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 controversy.  Some
Latin American countries—notably Mexico---tend to discount the importance of the
Salvadoran leftists’ connection with the Cuban and Nicaraguan regimes.
 But while others may pooh-pooh the Reagan advisers’ concern over Cuban
help to the Salvadoran guerillas, U.S. intelligence experts point to the intermittent
presence of a dangerous Cuban official in Nicaragua, the primary transit point for
Soviet aid.
    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
Vecino’s career:
    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 in France.
    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.  Intelligence
  sources say he took part in interrogation---and torture----of American prisoners
  of war.
    Promoted to vice minister of the armed forces in 1975 and made a member of
  the Cuban Communist Party’s central committee, Vecino supervised Castro’s
  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 American
  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 fighting Anastasio
  Somoza’s Nicaraguan dictatorship.  When the Sandinista’s won, Vecino and a
  sidekick who was also a Cuban general moved to Managua for a time.

  Since then, according to intelligence sources, Vecino has been close to the
  more leftist elements of the Nicaraguan government, making regular visits to
  Managua.  Among his services to the Nicaraguan regime was arranging the
  shipment of 100 captured American 105mm howitzers from Vietnam to
  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 humanitarian
  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.  The Cubans
  also are reported to have a training camp in Nicaragua.
   In addition, sources disclosed that Vecino’s Cuban agents have maintained
  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