WAS REGISTERED TO FRANCISCO "PEPE" HERNANDEZ, THE 
PRESIDENT OF THE INFLUENTIAL LOBBYING GROUP, THE CUBAN AMERICAN 
NATIONAL FOUNDATION.  THE INVESTIGATION ALSO FOUND THAT LA 
ESPERANZA IS OWNED BY JOSE ANTONIO LLAMA A MEMBER OF THE 
FOUNDATION'S BOARD AND THAT THE BOAT SET SAIL FROM A DOCK WHICH 
BELONGS TO ANOTHER FOUNDATION MEMBER.   

NOW, THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTS BOTH MR. HERNANDEZ AND MR. LLAMA 
HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED THEY ARE THE TARGETS OF A FEDERAL PROBE AND 
THAT THEY COULD BE INDICTED.  NO ONE FROM THE CUBAN AMERICAN 
NATIONAL FOUNDATION WILL COMMENT ON THE CASE.  

MAX CASTRO IS A SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE AT THE NORTH SOUTH 
CENTER IN MIAMI. HE SAYS AT THIS POINT IT IS NOT CLEAR IF THE 
FOUNDATION OR MEMBERS OF THE FOUNDATION WERE INVOLVED IN THE 
ALLEGED PLOT TO KILL MR. CASTRO BUT IF IT TURNS OUT THEY WERE, 
THE CUBAN AMERICAN NATIONAL FOUNDATION COULD BE SERIOUSLY HURT.  
 

                 // INSERT CASTRO ACTUALITY // 

         IF IT TURNS OUT THAT THERE IS INSTITUTIONAL INVOLVEMENT 
         I THINK IT WILL VERY SERIOUS FOR THE FOUNDATION.  IF WE 
         ARE TALKING ABOUT INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED, THEY WILL HAVE 
         TO FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF U-S LAW. IN ANY CASE I THINK
         IT WILL HURT THE IMAGE OF THE FOUNDATION IN U-S PUBLIC 
         OPINION AND IN THE U-S CONGRESS.  

                      // END ACTUALITY //  

THE CUBAN-AMERICAN NATIONAL FOUNDATION HAS REPORTEDLY GIVEN MORE 
THAN ONE-MILLION DOLLARS TO BOTH DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS IN 
CONGRESS FOR THEIR SUPPORT IN HELPING TO ISOLATE CUBA AND TIGHTEN
SANCTIONS AGAINST THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT.  

THE FOUNDATION'S LATE CHAIRMAN JORGE MAS CANOSA WAS ALSO A MAJOR 
CONTRIBUTOR TO BILL CLINTON'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IN 1992, AND 
HELPED MR. CLINTON BECOME THE FIRST DEMOCRAT IN TWENTY-YEARS TO 
WIN FLORIDA IN THE 1996 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.  

THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTS, MR. CLINTON MET PRIVATELY WITH TWO 
FOUNDATION LEADERS AT A MIAMI FUND RAISER LAST YEAR, AFTER THE 
FEDERAL INVESTIGATION HAD BEGUN INTO THE ALLEGED PLOT TO KILL MR.
CASTRO.  (SIGNED) 

NEB/JLT/PLM

05-May-98 5:11 PM EDT (2111 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.