Associated Press
January 3, 2000

Former Cuban Agent To Testify

          By The Associated Press

          WASHINGTON (AP) -- A former Cuban intelligence agent says one of
          the Puerto Rican nationalists granted clemency by the White House last
          summer helped pull off one of the nation's biggest robberies with funding
          from the Cuban government.

          Jorge Masetti, who in the early 1990s defected to Europe, has been
          interviewed by aides to the House Government Reform Committee and
          was to testify today at a public hearing near Miami, committee chief
          counsel James Wilson said in an interview Sunday.

          Wilson said Masetti will tell the story of how the Cuban government
          helped finance the 1983 robbery of a Wells Fargo armored truck in
          West Hartford, Conn., which netted $7.2 million.

          One of those involved in the heist, Juan Segarra Palmer, was caught and
          sentenced to 55 years in prison. Palmer was one of 12 members of the
          FALN granted clemency by Clinton in August. Eleven of those were
          released, but Palmer struck a deal that will allow him to go free in five

          Repeating a story published in his book, ``El Furor y El Delirio'' (``The
          Fury and the Delirium''), Masetti has told investigators that Palmer
          received $50,000 in ``seed money'' from the Cuban government to help
          carry out the Wells Fargo robbery, Wilson said.

          After the robbery, the $7.2 million booty was smuggled to Mexico City
          in a recreational vehicle outfitted with special hidden compartments,
          Masetti has told investigators, according to Wilson. Masetti says he was
          involved in shipping $4 million of the Wells Fargo money from the Cuban
          Embassy in Mexico City to Havana.

          The Cuban Interests Section in Washington, which acts as Cuba's
          embassy, told the Hartford Courant earlier this year that the tale was
          ``more science fiction than anything else.''

          In Puerto Rico, nationalists said their links to Cuba were confined to
          Cuban support for Puerto Rico's independence from the United States --
          support that predated Fidel Castro's 1959 communist revolution.

          Masetti's testimony is part of the Government Reform Committee's latest
          effort to link Cuba to the FALN -- the Spanish abbreviation for the
          Armed Forces for National Liberation -- and its Puerto Rican arm, the
          Macheteros, or Cane Cutters.

          Committee Chairman Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., earlier this month
          requested any records showing a link between the separatists and the
          Cuban government. He also issued subpoenas to the Justice Department
          and FBI.

          Burton wrote to CIA Director George Tenet asking for surveillance
          intercepts and any other records on a Cuba-Puerto Rico connection. He
          also sought a briefing on the agency's knowledge of the
          pro-independence guerrilla groups the nationals belonged to.

          The FALN carried out a wave of bombings in the United States in the
          late 1970s and early 1980s that left six dead and scores wounded. The
          Macheteros have been responsible mainly for attacks in Puerto Rico.