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E D I T O R I A L and O P I N I O N


Latin America’s Counterintelligence Capabilities are Frail

Effective regional security policies, especially throughout Mexico and the northern tier nations of
Central America, appear to be critically lacking and digressing in the face of the fluid encroachment of
transnational organized criminals.
Democracies throughout the Americas must also immediately address their governments'
counterintelligence missions against those rogue and dictatorial style regimes that pose obvious threats
in the form of tolerating, facilitating, or directly aiding criminal insurgents.
Long and short range strategic vision and thinking is critically necessary to monitor aggression, hostile
intelligence acts, and other forms of insurgency within their respective homelands.
There must be considerable conflicting discernment as to this phenomenon that appears to be stymieing
those tasked to proactively engage, investigate and enforce the rule of law in the pursuit of flagrant
transnational violent actors. There could also be a case made against some nation's leaders who have
hindered or altogether halted strategic initiatives by some neighboring nations, strategically designed
and implemented to interdict the criminal actors.
Mexico and the northern cone nations of Central America became much like a petri dish, in which this
culture of organized narcoterrorism was bred and nurtured through the inability and lack of necessary
resources to initially, as well as effectively, engage the "narcotraffickers."
Espionage operations throughout Latin America also; although overwhelmingly massive in nature; are
inundated with clear and present dilemmas. Coherent and fluid intelligence agency structures for
achieving the mainstay of intelligence, which is organizing evidence for sound hypotheses, eludes many
governments. These failures, among others, do not ensure territorial integrity.
The vast world of intelligence communities and their domains is reminiscent of the universe in
perspective, an always changing and all encompassing, yet disconnected, apparatus of self-interest—the
elusive nature and subjugation of which is mired by politics, public opinion and, sometimes, corruption.


A prime example is CUBA. If rhetoric alone was the official doctrine of world political institutions,
both of the Cuban brothers that have dominated Cuban misery with iron fisted rule for 54 years, with
influence and persuasion, would be kings.
As well, besides the deception and the smoke and mirrors, their spy network is the more sinister and
most powerful tool in their ill-conceived repertoire and bag of tricks.

CUBA’S EMBASSY- Mexico City January 2015

Cuba's intelligence and spy apparatus has been described as a contingency of very well-trained,
organized and financed agents. Cuba’s intelligence apparatus is estimated to be at over 20,000 officials.
Cuba has consistently maintained a well-organized and callous intelligence presence in Mexico, as have
the Russians. Much of their activities have involved U.S. interests, including the recruiting of disloyal
U.S. military, government, and private sector "specialists." They continue this enthusiastically, on U.S.
soil as well, evidenced in the Ana Belen Montes case -- along with her recruiter, Marta Rita Velazquez,
a graduate of Princeton University and Georgetown in Washington, D.C.
Montes would go on to lead a distinguished career at the Defense Intelligence Agency as a top Cuban
analyst, winning awards, briefing the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and helping to soften U.S. policy toward
Cuba until her capture.
This author frequently speaks with Pedro Riera Escalante, who served the Castro regime in Mexico City
(under the guise of a diplomat from 1986-1991), when then at least it was a major hub for espionage
against the U.S. Riera was the Group Chief of Section Q-1, in charge of operations against the CIA.
However, he eventually denounced the Fidel Castro dictatorship and was imprisoned. He called for a
shift towards respect for human rights and democracy, before, during and after his sentence to prison in
Cuba. His revelations of his orders from Cuba, and his actions in the secret war that has pitted Cuba
versus the U.S. for decades in intelligence and espionage tradecraft, reveal a continuing process of
Cuban subversion in this hemisphere- with a “primary focus against the United States.”
Even the late rogue leftist President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, adopted the previous Soviet-styled
Cuban intelligence service as his model for Venezuela's security service, known as SEBIN and G2.


Recent revelations graphically demonstrated Venezuelan military officials involved in international drug
trafficking as this author often reported over the past several years.
Intelligence organizations throughout Latin America are facing a number of other rogue leftist regime
intelligence services that are clearly intent on disrupting and infiltrating democratic governments. The
counterintelligence tasks required to interdict this onslaught by these sinister spies is monumental, but
critically necessary. Responding to the sophistication, mobility, and superior weaponry of transnational
criminals, organized narcotraffickers, and related insurgents is another major intelligence challenge that
not only necessitates sound intelligence analysis, but tactical resistance.
The naïve still believe and insist and argue that Cuba and Russia are old news; benign cold war relics
that pose no threats to anyone.

RUSSIA’S EMBASSY- Mexico City January 2015

However, Even Russia is rejoining Cuba's espionage apparatchik in the Americas. Russia’s recent
decision to reopen its electronic spying center in Cuba is once again an obvious act that aggressively
demonstrates support for the Cuban Castro regime, and a shared dispute versus the United States.
The Lourdes base closed 13 years ago, having been built in 1962. The closing was reportedly due to the
economic crisis in Russia, along with repeated requests from the United States.
Lourdes served as a signals' intelligence (SIGINT) facility, among other applications, located just 100
miles from the United States at Key West, Florida. During what has been described as the Cold War, the
Lourdes facility was believed to be staffed “by over 1,500 KGB, GRU, Cuban DGI, and Eastern Bloc
technicians, engineers and intelligence operatives.” In 2000, it was reported that China signed an
agreement with the Cuban government to share use of the facility for its own intelligence agency.
Recently, U.S. President Obama surprisingly announced and ordered the restoration of full diplomatic
relations with Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a halfcentury and vowed to “cut loose the shackles of the past” and sweep aside one of the last vestiges of the
Cold War.” Obama also agreed to release Cuban spies.
President Raul Castro was quick to announce to the world that Cuba would not turn from Communism.
And Russia, not to be outdone, answered with a Russian espionage trawler coyly photographed sitting in
Havana’s harbor just one day before talks were to begin. .



Cuba's authoritarian regime and its vicious state security services continue and severely and perpetually
restrict fundamental freedoms, repress political opponents, and aggressively violate human rights in this
tired and archaic one-party communist system.
So today, one must ask, why not free the citizens of Cuba in this modern era and allow a quality of life,
liberty and happiness to which they have a fundamental right?
Venezuelans also must ask the same question as the late and “vastly wealthy” president Hugo Chavez
who much admired Fidel Castro and brought the decaying and failing Cuban Revolution to Chavez's
Bolivarian Revolution; imported the misery, violence, and human rights violations to Venezuela. It
remains as of this day.
These oppressed people from both nations continue to suffer ever increasing human rights violations, by
beatings, incarceration and other atrocities, valiantly try to get the word out daily to those that will pay
What is needed with other democratic nations’ intelligence apparatus, is an intelligence model of sound
oversight, quality control, and basic protocols of coherent and sound intelligence analysis. Too, an
intense focus on sophisticated technology beyond satellite, signals, and imagery, dealing with human
intelligence collection to facilitate verification protocols, source reliability, and content validity. This
disciplined process would show reductions in serious duplication of effort, as well as enhance the
oversight process.
Another critical aspect is with Force Protection (whether military or police) responsibilities that have
risen to new heights due to the bold and relentless attacks on enforcement-oriented personnel and related
logistics. Again, the intelligence need throughout the hemisphere has been graphically demonstrated in
the massive death and violence that has also been directed at police, governments, and the military.
Iran also became an issue in the Western Hemisphere via the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Chavez’s
government was linked with radical terrorist organizations and other state sponsors of terrorism.
Hezbollah fundraising activities, in the form of "financial transactions," on Margarita Island in
Venezuela had been widely reported.
According to General Marcos Ferreira, a former Venezuelan Intelligence Director, Chavez gave
instructions to "destroy records" on ten suspected Hezbollah fundraisers conducting suspicious financial
transactions on the islands of Margarita, Aruba and Curaçao, and in the cities of Maracaibo and
Much is being reported of Iran “infiltrating” many regions of South America, and many are wondering
what the Iranian motives are and what threats they may pose. The fact is that Iran has established 11
embassies and 17 cultural centers in Latin America.
The true intentions of Iran in Latin America must be questioned. One of the first questions that come to
mind with respect to Iran, identified as the state sponsor of Hezbollah, is why are they aggressively
seeking cooperation with Latin American countries by signing security and economic agreements?



IRAN’S EMBASSY- Mexico City January 2015

Many democratic watchdogs believe that these networks of diplomatic and economic relationships could
benefit Iran “to lessen the blow of international sanctions” against them. There are also those that firmly
believe Iran’s overly expansive ambitions must be quashed and constricted due to their propensity for
acts of terror and support for terrorist agendas.
In separating fact from fiction, does it appear that Latin America should be concerned or justified in
questioning the motives of Iran’s enterprising movements? Is there a lack of evidence to justify concerns
or a failure to connect the dots?
Starting with the obvious and no disclaimers of such, on March 17, 1992 in Buenos Aires, Argentina
terrorists bombed the Israeli Embassy, killing 29 people and wounding 242 others. The Islamic Jihad
organization (linked to Hezbollah and Iran) claimed responsibility.
Their stated motive for the attack was Israel's assassination of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Abbas
al-Musawi in February 1992, “which in turn was in retaliation for the kidnapping and death of missing
Israeli servicemen in 1986, and the abduction of US Marine and UN peace-keeping officer William R.
Higgins in 1988.” The Islamic Jihad released surveillance footage they took of the embassy before the
On July 18, 1994, a van with a bomb loaded with about 275 kilograms of ammonium nitrate fertilizer
and fuel oil explosive mixture, was detonated in front of the five stories Jewish Community Center
(AMIA) in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people died, the majority being Jewish. More than 300 others
were wounded. Argentina is home to a Jewish community of 200,000, among the largest in Latin
In October of 2006, Argentine prosecutors formally accused the government of Iran “of directing the
bombing, and the Hezbollah militia of carrying it out.” The prosecutors claimed that Argentina had been
targeted by Iran after Buenos Aires' decision to suspend a nuclear technology transfer contract to
The U.S. DEA has shown direct and growing criminal drug ties between Colombia's FARC guerrillas
and Hezbollah. Testimony revealed that “FARC is a central part of the revolutionary project of bringing
together armed groups and terrorist organizations under the umbrella of the (Venezuelan) Bolivarian
Revolution.” Plus there are known and reported links between the late Hugo Chavez, Nicaragua’s
President Daniel Ortega, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, and current President Salvador Sanchez


Ceren of El Salvador, all of whom are apparently “giving significant logistical, financial, and political
support to the FARC, allowing FARC to expand its international networks and increase its resources.”
El Salvador’s Sanchez Ceren may have telegraphed his mindset just prior to being sworn in as president,
when he met with Cuban President Raul Castro and two of Cuba's spies who were previously convicted
in the United States on conspiracy and espionage charges.
An Iranian presence is increasing both in Venezuela and Bolivia, and with this another challenge
necessitating cooperative awareness and security measures throughout the Americas, where nations are
already under siege by transnational organized crime. A situation that seems exacerbated considering
that the Iranian Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia is "reported to (have) at least 145 registered Iranian

United States of America
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice
International Associates, a global threat mitigation
Firm headquartered in northern Virginia, with offices
in Mexico City and Barcelona, Spain.
His website is located at TWITTER:


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