Vice President Bush said today that some drugs entering the country from Latin America have come through Cuba and are evidence that President Fidel Castro does not want to live in peace with the United States.
Surrounded by several hundred pounds of cocaine and stacks of money confiscated in recent drug intercepts from Latin America, Bush, the head of the U.S. task force established to fight the drug traffic, told enforcement agents and reporters at the task force headquarters that Cuba's drug activities are efforts to destabilize the Western Hemisphere politically.
He conceded that some drugs are entering the country from "friendly" democratic nations in Latin America.
But while the United States is asking cooperation from those countries, Bush said, the U.S. government is careful not to endanger relations with its Latin allies by pressing the issue.
"We have not been soft on Fidel Castro because we have not felt he has done one single thing to demonstrate that he wants to live in peace with the United States," Bush said.
He said that Castro has done nothing to pull back from stirring up ferment and dissension through drug smuggling.
Bush also said "the fact that in a broader sense there is a destabilizing effort from Cuba into the hemisphere concerns the president."
Bush did not say that there was direct involvement by Castro in the drug smuggling.
Later, clarifying his remarks, Bush denied that any evidence is being suppressed on political grounds to avoid embarrassing Latin nations friendly to the United States.
"Colombia, a democracy, a friendly country, has been cooperative, I'm told," he said. "But everybody knows how much of this insidious traffic comes in from Colombia."
Bush conceded at the headquarters that drug smuggling continues from Latin American allies of the United States despite American attempts to enlist cooperation of those governments.