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CUBA SHIPS ARMS BY LAND, U.S. SAYS
A MEXICAN ROUTE TO SALVADOR REBELS?

SHARE CUBA SHIPS ARMS BY LAND, U.S. SAYS
A MEXICAN ROUTE TO SALVADOR REBELS?

Cuba is believed to be using a remote Mexican land route to send weapons to leftist rebels in El Salvador, U.S. officials say.

Cuba is believed to have started using the alternate route some time ago, and indications are that use of the route - beginning in the Yucatan Peninsula - has increased recently, said the officials, who asked not to be identified.Cuba has traditionally used Nicaragua as its primary transit point for weapons deliveries to its allies in El Salvador.

It was not clear whether Mexican officials have been approached by U.S. diplomats about the alleged shipments. There was no immediate comment from the Mexican government.

Historically, Mexico has been sympathetic to the Salvadoran rebels but that support has been more muted since President Carlos Salinas de Gortari took office a year ago.

Much of the weaponry sent to the Salvadoran insurgents is supplied by the Soviet bloc and delivered via Cuba, according to officials. Recent administration statements indicate that it sees Cuba - not the Soviet bloc - as the principal villain in these activities.

As described by officials, the Cubans ship the weapons across the narrow channel that separates Cuba from the Yucatan Peninsula. From there, the equipment is sent by truck to El Salvador via Guatemala although the precise route is not clear.

Nicaragua's leftist government has been criticized internationally for its alleged collaboration with Cuba in supporting the Salvadoran rebels.

As U.S. officials see it, Cuba's apparent search for new ways to help the Salvadoran rebels - without relying exclusively on Nicaragua - may be an effort to limit the chances that the Sandinista role will be exposed more than it has been.

Nicaragua has denied that its territory has been used for subversive activities in El Salvador. Such interference is a violation of Central American agreements signed by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.