Cuba Cooperating to Combat Drug Trade, U.S. Official Says
Cuba is not involved in drug trafficking and is
cooperating with the United States in fighting the illegal trade in
the Caribbean, the top American anti-drug official said Friday.
The White House's
drug policy director, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, said
Cuba, located in the middle of the drug route from South to North
America, was very interested in discussing the issue with Washington,
which has not had diplomatic ties with Havana since 1961.
might produce something useful, and we probably ought
to be willing to encourage it," the retired general told scholars at the
Woodrow Wilson Center, an international affairs institute.
"Poor Cuba. Location
puts it in the path of international drug crime," he
later told reporters. "But I do not see any serious evidence, current or in
the last decade, of Cuban Government overt complicity with drug crime."
said Cuban authorities had continued to maintain
contacts with the Coast Guard and had responded positively to
drug-related intelligence provided by the United States.
"I don't think
they want Colombian drug criminals inside Cuba," said
General McCaffrey, the former chief of the United States Southern
is a lot of cocaine showing up on the island, the American
anti-drug official said.
up the Caribbean from Colombia fly over the island
and dump cocaine shipments in the sea off the north coast of Cuba for
pickup by boats that smuggle the drug into the United States via the
Bahamas, General McCaffrey said.
But Cuba lacks
the "radar and intercept capabilities" to stop it, he said.
Cuba cannot even effectively police its waters, where smugglers hide
after fishing bales of cocaine from the sea, he said.
"It's a big problem and it is growing," he said.
said Cuba wanted to cooperate with Washington on
the drug problem as a way of opening a dialogue -- a sensitive initiative,
particularly among Cuban-Americans opposed to relaxing the
37-year-old economic embargo on President Fidel Castro's
But General McCaffrey
said the United States must look to the future,
when Cuba could become a major drug-trafficking center unless
cooperation with Cuban authorities begins now.
"Cuba will not
remain a collapsing Communist dictatorship with a goofy
economic system much longer," he said.
is going to be another economic center in the hemisphere,
so we clearly don't want international drug crime dominating Cuba."