Ministry of the Interior announces arrest of Raul Ernesto Cruz Leon

STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR

On September 4, three bombs went off in the Copacabana, Triton, and Chateau Miramar hotels between 12:11 p.m. and 12:31 p.m., causing the death of the Italian citizen Fabio Di Celmo and material damage. Later, on the same day, another bomb exploded in the Bodeguita del Medio at 11:00 p.m., causing material damage to the establishment.

In the course of their inquiries, the State Security Forces obtained evidence about the person who planted the bombs, and that same day, Raul Ernesto Cruz Leon with a Salvadoran passport was arrested. Cruz Leon came to Cuba as a tourist from Guatemala on August 31.

Among his belongings were the haversack, cap, shorts, and T-shirt, that according to witnesses, the bomber wore when he carried out the actions. Forensic specialists detected traces of an explosive substance in the haversack and on the man’s hands and fingernails. Cruz Leon also had on him a list of tourist facilities in Cuba, and tools, electronic equipment, and a manual showing how to assemble and activate the explosive device used in these bomb attacks.

In his statement, the arrested man admitted to having brought into Cuba the C-4 explosive used in the attacks, and to placing the four bombs on September 4. He also declared that he was responsible for the bombs that went off in the Capri and Nacional hotels last July 12. Police investigations have revealed that the man identified as Raul Ernesto Cruz Leon is a mercenary agent who was recruited, supplied, and financed from abroad to carry out these actions.

He was paid $4,500 U.S. dollars for each bomb. The bomber received training, materials, a list of targets, air tickets, and money in El Salvador.

Cruz Leon declared he had been a member of the Salvadoran Army, where he received training as a paratrooper and a sniper. The latter in a U.S. Army military school in Georgia. He also mentioned that he was instructed in the use of explosives by North American instructors.

Cruz Leon confessed that his sole motivation for planting the bombs was money. He called himself a daring adventurer and admitted that he was indifferent to the facility or the country targeted.

The investigation revealed, without any doubt, that the operations were carefully planned and executed from Miami by a subversive organization controlled by the Cuban-American National Foundation headed by counterrevolutionary leader Jorge Mas Canosa. The organization has had at its disposition substantial financial resources to carry out the recent bomb attacks. This has allowed it to hire and train professional terrorists guised as tourists, supply them with all necessary materials and equipment, and provide them with a modus operandi for attacking Cuban tourist facilities that would distract from their detection.

The patient and meticulous work done earlier by our security forces provided evidence that foreigners were being hired to execute the attacks. This evidence led to the identification and arrest of the mercenary Raul Ernesto Cruz Leon a few hours after the latest terrorist attacks.

The Cuban security forces knew that a network of mercenaries was operating in El Salvador that was dedicated to terrorism and international drug trafficking, and was closely linked to Miami-based Cuban counterrevolutionary forces. It is well known that different members of the anti-Cuba mafia in Miami have been openly in touch with the most reactionary forces from the Central American country, including the death squads.

It is worth mentioning that between April 1994 and September 1997, our intelligence services had information of more than 30 terrorist actions against our country emanating from Miami. 15 of these included the use of the explosive C-4. The attacks were organized by the Cuban-American National Foundation and other counterrevolutionary groups like Alpha 66, PUND and the Orlando Bosch’s group. The latter was responsible for blowing up a Cubana airplane while in the air near Barbados. All these organizations are based in the U.S. and operate from there.

Most of these plans were thwarted, and the weapons, explosives, military equipment and other objects that were confiscated were clearly from the United States. Some of the people involved were arrested, and without exception, all of them came the United States, just as we had claimed all along.

One of these cases revealed the modus operandi they were beginning to use. In March 1995, two terrorists of Cuban origin, Santos Armando Martinez Rueda and Jorge Enrique Ramirez Oro, both living in Miami, were arrested. They had entered Cuba with false Costa Rican passports with the mission of planting a bomb at a Cuban hotel. These two people had previously infiltrated into Cuba from the United States through the province of Las Tunas carrying 51 pounds of C-4. The two individuals were trained and supplied by terrorists funded by the Cuban-American National Foundation. Their attempt failed and they were arrested and sentenced to long prison terms.

The modus operandi was similar in part to the one later used by mercenary Raul Ernesto Cruz Leon. But this time, it is possible to prove this new method used to attack the Cuban tourist industry and damage the country’s economy at all costs: the hiring of foreign mercenaries who enter the country disguised as tourists, armed with sophisticated equipment and all the necessary explosives to carry out their objective.

It was also very noticeable that since the first bomb went off, the Miami press insisted that the bombings were carried out by underground cells of opposition activists in Cuba, and they even tried to cynically link members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Interior Ministry to the blasts. It was evident that it was a plot aimed at deceiving and confusing international public opinion about the true identity of those who were physically and intellectually responsible for these criminal actions.

Bearing in mind that these operations are masterminded and funded from Miami by the Cuban-American National Foundation and other counterrevolutionary organizations, which act with total impunity there, and that our country has repeatedly provided evidence of their activities to U.S. authorities, it is highly unlikely that the experienced and sophisticated intelligence services of the United States are unable to thwart these plans and detain those responsible for them.

The Ministry of Interior has additional evidence that cannot be made public for operational reasons.

Investigations continue with the valuable and decisive support of our people, who once more, have played an important role in the defense of their Revolution.

Havana, September 10, 1997.

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