20 Years After the Arrest of General Ochoa

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Twenty years ago -- on June 12th, 1989 -- the Castro regime arrested one of its most distinguished military commanders, General Arnaldo Ochoa, and eight other high-level officials on charges of drug trafficking and corruption.

The arrests came at a time when U.S. law enforcement agencies began detecting a dramatic surge in drug-smuggling flights over Cuban territory, suggesting that the country had become a major transshipment point for cocaine traffic into the United States.

Worried that U.S. intelligence had irrefutable evidence of the Cuban regime's links to Pablo Escobar's Medellin Cartel in Colombia, and that the evidence might result in an indictment of the Castro brothers -- ultimately placing their existence in a precarious situation, similar to that of Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega -- the Castros' quickly used one of the island's most respected and charismatic generals as a scapegoat, while simultaneously removing a competitive threat to their leadership.

Shortly after a nationally televised military show-trial (see clip below), General Ochoa would be executed by a firing squad. Twenty years later, the Castro brothers continue to purge with the same impunity, as was the case in March of this year with Cuba's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Felipe Perez Roque, and Economic Czar, Carlos Lage.