Saturday, April 29, 2006

Cuba Venezuela not helping in war on terrorism

Posted on Sat, Apr. 29, 2006

Washington: Cuba, Venezuela not helping in war on terrorism
A State Department report blasted Cuba and Venezuela for not cooperating
in the war on terrorism.

WASHINGTON - The State Department on Friday blasted Venezuela and Cuba
for doing little in the war on terrorism and criticized Havana for
refusing to hand over U.S. fugitives even as it made demands on
anti-Castro activist Luis Posada Carriles and five Cuban agents held in
the United States.

''Cuba remained a state sponsor of terrorism, while Venezuela virtually
ceased its cooperation in the global war on terror, tolerating
terrorists in its territory and seeking closer relations with Cuba and
Iran,'' according to the State Department's 2005 Country Reports on

But the annual congressionally mandated report also said ''there is some
dispute about the existence and extent of Cuba's bioweapons program,''
as the Bush administration continued to backtrack on earlier claims that
Cuba possessed a limited offensive biological warfare research and
development effort.

The State Department also lists several recent encounters between
Iranian, North Korean and Cuban officials but falls short of linking
these contacts to bioweapons technology transfers.

In an unusually detailed response to Cuba's longtime demands that the
United States hand over five of its agents convicted in 2001 of spying
for Cuba, the State Department said some U.S. fugitives have been living
on the island since the 1970s and that Cuba was ''nonresponsive'' to
U.S. demands that they be handed over.

''On the other hand, the Cuban regime publicly demanded the return of
five of its agents convicted of espionage in the United States,'' the
report said.

Cuba says the five are heroes who defended against attacks by exile groups.

The United States made a similar point with Posada Carriles, a former
CIA operative and Venezuelan citizen accused of masterminding the 1976
bombing of a Cubana Airlines plane, killing more than 70. ''Cuba did not
extradite suspected terrorists during the year, but demanded that the
United States surrender to Cuba Luis Posada Carriles,'' the report stated.

The report, which tackles terrorism issues worldwide, uses stern
language on Venezuela but falls short of listing it as a state sponsor
of terrorism, as some Venezuela officials feared.

Last year, the State Department called Venezuela's counterterrorism
cooperation ``inconsistent at best.''

Now cooperation is ''negligible,'' and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez
collaborated more with Cuba and Iran and was ``unwilling to deny safe
haven to members of Colombian terrorists groups, as called for in U.N.

U.S. officials have complained that Chávez has been systematically
cutting links with the United States, including limiting contacts
between U.S. military personnel and their counterparts in Venezuela and
ignoring or harassing William Brownfield, the U.S. ambassador in Caracas.

Washington said Chávez has turned increasingly authoritarian at home and
promotes an aggressive form of populism abroad. The Bush administration
has blocked or objected to Venezuelan arms purchases, saying they were
overblown given the nation's defense needs.

Venezuelan ambassador in Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, said the State
Department report was ``immoral and cynical.''

He said Washington demands collaboration on terrorism but has been
silent to Venezuela's requested extradition of Posada Carriles and two
Venezuelan officers charged with bombing foreign consular buildings in

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