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The Truth, At Last: Jorge Mas Canosa Sponsored Terrorism

Without any fear of being sued or hit with a massive boycott, we're going to say it right up front, in plain English: Jorge Mas Canosa sponsored terrorism.

Boom. Feels good, right?

For years, the press quaked in fear of criticizing the most powerful exile in America, the founder of the Cuban American National Foundation and a lobbyist with the ear of many a president. And for good reason.

Canosa sued the crap out of the New Republic in 1994 for calling him a "mobster" and won $100,000 and an apology. A few years ealier, he had led a crippling boycott of the Herald, inspiring the less tactful in Little Havana to set newspaper boxes on fire or to soak them in urine.

Now, courtesy some vintage CIA reports declassified yesterday by the National Security Archive, it's clear that Canosa did a lot more than lobby against Fidel Castro.

According to the papers, (which you can read here), he personally gave $5,000 to famed terrorist Luis Posada Carriles (who doesn't look too good himself in the new documents) to blow up Cuban and Soviet vessels off of Veracruz, Mexico. From the 1965 report:

Jorge Mas Canosa ... had proposed to a demolition expert that he travel to Spain, Mexico and other Latin American countries ... and place bombs in Communist instillations ... As of June 28, Mas Canosa had in his possession 125 pounds of pentolite (an explosive) which had been purchased at $3 per pound.

He had approached Ramon Escarda Rubio and another Cuban, frogmen acquainted with demolition gear, to place charges on the vessel. The plan calls for three small charges to be placed close to the midships centerline on the underwater hull. If the charges go off as planned, a 14-foot hole will be blown in the ship's bottom.

Seems pretty clear, right? Of course the current head of CANF, Francisco J. Hernandez, still sticks up for Canosa, telling the AP this morning that "the fact of the matter is that Jorge was never a man who believed in terrorism."

Right. So now, we're left with the ridiculous spectacle of living in a city whose main boulevard is named after a guy who sponsored the worst terrorist still walking free in America. Hell, we even have a middle school named after the guy!

Don't expect these documents to change too many minds.

But at least those of us who care can say the truth without worrying about a legal slap across the face: Mas Canosa believed in terrorism.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink

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