Scandal among Miami terrorists

Campaign News | Friday, 23 June 2006

Cuban emigre admits anti-Cuba terror plots

Miami, 23 June: JOSE Antonio Llama, former director of the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), is considering bringing fraud charges against several of his colleagues whom he is accusing of having seized funds of close to $1.5 million earmarked for a terrorist plot against Cuba, according to Miami sources.

The finance-terror scandal was uncovered by Radio Miami in its “El Duende” feature and explained by journalist Reynaldo Taladrid in last Monday’s (June 19) edition of Cuban TV’s Roundtable program.

The Miami Herald confirmed Llama’s exposé on Thursday 22 in an article that expands on the details of a conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism which had the participation of the deceased CANF president, Jorge Mas Canosa and various directors of the renowned Cuban-American lobby.

“Toñín” Llama admitted to the Herald that he and other members of that organization’s hierarchy created a paramilitary wing to commit acts of destabilization in Cuba and eliminate President Fidel Castro.

The words “acts of destabilization” and “eliminate” are euphemisms within the Florida mafia for acts of terrorism and assassination.


The official Miami daily confirmed in an interview with Llama that the CANF, a group protected by all U.S. administrations since its creation by Jorge Mas Canosa, acquired a freight helicopter, 10 ultra-light remote control aircraft, seven vessels and a large volume of explosive material with the explicit objective of acts of terrorism.

According to Llama, those plans could not be developed due to the unforeseen capture by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1997 of La Esperanza yacht in the vicinity of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The vessel was heading for the Venezuelan Isle of Margarita with the express objective of assassinating the leader of the Cuban Revolution, who was going there to participate in an Ibero-American summit.

As owner of the yacht, Llama was charged along with the crew of conspiracy to assassinate the president of Cuba. However, they were all exonerated in December 1999 by a compliant jury, for “lack of evidence.”

The Herald does not explain that the rigged trial was handled by Héctor Pesquera, the corrupt FBI officer who was subsequently recompensed with heading up that agency in Miami. On the contrary, Pesquera detained the Cuban comrades infiltrated into that city to counteract those Miami terrorist groups. Neither did the daily note that one of the terrorists arrested aboard La Esperanza, Juan Bautista Márquez, was later detained while on parole for the trafficking of 360 kilograms of cocaine and of trying to purchase a further 2,200 kilos of the drug.

La Esperanza yacht was part of a package for the anti-Cuba conspiracy, along with the 40-foot Midnight Express, which would transport Mas Canosa to the island once Fidel Castro was assassinated and his government defeated.

Llama is pressing charges in order to find out what happened to those funds as, for example, the remote control aircraft were supposedly sold by Pepe Hernández in 1997.

Alfredo Mesa, executive director of the CANF, described Llama’s charge as “an attempt at extortion and defamation,” while Ninoska Pérez Castellón, director and spokesperson for the Cuban Liberty Council (CÑLC), a breakaway group, stated that the case was “in the hands of lawyers.”

The newspaper acknowledges that the Cuban government has made insistent charges concerning the Foundation’s alleged armed plots.

It adds that the revelations on the creation and logistical equipping of that paramilitary body are part of an investigation initiated by El Nuevo Herald last year and which is now emerging for the first time. But in real terms, it would have been prolonged indefinitely if the scandal had not been made public in Cuba, as Llama was reduced to spreading it in the street with rudimentary resources.


Llama recalled that the criminal conspiracy was hatched during the CANF annual congress in Naples, Florida in June 1992. According to him, it was Puerto Rican Miguel Angel Martínez who “launched the idea.”

Some 20 directors took part in the conspiratorial crime and designated José “Pepe” Hernández and Mas Canosa to select the members of the terrorist group.

“In the congress of directors and trustees the following year (1993) in Puerto Rico, as selected members we began to meet and go over everything that we had to buy,” Llama confided to the Herald.

The daily named members of that group as including Elpidio Núñez, Horacio García and Luis Zúñiga, Erelio Peña and Raúl Martínez of Miami; Arnaldo Monzón Plasencia and Angel Alfonso Alemán, of New Jersey, implicated in the La Esperanza case; and Fernando Ojeda, Fernando Canto and Domingo Sadurní of Puerto Rico.

For unknown reasons, it did not mention other conspirators exposed by Llama: José “Pepe” Hernández, also implicated with him in La Esperanza case; Luis Prieto, Miguel Angel Martínez, Fermín Pernas and Luis Botifol.

Curiously, the names of three prominent Foundation chiefs do not appear in José Antonio Llama’s lawsuit: the doctor Alberto Hernández, the terrorist Roberto Martín Pérez and his wife, and the radio commentator Ninoska Pérez Castellón.

Three of the conspirators, Arnaldo Monzón Plasencia, Raúl López and Manuel “Nolo” García, have died.

The purchase of the remote control aircraft and the other military hardware was made under the cover of the companies Nautical Sports Inc, registered in Florida, and Refro Auto, located in the Dominican Republic, the report notes.

Llama showed El Nuevo Herald evidence of the transactions that he has in his home in southwest Miami.

He assures that he contributed $1.47 million from his own funds “to fund the project,” and that he was asked to take out a commercial loan in his name at the International Financial Bank. It was assumed that the loan would be repaid by everyone, but that was not the case and, being unable to meet his commitment to the bank, he was forced to declare bankruptcy. Llama believes that the enormous sum of money was defrauded from him by various Foundation directors.

The explosives were purchased via the notorious terrorist Raúl López, proprietor of a firm authorized to that effect, a normal occurrence in mafia Florida. Pepe Hernández ordered López to ask for a loan in the Ready State Bank of Miami to those ends. According to Llamas, the explosives were dropped from a vessel “on a reef close to the Bahamas by “Nolo” García, when a Bahamanian patrol boat approached Núñez’ yacht.

Eulogio Amado “Papo” Reyes, a mechanic, confirmed to the Herald that he assembled the aircraft, while José “Pekín” Pujol, a terrorist on file and captain of the Santrina yacht (which transported terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to the United States), confessed that the Foundation had used him since 1993 as an advisor for the purchase of vessels.

The daily reveals that Pujols has just been summoned by the El Paso Grand Jury to investigate the illegal entry into the United States of terrorist Luis Posada Carriles - who the Herald calls militantly anti-Castro.

A few days before September 11, 2001 there was a split in the CANF, when some founder members of the group created by Jorge Mas Canosa, like its ex-president Alberto Hernández, ex-treasurer Feliciano Foyo, ex-spokesperson Ninoska Pérez Castellón and directors Diego Suárez, Horacio García, Elpidio Núñez and Delfín Pernas, refused to attend an annual convention convened in Puerto Rico. They went on to form the so-called Cuba Liberty Council, which inherited a large part of the close relations of the Bush clan with these terrorists.

José Antonio Llama, who similarly did not travel to Puerto Rico, then accused Mas Santos - whom he is currently exonerating - of dictatorship.


Terrorist Luis Zúñiga Rey, now exposed as such by Llama, and whose participation in acts of terrorism has been affirmed by Havana on many occasions, was received in the White House gardens on October 10, 2003 by George W. Bush, who effusively embraced him before the television cameras.

Previously, Mel Martínez, now a senator and at that time a senior administration official, had participated on October 10, 2001 in the meeting in the Coral Gables Biltmore Hotel where the creation of the CLC was announced, alongside Llamas himself and various of the conspirators that he is denouncing, including Alberto Hernández, Ninoska Lucrecia Pérez Castellón, Horacio García, Elpidio Núñez and Luis Zúñiga Rey.

To make it clear, barely one month after September 11, Mel Martínez was sponsoring a group of Cuban-American terrorists.

On the other hand, Llama was in charge of the CANF Spanish Bureau and was responsible for developing relations between the Spanish Popular Party and the CANF. In Madrid he took part in a meeting at the PP headquarters in Génova Street, also attended by Guillermo Gortázar, José María Aznar and Jorge Mas Canosa. In November 1995, Aznar turned up in Miami where he fraternized with CANF leaders. Llama then animated the creation in Spain of a CANF branch headed by Gortázar joined by Carlos Alberto Montaner, a terrorist fugitive from Cuban justice and now a feature writer on the Miami Herald. Aznar even took the King and Queen of Spain to Miami, whom he introduced to Mas Santos, Pepe Hernández and Llama himself.

However, the scandal broke in Miami with the confession of a high-ranking Cuban-American mafia leader aimed at the FBI, regularly condemned in Cuba for its gross tolerance of terrorism at a time when the United States is supposedly waging a war against it.

What is the FBI going to do now? Will it finally undertake a full and long-awaited investigation into this criminal fauna who, due to their relations with the highest spheres of power, act as if they had carte blanche to violate the law? Will it take advantage of the scandal to enquire into the form in which five young Cubans were unjustly pursued, arrested and sentenced precisely for having infiltrated terrorist circles in the south of Florida? (Jean Guy Allard)

Cuban emigre admits anti-Cuba terror plots

A former board member of the rightwing Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation says he and other CANF leaders created a paramilitary group to carry out terrorist acts in Cuba and do away with Fidel Castro.

Jose Antonio Llama, known as Toñin, told the Miami Spanish language El Nuevo Herald newspaper that the arsenal to carry out these plans included a cargo helicopter, 10 ultralight radio-controlled planes, seven vessels and abundant explosive materials.

"We were impatient with the survival of Castro's regime after the fall of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp," said Llama, a key financial backer of the plot in the early 1990s. "We wanted to accelerate the democratization of Cuba using any possible means to achieve it."

The plans failed after Llama and four other emigres were arrested in Puerto Rico in 1997 on charges of conspiracy to assassinate Castro during the Ibero-American Summit on Margarita Island, Venezuela. A jury acquitted them after a federal judge threw out one of the defendants' self-incriminating statements.

Llama, a close associate of the late CANF leader Jorge Mas Canosa, left the group's board in 1999. He said he quit CANF because it refused to pay his codefendants' legal defense costs after the trial. Llama also went bankrupt.

CANF was founded in the 1980s and was a product of the Reagan administration. It stil receives generous handouts of US taxpayers' money via US government agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy.

It denies Llams claims. CANF spokesman Alfredo Mesa - speaking for members and leaders - told El Nuevo Herald: "In this case, we consider that it is extremely irresponsible for a press organization to echo what clearly represents an extortion and defamation attempt."

The Cuban government has long claimed CANF planned armed attacks on the island. Llama has been handing out pamphlets in Miami detailing the purported plot. On Wednesday, Granma - Cuba's government newspaper - published a story on the pamphlets.

Llama - who says he made his fortune building air conditioners for Soviet vehicles - said he's going public because he contributed $1.4 million of his own money to the cause and several CANF members snubbed him.

He is currently writing his memoires titled De la Fundacion a la fundicion: historia de una gran estafa (From the Foundation to Meltdown: Story of a Big Swindle).

"This is the truth - The only thing I have left at this point in life is the truth,"said Llama, 75. " am asking for what's due to me, nothing more and nothing less, to take it to bankruptcy court. Where are the vessels and planes I financed with my money? Where did they end up? Who has the original titles?"

Llama said he is also going public because his statements don't affect old friends who are implicated in the plot, such as emigres Arnaldo Monzon Plasencia, Raul Lopez and Manuel "Nolo" Garcia, who have died.

According to Llama, between 1994 and 1997 he personally spent more than $1.4 million to finance the purchase of radio-controlled planes and other supplies, under the cover of Florida-registered Nautical Sports Inc. and Dominican Republic-based Refri Auto.

Llama showed El Nuevo Herald financial records used to buy the equipment.

Llamas paid Nautical Sports $869,811. The purchase of the seven vessels equipped with satellite radio and phones, including the Midnight Express fast boat, was guaranteed through this front corporation, created in 1993, he said. That 40-foot motorboat was meant to take Mas Canosa to Cuba if Castro died or there was a sudden change of power, he added.

Another vessel, La Esperanza, was confiscated by the Treasury Department in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, after the 1997 federal indictments against its crew.

Llama remembers that the project started to take shape during CANF's annual meeting in Naples in June 1992. He said businessman Miguel Angel Martinez of Puerto Rico proposed the idea of "doing more than lobbying in Washington" to overthrow Castro. About 20 of the foundation's most trusted leaders agreed and designated Jose "Pepe" Hernandez, the current CANF president, and Mas Canosa to choose the armed group.

"It was agreed that since this was a delicate matter, details about the paramilitary group would be discussed in petit comite [a small committee]," Llama said. "At the meeting that board members and trustees held the following year [1993] in Puerto Rico, the chosen ones started to meet and consider everything that needed to be bought."

The foundation's general board of directors didn't know the details of the paramilitary group, which acted autonomously, Llama said. He added that current CANF board chairman Jorge Mas Santos was never told of the plan.

"It was debated whether the group should be led by Miguel A. Martinez or Pepe Hernandez," the activist said. "We chose Pepe for his known record as a fighter in the 2506 Brigade and the Marines."

Among the group members, Llama said: Elpidio Nuñez, Horacio Garcia and Luis Zuñiga, who left the Foundation in 2001 to establish the Consejo por la Libertad de Cuba (Council for the Liberation of Cuba, or CLC); Erelio Peña and Raul Martinez, all of Miami; Fernando Ojeda, Fernando Canto and Domingo Sadurni of Puerto Rico; and Arnaldo Monzon Plasencia and Angel Alfonso Aleman of New Jersey.

Former CANF members Garcia, Zuñiga and Nuñez declined to comment. Ninoska Pérez Castellón, a CLC spokeswoman, said the three men have referred the matter to attorneys.

Llama also gave this account of the operation:

The 10 small remote-control planes were financed by Llama for $210,000 through the International Finance Bank of Miami, which paid Flight Rescue Systems, a company owned by Luis Prieto and Rafael Montalvo. The equipment was stored in a Miami-Dade warehouse to be used against Cuban economic targets or against Castro. Llama said Pepe Hernandez sold them after 1997.

Sadurni donated the cargo helicopter, but Llama said he financed $85,360 for it through Republic National Bank, per instructions from Hernandez. The helicopter would be used as an operation base for the small planes and was parked at the International Flight Center in southwestern Miami-Dade.

To buy explosives, the group used businessman Raul Lopez, an anti-Castro emigre involved in infiltration operations in Cuba in the 1960s, Llama said. Lopez owned a company authorized to purchase explosives to open up sewage canals for South Florida's sugar industry.

Eulogio Amado Reyes, alias "Papo," a retired car mechanic, said he assembled the ultralights in a Miami-Dade warehouse with the help of a Texas instructor whose last name was Graham.

"All that was said was that it was a foundation project," said Reyes, 73.

Jose Pujol, a veteran sailor, said that in 1993 the foundation started using him as an advisor to purchase vessels.

"El Pelican [a vessel] was put in my name," said Pujol, 76. "The procedure was that I would look for vessels, Toñin made the down payment and Elpidio Nuñez was the backer."

According to Llama, most of the explosives were kept in Miami, but late in 1996 they were dropped to the ocean bottom from a vessel at a reef near the Bahamas. The shipment was being transported by "Nolo" Garcia in Nuñez's yacht when a Bahamian patrol boat approached them so they feared a search.

"For logical reasons, they threw the shipment into the ocean," Llama said. "Soon after we went there to recover it but didn't find it."

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