Two days ago I found that Ernesto Betancourt, an economist and former director of Radio Marti, wrote this paper about the Elian case (updated on March 1. 2004) that supports what I expose in "The Rats Below." This paper has never been published before. The "BACKGROUNDER" is a series of papers he writes about different topics. Ernesto gave me permission today to send it for publication. I'm offering exclusively to you to be the first one!
I think this would be another opportunity to expose what went on. It contains some very shocking information. This is also an opportunity to validate my work. I'm looking for Ernesto's resume; which is very good. He is the one who created for the Kennedy administration the slogan, "Alliance For Progress" and was a lobbyist for Castro's 26 of July organization in Washington, DC (prior to 1959) and was Castro's economic advisor for his 1959 trip to the U.S.
B A C K G R O U N D E R
Who Is Behind Efforts to Return Elian to Castro?
Little Elian has unwittingly become the most important target in Castro's propaganda campaign to prolong his stay in power. He has exploited very cleverly the widely supported principle that a child belongs with his father, a fact hard to question. At the same time, he has diverted attention from the equally valid fact that this is not so in Cuba, where the Constitution and other laws state very clearly that all parental and children rights are subordinated to the goal of making them good Communists.
In doing this, Castro has enjoyed the complicity of the President and the Attorney General of the US. But, why is Clinton doing this? Family values? Give me a break. Central to this complicity is the role of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and its Washington lawyers, Williams and Connolly, where Gregory Craig is a partner. Most attention has been focused on Gregory Craig as Clinton's attorney during the impeachment process; few have focused on the powerful financial interests behind him.
The real power manipulating and financing the puppets in the background is none other than Dwayne Andreas, of Archer Daniels Midland, the criminally indicted corporation that had to pay a hundred million dollars fine for its violations of the anti-trust laws. A review of press coverage of this angle of the case from its beginnings reveals the strange links between Andreas and the Elian case.
According to Charley Reese of the Orlando Sun Sentinel (4/23/00), Andreas got first involved with Castro in 1995, when he attended a dinner in New York with the Cuban dictator. In February 1996, Castro ordered the downing of the Brothers to the Rescue planes, in which four people died, an action for which five Cuban spies are about to be prosecuted for conspiracy to commit murder but, thanks to the gracious decisions of the Attorney General, not Fidel Castro. This incident led to the approval of the Helms-Burton legislation. Not deterred by this legislative statement of US national policy, shortly after, in July, 1996, Andreas visited Castro in Cuba and discussed plans to build a refinery in the island through a Spanish subsidiary.
While all this was going on, ADM was caught in the biggest anti-trust law scandal recorded in a long-time. Not only was the company that year forced to pay the above-mentioned penalty, but one of Andreas'
sons, Michael, who was ADM's Senior Executive Vice-President, was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison. These shenanigans have resulted in Fortune (4/17/00) recently including ADM's Board as one America's Worst Boards and calling it "the Albania of corporate America."
Andreas' Cuban efforts are channeled through a point man called Anthony DeLio. The main purpose of ADM's efforts is to lobby for a lifting of the embargo. DeLio is quoted by Forbes (2/07/00) as stating that "it's our belief that in the next year or two trade will open up." In this effort, the Clinton Administration has been involved behind the scenes.
According to Forbes, among the events sponsored by Mr. Andreas was the visit to Cuba in the Fall of 1999 by a delegation headed by Illinois Republican Governor Ryan. ADM's headquarters is in Decatur, Illinois, and ADM was deeply involved in reciprocating a visit to its headquarters by a delegation of Cuban diplomats. The Governor visit ended in embarrassment when he did not have the courage to read some quotations from Abraham Lincoln in his prepared speech at Havana University when Castro unexpectedly came to the audience.
In January this year, Andreas was also behind the US Healthcare Exhibition opened in Havana with the attendance of Rep. Maxine Waters, one of several ADM kept politicians, who are financed by donations through various front organizations. For example, the National Council of Churches got a $100 000 donation from Dwayne Andreas. The National Council of Churches, a well known front for Communist causes during the Cold War years, is headed by Andy Young, who happens to be also a member of the ADM board, a position which nets him around a hundred thousand dollars a year. It was through Andy Young's good offices that the Council got involved in the visit by Elian's grannies. That visit ended in a fiasco.
Andreas is a financial supporter of Barry University and his wife is a graduate and past chairman of the Board of Trustees. Sister O'Laughlin, President of Barry University, who is a friend of both Mrs. Andreas and Janet Reno, hosted the meeting of the grannies with Elian at the request of INS Commissioner, Doris Meissner. Initially, she favored Elian's return to
Cuba. Unfortunately for Andreas and Castro, the nun is an honest person
and, after the meeting, changed her mind, concluding it was better for Elian to stay in the US.
In an affidavit filed before the Miami District Court, Sister O'Laughlin explains why she changed her mind. She realized the grannies were fearful of Castro's handlers, in particular Pablo Odon Marichal, a member of the Cuban Council of Churches who is also a member of the Legislative Assembly and a Castro henchman. Somehow, he had intimidated the grannies. She confirmed that perception in a conversation with Bob Edgar, who told her the National Council of Churches was withdrawing its sponsorship of the visit because the Cuban government was in charge and not them. According to Edgar, during the first trip, the grannies were willing to visit the Miami relatives and a Cuban official was the one who ordered the plane back to Washington, a flight he refused to join. (Affidavit filed at Miami District Court - 2/24/00)
Granma, the organ of the Communist Party of Cuba, immediately launched their usual vicious attacks on Sister O'Laughlin, calling her "a sinning nun.' Such treatment of her friend did not go well with Mrs.
Andreas. NCC funds to finance the grannies visit were exhausted and not replenished and the Council unceremoniously dumped the grannies on the Cuban Special Interest Section. Having lost the Council's holy sponsorship, the grannies were forced to cut their tour and return to Cuba.
It is important to point out that in the initial phase of the Elian saga, the INS ruled that the child's case be referred to family court and granted custody to Lazaro Gonzalez (NuevoHerald 12/1/99) Also, it was Elian's father who called Lazaro to take care of the child. Only after Castro got into the act and issued a 72 hour ultimatum, threatening to cancel the regular immigration talks scheduled for early December, did the INS backtrack on its decision. (Nuevo Herald 12/6/99) If you go to the INS webpage on the Elian case you find that it starts in January, 2000.
Apparently, INS does not want to acknowledge their reversal of positions.
Shortly after, the Cuban Special Interest Section contacted a Chicago lawyer, Jeffery Leving, who told the Herald that he had accepted and was waiting for the official authorization from Havana. (Nuevo Herald 12/10/99) Therefore, in December, Havana was not counting on the support of Dwayne Andreas and ADM to deal with the Elian case. Castro's threats to Clinton on immigration matters and even the concession of accepting Cuban convicts who had rebelled in prison in Louisiana offered enough leverage.
But something was not going according to plan on the judicial
tract. The case was appealed to the Atlanta Courts and the Constitution
protected the rights of further appeals by the Miami family. It was during this period that the Administration tried to back off of the deal with Castro by creating the fake Faget spy incident. On February 11, the sting operation presenting Faget with a false Secret dossier was staged and, on February 18, Faget was arrested. Castro immediately smelled a rat. He reacted in his usual aggressive fashion and Granma denounced this arrest as a plot to justify removing INS from the Elian case. Castro offered to renounce diplomatic immunity for the two Cuban consuls involved, Molina and Imperatori, so they could testify in a US court. After the Imperatori showdown, Clinton abandoned the Faget ploy. This was a strange spy ring consisting of only one participant. Faget's FBI affidavit only documents he violated security rules by revealing secret information but does not provide one piece of evidence supporting the accusation of his being a Cuban spy.
After this fiasco, the Elian deal between Clinton and Castro had to proceed.
These setbacks did not deter Andreas. After all, according to a January 27, 2000 report by a staff writer for the Decatur Herald and Review, Paul A. Brinkmann, "the Cuban government is moving towards consideration of a joint venture type relationship with Archer Daniels Midland." Brinkmann covered the US Health Exhibition in Havana, of which ADM was the main sponsor. Rep. Maxine Waters is reported to have "led efforts in Washington to allow the trade show." Tony Delio, ADM's point man on Cuban deals is quoted as stating: "Now maybe we have the political clout to accomplish something." Andreas is getting privileged access to Castro's Cuba in exchange for his political clout."
It is at this time that Gregory Craig entered the picture.
Craig's firm, Williams and Connolly, represented Andreas' ADM in its criminal trials. The link of Craig with Clinton presented ADM the opportunity of offering Castro a demonstration of having good political leverage. As Andreas Cuban point man says, according to Forbes (2/7/00), "The idea is to show them what we're capable of." At that point, the Atlanta Court had set a date to hear Elian's appeal for political asylum in an accelerated process. Again, some donor is providing the financial resources to allow the National Council of Churches to pay Craig's fees. We can guess the most likely source is good old Dwayne Andreas.
According to David Hoech of the Archer Daniels Midland Shareholders Committee, Andreas and his wife are reported to have donated at least $10,000 each to the fund set up by Andy Young's National Council of Churches to finance Craig's fees. Another version, fielded to cover up the real source of the Craig linkage, claims that it was Senator Leahy who got Craig into taking the case and that the United Methodist Church set up the fund to be administered by the National Council of Churches "as a humanitarian act." (Chicago Tribune 4/27/00) Where were all these humanitarians when Castro murdered 13 kids by ordering his fireboats to hose them off the deck of the tugboat in which their families were trying to escape Cuba on July 13, 1994?
As soon as Craig got into the picture, the Justice Department started backing off of what had been agreed before the Atlanta Court. A new approach emerged, the Attorney General threatened the family, time and again, with all kinds of punitive actions unless they renounced their constitutional rights of appeal and agreed to deliver the child in a location of their choice. This was damage control and public opinion spin.
Damage control, to cut the potential time frame of a dragging appeal process and to avoid the transfer of custody to take place under media coverage. On March 30, 2000 Vice-President Gore, defected from the Administration position, just in case.
And, the spin? To provoke the Cuban-American community rage so they would alienate mainstream America.
The Cuban-American community fell into the trap. The defiant positions taken by Mayors Carollo and Penelas on national TV, on March 29, provided the Administration the public opinion breakthrough they needed.
The Republican Party has not dared to react to the Administration's actions because polls show that Cuban-Americans are isolated from the rest of the country. Two masters at manipulating public opinion outsmarted the Miami community.
Craig flew to Havana to persuade Castro to let Elian´s dad come to the US. After several hours, a deal was struck and Juan Miguel arrived in Washington. Since Craig, as a private lawyer, could not make any commitments on behalf of the US Government, we have to assume he had some goodies to offer from his former client, President Clinton. We do not know what promises from the President Craig offered to persuade a reluctant and distrustful Castro to go along. Afterwards, Justice and INS were all over the place preparing to cave in to Castro´s demands, as expressed by Craig.
In doing that, Justice and INS ignored the commitments they had made to the Atlanta court. This was evidently not well received by the Appeals Court as reflected in their April 19, 2000 decision. The Court gave a severe rebuke to Justice and INS maneuvers to deny the child his day in court. According to the Court, it was Justice, not the Miami family, that had violated the rule of law.
Alarmed by the turn of events, on April 20, Granma launched a vicious attack on the Atlanta Court and released the intelligence information they had passed to the State Department about weapons and armed people around the González family home. This is the intelligence information which has been used to justify the heavily armed raid on the home, none of which was confirmed by the actual events. Mind you, the US Government relied on Castro provided intelligence to plan an armed raid on an American home.
According to the Drudge report, Reno informed her staff that, upon their return from Oklahoma City, the President had given the order to seize the child no matter what. This rush cannot be explained in terms of the dynamics of the case, which was moving through a promising mediation by prominent Miami business and civic leaders. Several of these leaders were caught in the house talking to Reno when the raid started. However, even Aaron Podhurst--one of the mediators and a close friend of Ms. Reno--raised serious questions as to how free the Attorney General was during their phone conversations. What threat did Castro make to Clinton that triggered this action that has added such an ugly legal and public image complication for the Administration? The photo of the US Marshall threatening Elian with an automatic weapon in a closet--while being held by the man who saved his
life-- will be part of Clinton´s legacy, no matter how effective the spin to confuse American public opinion is in the short run.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal (4/24/00), Peggy Noonan has raised the hypothesis that Castro may have been blackmailing Clinton over the release of tapes of his conversations with Monica Lewinski. Before that hypothesis is written off, it is advisable to take into account that the Russians have provided Castro with an electronic monitoring capability similar to the one Russia still maintains at Lourdes, South of Havana. So, technically, Cuba has the capability to monitor private telephone conversations anywhere in the US. Another hypothesis is that Castro had recordings of embarrassing conversations with Craig during his visit to Cuba, involving Clinton´s promises and Andreas role in the whole mess, and threatened to release them. He had done that before with notes exchanged with American diplomats during the visit of the grannies. It is also possible that Castro threatened with breaking the US/Cuba Immigration Agreement and unleashing another mass migration that could destroy Gore´s hopes in November.
Realizing he is dealing with a weakling, Castro is likely to raise the ante. Clinton will face additional demands from a Castro drunk with the euphoria of victory. Castro has already kicked out the Europeans by withdrawing his application for Lome Convention membership. And, of course, we will also have to be on the alert for Andreas payoff in exchange for supporting Elian´s betrayal. Stay tuned, it is going to be a hot Summer and a miserable Fall.
Ernesto F. Betancourt
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Castro's Big Business Connection
Agustin Blazquez just sent us this historical document, which he says supports the thesis of his new documentary film, "The Rats Below" that alleges the Archer Daniels Midland corporation was linked to the Clinton administration's actions in the Elian Gonzalez case through Washington attorney Greg Craig, revealing a previously unreported big-business connection to the Cuban-American story: