Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ocala Star-Banner, June 7, 1968, "Anti-Castro Organization Issues Trading Ultimatum" by The Associated Press.

MIAMI - Cuban Power, the secret anti-Castro terrorist band, announced today it has issued an ultimatum to several nations to stop trading with Cuba or have their ships and planes blown up.

The exile organization said it sent the ultimatum by cablegram to Spain, Generalissimo Franco, Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

The Cuban Power bulletin, signed "Ernesto" said its representatives in Washington had delivered the same ultimatum by telephone to the ambassadors of Japan and some other countries.

Last week Cuban Power claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Japanese freighter Asaka Maru docked at Tampa, Fla. and the British vessel Greenwood south of Key West, Fla. The FBI said it is investigating the explosions which damaged both ships.

Cuban Power said it cabled the Spanish and Mexican heads of state a "war ultimatum to your government to suspend all trade with the Communist Cuban regime. Otherwise you will be the only one responsible for Spanish and Mexican planes and ships being dynamited."

Cuba Power said they cabled Wilson that dynamite of the Greenwood on May 5 "is the initial punishment by the heroic Cuban people against the British government which trades with the Castro tyranny."

The cablegram added, "You will have to pay with much British blood if trade with Cuba continues."

The news bulletin said the Japanese ambassador has been warned that "forces of Cuban Power in any part of the world are ready to light the airs and seas with explosives until Cuba is free." In the case of Mexico, Ernesto said, "it is more for its (diplomatic) relations with Cuba than its trade."

Cuban Power said its communications to the nations "are of a military nature and with the format of an ultimatum."

There has been a chain of Latin-flavored bombing incidents in the Miami area over a six month period. Cuban Power has claimed responsibility.

Copyright (c) 1968 The Associated Press
The Miami News, June 1, 1968, "Cubans Claim Ship Bombings"

Cuban Power, an exile terrorist organization based in Miami, claimed today it waas responsible for bombing a Japanese freighter yesterday at a Tampa dock and a British ship off Key West.

A spokesman, identified only as Ernesto, added that "other ships are going to explode." He said Cuban Power is warring against trade with Cuba. "Explosives were placed about the vessel Asaka Maru many days before the explosion occurred," he claimed.

The Asaka Maru was rocked by an explosion in a stern compartment that houses the ship's steering mechanism. The freighter, docked at a phosphate terminal at the Tampa port, would have sunk had it been at sea at the time of the explosion, officials said.

No injuries were reported and damage was estimated at $100,000. Hillsborough County Deputy Fred Crane said witnesses reported smelling something similar to gunsmoke after the explosion. "The odor of gunpowder indicates some sort of bomb was responsible," said Crane.

The FBI was investigating the case today.

Copyright (c) 1968 The Miami News

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Miami News, March 1, 1968, "Plot to Hijack Cuban Ship Fails" by Bob M. Gassaway.

A Cuban exile said today his group dispatched a heavily armed war party to hijack the Communist ship that rammed its own lifeboat carrying three crewmen fleeing to asylum in the United States. The effort was called "Operation Pueblo."

Dr. Orlando Bosch said U.S. government agents arrested four of the raiders and seized one arms-laden boat for violating federal laws. Later, another member of the group said six men in a second boat returned to Miami without attacking the ship.

Bosch said the 10 men were sent yesterday to hijack the Cuban freighter 26 de Julio which rammed the lifeboat 10 miles off the Virginia Coast Tuesday when three men called "traitor crewmen" by the Fidel Castro government attempted to flee the vessel.

The raiders, Bosch said, "knew where the ship was going and the way it was taking. They could very well have attacked the 26 de Julio if the U.S. government had not interfered."

Fred L. Patton, supervising U.S. customs agent in Miami, confirmed the four men named by Bosch were arrested in a boat carrying arms. Patton said, "they made no statement" about their intentions. The four were jailed on charges of illegal arms exportation.

Patton said the boat was seized off Miami Beach at government cut, an entrance to Biscayne Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.

Bosch told the Associated Press the hijackers "carried weapons and grenades and a 20-millimeter cannon. You can say we assume the responsibility. We were going to hijack the 26 de Julio." He said the boats departed from the Florida Keys.

Bosch, who is secretary general of an exile alliance called the Insurrectional Recovery Movement - Commandos L, identified the quartet as Jorge Gonzalez, Barbaro Balan, Marcos Rodriguez and Andres Garcia. The four were held at the Dade County jail.

Copyright (c) 1968 The Miami News
The Miami News, February 14, 1968, "Fingerprint Test Leads to Arrest" by Milt Sosin and Bob Wilcox.

A Cuban exile was arrested early today by a Miami police intelligence squad and charged with one of a series of bombings attributed to the "Cuban Power" terrorist organization.

Police identified him as Ricardo Morales Navarette [or Navarrete], 29, and said he was arrested at a house at 921 SW 5th St. in Miami's "Little Havana" section where he lived with his wife and three children.

Sgt. Everett Kay of the Miami criminal intelligence division said Morales is a member of the Cuban Power organization and that two hand-written Cuban Power handbills and a pencil-type military detonator were found in his house.

Morales told newsmen at police headquarters that he knew nothing of any bombings. "The only thing I know about Cuban Power is what I have read in newspapers," he added.

Morales was asleep when Lt. Havard Swilley, head of the Miami intelligence unit and Sgts. Kay, Eugene McCracken and John Weaver knocked on the door at 6:15 a.m. They had staked out his house last night for several hours but Morales had not returned while they were there, and the officers returned this morning.

Morales was specifically charged with "placing [a] bomb in a place of business at 3526 W. Flagler St. This was one of three Miami establishments bombed on the early morning of Jan. 25.

A plastic explosive known as "C-4" was used in all three bombings. Police sources said that in the Flagler Street bombing, in which a policeman was injured, a second charge was found in an envelope at the scene.

The envelope was subjected to a process developed by Robert Worsham of the Metro Crime Laboratory which utilizes traces of body chemicals left on surfaces to bring out fingerprints.

Workable prints came out and experts of the Miami police fingerprint division headed by Joe Musial went through records of exiles who are fingerprinted as part of their immigration processing - to find matching prints. Police said Morales' prints matched those on the envelope.

Three days before the bombings of the three business places, a Mexican airplane was damaged by a blast at Miami International Airport.

Bombing of the plane brought the FBI into the investigation, and the Metro intelligence unit also participated and cooperated with Miami police.

Following the bombing of the plane, a "communique" was issued by an organization styling itself Cuban Power. It claimed responsibility for the plane bombing and warned that similar measures would be taken against all persons and businesses engaged in sending packages of medicine, food and clothing to Castro Cuba.

At police headquarters today, the stocky, black-haired Morales said, "I am not connected with any bombing. If my mother was in Cuba I would send her things. This is a humanitarian thing. I couldn't be against that."

Morales left Cuba in 1959, he sid, because he was against communism. He came to the United States, but in 1964, he said, he fought in the anti-Communist Fifth Congolese Brigade in Africa. He said he held the rank of captain and was in a paratrop unit whose job was to rescue captives from rebel forces.

Police said Morales has been under surveillance for two weeks. Other suspects are being watched and further arrests are expected. Morales said he has worked as a salesman but presently is unemployed and had planned to look for a job today. He was held in county jail pending the setting of bond.

In the Jan. 25 bombings, two of the targets were the Flagler Street office and store of Servicios Especializados, operated by Jose Valdez, and All Cargo Transport, 1707 Coral Way. Both specialized in shipments of food and medicines to Cuba.

At the Flagler Street address, Miami Police Sgt. Russell Leasburg was injured by the explosion of a detonator set in the envelope of C-4 which did not go off.

On the early morning of the same day - Jan. 25 - a paint and body shop at 333 SW 17th Ave., was blasted. The owner, Jesse Tobar, said he had no connections with Cubans.

There was a pause in the bombings, then, on Feb. 1, a bomb believed to have been fashioned from an artillery simulator awakened the family of Rafael Reyes Spindola, Mexican consul-general in Miami, at their home, 912 SW 74th Ave. Reyes Spindola went outside to find that his auto had been damaged.

Last Friday came the latest bombing. Explosives were set off at the base of the garage at the home of the British Consul in Miami, Francis J. Pelly, 4400 Anderson Rd., Coral Gables, while Pelly, his wife and 15-year-old daughter were sleeping in the house.

One auto was wrecked and a second badly damaged.

Copyright (c) 1968 The Miami News
The Miami News, January 25, 1968, "Many As 2,000 Parcels Go to Cuba Monthly" by Dick Holland.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 packages a month are sent by Cuban exiles to relatives in their homeland, U.S. officials here said today. The volume of shipments surges tremendously before such holidays as Christmas, they said.

U.S. Customs Officer Joe Boyett said two or three private companies here specialize in shipping the parcels to Cuba. None go directly to Cuba; they all are routed by way of Mexico, Spain or Canada.

"Most of the packages get through," said Boyett. "But the length of time varies considerably - and the problem is all on the other end."

At Miami International Airport, where a package-bearing Mexican airplane was bombed last Saturday, there is no problem in finding a plane to take them out, Boyett said. Both Pan American Airways and the Dutch KLM Airline frequently carry such packages, he said. "But getting the stuff actually, physically into Cuba is sometimes a problem.

"Only Cubana Airlines, the official Cuban government line, can pick up the packages and fly them into Cuba. And the capacity of Cubana is very limited."

Exile sources here said a package frequently reaches a relative in the homeland in two weeks. But, it was learned today, the packages often pile up at some place such as Merida, Mex., for three months before they are picked up and flown into Cuba. This was confirmed by Boyett.

One U.S. official said it evidently depends on someone in Havana making arbitrary decisions. Cuban officials inspect every package arriving from the U.S. "All of a sudden, they will say that no inspectors are available," the official said.

Customs processes the great majority of the packages sent from here. For some time, the U.S. Post Office has not accepted anything for Cuba except medicines and regular letters.

Postmaster Eugene Dunlap in Miami said such mail also has been seriously delayed at intervals, and he has contacted the Department in Washington about it. So far, Dunlap said, there has been no change in instructions.

Restrictions imposed by Customs limit such packages to $100 in declared value, with a limit of a single package at a time from any one individual or organization. "These shipments are all 'gift' shipments," said Boyett. "That is, food, medicines, sundries, clothing things that you'd normally consider as gifts."

Canned foods, aspirin and shoes turn up in most of the packages, he said. And just before Christmas, there were many baby toys and other children's gifts. The parcels may be sent only from individuals or charitable institutions and organizations, Boyett said. And the same restrictions apply to the addressees.

U.S. officials said they were surprised by the bombings, apparently directed at the package shipments, because the great majority of exiles here have always been sympathetic to the package shipments.

Copyright (c) 1968 The Miami News

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Miami News, January 25, 1968, "Exiles Can't Carry Wars to Our City, Gerstein Says" by Ian Glass.

State Attorney Richard Gerstein said today of the bombing of the three Cuban businesses: "These militant anti-Castro organizations are going to have to learn that if they are going live here, they cannot conduct their inter-fraternity wars in our streets. Stringent steps are going to have to be taken to apprehend and prosecute."

Gerstein said that, if the violence continues, law enforcement agencies will have to infiltrate the exile groups. "That is the only way to weed out the guilty," he said.

Ironically, Gerstein this morning had appeared on a panel in the courthouse which had discussed the upsurge of violence and ways to combat crime. The panel was sponsored by the Florida State Committee on Law Enforcement.

Also on the panel was Miami Police Chief Walter Headly, who confessed that, at that time, he had no knowledge of the bombings, and said he was surprised at the Cuban violence.

"So far, the refugees' crime record has been lower generally than other segments of the population. Most complaints we have about them are mostly irritation: they move several families into a house and the neighbors get mad. They play their radios loud and congregate in the street, things like that."

Headley, who recently stepped up the war on crime here with additional dog patrols, would not comment on what plans he had for curbing Cuban violence until he knew all the facts of the bombings.

Miami Mayor Stephen P. Clark termed the incidents "most unfortunate. This is no way to conduct any type of movement in our community. Violence like this in future will be met in an appropriate manner by our police agencies."

The bombings were loudly denounced by the city's Negro leaders, who pointed out ironically that most violence in the streets is attributed to Negroes.

Typical reaction was that of City Commissioner M. Athalie Range, who said: "It's the Cubans you're going to have to watch in future for violence. Negroes talk a lot but they don't march around with protest signs - and they don't resort to bombings."

The Rev. Theodore Gibson said "I can understand the anguish of Cubans and their feelings towards Castro, but they do not have the right to take the law into their own hands.

"I hope these people recognize that incidents like these do not help their cause."

Copyright (c) 1968 The Miami News
The Miami News, January 25, 1968, "'Cuban Power' Is War Cry of Exile Terror Group" by Milt Sosin.

"El Poder Cubano!"

The words stirred a furor today in Miami's Cuban Community as bombs damaged two agencies shipping food packages to Cuba and a garage with no apparent Cuban connections.

The words mean "Cuban Power," a terror organization which claimed responsibility for the bombing of an airplane at Miami International Airport last Saturday and warned, in its "Communique No. 1" of its intent to move against any business dealing with Castro Cuba.

Along SW 8th Street and on Flagler Street and in the side streets between the two where many thousands of Miami's Cuban exiles live, it was [freely] predicted in the food markets and at the street front coffee counters that "Communique No. 2" would be issued today and would claim "credit" for the bombings early today.

And it was just as freely predicted that the bombings would increase. The big question was: "Who is Ernesto?"

Communique No. 1 was signed in behalf of El Poder Cubano by "Ernesto."

Investigators had many candidates in mind for the leadership, but there was no clear cut indication of his identity. There were too many possibilities.

Felipe Rivero, leader of the militant anti-Castro Cuban Nationalist Association, who was released last Oct. 30 on $10,000 bond after spending 171 days in Dade County jail pending appeal from an Immigration Service order excluding him from the United States, was told by a newsman today that it had been suggested that he was the leader of El Poder Cubano.

"No. I am not Ernesto," the 43-year-old Rivero said.

"If our organization had been in back of these bombings, I would not have hidden behind any name like that. I would have said we had placed the bombs and told why - just as we did when we attacked the Castro embassy in Ottowa and the warehouse in Montreal filled with material stolen by Castro.

"These people who are bombing those places to stop packages from going to Cuba are accomplishing only one thing - depriving a lot of old ladies and babies in Cuba of food, medicine and clothing.

"They are not hurting the Castro economy one bit. The place to strike at Fidel Castro is in the economy that provides him with dollars - not take away food and medicine from old ladies and babies.

Rivero said that although Cuban Power claimed to have been born in Havana, he did not believe this was true. "This group came to life in Miami," he said. "Somebody liked the sound of the words "Black Power' so they adopted Cuban Power.

He and other Cubans said they did not believe the organization was very large. It was pointed out that they must be in possession of funds to purchase the C-4 plastic explosive.

Rivero said there has been for a long time an active black market for the plastic explosive, possession of which supposedly is limited to military authorities.

Several other leaders of military-type anti-Castro organizations were queried about possible affiliation with Cuban Power. All denied such ties.

"It's going to be a tough one to infiltrate," said the chief of one intelligence organization which exercises surveillance on underground organizations."

Grim Score: 70 Bombings in 12 Years

Dade County has been a happy hunting ground for bombers during the past 12 years. Tom Brodie, the sheriff's bomb expert, said 70 bombs have been set off here during that period. There have been seven since Jan. 1, including the three last night. Last year there were 21 blasts.

The first bombing involving Cuba politics was in 1959 when two training planes were damaged by explosives. The planes had been bought by the Cuban government before Fidel Castro seized power. After the Castro takeover the planes, still on the ground here, were bombed.

Over the years, bombs here have hit schools, synagogues, stores and homes. Explosives have been used in labor disputes and to wreck cars in gang wars.

Copyright (c) 1968 The Miami News
Daily News, January 21, 1968, "Cuba-Bound Airplane Damaged by Explosion" by The Associated Press.

MIAMI - A converted B25 loaded with food, clothing and medicine for Cuba was damaged by an explosion at Miami International Airport Saturday. A Cuban revolutionary group claimed it planted the bomb to keep the goods away from Fidel Castro.

One of the engines was destroyed and part of the wing was damaged, but no one was injured. A piece of cowling landed 75 yards from the plane.

A man who declined to give his name told the Associated Press by telephone that the bomb was planted by a secret organization called Cuban Power, made up of several revolutionary groups with headquarters in Cuba.

The spokesman also called prior to the blast and warned "something is going to happen." He said Cuban Power has representatives in exile to carry on commando tactics against Fidel Castro and that his organization aims to overthrow the Communist regime.

He said the freight operation carrying packages to Cuba transfers them at Merida, Mexico, to a DC4 Mexican plane for the final leg of the journey.

The caller said a middleman in Mexico who handles such goods has to pay Castro $3 for each package sent to Cuba. The caller also said clothing, shoes, automobile tires, spare parts and other items [go] to Cuba, from the United States, Mexico, Spain, Canada and other countries in approximately 5,000 packages weekly with a value of $11 million annually. And he charged Castro confiscates any goods that would help his administration's economy.

John Puccerella, ramp supervisor at Miami, said the plane was registered to Ramon [Masso] of Merida, Mexico, and was loaded when the explosion occurred.

Copyright (c) 1968 The Associated Press

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Miami News, January 20, 1968, "Bomb Rips Plane Here; Cargo Bound For Cuba" by Bob Wilcox.

An explosion - apparently a bomb - severely damaged an engine of a converted B25 bomber loaded with CARE packages for Cuba today while the aircraft was parked at Miami airport.

The blast at 3 a.m. did not injure anyone. The twin-engine plane was in a parking area to the NW corner of the airport.

R. Napoles, a customs agent, said the plane was fully loaded with medicines, food and clothing that was to have been flown to Merida, Mexico, and then on to Cuba. The loading was completed late yesterday afternoon and the aircraft was to have taken off today. Napoles said that blast looked like a bomb job to him.

The FBI took over the investigation and would not make a statement. Other officers, however, speculated that the bombing may have been connected with one of Miami's many anti-Castro Cuban groups.

John Puccerella, ramp supervisor, said he understood the explosion was at 3 a.m. but the damaged plane was not discovered until about 8 a.m. Whatever caused the explosion, it blew out the rear end of the engine mounted in the left wing of the plane. Pieces of twisted metal were scattered nearby.

The plane is registered to Ramon Masso of Merida. Jorge Erales was listed as the pilot and Pastor Coello as co-pilot. Both are from Merida. The aircraft arrived here yesterday from Mexico.

B25s were first produced in World War II as medium bombers but soon were dropped [to] light bombers when the heavier planes rolled off the assembly lines.

Gen. James H. Doolittle, then a lieutenant colonel, led a flight of 16 B25s in a raid on Tokyo, Nagoya and Kobe. The planes took off from the deck of the aircraft Carrier Hornet on April 18, 1942, when the ship was 688 miles from Tokyo.

Copyright (c) 1968 The Miami News