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Nelson explains why Cuba might have been upset with Ja

Friday, December 24, 2010    

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SECURITY Minister Dwight Nelson on Tuesday released more information on why it appeared that the Government was nonchalant in assisting Cuba in the fight against transnational drug trafficking and why the local narcotic head was removed.

In a press release, Nelson said that the Cuban authorities had over a three-year period -- between 2006 and 2009 -- sent at least 20 letters to the head of Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF)'s Narcotic Division seeking information on drug traffickers, but that no response was forthcoming.

But in outlining the reason, Nelson questioned how this did not come to the attention of the commissioners who served during that time, particularly Hardly Lewin, who has been vocal on the secret diplomatic cables obtained and released recently by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

"There were at least 20 letters from the Cuban Government from January 2006 to November 2009 addressed to the head of the JCF Narcotics Division," Nelson said.

"Included in these letters were requests for information on persons arrested in Cuba on suspected drug activities. The record shows that there were no responses to the Cubans," he added.

Cables sent last year to Washington by United States security personnel in Havana quoted Cuban officials expressing displeasure with Jamaica's lack of co-operation. The contents of the WikiLeaks cables, published by the UK Guardian newspaper and picked up by local media, created a stir.

Responding days after the publication, the Government on December 16 issued a statement in which it cast blame on the officer in charge of the Narcotics Division for the lack of co-operation. Without naming the officer, the statement said he was removed, the division renamed the Transnational Crime and Narcotics Division and great co-operation with Cuba resulted in several drug arrests.

But in a newspaper interview, Lewin said that the officer in charge of the Narcotics Division was reassigned under his watch, and not as a result of the complaints from the Cuban Government and that he had no recollection of the Cuban Government having a problem with the JCF as suggested by the WikiLeaks cable.

But Tuesday, Nelson lashed out at Lewin, with whom he has had an acrimonious relationship.

"The Government of Jamaica finds it hard to believe that the then commissioner was unaware of these letters from the Cuban Government, and the subsequent failure to respond," Nelson said in his statement.

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