miércoles, abril 08, 2015

Iran Contra revisited: The CIA-drug connection and the Puerto Rican witness


By Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero

Iran Contra was the biggest political scandal of the 1980’s. It was actually two interlocking scandals caused by the disclosure of two different US covert operations in two very different parts of the world. The first of these operations was the illegal sale of advanced weaponry to Iran, a country that in the official Washington discourse was considered (back then as well as today) an enemy and a terrorist nation. The second, equally illegal, operation was the use of the profits from those arms sales to Iran to fund a stateless mercenary army in Central America known as the contras, which were fighting the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Very few news readers, even the most knowledgeable observers of the Iran Contra affair, ever learned of the unusual role of a Puerto Rican woman in the revelations about the contra supply operation, known by the alias of “Wanda Doe”. A resident of the Puerto Rican municipality of Bayamón, Wanda Palacio worked in the early 1980’s for Colombia’s Medellin Cartel, and claimed direct knowledge of the cartel’s dealings with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the contras. She says she witnessed in 1983 and in 1985 in Barranquilla, Colombia, the arrival of CIA airplanes loaded with weapons for the cartel, which would then send them to the contras. The planes would return to the US loaded with Colombian cocaine. They were clearly identified as belonging to Southern Air Transport (SAT), an airline that had been a CIA front from 1960 to 1973 (1). Wanda says that cartel kingpin Jorge Ochoa himself explained to her the guns-for-drugs deal with the CIA to supply the contras.

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