U.S. says Havana is sheltering 20 Basque terrorists
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
The head of the State Department's Intelligence and Research branch said
Wednesday Cuba is sheltering 20
Basque terrorists and that he's keeping a close watch on President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela because of his links
to Latin American guerrillas.
Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Carl Ford and CIA
Director George Tenet fielded several
questions on Cuba's presence on the State Department's list of countries that sponsor terrorism and on the
''There are 20 ETA members in Cuba, and they provide some degree of safe
haven and support to the Colombian
FARC and ELN groups,'' Ford said, referring to the Marxist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia and National Liberation Army.
``Bogotá is aware of this arrangement; apparently it does not object.''
Ford also recalled that an Irish nationalist arrested in Colombia last
summer on charges of training the FARC
guerrillas in terror tactics was later identified as a Havana resident who was acting as the Irish Republican Army's
representative in Cuba.
Asked whether lifting the trade embargo on Cuba could hasten economic and
political reforms in Cuba, Tenet
``I don't have an answer off the top of my head.''
Addressing the controversies surrounding Chávez, Tenet called the
leftist populist president ''a tough actor for us''
and added that domestic discontent with his government is reaching a ``crisis atmosphere.''
Ford added that Chávez has lately been trying to use the United
States as a scapegoat for his failure to improve
Venezuela's economy despite its natural resources -- including vast oil deposits that make it America's third
largest oil supplier.
''That's why he joins [Cuban President Fidel] Castro in . . . voicing concerns about the U.S.,'' Ford said.
``That doesn't bother me so much as long as it's just words. But there
are also indications that he is sympathetic
and helpful to the FARC in Colombia and various other groups.''
Colombian government officials have long complained that Chávez
has been supporting the FARC, the country's
largest Marxist guerrilla group.