High-ranking government officials deny U.S. allegations that Cuba has established a route through Mexico for shipping arms to El Salvador's leftist guerrillas.
"Mexico has been especially careful to establish facilities in its territory for preventing the situations described," a Mexican official said Tuesday on condition of anonymity.In a dispatch from Washington, The Associated Press reported Monday that U.S. officials believe Cuba is shipping weapons across the 130-mile wide Yucatan Channel, which leads to Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. From there, the arms are loaded on trucks and taken on an unknown route through Guatemala to El Salvador, the U.S. officials said.
One top Mexican official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the claim was "irresponsible, lacking in credibility and false."
The official said that the United States has never brought up the matter officially and that the Mexican government would have no comment on the record because the claim had been leaked.
The Mexican government historically has been sympathetic to the Salvadoran rebels in their decade-old war, but that support has been muted since President Carlos Salinas de Gortari took office a year ago.
U.S. officials contend Soviet bloc arms are reaching Salvadoran rebels of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front through Cuba and Nicaragua, although recent administration statements indicate they do not see the Soviet Union as the principal villain.
The U.S. officials told the AP that Cuba was looking for new ways to help the rebels and at the same time shield Nicaragua's Sandinista government from further criticism.
The Sandinistas were embarrassed in October when a truck carrying arms was intercepted in Honduras and in November when a plane carrying surface-to-air missiles was shot down in El Salvador.
The Salvadoran rebels, who maintain offices in Mexico City, refuse to confirm or deny that they receive arms from Cuba and Nicaragua.
"But even if we do, so what?" said one rebel official. "The United States is helping its own."