Report Says Cuba Played Key Role in Helping Salvadoran Rebel Attack
Sep. 14, 1985
WASHINGTON (AP) _ One of the worst defeats the Salvadoran Army has suffered at the hands of leftist guerrillas was facilitated when Cuba allowed the insurgents use of its territory to stage a dress rehearsal, a new State Department report says.
The Dec. 30, 1983, attack on the Army base at El Paraiso, which claimed the lives of about 100 Salvadoran troops, was rehearsed in Cuba with a model of the Salvadoran garrison constructed from sketches, the report said.
The equipment used in the attack - explosives, machine guns and ammunition - was sent to El Salvador by way of Nicaragua, the report said, basing its information on the testimony of a former Salvadoran guerrilla who defected recently.
The incident described by the defector, Adin Ingles Alvarado, was part of a pattern of events outlined in the report that the Reagan administration believes substantiates its claim that Nicaragua, with Cuban assistance, poses a clear threat to its neighbors.
The release of the report was timed to counter Nicaraguan claims at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands, that the Sandinista government has not violated the sovereignty of its neighbors and is the victim of unprovoked aggression by the United States.
Deliberations at the court resumed Thursday following a 10-month recess.
Discussing the report at a news conference Friday, the assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, Elliott Abrams, said, ''The timing is not coincidental.
''Nicaragua is in the midst of a propaganda blast and they are putting out a lot of lies,'' he said. ''It's time to set the record straight.''
The State Department's chief legal adviser, Abraham Sofaer, said the United States decided to boycott the World Court deliberations as a matter of principal.
He said the Nicaraguan claims are not appropriate for adjudication because they deal with issues ''expressly assigned by the U.N. Charter to ... the Security Council.
''The action is not judiciable because the World Court lacks the ability to find facts in sitations such as this,'' he said, adding that the issues raised in the case ''would require a massive undertaking far beyond the court's capacity.''
The 1983 attack on the Salvadoran army's 4th Infantry Brigade Compound at El Paraiso represented a high point for the guerrillas in their struggle against the U.S.-backed government. For the first time in the war, the rebels were able to seize an army installation. It took 1,000 government soliders to retake the garrison.
According to Ingles, he and 27 others rehearsed for the attack in Cuba, ''making simulated assaults using a mock-up of the 4th Brigade garrison constructed from sketches,'' the report said.
He also was reported to have said that training of Salvadoran guerrillas in Cuba and Nicaragua included rehearsing for attacks on the Puente de Oro Bridge in October 1981 and the Ilopongo Air Base in January 1982.
The study used testimony of defectors, captured documents and U.S.-Nicaraguan diplomatic exchanges in an attempt to demonstrate that the Sandinistas are responsible for the continuing turmoil in Central America.
Referring to the Nicaraguan case before the World Court, the report said, ''It is Nicaragua, and not the United States and its friends, that committed the aggression that led directly to the actions of which the Sandinistas now complain.''
Francisco Campbell, minister counselor for political affairs at the Nicaraguan Embassy, said when asked for comment on the report: ''Outright falsehood, misrepresentations and distortions are no substitute for serious policy. If the U.S. has any evidence of any aggressive act by Nicaragua, the administration should take these charges to the International Court of Justice.
''The fact that the United States is boycotting the World Court is indisputable evidence that the U.S. has no evidence whatsover to support the charges it is making against Nicaragua,'' he said.