The Washington Post
5 March 1981
U.S. Concerned About Castro Spymaster
By: Jack Anderson
The Reagan administration’s announced determination
to combat flow of
Soviet arms to El Salvador’s leftist guerrillas has stirred intense
Latin American countries—notably Mexico---tend to discount the importance
Salvadoran leftists’ connection with the Cuban and Nicaraguan regimes.
But while others may pooh-pooh the Reagan advisers’ concern over
help to the Salvadoran guerillas, U.S. intelligence experts point to
presence of a dangerous Cuban official in Nicaragua, the primary transit
The man our intelligence people are worried about
is Fernando Vecino
Alegret, a 47-year-old major general in Fidel Castro’s clandestine
service, DGI. He
travels under the cover of Castro’s minister of higher education.
Here’s what intelligence sources have told my associate Dale
Van Atta about
Born in Havana, Vecino was an early associate of
Castro and became an
influential member of the inner circle that took control of
Cuba after the ouster
of Fulgencio Batista.
Vecino was initially put in charge of a Cuban province,
but in 1962 was made
director of the National Institute of Agricultural Reform.
In 1966, while nominally in charge of the Union
of Cuban Communist Youth,
Vecino performed a secret—and successful---espionage mission
Later in 1966, Vecino was given overall command
of Cuban missile forces—a
post that required close connections with the Russians.
From 1967 to 1974, Vecino performed a number of
missions for Castro’s secret
police, including a period as military attache in North Vietnam.
sources say he took part in interrogation---and torture----of
Promoted to vice minister of the armed forces in
1975 and made a member of
the Cuban Communist Party’s central committee, Vecino supervised
adventures in Angola and Ethiopia.
In 1978, Vecino was named minister of higher education,
a post that allowed him
to send large numbers of paramilitary agents into various Central
countries under cover of educational assistance.
In 1979, Vecino set up headquarters in Costa Rica,
where he was able to keep
in constant touch with the Sandinitsa rebels while they were
Somoza’s Nicaraguan dictatorship. When the Sandinista’s
won, Vecino and a
sidekick who was also a Cuban general moved to Managua for a
Since then, according to intelligence sources, Vecino has been
close to the
more leftist elements of the Nicaraguan government, making regular
Managua. Among his services to the Nicaraguan regime was
shipment of 100 captured American 105mm howitzers from Vietnam
Nicaragua. The artillery pieces were shipped to Nicaragua
in a vessel operated
under Lebanese registry by the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Vecino’s role as Castro’s spymaster and general troublemaker
is well known
in Latin America. In fact, his presence anywhere in the
area is enough to panic
military and intelligence circles. For example, his visit
to the Dominican Republic
in 1979 with two Cuban transport planes, supposedly to offer
assistance in the wake of a devastating hurricane, produced
a cold rebuff from
President Antonio Guzman.
In Nicaragua, meanwhile, Vecino has tried to cash in on
the Cubans’ military
aid to the Sandinistas. Intelligence sources say his DGI
cohorts were allowed
to prepare the guest list for the rebels’ first anniversary
celebration last year, and
the guests were reportedly frisked by the Cuban police agents.
also are reported to have a training camp in Nicaragua.
In addition, sources disclosed that Vecino’s Cuban agents
two guerilla training camps in Mexico---one run by the PLO,
the other by a
Cuban army major whose second-in-command is an Argentine Montonero