Does Cuba promote raids on itself? Double agent, Cuban diplomat secretly taped

November 13, 1992|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

MIAMI -- A Cuban diplomat at the United Nations recently met with a member of Miami's anti-Castro paramilitary group Alpha 66 and discussed plans for an exile commando raid against a hotel in Cuba's most famous beach resort.

During the conversation, secretly videotaped by Miami television station WSCV-Channel 51, the exile, Francisco Avila, gives the diplomat detailed information about the planned raid and agrees to let him know if the date or time of the attack is changed.

The meeting, along with Mr. Avila's account of his long-standing relationship with Cuban intelligence, seems to support long-held suspicions among some exiles in Miami that Cuba sometimes promotes the raids on the island so it can blame them on counterrevolutionary exiles and embarrass the U.S. government.

The meeting took place at a restaurant in Jamaica, Queens, in New York City, on Oct. 16 between diplomat Carlos Manuel Collazo and Mr. Avila. Channel 51 broadcast portions of the tape this week.

Mr. Avila told the station he has been a double agent for more than a dozen years, pretending to spy on fellow exiles for the Cuban government while in reality cooperating with U.S. counterintelligence. For the meeting with Mr. Collazo, Mr. Avila wore a hidden microphone so the station could record the conversation.

Ariel Ricardo, a Cuban government spokesman in Washington, has previously denounced Mr. Avila's allegations as an effort to divert attention from Cuba's complaints that the United States encourages raids on the island.

Paul Miller, the Miami FBI spokesman, refused to comment.

The State Department expelled Mr. Collazo from the United States Wednesday -- two days after the first part of the Channel 51 series began -- on suspicion that he was a spy.

Mr. Avila has told Channel 51 that Mr. Collazo, third secretary of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations, was his Cuban intelligence contact in this country.

Broadcast of Mr. Avila's meeting with Mr. Collazo was the highlight of the series, which has riveted the attention of Miami's exile community and has been reported on national newspapers and TV networks.

Mr. Avila has refused comment.

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