Murky dealings: Questions abound on arms shipment

The U.S. government assumes that regular rules don’t apply to Cuba. Take for example the arms shipments proceeding from Honduras to Florida.

Neither the U.S. military nor a military contractor is involved. Instead, Sanco Global Arms of Miami is taking charge of 4,600 FAL rifles, 800 AK-47 rifles, 30 20mm anti-aircraft guns, 48 RPG-7 rockets, 2,500 unspecified rockets, and hundreds of boxes of munitions and spare parts. The arms dealer is linked to anti-Cuban terrorist networks.

That’s a problem. Steps were taken following the 9-11 attacks to keep weapons of destruction away from nasty people.

The contradiction centers on Cuban-born Mario Delamico. As head of Panama-based Longlac Enterprises, Delamico arranged for the Honduran Army to take delivery of these Israeli-manufactured arms and munitions in 1986, during the U.S.-backed “Contra” war against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Honduras had an option to buy them in the event of attacks by Nicaraguan Sandinistas. The materials were stored for 22 years in the northern town of Naco. Longlac is a subsidiary of Sanco Global Arms.

It took 60 trailer truckloads to transfer the armaments to ships docked in Puerto Cortés, enough to keep 18,000 troops going for three months, according to the Honduran newspaper El Heraldo. The first ship loaded with arms left in December. Others follow in January and February.

Honduran Army spokesperson Ramiro Archaga refused to confirm Miami as the destination, insisting, “This is an ultra-secret operation requiring the most rigorous security measures.” But, “where else, if not there,” asked the Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde.

Mario Delamico tried to sell the arms to the Honduran police. The Army objected and in 2000 a Honduran court decision mandated their return to original owner Longlac Enterprises, or Sanco Global Arms. A U.S. court in 2005 rejected Sanco’s request to force Honduras to return the arms to the United States. Analysts attribute their return now to the initiative of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, a supporter of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

Mario Delamico’s terrorist proclivities have been on display since his arrival in Central America in the 1980s under the auspices of U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte. Expelled from Nicaragua for terrorism, he became head of “logistics control” for the CIA in Honduras, according to El Nuevo Diario of Nicaragua.

Delamico’s job was to organize arms supplies for U.S. puppet Contra rebels fighting leftist Sandinistas. Colleagues included Cuban Americans Luis Posada and Felix Rodriguez. All three are implicated in Iran-Contra schemes and drug sales to U.S. cities used to finance Contra supply operations.

Delamico is accused of aiding Posada’s plots to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro and bomb hotels in Havana in 1997. The Cuban newspaper Granma in 2000 reported that “by 1992 Delamico had become Posada’s central supplier and logistic support in relation to arms and explosives utilized in various acts of terrorism against Cuba and against its president.” Over the years Delamico, now 65 years old, became wealthy.

Together with Posada and Honduran Army officers, Delamico arranged for sabotage in Honduras aimed at bringing down the government of Carlos Roberto Reina, thought to harbor anti-military and pro-Cuban inclinations. A grenade explosion at his home killed the president in 1998. Florida and New Jersey Cuban Americans allegedly contributed to Delamico’s terrorist operations.

Sanco Company has not publicly shed its association with this instigator of violence. So far, neither public officials nor the media have questioned unhampered entry of arms into the United States under these circumstances.

The episode promises to become another that highlights Cuba’s singular status within U.S. ruling circles. The list is long: guaranteed permanent residence for Cuban migrants, continued blockade despite blanket UN condemnations, exclusion of food and medicine despite Geneva conventions, a blind eye for U.S.-based terrorist attacks on Cuba, life sentences for Cuban Five prisoners who monitored private groups’ plotting, and Bush administration plans to restructure governance of a sovereign nation.

Does a skewed approach to Cuba stem entirely from rotten apples in Miami? Spanish journalist Pascual Serrano, noting generational changes there, says no. Commenting on 50 years of Cuba’s Revolution (see rebelion.org); he suggests Cuba evokes fear because of its example, having “demonstrated to millions of people living under neoliberalism that another world is possible.”

atwhit@roadrunner.com