John Ellis Bush
The younger brother of current president George
Bush is the governor of a state that is a haven for Cuban terrorists. As the
governor of Florida, Jeb Bush has been
instrumental in securing the release of imprisoned Cuban exiles convicted of
terrorism. The Bush family has also accommodated the demands of Cuban hardliners in
exchange for financial and electoral support.
The Bush family’s connections to known Cuban militants and terrorists dates back to 1984, when Jeb Bush first began his association with Camilo Padreda, a former intelligence officer with the Batista dictatorship overthrown by Fidel Castro. Jeb Bush was the chairman of the Dade County Republican Party, which had as its finance chairman Padreda, who had been indicted on a $500,000 embezzlement charge along with a fellow exile, Hernandez Cartaya. The charges were dropped; reportedly after the Central Intelligence Agency said Cartaya had worked for them.
Bush worked on his father’s failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980 before moving to Miami, where he became involved in numerous pursuits including serving on the board of a Norwegian-owned company that sold fire equipment to the Alaska oil pipeline and getting involved in a questionable scheme to sell water pumps in Nigeria.
It was in Miami that Jeb Bush landed on the payroll of Cuban exile Miguel Recarey, who had previously assisted the CIA in its attempts to assassinate President Castro, and ran International Medical Centres (IMC). Recarey paid Jeb Bush a $75,000 fee to allegedly find his company a new location; the move never took place. But Bush did successfully lobby the Reagan/Bush administration on behalf of Recarey and IMC. And, in 1985, Jeb Bush acted as a conduit between supporters of the Nicaraguan contras and his father, then Vice President George H.W. Bush, by helping to arrange for IMC to provide free medical treatment for the Contras. Recarey later fled the U.S. after being charged with Medicare fraud.
In 1989, Jeb Bush acted as campaign manager for the successful run for Congress of Cuban-American Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who has since lobbied successfully for the release of several Cubans held in U.S. jails after being convicted of terrorism. They now reside in Miami, along with the convicted Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch, who was released from prison by then-President George H.W. Bush, at the request of Jeb Bush. Bosch had participated in more than 30 terrorist acts and was convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship headed to Cuba. His release was the result of pressure brought by Cubans in Miami who used Jeb Bush as their point man. In July 2002, Jeb Bush nominated Raoul Cantero, the grandson of Batista who had represented Bosch, as a Florida Supreme Court judge though he lacked the experience.
Two other Cuban exiles involved in terrorist acts, Jose Dionisio Suarez and Virgilio Paz Romero (who carried out the 1976 assassination of the Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier in Washington) were also released by the current Bush administration.
The Bush family’s numerous conflicts of interest just begin there. Jeb Bush is an investor in the Winston Capital Fund, managed by his younger brother Marvin Bush’s Cayman Islands-based company, Winston Partners. The private investment firm has money in AMSEC, which creates software for ChoicePoint, a database company with prominent Republicans on its board and payroll that offers more than 20 billion pieces of information on American citizens to intelligence agencies (and which Patriot Act says can be accessed by the feds without a search warrant).
In 2001, Jeb Bush named one his family’s top donors, Thomas Fiorentino, to the Board of Directors of the Jacksonville Port Authority, which owns and operates four marine terminals. Fiorentino chairs the Port Authority and through his own lobbying firm, Fiorentino & Associates, represents clients including the City of Jacksonville; the Jacksonville Transportation Authority; Florida Rock Industries, Inc.; the International Council of Cruise Lines; the state contractor Information Systems of Florida; and CSX, one of the nation’s largest transportation conglomerates and among the biggest financial supporters to the current President Bush.
Under the first President Bush, Fiorentino was chief of staff of the Federal Railroad Association. He later worked as a lobbyist for CSX to try to prevent Congress from imposing new regulations on the rail industry through the renewal of the Surface Transportation Board.
Fiorentino has sat on the board of the James Madison Institute, a think tank that promotes school vouchers, welfare reform, free enterprise and low taxes, which in 1999 merged with Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future. A year earlier, Fiorentino became known as one of the “Jacksonville Eight,” the wealthy executives who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Jeb Bush’s gubernatorial campaign. Fiorentino raised more than $100,000 to elect the President Bush.
- “The Bush dynasty and the Cuban criminals: New book reveals links of two presidents and the governor of Florida with exiled hardliners,” December 2, 2002, The Guardian, DUNCAN CAMPBELL