Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections
(Page 2 of 2)

High-Level Drug Case Rocks Cuba

June 26, 1989|DON SHANNON | Times Staff Writer

The officers seated in the Defense Ministry amphitheater burst into sustained applause at that point, the videotape showed. At other times, however, they appeared puzzled or even bored at the long harangue, as Castro stumbled over words and on several occasions repeated himself when he returned to a written text after frequent digressions.

Castro spoke of corruption as if it is in fact widespread--and it is common knowledge that the elite enjoy luxuries unknown to ordinary citizens, who shop in meagerly stocked state-owned stores. The implication was less that Ochoa benefited from graft than that he had overstepped acceptable limits.

"Some people with the best intentions in the world--like the people I call the saviors of the republic--they get into everything and they are serious," Castro said. "They say one must work, find dollars and save more Cuban pesos. Whatever their intentions are, they must do it in an orderly way. All businesses, any kind of business, even if authorized, if it goes beyond the established norm of financial control, sooner or later will end up in corruption."

Anti-Castro Cubans in Washington contend that Ochoa was unfairly lumped together with the De la Guardia brothers and another military officer in the drug-trafficking charges. They describe this as a convenient means of getting rid of a legitimate critic inside the armed forces. They point out that Ochoa's duty in Nicaragua from 1983 to 1985 and then in Angola until early this year make it unlikely that he could have functioned as a drug trafficker in Havana.

Assertions of Cuban narcotics activities are longstanding. A federal grand jury in Florida, for example, indicted a Cuban navy admiral and several high civilian officials on drug charges in absentia in 1982. Ironically, the admiral, Aldo Santamaria Cuadrado, is one of the 47 officers sitting today in judgment of Ochoa.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|