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STATEMENT OF Max KELLY, SECRETARY TO His ExcELLENCY, THE PRESIDENT OF
I welcome this opportunity to present to this distinguished subcommittee evidence which conclusively shows the direct involvement of the Governments of Cuba and Panama in the present violence in Nicaragua.
Quantities of FAL 7.62 cal Belgian-made rifles manufactured by Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre and sold only to Cuba have turned up in the hands of Sandinistas in Nicaragua. These weapons quite clearly have been supplied by Cuba and shipped to Panama.
On March 13 and 16, two vans were intercepted on the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border. Seized were 49 FAL 7.62 cal rifles found in false compartments. In addition, 181 indentical rifles have been captured from the Sandinistas.
In 1963, the Cuban Government of Fidel Castro supplied similar rifles to terrorists then attempting to overthrow the Venezuelan Government of Romulo Betancourt. In response to a complaint from the Venezuelan Government, the Organization of American States (OAS) carried out an exhaustive investigation and from the findings of this body, we see today that the guns captured from the Sandinistas by the Nicaraguan National Guard are identical to those provided by Fidel Castro to the Venezuelan terrorists.
In accordance with the final report of the group of military advisers of the investigating committee of the OAS, a copy of which I am submitting for the record, the following are the characteristics of these Belgian rifles:
1. This specific model of the FAL was supplied to only three countries: Cuba, Ecuador and Chile.
2. In each case, the national emblem of the country was engraved on the back part of the right cheek of the action box except that the actual positioning in each of the three cases was different.
3. The rifles taken from the Sandinistas show the national emblem to have been erased or cut out precisely where the national emblem of Cuba was originally stamped.
4. The FAL rifles sold to Cuba carried the serial numbers on the left-hand side of the action box. Those rifles sold to Chile and Ecuador carried the serial numbers on the right-hand side.
5. The rifles captured from the Sandinistas have a long mounting bolt for the flash supressor, whereas those to Chile and Ecuador were short.
In an affidavit filed December 6, 1963 by the Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre, FN it clearly and categorically states that rifles with the characteristics noted above were sold only to the Government of Cuba.
Mr. Chairman, yesterday I submitted FAL rifles taken from the Sandinistas to an arms expert at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms. This expert concurred that the rifles being displayed here today are identical to those referred to in the Fabrique Nationale affidavit as having been purchased by the Cuban Government in 1959.
It may come as a surprise to the members of this subcommittee Mr. Chairman, to learn that identical FAL rifles to those taken from Sandinistas have been used by Fidel Castro's forces in Africa, especially in Angola.
Mr. Chairman you may ask what is the Panamanian connection with these cuban rifles. From our intelligence source we know that the route taken was precisely through Panama as shown by the fact that 49 of these FAL rifles were found alongside 70 U.S. manufactured M-1 carbines purchased by Panamanians and found in the two vans intercepted in March, as mentioned earlier. I will deal with these U.S. manufactured carbines further on.
It is also a fact that some of these rifles, I refer to the Belgian rifles were taken from Panamanian nationals killed in Nicaragua while fighting in the international brigade of mercenaries recruited by Hugo Spadafora, former vice-minister of health and former roommate of President Aristides Royo.
In the same two vans intercepted on March 13 and 16 mentioned earlier, Nicaraguan customs officials at Peñas Blancas also discovered substantial quantities of other weapons and materiel. Included were 90-.30 cal M-1 carbines. Seventy of these M-1 have been traced to the Universal Firearms Corp. of Florida and Johnson Arms of New Jersey. Records now show that these carbines were part of a shipment of 150 M-1-.30 cal carbines exported by Public Safety Corp. According to a permit of January 24, made out to James Allen Howell and Jose Antonio Alvarez of Miami, these carbines were exported to Caza Y Pesca S.A. (hunting and fishing) in Panama, of which Col. Manuel Noriega head of the Panamanian G-2 intelligence, figures as a principal shareholder.
On May 15, the U.S. District Court of the southern district of Florida indicted Jose A. Pujol, Miami air cargo manager for “Air Panama”, Jose Antonio (Tony) Alvarez, a Miami gun dealer and exporter, Carlos Wittgreen, president of Caza Y Pesca S.A., a Panamanian company, James Allen Howell and Walter Donald McComas of Miami.
This indictment is in connection with the purchase and delivery of arms between September 1978 and January 1979 and which include hundreds of .30 Cal M-1 carbines purchased from the Universal Firearms Corp. of Florida. According to the affidavit filed by special agent Donald R. Kimbler of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms of Miami, Florida, Jose Pujol on September 22, 1978 told the Garcia National Gun Shop that he would be ordering firearms in quantities amounting to two million dollars. He said the weapons were going to “Nicaraguan guerrilla forces.”
On November 10, 1978, special agent Kimbler interviewed Edgardo Lopez, then consul of Panama in Miami. According to the Atf affidavit, consul Lopez had stated that he had been involved in at least seven firearm shipments with Jose Pujol and Jose Antonio Alvarez, and that he received his instructions from an official of the Panamanian G-2 intelligence agency in Panama.
On May 11, 1979, President Aristides Royo of Panama said in Washington, D.C. that Lopez had been removed as consul on October 11, 1978, U.S. State Department records show, however, that Edgardo Lopez was only replaced in January 1979 and was still acting consul at the time he was interviewed by Atf agents on November 10, 1978.
Mr. Chairman, I have presented to this distinguished subcommittee the conclusive evidence that the governments of Cuba and Panama are supplying Belgium-made Fal rifles and U.Ş. made M-1 carbines to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
As to the many the weapons which are shedding the blood of Nicaraguans such as German machineguns, French and Communist Chinese rocket launchers, I do not have the same conclusive evidence.
Nevertheless, should the U.S. State Department consider looking into this matter, they might start with “Defensores de Panama”, P.O. Box 1824, Panama, Panama and name Debenord.
While the Panama Government might suggest that this trafficking is the concern of individuals, it could hardly take place without the knowledge and tacit approval of a responsible government.
NUMERO DE SERIE DE FUS I LES AHETRALLADORES FAL
(55) RIFLES FAL CAL. 7.62. NUMEROS:
13635 27393 7039 28635 11865 22509 19559 475 05 10.
11631 7886 11819
2049 27831 22173 21382 17794 3171
03 08 13
27944 6269 22733 14650 16093 16539 M-611
13519 27995 275.12
1662 6233 12440
MOTA: EXISTEN 17 FUSILES DE ESTE TIPO CON EL NUMERO BORRADO.
STATEMENT BY THE Hon. Luis PallaIS Mr. Chairman, I welcome this opportunity to meet with this distinguished subcommittee on a matter of such portentous importance to my country and the world.
Nicaragua is under a relentless attack by international Communism led by Cuba and Panama. Those who refuse to recognize this reality and see the present crisis and turmoil in Central America only as a product of national and socio-economic issues are blind to history and the evidence so clearly revealed by events.
Let us briefly review some of this evidence. My country, Nicaragua, has been a victim of 20 years of Soviet-Cuban subversion and terrorism with the coming to power of Fidel Castro in 1959. From that time onward, world Communism has sought to overthrow the constitutionally elected and successive governments of Nicaragua to impose Marxism on the people of Nicaragua, a system the people totally reject.
The Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) terrorist movement is the principal armed force by which the USSR-Cuba are attempting to achieve this objective. The Sandinista leaders have been trained and indoctrinated in Cuba and the Soviet Union. The Castro regime has provided weapons, financial and logistical support and open sanctuary for Sandinistas fleeing Nicaragua after carrying out terrorist actions.
Such has been the flagrant involvement of Cuba in this ongoing campaign that it has now become politically (and logistically) expedient for Cuba to move the front line base of operations to Panama.
On coming to power in 1959, Fidel Castro immediately targeted two countries for takeover: Panama and Nicaragua. As a result, Panama is today a Marxist enclave on the isthmus through the treachery of the present leaders of that nation. The Panamanian people have been betrayed from within.
Nicaragua has proved to be much more difficult. In August 1978, the Sandinistas carried out a sneak assault on the National Palace in Managua, killing five and holding almost the entire legislative body and 1,500 ordinary citizens hostage for 45 hours. Following the negotiated release of 59 fellow Sandinista terrorists from prison and a half million dollar cash ransoin, these terrorists were flown as they demanded to Panama. Many shortly reappeared in Cuba.
From that moment, Panama openly has become the continental haven for bloody terrorists and a base for recruiting, re-equipping and training of terrorist forces determined to take over Central America on behalf of international Communism.
Over the intervening months since that August 1978 assault on the National Palace in Managua, scores of Sandinista terrorists have been flown to sanctuary in Panama aboard Panamanian Air Force aircraft; their leaders flown to other countries in the region including Cuba, and Venezuela (government of Carlos Andrés Pérez) as part of the operations to recruit for and reorganize their terrorist operations.
On August 30, 1978 Marxist terrorist leaders Eden Pastora and Dora Maria Téllez were flown back to Costa Rica aboard a Panamanian military aircraft to meet with Costa Rican President Rodrigo Carazo.
On September 10, 1978, Twenty-two Sandinistas arrived in Havana, Cuba from Panama and were met and feted by high officials from the Central committee of the Communist Part of Cuba and Panamanian Ambassador Miguel Brugeras. On September 15, 1978, Panama dispatched 4 helicopters to Costa Rica to support action against Nicaragua.
On September 27, 1978, Sandinista leader Tomas Borge arrived in Havana from Panama and reported to Fidel Castro on the terrorist operations in Nicaragua.
On the same day, Jorge Aparicio, former ambassador of Panama to Algiers, confirmed that several former members of Panama's government are among the volunteers enrolled in the Communist International brigades of mercenaries being trained and equipped in Panama.
On November 28, 1978, the Associated Press reported that “generally reliable intelligence sources show Panama as a possible conduit for Cuban-financed aid and weapons in the struggle to overthrow the anti-Communist government of Nicara
December 28, 1978, former Panamanian Vice Minister of Health, Hugo Spadafora, confirmed that 20 experienced Sandinista guerrillas were in Panama the day the U.S. Senate voted on the ratification of the Canal Treaties, prepared to blow up the Canal with Panamanian troops under the command of General Omar Torrijos.
January 18 of this year, General Omar Torrijos while visiting Carlos Andres Perez Publicly stated “there are more arms than men” available for the attack on Nicaragua. He admitted that Panamanians are fighting the Somoza Government.