Two years ago, Miami FBI informant Gilberto Abascal was the key prosecution witness in the trial of militant Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles. In 2006, he was the main informant in the weapons conviction of Posada supporter Santiago Alvarez.
Today, Abascal is back in Cuba, building a house with a swimming pool a rare privilege on the communist-run island driving expensive rental cars and offering a reward equivalent of two years average salary for information about whoever burglarized his home, according to several of his neighbors.
He came back from Miami and is living in his familys farm in the village of La Julia, about 15 miles south of Havana, said a democracy advocate who lives in the nearby town of Surgidero de Batabanó and knows Abascal personally.
Abascals return to Cuba reinforced long-running allegations, dismissed by U.S. prosecutors, that he served as an informant for both Cuban intelligence and the FBI in targeting Posada, Alvarez and other exiles in Miami.
This inferentially validates the conclusion that this was an individual who had a collaborative relationship with Cuban security . . . and casts a shadow on the FBI for its dealings with this guy, said Arturo V. Hernandez, Posadas defense attorney.
Abascal returned home from Miami more than one year ago, and has been busy improving and adding to his familys farm, said the neighbors in Batabanó and La Julia, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation by Cuban State Security agents.
In the money now
Nicknamed El Cano, the pudgy, 48-year-old Abascal has bought a tractor for his familys farm, is building a home with a pool for himself on a dirt street in La Julia, and often rents late-model cars from a government-run agency in Batabanó, where prices start at $500 per week, the neighbors said.
A sign posted outside his La Julia home last weekend offered a 10,000-peso reward about $400, in an island where the official average monthly salary stands at 470 pesos for information on whoever burglarized his home. Photos taken by one of the neighbors showed what was described as a security camera over his front door.
One neighbor called him a known security agent, and another said his familys farm is protected by security officials in civilian clothes who discreetly monitor passersby.
Abascal has told acquaintances in Batabanó and La Julia that he cannot return to Miami, but gave no reasons, and travels often to Mexico and other countries to buy clothes that he then sells on the island, the neighbors told el Nuevo Herald by phone.
He could not be reached in La Julia for comment for this story, but steadily denied that he was a Cuban intelligence agent throughout the Posada and Alvarez cases. I have never had anything to do with the Cuban government in my life, he declared in 2006.
Abascal arrived in Miami on a small boat in 1999, and later that year was intercepted by the Coast Guard as he and a married couple headed to Cuba aboard another boat carrying photos of a paramilitary training camp in South Florida run buy the anti-Castro group Alpha 66.
It was highly unlikely that the three adults were Cuban agents . . . [but] they may have been, or could have been, planning to use the photographs to ingratiate themselves with authorities in Cuba, U.S. agents wrote in a report on the interception submitted to court during the Alvarez case.