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New Upsurge of American Aggression against Cuba


Translated by Gilbert Sanseau and Barbara Forbes, volunteer translators from Coorditrad.


The American hostility against Cuba is very distinctive, and indeed unique. No other foreign policy toward a country has ever seen such an arsenal of coercive measures which, for the most part, violate most international conventions [1]. The American hatred for the Cuban revolution goes much further than the historical Cold War framework, completely inopportune if even minimal attention is paid to the relations between the two countries since the end of the eighteenth century.


One example will give a clear illustration of the Washington administration’s obsession with Cuba. American citizens have the right to visit any country in the world except for the Caribbean island. Indeed, their government forbids them to do so despise the fact that this restriction violates the United States Constitution which prohibits ethnic and racial discrimination. In answer to questions by Mr Max Baucus, Senator for Montana, the Treasury Department admitted that since 1990, it had initiated only 93 investigations linked to international terrorism. During the same period, it had initiated 10,683 investigations “to prevent American people from exercising their right to travel to Cuba”. Following the 93 investigations into terrorism, the Treasury imposed fines totalling $9,425 on those found guilty. On the other hand, it demanded a total of eight million dollars from the American tourists who went to the island. Such figures are eloquent and clearly demonstrate that Cuba is still the favourite priority target for the belligerent Bush administration [2].


About the American policy toward Cuba, Mr Max Baucus said: “While the United States is facing real terrorist threats in the Middle East and elsewhere, the administration’s strange and absurd obsession with Cuba is much more than shameful; it is a dangerous attempt of diversion. As we recently learned, a significant amount of the Treasury budget, which should have been aimed at cutting the terrorist financial pipeline, has actually been used to prosecute people travelling to Cuba or visiting their family on the island. All this while Osama Bin Laden is still on the loose.” [3]


The latest American State Department report on terrorism, published in April 2004, again included Cuba in the list of countries funding international terrorism, alongside Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. The arguments given by Washington to justify the inclusion of the Havana government are as follows:


Cuba opposed the coalition against terrorism led by the United States and actively condemned several related American policies and actions in 2003. Official press reports about American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have always been critical of the United States and frequently alleged, without ground, that the United States had committed Human Rights violations. [4]


Thus, the single act of denouncing the dreadful practices by the American army occupying Iraq, led Cuba to be included in the list of terrorist nations. It has to be said that the recent cases of torture and murders of prisoners, which triggered an international outcry, reflect an historical and institutional practice and make up only the visible part of the iceberg. [5]


Washington also justifies its stigmatisation of Cuba through the fact that the revolutionary government has been protecting a few American political refugees since the 70s, and has welcomed some members of the Basque separatist union ETA and some of the Colombian revolutionary organisations FARC and ELN. The report however forgets to mention that the presence of some elements of Colombian guerrilla groups results from an official request by the Colombian government, which had hoped that Cuba would be part of the peace negotiations. The same applies to the ETA members, who are in Cuba following the request of the former Spanish Prime Minister, Mr Felipe Gonzales, for the assistance of the Cuban authorities. [6]


But hostility toward Cuba is not limited to that. On 6th May 2004, President Bush made public an impressive 454-page report, “Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba”. Drawn up by the Secretary of State, Mr Colin L. Powell, it imposes severe measures which affect not only the Cuban island population, already severe casualties of the economic sanctions imposed by Washington since 1960, but also the Cuban-American community inside the United States, whose rights are greatly reduced. [7] With the presidential elections a few months from now, the American President wishes to appeal to Florida and its strong anti-revolutionary electorate.


In reality, Mr Otto Reich, one of the most influential representatives of the neo-fascist Cuban right, deeply compromised in the international terrorism against Cuba and former White House special agent for the western hemisphere, is its intellectual author. [8] And it isn’t Mr Reich’s first try. Ultraconservative and intimately linked to the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), he has been involved in low intensity conflict in Central America. Documents now declassified from the National Security Archive clearly demonstrate his responsibility for the terrorist campaign, launched against Nicaragua during the 80s, and in particular for propaganda and psychological war operations. He also took part in the coup on 11th April 2002, against Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela. [9]


Divided into six chapters, the report presents a battery of measures aimed at overthrowing the Cuban government, due to take place from 1st June 2004.  The first chapter describes the means by which the Cuban revolution is to be destroyed. The other five create the basis for the future annexed Cuba. This report is added to the suffocating economic sanctions already in existence, to the organisation of multiple terrorist attacks which have already killed thousands of Cubans, to a global disinformation campaign and to powerful politic lobbying on the international scene. On top of this is the setting-up of the conditions necessary for the creation of internal subversion, aimed at reducing the revolutionary social structure to ashes.


The first part of the report deals with the creation of a “strong support program aimed at Cuban civil society”, which will need to play a decisive role in the strategy to destroy the Cuban revolution. By “civil society”, American authorities mean some elements of the population of the island, directed and financed by the US Interests Section, whose objective is to create the conditions that can lead to the destabilization of the country.


Among the proposed measures, the report recommends $36 million for the financing of “Cuban dissidence”. Until now, the budget allocated to such “dissident groups” was $7 million. Despite the arrest of 75 people financially supported by the American government in March 2003, Washington has not given up and is increasing the monies available for potential Cuban mercenaries, as well as for NGOs which might possibly promote its political agenda. [10]


In the same chapter are some proposals that may be considered as inept, as they completely ignore the social situation in the island. For instance, the report suggests the possibility of providing medical assistance to Cubans, whereas they already benefit from total social security, designated as one of the best in the world by international institutions. [11] An education program is also proposed for the children of “dissidents” who could study in Latin-American universities, whereas UNESCO acknowledges the Cuban education system to be an area of excellence. [12]


Another initiative needs to be examined for its deceptive character. The American government discusses the need to pay a special attention to the supposed problems of Afro-Cubans. The country in which racial discrimination is part of the national heritage, where the Ku Klux Klan is still represented, where the death penalty is mainly applied against black people, where life expectancy in the ghettos of Harlem, Bronx or Chicago is similar to that in Haiti or Bangladesh, claims to worry about the fate of black Cubans. [13]


A further plan is that a military aircraft, a C-130 Commando Solo, be permanently allocated to the broadcasting of the ongoing subversive programs Radio and TV Martí, widely jammed by Cuban authorities. Besides, by jamming Cuban radio wave, Radio and TV Martí deliberately violate international law. [14] The presence of a military aircraft close to Cuban territorial waters, which would not hesitate in violating the security perimeter around the island – as did several USAF planes, piloted by members of the terrorist organization Brothers to the Rescue, controlled by the Cuban extreme right, on 24th February 1996 – could have serious bilateral consequences and lead up to a military invasion for Cuba [15].


On top of all this comes a highly interesting directive whose goal is to affect the Cuban tourism industry, the island’s main source of income. The American government plans to finance with up to $5 million, NGOs of third countries which take part in propaganda operations aimed at dissuading tourists from visiting Cuba. [16] In France, one organisation has played an extremely important role in the libellous campaign against Cuba. This is Reporters sans frontières (Reporters Without Borders), which is held in high esteem by American authorities and the Cuban radical right. Moreover, its secretary general, Mr Robert Ménard, gladly accepts invitations from some exiled Cubans in Florida who are heavily implicated in international terrorism. [17]


Recently, Reporters Without Borders held a brainwashing campaign in a Paris airport with tourists departing for Cuba. It is after all officially one of the groups that might be directly funded by Washington. Reporters Without Borders, embarrassed when this new directive was made public, hid itself behind a strange silence. Usually so quick to publish any news regarding the island, it has, up to now, not even mentioned this report which was debated by the press worldwide. Moreover, the organisation’s name is explicitly named in Mr Colin Powell’s publication, on page 20. [18]


Washington also decided, in order to protect “the interests of the foreign policy of the USA”, to increase the persecution of American citizens who visited the “Pearl of the Caribbean”, and even to decrease the rare scientific, academic, cultural or sporting exchanges between the two nations. Separating the two peoples, violating the American right to freedom of movement, and putting a brake on any friendship between the two countries, are then part of “the interests of the foreign policy of the USA”. Apart from the lack of both sincerity and credibility, it is regrettable that at the very moment when the Cuban authorities are softening more and more the visiting conditions for those Cubans who have emigrated, the Bush administration reinforces the barriers. [19]


In order to suffocate the Cuban population economically, the sending of money and parcels to the families of those Cubans residing in the United States will be severely limited. Both members of the government and members of the Cuban Communist Party shall not receive financial help from their American family any longer. Thus, as an official declaration of the Cuban government emphasised, “for example, a 70- year-old mother will have to give up her political rights in order to receive financial help” from her relatives. [20] From now on, Cuban citizens in the United States will be able to send financial assistance to members of their direct family only, in line with the new definition given in the report. All other members are excluded (cousin, uncles…) except grand-parents, parents, brothers and sisters, children and spouses. Anyone committing this offence will be even more severely punished and rewards will be given to informers who report such acts to the American government. [21]


In future, Cuban-American citizens will only be allowed to visit their family every three years instead of once a year as hitherto. Cubans who have emigrated to the United States will have to wait three years before seeing their relatives on the island again. The limit of the length of any visit will be reduced to 14 days. The daily amount Cuban-Americans may spend in Cuba will be reduced from $164 to $50. Luggage may not exceed 20 kilos, and it will no longer be possible to pay for extra luggage. [22]


This set of draconian measures violates fundamental rights of the United Nations charter and poses some serious ethical and humanitarian issues. Moreover, they are judicially illegal as only Congress is entitled to change American policy toward Cuba. In fact, since 2000, the American executive no longer has the power to change some aspects of foreign policy toward Cuba, in particular with respect to travel. [23]. In this way, Washington seeks, despite its own legislation, to impose intolerable privations on the Cuban population, in order to generate great instability. This flurry of economic sanctions also violates Article II of the Convention for the Prevention and Repression of Genocide, adopted on 9th December 1948. [24]


Several other measures are discussed such as, amongst others, the refusal to grant visas to Cuban state officials, the setting up in Washington of a “post of coordinator for transition in Cuba”, a plan for the application of chapter III of the Helms-Burton Bill which consists of judicial action against legal entities (physical and moral) which invest in Cuba, and the involvement of third countries in campaigns against the socialist island. [25]


The Cuban government immediately condemned this plan which it called a cynical policy: “Their measures, cruel and cowardly, will certainly impose sacrifices on our people, but they will not succeed for a single second in preventing its march toward its humane and social objectives, and nobody will become distraught. Cuba will never again return to the horrible, pitiless and inhumane condition of a United States colony.” [26]


Five senators, three Democrats, Mr Max Baucus from Montana, Mr Christopher Dodd from Connecticut, Mr Byron Dorgan from North Dakota, and Republicans, Mr Mike Enzi from Wyoming and Mr Larry Craig from Idaho, condemned, Mr Bush’s plan in a letter sent to the White House and described it as “absurd”. [27] In the same fashion, a group of 16 legislators declared in a message to the President that “the new restrictions regarding visits and money orders are contrary to American values, and, given the context of the Commission mandate, send the signal that the United States wishes to promote a political change in Cuba by increasing the financial difficulties of Cuban families” [28]


The president of the Democrat group and representative for New Jersey, Mr Robert Menendez, native of Cuba and highly conservative regarding the United States’ policy towards the largest island of the Antilles, has similarly accused Bush “of politically gambling with the lives of the Cuban people in this election year “. “The need and the timing for a Commission for Cuba in the White House and today’s publication of a report are highly questionable and politically transparent”, he also declared. [29]


Mr Larry Wilkerson, Secretary General to Mr Colin Powell, qualified the American economic sanctions against Cuba as being « the most stupid policy in the world.” According to him, they will seriously affect the health of the Cuban people and have missed their target. He strongly recommended that a new direction be given to relations with la Havana.


Mr Jeff Flake, Republican Congressman for Arizona, violently criticized the subversion programs planned by Radio and TV Martí. “If we were serious in our proposal to make a different voice heard other than Castro’s, why wouldn’t we let Americans travel over there?” he said. “After all, Castro can’t jam a one to one talk”. [31]


In reality, the American authorities are trying to prevent their citizens from realising how developed Cuban society is. Why? This has been revealed by Mr Philip Peters, former member of the State Department – under Reagan and Bush administrations – and vice-president of the Lexington Institute. “In the end, the reason why the administration doesn’t want any travel to Cuba is simple. It doesn’t want the American people to understand, in the ten minutes after their arrival, that they have been fooled by their government about Cuban reality”, he declared. [32]


In April 2004, Barbara and Wally Smith, a retired couple of from Vermont, were sentenced to pay a $55,000 fine for having travelled to Cuba and created a web site relating their journey. In February 2004, Washington forbade Ibrahim Ferrer, the famous Cuban singer from the group Buena Vista Social Club, from travelling to the United States to receive his Grammy Award. His visit would have been “harmful to American interests”, according to a communiqué from the authorities referring to section 212-f of the emigration law. This section deals with… terrorists, convicted killers and drug dealers. [33]


Prominent members of the Cuban-American community firmly denounced President Bush’s interventionist project. Mr Alfredo Duran, former member of the United States Army, who took part in the invasion of Cuba at Playa Girón in April 1961, founder of the Bay of Pigs Veterans’ Association, declared that it was “a report of a shameful declaration. It affects families and does not represent the Republican Party values. By limiting the possibility for Cuban-Americans to travel to Cuba to visit their families and the amount they can spend there, these policies punish their relatives” he added. [34]


The conservative English paper Financial Times also criticised the new forms of punishment against the Cuban population. “This new development reflects the pressure by the most extremist Cuban-American right wing lobbies and constitutes the exact opposite of what is needed to promote opening, tolerance and democracy in Cuba. [...] It represents a distortion in the priorities for the foreign policy. Because of what a congressman rightfully describes as a strange obsession against Cuba, resources essential to the fight against terrorism will be released for a policy of sanctions. And it is doomed to fail. In a word, Mr Bush has been badly advised to opt for a policy which combines ideology and narrowest short term politics”. [35]


Even Mexico, a faithful ally of the United States, whose relations with Cuba have badly deteriorated in the last few weeks, condemned this report indirectly through its President, Mr Vicente Fox. “Mexico won’t come round at all to this proposal which is made against Cuban sovereignty, nor shall not accept the interference in this country by another nation”, he declared. [36]


Only members of the Cuban extreme right wing took delight in the measures taken against the Cuban population, such as the Members of Congress Ileana Ros-Lethinen and Lincoln Díaz-Balart. Blinded by an anti-revolutionary aversion more than four decades old, they have always relegated the well-being of the Cuban people to the bottom of their priorities. “These measures are aimed at reaching democracy in Cuba and most of them were listed in a letter we addressed to the White House last year” stated Mrs Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. [37]


On 14th May 2004, called together by the authorities, several million Cubans marched on the streets of la Havana and other cities of the island, in order to protest against the policy of the current American administration. In order to protect itself from a possible military intervention, the socialist government took exceptional measures considered to be necessary in the country which has suffered from the longest ever international campaign of terrorism. [38]


What will be the next step? The military invasion of the nation by United States troops following a “incident” manufactured by Washington, and made easier by the constant presence of a military plane above Cuba? New York Democrat Congressman, Mr José Serrano, indeed evoked this possibility: “What might happen if we start flying over the island, as could be the case, knowing this administration? This could constitute a means of provoking a response from Havana in order to have an excuse for attacking Cuba”. [39]


The international community and press ought to denounce this plan which violates the sovereignty and independence of Cuba, and attempts to starve an entire population in the name of “democracy”. If they fail to do so, they will bear a heavy responsibility in the event of American military aggression against the Cuban people.



 
NOTES:


[1] Salim Lamrani, « Les sanctions économiques contre Cuba : objectifs d’une politique impériale », RISAL, 10 November 2003.  www.risal.collectifs.net/article.php3 ?id_article=735 (site consulted 12.05.2004).


[2] Granma, « Bush persigue más a quienes viajan a Cuba que a Bin Laden »,  29 April 2004. www.granma.cu/espanol/2004/abril/juev29/bush-e.html (site consulted 30.04. 2004).


[3] Max Baucus, « Baucus Calls Bush Cuba Policy ‘Absurd’ », Senate.gov, 6 May 2004. www.senate.gov/ baucus/Press/04/05/2004506C41.html (site consulted 14.05. 2004).


[4] United States Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003 (Washington: United States Department of State, April 2004), p. 86. www.state.gov.documents/organization/31912.pdf (site consulted 30.04.2004).


[5] David Usborne, « Rumsfeld Loosened Interrogation Rules, Claims ‘New Yorker’ », The Independent, 17 May 2004. . www.news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp ?story=522047 (site consulted 17.05.2004); Ignacio Ramonet, « Images et bourreaux », Le Monde Diplomatique, June 2004


[6] United States Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003, op. cit., p.88; El Nuevo Herald, « Cuba aún mantiene vínculos con organizaciones terroristas », 30 April 2004. www.miami.com/mld/elnuevo/news/world/cuba/8552703.htm (site consulted 30.04. 2004).


[7] Colin L. Powell, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, (Washington: United States Department of State, May 2004). www.state.gov/documents/organization/32334.pdf (site consulted 7.05.2004).


[8] Rui Ferreira, « La última misión de Otto Reich », El Nuevo Herald, 8 May 2004. www.miami.com/mld/elnuevo/news/world/cuba/8616852.htm (site consulted 9.05.2004).


[9] The National Security Archive, Public Diplomacy and Covert Propaganda. The Declassified Record of Ambassador Otto Juan Reich (Washington D. C. : United States Department of State, 2 mars 2001) ; James Petras, « The Coup Was Directed by the White House », Socialist Worker, 9 mai 2002. www.zmag.org/content/LatinAmerican/petrassocwork.cfm (site consulted 25.02. 2003).


[10] Colin L. Powell, op. cit., p. 22.


[11] Ibid. ; Dan Erikson, Annie Lord & Peter Wolf, Cuba’s Social Services : A Review of Education, Health, and Sanitation (Washington : World Bank, 2002), p. 3.


[12] Colin L. Powell, op. cit., p. 23 ; Latin American Laboratory for Evaluation and Quality of Education, « Learning in Latin American », UNESCO, 3 September 1999. www.unesco.org/education/educnews/99_09_03/latinlab.htm (site consulted 10.03. 2003).


[13] Colin L. Powell, op. cit., p. 23.


[14] Ibid., p.28.


[15] Mabell Dieppa, « Basulto : U.S. Conspired with Cuba », The Miami Herald, 18 janvier 1997 ; La Jornada, « Los anticastristas quieren llevar a Clinton a la guerra, advierte Fidel », 3 March 1996 ; Wayne S. Smith, « The U.S.-Cuba Imbroglio. Anatomy of a Crisis », Center for International Policy, mai 1996. www.us.net/cip/imbroglio.htm (site consulted 7.03. 2003).


[16] Colin L. Powell, op. cit., pp. 25, 32.


[17] Salim Lamrani, « Reporters sans frontières et la droite radicale de Floride : une alliance au grand jour », RISAL, 2 février 2004. http://risal.collectifs.net/article.php3 ?id_article=823 (site consulted 20.03.2004).


[18] Reporters sans frontières, « Le Comité de soutien à Raúl Rivero distribue des livres aux touristes en partance pour Cuba », 27 mars 2004. www.rsf.org/article.php3 ?id_article=9662 (site consulted 2.04. 2004).


[19] Colin L. Powell, op. cit., p. 32 ; Isabel García Zarza, « Devuelven la ciudadanía a siete veteranos de Bahía de Cochinos », El Nuevo Herald, 22 mai 2004. www.miami.com/mld/elnuevo/news/world/cuba/8727210.htm (site consulted 25.05. 2004).


[20] Comité Central du Parti Communiste de Cuba, « Brutal Political and Economic Measures Against our Country and Against Cubans Resident in the United States », 7 May 2004. www.cubaminrex.cu/English/currentissues/Dec-PCC-Gov.htm (site consulted  12.05. 2004).


[21] Colin L. Powell, op. cit., p. 40.


[22] Ibid., p.41.


[23] Francisco Aruca, « Una entrevista en La Habana », Progreso Semanal, 27 May – 2 June 2004. www.progresosemanal.com/index.php ?progreso=FranciscoAruca&otherweek=1085634000  (site consulted 28.05.2004).


[24] Haut-commissariat aux droits de l’homme, « Convention pour la prévention et la répression du crime de génocide », United Nations, 9 December 1948. http://193.194.138.190/french/html/menu3/b/p_genoci_fr.htm (site consulted 10.03. 2004).


[25] Colin L. Powell, op. cit., p. 52.


[26] Comité Central du Parti Communiste de Cuba, op.cit.


[27] New York Times, « Bush Vows to Hasten End to Castro’s Rule in Cuba », 7 May 2004. www.nytimes.com/reuters/politics/politics-cuba-bush.html (site consulted   8.05.2004).


[28] New Zealand Herald, « US Report Seen Calling for Tougher Cuba Embargo », 6 May 2004. www.nzherald.co.nz/latestnewsstory.cfm ?storyID=3564894&thesection=news&thesubsection=world (site consulted 8.05.2004).


[29] Peter Slevin, « White House Moves to Tighten Cuba Travel, Money Restrictions », Washington Post, 7 May 2004 : A28.


[30] Krishnadev Calamur & Eliza Barclay, « U.S. Annouces Anti-Cuba Measures », Washington Times, 6 May 2004. http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040506-053915-4856r.htm (site consulted  8.05.2004).


[31] Peter Slevin, op. cit.


[32] Dan Griswold, « Will U.S. Trade with Cuba Promote Freedom or Subsidize Tyranny ? », Cato Institute Policy Forum, 25 July 2002, 37. www.cato.org/events/transcript/020725et.pdf (site consulted 4.11.2002).


[33] Douglas Starr, « Tightening the Screws on Cuba », The Boston Globe, 18 May 2004. www.iht.com/articles/520459.html (site consulted 20.05.2004).


[34] Peter Slevin, op. cit.


[35] Financial Times, « Leader: A Cuban Dead-End », 10 May 2004. http://search.ft.com/search/article.html ?id=040510000214&query=Cuba&vse_appId=totalSearch&state=Form (site consulted 11.05. 2004).


[36] Rui Ferreira, « La última misión de Otto Reich », op. cit.


[37] Pablo Alfonso, « Severas medidas contra Castro », El Nuevo Herald, 7 May 2004. www.miami.com/mld/elnuevo/8608187.htm (site consulted 8.05.2004).


[38] Granma « Fidel encabeza gigantesca marcha en La Habana. Bush carece de autoridad moral para hablar de Cuba », 14 May 2004. www.granma.cu/espanol/2004/mayo/vier14/fidelmarcha.html (site consulted 17.05.2004).


[39] Albor Ruiz, « Bush Is Wrong to Slam Cuba », New York Daily News, 9 May 2004. www.nydailynews.com/boroughs/story/191433p-165512c.html (site consulted 11.05.2004).

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