A Summary of Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Contra Involvement in Drug Trafficking

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A Summary of Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Contra Involvement in Drug Trafficking

If narcotics smuggling was indeed an official policy of Nicaragua, cuba, or the Contra leadership no one was able to prove it conclusively. Much of the evidence against the Cuban and Nicaraguan governments and the Contras rested on allegations and speculation; nothing confirmed beyond doubt that they condoned or were involved in narcotics operations. However, if the same standards of evidence used against Cuba and Nicaragua were applied to the United States, both President Nixon and CIA director Richard helms could be accused of approving the CIA-directed Air America operation that smuggled heroin to pay for the Hmong insurgency in Laos. Moreover, if the logic that linked Castro to the m-19 were utilized, the assertions that the Contras smuggled cocaine or ran HCL production facilities would have meant that Ronald Reagan, who directed the War on Drugs, also had a national policy to support a guerrilla organization covertly through drug sales.
In many respects, the accusations against the Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Contra-CIA leadership reflect those made against the governments of Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia for officially condoning money laundering. Nevertheless, elements in both the Cuban and Nicaraguan governments, as well as in the Contra-CIA leadership, were linked to narcotics traffickers, and narco-dollars directly influenced the northern Andean governments' macroeconomic policies.
Substantial proof exists that certain members of the Cuban and Nicaraguan intelligence services, as well as the CIA, ran operations that served each nation's covert political aims. Evidence shows that some Cuban and Nicaraguan intelligence officers trafficked cocaine to undermine the United States and finance revolution. The intentions of these intelligence networks clearly presented a national security threat to the United States. Yet evidence also confirms that some members of the Contras, and possibly U.S. government officials, used drugs to finance counterrevolution at a time when funding for the Contra cause was scarce. Although drug trafficking served varied purposes for each country and organization, it provides an easy source of revenue for all.
Too prevent public exposure, the governments employed a plausible deniability to prevent confirmation of any evidence that these operations were matters of national policy, David L. Westrate, the deputy assistant administrator of the DEA in 1985, reported that when the Reagan administration requested information regarding Sandinista involvement in narcotics, he had told them that if he shared this information, "both the good guys and the bad buys were going to get splashed equally." This is exactly what happened as covert operations to prosecute the civil wars in Central America and finance revolution in South America were exposed.
Government responses to the revelations about the smuggling operations took different directions. To give the impression that they were not rogue nations that trafficked in narcotics, both the United States and Cuba found scapegoats. However, their approach to exposing drug-related crimes highlighted the differences between a communist authoritarian state and a bureaucratic capitalist democracy. In Cuba, Ochoa and de la Guardia had questionable trials and were shot for treason. In the United States, Senator Kerry's congressional investigation consisted of a deep and lengthy inquiry. The investigation presented substantial evidence against the contras, and possibly against members of the U.S. intelligence services as well, but not enough to prove a conspiracy, In the end, regardless of who was involved in the smuggling operations in Central America and the Caribbean, the allegations against Cuba and Nicaragua remained the principal explanation for the Reagan administration's belief in a narco-communist nexus. This belief became the basis for the policy formula they employed against guerrilla insurgencies in colombia and Peru.

pp. 114-115, of The Politics of Cocain by William L. Marcy, Ph.D.

cocain, contra, smuggling