Terrorist in the U.S. Delegation to Geneva

Below we reprint a letter dated March 27, 2004 from the Cuban ambassador at the UN to Secretary General Kofi Annan, reporting that an official U.S. delegate to the Human Rights Commission participated in acts of terrorism.

Your Excellency:

I have the honor of directing myself to Your Excellency to denounce before the United Nations the presence of a well-known terrorist of Cuban origin, Luis Zuñiga Rey, on the official U.S. delegation to the 60th session of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) presently convened in Geneva. The attitude adopted by the U.S. government is paradoxical when the images of the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Madrid last March 11, costing the lives of more than 200 people, are still fresh.

For those who combating terrorism in an honorable way, it is a real affront and a complete lack of respect to have -- under the disguise of a diplomat and delegation member to such a forum -- an individual with a long and well-known criminal history, as confirmed in a report by Mr. Enrique Bernales Ballesteros, UN Special Rapporteur on mercenary activities, which was presented precisely before the HRC in 1999.

In that report, the UN Special Rapporteur points to Luis Zuñiga Rey, of Cuban origin and based in Miami, as a member of the underground security of the so-called Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), a paramilitary structure.

According to Bernales Ballesteros’ 1999 report, Zuñiga Rey recruited Guatemalan citizen Percy Francisco Alvarado Godoy to study points in Cuba that were vulnerable and susceptible to terrorist attacks, such as hotels, thermoelectric plants and oil refineries, among others.

It was possible to frustrate the actions promoted by Zuñiga Rey due to the fact that Alvarado Godoy was a Cuban State Security agent.

The current occupant of a seat within the U.S. delegation left Cuba illegally in 1973, by entering the Guantánamo naval base and, on his arrival in Miami, enrolled in a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operation that consisted of a plan to infiltrate Cuban territory in order commit sabotage and assassinate the country’s main leaders.

That plan was neutralized by the Cuban authorities in August 1974. Zuñiga Rey was arrested with explosives and weapons. After standing trial by the due legal authorities, he was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment, of which he completed only 14, being released in 1988. Upon his return to the United States he linked up with the CANF and was directly or indirectly involved in planting explosive devices in Havana hotels and Cuban hospitals.

The decision by the U.S. government to include Luis Zuñiga Rey as a member of its official delegation to the Human Rights Commission currently convened in Geneva is not only disrespectful to the United Nations; at the same time, the presence of an individual with such a record places the security of this venue at risk, as well as that of all of the delegates now participating in the labors of the 60th session of the Human Rights Commission.

Of what value is the report presented in 1999 by Mr. Enrique Bernales Ballesteros, the UN Special Rapporteur on mercenary activities to the Human Rights Commission?

Is it possible that five years after its presentation to this forum the report has become a dead letter and an object of mockery on the part of a member state that proclaims to be a standard-bearer in the international struggle against international terrorism?

Is it possible to remain silent in face of an individual with such a criminal and terrorist history in a body whose fundamental objective to date has been for the full application of human rights?

Cuba hopes that the HRC’s current president will adopt the appropriate measures for dealing with an unsuitable delegate and act accordingly. If the presence of Zuñiga Rey is accepted as a normal event, terrorism is being blessed instead of combated, and an erroneous message of complicity and impunity is being sent to the convicted perpetrators of terrorist acts.

Cuba’s delegation is willing to offer more detailed information on this notorious terrorist and his prior activities. . . .

Orlando Requeijo Gual, Ambassador, Permanent Representative