Jose Basulto Leon: Background

By Peter Dale Scott, in Lisa Pease's Real History Archives (

28 February, 1996

Neither the Government nor the corporate press are giving you the truth about the planes the Cubans downed, and what their leader really represents. Here is some background on Brothers to the Rescue founder, Jose Basulto Leon.

Jose Basulto Leon has had a lifetime of aggravating U.S.-Cuban relations, dating back to his participation in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs Operation. In August 1962 Jose Basulto Leon helped organize a raid on a deluxe Cuban hotel by members of the Cuban exile group DRE (Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil). The DRE opened fire on the hotel from offshore; despite their intentions, no civilians were killed. (In their book, The Fish Is Red, p. 132, Warren Hinckle and William Turner wrote that "the raid had been carefully planned and approved" by the CIA.)

At least two members of this group (Carlos "Batea" Hernandez and John Koch Gene) were arrested a year later in Louisiana, when the FBI raided an illegal DRE dynamite cache on Lake Pontchartrain. The FBI heard that a Basulto had also been present at the DRE arms cache, but Jose Basulto denied that he had been present. (Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics, 305).

Felix Rodriguez told the Kerry Committee that he met Contra leaders Enrique Bermudez and Adolfo Calero in Miami at Jose Basulto's home (4 Kerry Hearings, 340-41). He later wrote in his book Shadow Warrior that he and Basulto "have been like brothers" since their training together in Guatemala for the Bay of Pigs. He added that Basulto had "been to contra camps in Central America, helping to dispense humanitarian aid" (p. 109).

Basulto and Felix Rodriguez together appear to have been part of a plan for treating wounded Contras in Miami, worked out under the direction of Oliver North. A note in North's diary reads "22-Jan-85 Medical Support System for wounded FDN [Contras] in Miami -- HMO in Miami as oked to help all WIA [wounded in action]... Felix Rodriguez." This HMO was International Medical Centers (IMC), whose head (Cuban-American Miguel Recarey) fled the U.S. after being indicted in what Mother Jones called "the largest HMO Medicare fraud in U.S. history." Jose Basulto told the Wall Street Journal in 1987 that he had attended meetings at IMC with Felix Rodriguez and Adolfo Calero. A former agent of the Department of Health and Human Services told Stephen Pizzo of Mother Jones that Recarey used part of the $30 million a month he received to treat Medicare patients "to set up field hospitals for the contras" (Mother Jones, Sept./Oct. 1992, 31-33).

Most contra aid came from one of three sources: the CIA, Oliver North's illicit operation, or drug-trafficking. The New York Times reported on January 20, 1987, that the DEA in Guatemala "had compiled convincing evidence" that the contra supply operation at Ilopango Air Force Base in El Salvador, where Felix Rodriguez was in charge, "was smuggling cocaine and marijuana." Celerino Castillo, the DEA Agent who compiled this evidence, later wrote that "Hundreds of flights each week [through Ilopango] delivered cocaine to the buyers and returned with money headed for...Panama....From Panama, the money was wired to a Costa Rican bank account held by the Contras" (Celerino Castillo, Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras, and the Drug War [Oakville, Ont.: Mosaic Press, 1994], 138-39). Adolfo Calero's brother Mario became part owner of a drug-trafficking airline, Hondu Carib, with one of the pilots flying for the Contras (Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics, 57-58; cf. Celerino Castillo, 175).

Jose Basulto Leon has admitted his role in dropping leaflets over Havana in January 1996 (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/25/96). This imitated the October 1959 leafleting raid of the late Frank Sturgis alias Fiorini, who helped set up the Lake Pontchartrain training camp where Basulto was suspected by the FBI of being present (Scott, Deep Politics, 88-89).

The United States Government has claimed that the two planes accompanying Basulto's were shot down while over international waters. One has to be wary of this claim. The U.S. Government also claimed that the U.S. destroyer Maddox was on "a routine patrol in international waters," when attacked by North Vietnam in the first Tonkin Gulf Incident of 1964. A Congressional investigation subsequently revealed that the Maddox had frequently violated the North Vietnamese twelve-mile limit. There were similar U.S. claims in response to the North Korean capture in 1968 of the spyship Pueblo; and these too dissolved when examined more closely (Peter Dale Scott, War Conspiracy, 52-53, 132-35).