Miami Herald
Feb. 07, 2002

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
                      controversial Chávez.

                      ''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.