Cuban bombings reportedly carried out by Salvadorans
Bombers hired by Cuban exiles, paper says
November 16, 1997
Web posted at: 3:24 p.m. EST (2024 GMT)
MIAMI (CNN) -- Sources have told CNN that a spate of bombings
this spring and summer in Cuba was the work of a ring of
"low-level criminals" from El Salvador, using explosives that
may have been smuggled from El Salvador through Caribbean
Those responsible for the bombings were trained in El
Salvador, by an unknown Salvadoran individual or group, the
sources told CNN.
Cuban police arrested Raul Ernesto Cruz Leon, a Salvadoran
citizen, in September and charged him with six of the 11 bomb
attacks at tourist hotels and a restaurant between April 12
and September 4. Those bombings left one Italian tourist
dead and injured several people. Cruz confessed on Cuban TV,
saying that he acted alone.
Sunday's Miami Herald reports the bomb plot was carried out
by Cruz and three other Salvadoran car thieves and armed
robbers. Their leader, according to the Herald, was
Francisco Chavez, the son of an arms dealer with close ties
to Cuban exile groups. The report says the bombings were
paid for with at least $15,000 raised from Cuban exiles in
South Florida. The money was contributed by various
individuals rather than one single group, the report said.
The Herald also reports that airline records show Chavez had
tickets that would have put him in Cuba at the time of the
blasts, although the paper could not confirm that he had
followed the travel schedule.
According to the Herald, Chavez, Cruz Leon and friends Jose
Ramirez and Victor Palma were recruited by Luis Posada
Carriles, an explosives expert with a history of organizing
anti-Castro guerrilla operations. Posada "was the
political, financial and thinking head on this (operation),"
the Herald quoted a source as saying.
It was Posada, the Herald says, who hired a Cuban exile to
train the recruits for their bombing mission. The exile is
described as a marksman and pistol expert.
The Herald reports that the group may have been linked
through a friendship between Posada and Chavez' father, an
arms dealer who was close to senior Salvadoran army officials
in the 1980s.
Posada was charged and twice found innocent in the 1976
bombing of a Cuban jetliner that killed 73 people. He spent
nine years in jail in Venezuela before escaping to El
Salvador in 1985. The Herald report says Posada became
friendly with Salvadoran army commanders and played a role in
that country's civil war, as well as helping contra
guerrillas in neighboring Nicaragua.