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It is up to you, Mr. Selva.
Mr. HUBBARD. That is his privilege, CBS, and the Mayfield, Ky., Messenger, and other media that are present.
Would you please stand and raise your right hand?
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. SELVA. I do.
STATEMENT OF ARMANDO SELVA Mr. SELVA. Mr. Chairman and Members of Congress, thank you for giving me the opportunity to appear before you today. I am a U.S. citizen living in Miami Beach, Fla.
Until last April, I worked at the Garcia Gun Shop in Miami. My Dade County registration as a gun salesman is No. E78-70. I had been a gun salesman for Mr. Garcia ever since he bought the store, 13 months earlier.
Before that time, I worked for 4 years at the same location in the same capacity for the National Gun Traders Co., the owners before Mr. Garcia.
I am here today to testify with regard to the sales of weapons by Mr. Garcia to citizens of Panama under circumstances which formed the basis for criminal prosecutions against the buyers in Florida.
I was a witness to the sale of the following weapons: 10 cases of 30-06 ammunition, 10 cases of shotgun ammunition and 10 Remington 30-06 rifles. Mr. Fernandez, the manager of the store, told me at that time, told me that that was the consul of Panama that was making the purchase.
At that time I offered Mr. Fernandez assistance in filling out the registration papers which are required by law when firearms sales are made, and Mr. Fernandez' reply was, no thanks, I will take them to the consul of Panama myself.
I had met Mr. Pujol during one of these visits to the shop. I was very surprised at the size of the sales that were made, since I had never seen sales of large quantities made to one particular individual before.
It also seemed to be very unusual to see sales being conducted under such unusual conditions. They were made like a personal sale, rather than a personal sale which would be normally made with normal procedures.
I was present when Mr. Pujol came to pick up the firearms which, at that time, he was arrested by the ATF.
This ends my prepared statement I will be happy to answer any questions which you may have in regard to this.
Mr. HUBBARD. Thank you.
Our staff counsel, Larry O'Brien, will ask the questions that I would ask otherwise.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Can you just give me a little background. Have you ever been affiliated with the Nicaraguan Government in any way?
Mr. SELVA. No.
Mr. O'BRIEN. And you have not you have been subpenaed to testify here today?
Mr. SELVA. Yes; I have.
Mr. O'BRIEN. You testified that you were an employee of the National Gun Traders Co. in Miami, and subsequently the Garcia Gun Shop
What was the period of your employment with that establishment?
Mr. SELVA. The period of my employment with National was 11 months.
Mr. O'BRIEN. And who were the managers of the Garcia Gun Shop?
Mr. SELVA. Juan Fernandez.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Did you leave of your own violition or were you asked to leave?
Mr. SELVA. No, I was asked to leave.
Mr. SELVA. I was in charge of records for Mr. Garcia and when I saw the large amount of ammunition and guns which came in, it caused interest, because I had never seen this large amount of ammunition coming for one particular person.
So I made inquiries of Mr. Fernandez, I asked, who is all this ammunition for? He told me it was for the consul of Panama, and not to ask any more questions because he would answer them because it was none of my business.
Mr. O'BRIEN. What was the inventory of the store? What kinds of guns did they normally sell?
Mr. SELVA. I would say 80 percent of the stock is—40 percent of the stock is hunting rifles; 40 percent is handguns; 20 percent are guns which would be classified as military weapons.
Mr. O'BRIEN. And this type of ammunition coming in all of a sudden, was this similar to—what kind of supplies?
Mr. SELVA. The ammunition could be classified as military, because it was 30-06 ammunition which is commonly used in military weapons.
Mr. O'BRIEN. How many representatives did you see, or employees of the Panamanian Government, enter the Garcia Gun Shop?
Mr. SELVA. I saw Mr. Pujol. He was later identified to me as the consul. I didn't know he was at the time.
About five, six times.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Were any of these individuals carrying distinctive papers or any other device or identification which could confirm their employment with the Panamanian consul?
Mr. SELVA. They were never shown to me. The times Mr. Pujol came to the door, he always asked for Mr. Garcia or Mr. Juan Fernandez, and they always went to the office and talked privately.
I was never allowed in the room.
Mr. O'BRIEN. You indicate that they did have permits or forms from the consulate; isn't that correct?
Mr. SELVA. I was told that by Mr. Juan Fernandez.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Were you ever a witness to any conversations or transactions involving weapons to be conveyed to these people?
Mr. SELVA. I was witness to the time that the consulate himself and Pujol came to the store. That was the time that I offered my help to Juan Fernandez, and they told me he was the consul, and he would take care of it.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Did you have any conversations with them regarding sales to Panama, and if so, what were the gist of those conversations?
Mr. SELVA. When Juan Fernandez asked me, told me the sales were going to be made to the consulate, you know, I tried to inquire, because it is not normal procedure for one particular person to buy that large quantity of guns and ammunitions unless it was a government-to-government deal, and that usually takes a long period of time.
Mr. O'Brien. Did the management of the gun shop ever warn you to remain silent about transactions of this nature in the Garcia Gun Shop? Did they ever tell you to keep quiet about this?
Mr. SELVA. Well, they told me that if any Federal agents ever asked any questions, to refer them to him; that I was not allowed to give them any answers.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Are you employed at this time?
Mr. O'BRIEN. Have there been attempts by anyone associated with the Garcia Gun Shop to prevent you from acquiring new employment in the Miami area in gun shops?
Mr. SELVA. I have applied for employment in several shops, and they were very happy with my reference, but somehow they offered a very ridiculous salary and a lot of hours.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Do you think that is coincidental, or deliberate? Mr. SELVA. I think it is deliberate.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Have you had occasion to observe, or speak to Federal agents while you were an employee of the gunshop?
Mr. Selva. Yes.
Mr. O'BRIEN. And you said you were warned not to speak with them?
Mr. SELVA. Yes.
Mr. O'BRIEN. In the course of your employment did you ever have occasion to speak with Mr. Edgardo Lopez, the former Panama consul in Miami?
Mr. Selva. I did not speak to him, but I did see him. I was told by Juan Fernandez, when he came to the store, that that was Edgardo Lopez, the consul of Panama.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Were you ever asked to sign any affidavit, or affirmation, or paper regarding transactions with which you had not been involved?
Mr. SELVA. At one time I was asked, and I was told Mr. Fernandez-I told Mr. Fernandez I would not sign any transactions about firearms unless I personally made them, because it is not proper for me to sign a paper which I was not witnessed.
Mr. O'BRIEN. And you were duly licensed as a gun salesman in Dade County?
Mr. Selva. Yes.
Mr. O'BRIEN. I note for the record that the committee staff has checked into this, and he was a licensed gun salesman, and have copies of the license available for review.
Were you responsible for the books at the Garcia Gun Shop?
Mr. SELVA. When Mr. Garcia purchased the shop, he told me that my responsibilities were to maintain the books as far as acquisitions and disposition of firearms and ammunition. That
would be my only job, because I was experienced with firearms and ammunition, and he needed somebody that had that experience to take care of the books.
So I told him, yes; I would do it.
Mr. O'BRIEN. At some point were you directed to set aside any material relating to large sales of weapons, or a sale of weapons to the consul?
Mr. SELVA. At one time Mr. Garcia approached me and told me that any large number of sales, if they ever were made, that I was to set aside these forms. He gave me a telephone number, which was the U.S. Customs telephone number, and he told me that he would look over the forms, and if he felt they should be reported, he would tell me to report them.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Was that an unusual procedure?
Mr. SELVA. Because he wanted to look at the forms, it seemed to me that he wanted to decide which ones he wanted me to report, and which ones he did not want me to report.
Mr. O'Brien. Why do you think he told you that?
Mr. SELVA. I assume since he is in the firearms business, and he makes his money selling firearms, he did not want me to make that decision myself, because I might cause him to lose sales.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Have you ever been subpenaed to appear before a grand jury, or testify before any other investigative body regarding illicit sales of weapons to any other government through the agency of Panama citizens?
Mr. SELVA. No, sir.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Do you know, or have you ever had reason to believe, that the Garcia National Gun Shop was involved in illegal gun smuggling to Panama? Do you think they are, or were?
Mr. SELVA. The way that they reacted to me, they were apparently doing something which they were not supposed to be doing.
Mr. O'Brien. Is that a yes answer?
Mr. O'BRIEN. And why did you decide to come before the subcommittee to testify?
Mr. Selva. Well, I read-
Mr. SELVA. I had read the article in the Miami Herald, which at the time stated that the employees of the Garcia National Gun Shop cooperated in the arrest of the Panama consul, Mr. Pujol, and at the time I was an employee of the Garcia National Gun Shop, and since I was let go of my position there I have had a very hard time finding a job, so that caused me to look more into the matter.
Mr. O'BRIEN. I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUBBARD. Does any Member of Congress have any questions of Mr. Selva?
If not, thank you very much, Mr. Selva, for your testimony. You have been here all day long. Hopefully you had lunch.
Thank you for your testimony, and we now ask Congressman Hansen to give his statement.
STATEMENT OF HON. GEORGE HANSEN, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO Mr. HANSEN. If the Chair will indulge, I will do it right here, and I will move right along.
I appreciate the opportunity to testify. I was scheduled yesterday, but floor action interferred, and I appreciate the chance to reschedule.
It has been a productive 2 days, and most of what I have to say has been said by the witnesses which we have been collecting data from. But I would like to ask your consent to enter my statement into the record as if presented, including appendixes.
Mr. HUBBARD. We would be delighted.
STATEMENT OF Hon. GEORGE HANSEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE
STATE OF Idaho Mr. Chairman, as one who requested these hearings, I am convinced that the evidence presented during the two scheduled days of testimony positively identifies the government of Panama as a revolutionary activist in Latin America engaging in a calculated leftist conspiracy to overthrow neighboring governments.
Further, the testimony demonstrates that Panama is probably a leading purveyor of firearms to leftist revolutionaries in the Caribbean area, arms obtained in violation of law in the United States, arms obtained from Cuba of the same type used in Angola, and arms obtained from other communist nations such as Red China.
Witnesses have attested to the fact that they were not free to provide the full truth on the military situation in Central America to the U.S. Senate during last year's Panama Treaty consideration.
Other witnesses have substantiated that the government of Panama, not the arbitrary acts of individuals, is behind the planned revolutionary activities and the illegal trafficking of firearms which have resulted in numerous recent federal grand jury indictments in Miami, Florida, and similar legal action in other places in the United States.
The sum of this testimony is clear proof that the government of Panama is engaging in wholesale Cuba-type revolutionary activities closely orchestrated with Fidel Castro's Cuba unmindfull of the violation of laws of other nations and in brazen defiance of the provisions called for in the Neutrality Treaty.
When Congressman Robert Bauman, a member of this Subcommittee, and I requested these hearings last week, we expressed strong concern regarding the impact of Panama's activities upon any expectation that the Panama Canal will be operated in a business-like and peaceful manner as the United States transfers ownership.
We pointed out the necessity to establish the source and extent of financing of the revolutionary gun smuggling operation being conducted by the government of Panama, particualrly since any income to be derived by that government from the Panama Canal Treaties could serve to aggravate and enlarge territorstic activities in the Caribbean. We further stated that such conduct by the government of Panama cannot help but invite reprisal from adversary governments which seems to doom the Neutrality Treaty and any real prospects for peaceful operation of the Canal under Panamanian authority.
The bottom line, Mr. Chairman, is that Panama has already violated the Panama Canal and Neutrality Treaties beyond repair.
The Neutrality Treaty states in Article II that “The Republic of Panama declares the neutrality of the Canal in order that both in time of peace and in time of war it shall remain secure and open to peaceful transit by the vessels of all nations on terms of entire equality, so that the Canal, and therefore the Isthmus of Panama, shall not be the target of reprisals in any armed conflict between other nations of the world.”
In our request to Chairman John M. Murphy of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee for hearings, Congressman Bauman and I noted the ever increasing tide of reports on gun smuggling by the Republic of Panama from the United States of America and its connection with guerrilla activity in Central America. This concern crystalized some weeks ago with the publication in the Miami Herald of the arrest of several men who were charged with smuggling guns