Why Odebrecht's Port Was Chosen for Cuba's Illegal Arms Smuggling

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Among the many concerning revelations in this week's report by the U.N. Panel of Experts are details of how Cuba's Port of Mariel was used for smuggling 240 tons of weapons to North Korea, in violation of international sanctions.

Most notably how the Port of Mariel was specifically chosen for this operation, in order to prevent detection and avoid any paper trail.

According to the report, some of the techniques utilized in the Cuba-North Korea operation were:

Careful operational secrecy within the crew and in communications, based on secret instructions restricted to senior personnel, detailing code words for communications with the ship’s operators, and contingency instructions for false declarations of the cargo (see annexes IX to XII)

Concealment and disguise of the ship’s position by switching off the automatic identification system, a system providing real-time information on a ship’s location, after exiting the Panama Canal until re-entry to hide the ship’s movements, particularly the docking in Mariel and drifting, and by falsifyingthe ship’s logs

Loading in Mariel as opposed to Havana or Puerto Padre; the cargo was accepted by the ship without standard shipping documents, loading receipts, loading reports and cargo survey reports

Intentionally failing to keep shipping agents in both Cuba and Panama informed as to the ship’s movements and actual cargo

Instead of loading the containers topmost (as would be recommended for dangerous cargo) the ship was adapted to load 40 foot containers deep in the hold so that they could be covered by three layers: sugar bags/tween deck hatch cover/sugar bags

The report also explains:

"Mariel is being developed as a major deep-water port and free trade zone by a Cuba-Brazil consortium, with the Cuban military controlled Almacenes Universal S.A. The port was previously a submarine base and its development was formally opened on 27 January 2014."

The Cuban military's Brazilian partner in this consortium is the conglomerate, Odebrecht.

So why was the Port of Mariel specifically chosen (as stated in the report) for this illegal smuggling operation?

Obviously, because the Cuban military felt comfortable enough with its Brazilian partner, Odebrecht, to think that it could get away with such dangerous shenanigans.

Odebrecht's infamous ties to some of the world's most repressive regimes, including Cuba's Castro brothers, Venezuela's Chavez-Maduro government and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi; its corruption probes stemming from questionable activities in Angola and Argentina; and the Brazilian government's secret "classification" of all documents related to Odebrecht's Cuba deals, are cause for caution and concern.

A recent Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) complaint filed against Odebrecht also raised questions about the conglomerate's "complex web" in the U.S.

The Cuban military's Almacenes Universal, S.A., surely poses a prime target for sanctions stemming from this flagrant violation of the U.N.'s arms embargo. Odebrecht's potential knowledge, or role, should be investigated as well.

In the last few years, Odebrecht has been subject to criticism stemming from its insensitivity towards the victims of Cuba and Venezuela's regimes -- for it seeks to continue bilking their taxpayer funds in Miami-Dade County, while partnering directly with their loved one's repressors.

Judging by these developments, additional questions should be raised about whether Odebrecht can be trusted with projects that have sensitive security implications, such as its obsession with Miami International Airport.