The FBI's new Miami boss was Hector Pesquera. Soon after his May 1998 arrival, he “began to fraternize with key members of the exile leadership,” including CANF. As one of Pesquera’s agents later told a reporter, he “quickly made a brusque turn toward the right, and all investigations related to terrorism were abandoned.” In a newspaper interview on July 29, 1998, in fact, the new head of the FBI’s Miami office declared that he “understands the animosity that Cubans feel toward the government of Fidel Castro.” He had no plans, he added, to “raise the priority” of Bureau investigations into any alleged plots against Cuba’s tourist industry by Cuban-Americans living in Miami.
Instead, he ordered his agents to figure out where Cuban State Security was getting its intelligence. By that point, of course, Pesquera already knew what the Cubans had turned over to the FBI in Havana in June concerning the airplane plot. “They informed me of what was going on,” he later told an interviewer for Radio Marti, the American government-funded, anti-Castro radio station. “We then began to stress that this investigation into the effects of intelligence should no longer remain as is, but should change direction and become a criminal investigation,” he explained, then added, “I had many problems convincing the Justice Department.” Some in the department “didn’t want to touch this,” he told another interviewer, and said that the disagreement went all the way to the top. “Everything was on the line.” Attorney General Janet Reno herself had to be “persuaded,” and it took FBI Director Freeh’s personal intervention to finally get the OK Pesquera needed to do what he wanted to do.
Copyright 2010 Stephen Kimber