Accused leader in shootdown ran Cuban drug probe
JUAN O. TAMAYO
Herald Staff Writer
The Cuban spy master who allegedly ran the plot to ambush two Brothers
Rescue airplanes is the same intelligence veteran who was chief investigator in
the notorious 1989 trial of Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa, exiles say.
A federal indictment Friday of 14 accused Cuban spies in Miami used
code ``MX for the Havana chief who directed the spies to gather information that
helped MiG warplanes kill four Brothers pilots in 1996.
But knowledgeable exiles identified him as Eduardo Delgado Rodriguez,
in his mid-50s who has headed the Interior Ministry's Directorate of Intelligence
(DI), Cuba's main foreign espionage agency, for about six years.
Delgado made his mark as lead investigator in the highly publicized
Ochoa, an army general accused of drug trafficking along with several top Interior
Ministry officers, said Miami author Norberto Fuentes.
Ochoa, an army hero of the Angola war, and three other officers were
and executed amid reports that Ochoa's only real fault had been to criticize
President Fidel Castro.
Monitored military brass
Delgado was then a lieutenant colonel in charge of the section within
forces' counterintelligence agency that watched senior military officers, said
Fuentes, author of a book on Ochoa, In the Jaws of the Wolf, to be published this
Armed Forces chief Raul Castro, brother of the president, ordered a
of the Interior Ministry just weeks after the trial and appointed military officers to
run both domestic and foreign intelligence branches.
Delgado was named Deputy Interior Minister in charge of the counter-intelligence
section, known as the Directorate for State Security, with the rank of colonel, said
Fuentes, who defected in 1994.
Command of the intelligence branch, the DI, initially went to Gen. Jesus
Bermudez Cutiño, then the head of military counterintelligence, Fuentes and other
The DI, headquartered in a former Havana apartment complex known to
employees simply as ``El Edificio, or The Building, is Cuba's main foreign
intelligence arm and has long been considered as one of the best in the world.
Its main targets in the United States have always been exile groups
Havana as dominating U.S. policy toward Castro and often planning or launching
armed attacks against his government.
But Bermudez Cutiño was dismissed as DI chief around 1993 under
circumstances, said Fuentes and two former Cuban intelligence officers who now
live in Miami and asked for anonymity.
Fuentes said Bermudez was discovered pilfering money from a fund for
diplomatic couriers, and was blamed for several security foul-ups during a Castro
visit to Spain in 1992.
One of the intelligence officers said Bermudez was dismissed for operational
foul-ups -- including the filming of a Cuban spy meeting with one of his agents in a
New York hotel room in 1992 by Miami's Channel 23.
He was immediately replaced by Delgado, described by Fuentes as a
tough-looking man, ``blond and always well combed. Fuentes said Delgado was
still in charge of DI just a few weeks ago.
In turn, Delgado's job at counterintelligence went to Gen. Carlos Fernandez
Gondin, about 56 years old, who now also has the title of deputy minister of the
interior, Fuentes said.
Counterintelligence maintains domestic security by monitoring dissidents
as Cuban government officials for signs of corruption or recruitment by foreign
Delgado, Bermudez and Fernandez are said to be protégés
of Interior Minister
Abelardo Colome Ibarra, a long-time Raul Castro aide who is Cuba's only
three-star general and a member of the ruling Communist Party's inner circle, the
Colorful names dismissed
Fuentes dismissed the Miami indictment's mention of code names such
``Operation Scorpion and the ``Wasp Network as ``typical Castro mocking of
Cuban exiles and U.S. authorities.
But he said the indictment's mention of the ``MX code for the DI chief
was in line
with Cuba's long-time use of the letter ``M as the first part of the two-letter codes
assigned to all intelligence departments -- just as Great Britain used MI5 and MI6
for its spy and spy-catching agencies.
Cuba changes the codes frequently to confuse foreign intelligence agencies
to track its structures, Fuentes added. He said ``MX was once the code for the
DI's communications department.
``They can change the code all they want, said Fuentes, ``but it's Delgado
employer Castro who ordered the murder of those four Brothers pilots.