BY JANET POST
MIAMI - On December 21 the Miami Herald reported that a rifle used in a suspected assassination plan against Cuban president Fidel Castro in November had been purchased by Francisco Hernández, the president of the ultraright Cuban American National Foundation (CANF).
A U.S. grand jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is currently investigating the assassination plot, which allegedly involved four Cuban-Americans who intended to sail to Margarita Island, off Venezuela, where Castro attended the seventh Ibero- American Summit beginning November 7.
On October 27 the rightists called the U.S. Coast Guard after a mechanical failure on their yacht caused it to take on water. Some of the group claimed they were on a fishing trip, but instead of fishing gear, Coast Guardsmen found two Barrett .50-caliber semiautomatic rifles worth almost $7,000 each, military fatigues, night vision goggles, a satellite telephone, and portable radios.
The four were arrested on weapons charges and freed on bond after a week. According to a U.S. Customs investigator, one of them, Angel Alfonso Aleman, an administrator at a textile factory in Union City, New Jersey, "started yelling that the weapons were his" during questioning.
According to the Miami Herald, "Alfonso went on the say that he had hidden the weapons aboard the yacht for an attempt to kill Castro at the Ibero-American Summit."
"He was also quoted as saying his only mission in life was to assassinate Castro," a U.S. Customs investigator testified, according to the Herald. At later hearings Alfonso denied making the statements. His defense lawyer suggested that federal agents were lying. The Herald reported that one of the rifles was purchased in 1994 by CANF president Hernández and the second by a veteran of the U.S.-organized Bay of Pigs invasion, Juan Evelio Pou. The newspaper added, "Although the Havana government has repeatedly accused CANF and its members of financing armed attacks on Cuba, this is the first time a CANF official has been linked to an FBI investigation of an alleged plot against Cuba."
Hernández gave secret testimony before the San Juan grand jury November 19. The yacht, La Esperanza, is owned by Jose Antonio Llama, a member of the CANF Executive Committee who refuses to testify.
Janet Post is a member of International Association of
Machinists Local 368.
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