The United States: Six Decades of Criminal Policies against Cuba

Hector Bernardo

The invasion of Playa Girón, the bombing of the Barbados airliner, the brutal blockade that increased in the midst of the pandemic, the assassination attempts against Fidel Castro, the hotel bombings, Operation Peter Pan, the ZunZuneo project and the disappearance of Cuban diplomats in Argentina are just some of the events that comprise the terrorist policy that Washington unleashed against the people of the island.

It is impossible to analyze or understand the current situation in Cuba without taking as a general framework the systematic and incessant criminal policy that the United States has maintained for more than sixty years against the people and government of that island. The principal and best known of these criminal acts is the economic, commercial and financial blockade whose purpose – according to the words of the authorities in Washington – is to asphyxiate the people of the island in order to generate chaos and thus bring about a change of government and political system (what is usually defined as “regime change”).

Playa Giron and the assassination attempts

The US aggression began with the triumph of the revolution, but one of the most transcendental events occurred in 1961 when a group of mercenaries, trained by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and based in the city of Miami and the state of Florida, attempted to disembark in Playa Giron to invade Cuba. It was the first defeat of the imperialist plans against the island.

Among the many assassination attempts -more than six hundred are recorded- promoted by the United States against the leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, those organized by perhaps the best known Cuban-American terrorist at the service of the CIA, Luis Posada Carriles, stand out.

Among the many attempts on the life of the Cuban leader in which the terrorist Posada Carriles failed, researchers highlight the attempt to assassinate him during Fidel Castro’s visit to Chile in 1971, at the invitation of Salvador Allende’s government. In November 1994, the terrorist and five of his accomplices attempted to assassinate Fidel in Cartagena, Colombia, during the IV Ibero-American Summit. It is also worth mentioning the failed attempt in 2000 during the celebration of the X Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State in Panama (an attempt for which Posada Carriles was arrested. Later, then President Mireya Moscoso, ally of the White House, pardoned him and the terrorist was able to return to take refuge in Miami).

The bombing of the Cubana de Aviación flight and the attack on hotels

On October 6, 1976, a group of terrorists in the service of Posada Carriles and his accomplice Orlando Bosch (also linked to the CIA) placed a bomb on a Cubana de Aviación passenger plane flying from Barbados to Havana. The terrorists detonated the device in mid-flight. The attack caused the death of all 73 people on board the aircraft.

In 1991, the collapse of the socialist camp, represented by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, deprived Cuba of its main political and economic ally. The Miami mafias and Washington hawks thought it was time to strike a lethal blow to the Cuban economy and thus bring about the fall of the government. To this end, they decided to attack the country’s main source of income: tourism.

In October 1992, an armed attack was carried out against the Meliá Varadero Hotel. After being arrested in the United States, the terrorists who carried out this attack were released by the FBI. In January 1993, while heading towards the Cuban coast, five terrorists were arrested by the US Coast Guard aboard a boat armed with heavy machine guns. They were soon released. In March 1994, a terrorist group from Miami fired shots at the Guitart Cayo Coco Hotel, which was attacked again in October 1994 and May 1995. In July 1995, when they were about to infiltrate Cuba, three terrorists were arrested in the United States. Although weapons and explosives were found on them, they were released by US authorities.

In January 1996, US authorities intercepted in Cayo Maratón a boat with five armed terrorists on their way to Cuba; they were again released that same day by the FBI. On April 12, 1997 a bomb was detonated at the Meliá Cohíba Hotel in Havana; on the 30th of that same month another bomb was discovered at the same hotel and on August 4 another explosion took place there, causing the death of an Italian tourist. In July 1997, bombs exploded in the Capri and Nacional hotels. In September 1997, terrorists detonated bombs in the Triton, Chateau Miramar and Copacabana hotels and in the restaurant La Bodeguita del Medio. All these terrorist attacks had the endorsement of U.S. government and intelligence authorities.

Diplomats disappeared in Argentina

The disappearance of two Cuban diplomats, Jesús Cejas Arias, 22 years old, and Crescencio Nicomedes Galañena Hernández, 27 years old, is a little studied fact of the dark night Argentina lived through during the last civil-military dictatorship.

On August 9, 1976, as they were leaving the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Buenos Aires, Cejas Arias and Galañena Hernández were kidnapped by a task force and taken to the Clandestine Detention Center Automotores Orletti, where, according to several witnesses, they were interrogated and tortured by CIA agents.

In 2013, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) managed to identify the remains of the young diplomat Jesús Cejas Arias, whose body was found inside a two hundred liter metal drum, filled with cement and abandoned in a property in the town of Virreyes, San Fernando district.

USAID and NED: the war by other means

Washington’s aggression against Cuba has not only been through the organization, training and support of mercenaries, it has also been disguised in the articulation with civil society through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its ramification of foundations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and supposedly “independent” media and journalists, in short, economic and communicational arms of the CIA.

The campaign of lies and disinformation about the actions of the revolutionary government had one of its highest points in what became known as Operation Peter Pan. In 1960, with the complicity of members of the Catholic Church, a false document was circulated stating that the government would take away the parental rights of all Cuban parents over their children. Lies, fear and misinformation meant that between November 1960 and October 1962, at least 14,000 children were sent alone on planes to Miami (the planes loaded with children flying alone gave the operation its sarcastic and cruel name, a metaphor for the play about a world without adults in which children have the ability to fly). Most of these children were never reunited with their parents.

Between 2009 and 2011, USAID tried to implement a destabilizing operation in Cuba through a project called ZunZuneo. As denounced by the American news agency Associated Press (AP), the program called ZunZuneo (after the flight of the bird known in Cuba as zunzun and in other parts of the world as hummingbird) exposed the true role of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

ZunZuneo is a social network similar to Twitter that was secretly created by USAID. That U.S. institution circulated it on Cuba’s cell phone network in order to influence the island’s youth.

According to the EFE news agency, this social network “reached some 40,000 users who shared ‘non-controversial’ content on soccer and music through their messages, but, according to published information, the purpose was to introduce political nuances to inspire young people to organize marches and rallies against the Cuban government”.

To implement the program, front companies were used in Spain, Ireland, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and phantom bank accounts through which the funds were channeled.

As denounced by the AP, the U.S. Congress itself, which approves USAID budget allocations, was unaware of the real purpose of these funds, which had been approved to be used for the recovery of Pakistan.

The real intention was, once the majority of young Cubans had this application on their phones, to start circulating comments of protests, of unrest against the government, to call for marches, provoke incidents and install the idea of a ‘Cuban Spring’ color revolution, to be repressed by the government and thus justify a foreign military intervention (in other words, to create the excuse for an invasion, as was already seen in Libya and in so many other countries that were targeted by the United States).

The blockade: suffocating the people to provoke chaos

The criminal, unilateral, arbitrary and illegal blockade has been rejected by the vast majority of the international community: in the last vote in the United Nations, 184 countries voted in favor of the resolution that proposes to put an end to the US blockade, three abstained (Ukraine, Bolsonaro’s Brazil and Iván Duque’s Colombia) and two voted against that resolution (the United States and Israel).

In the presentation of Keith Bolender’s book Objective: overturning Cuba, the American intellectual Noam Chomsky points out that “unrestraint is perhaps the most outstanding feature of the war waged by Washington against Cuba since, at last, this country dared to free itself in 1959”. Chomsky recalls that according to the words of Robert Torricelli, Democratic representative for New Jersey, the objective of the tightening of the blockade was “to sow chaos in Cuba”.

The reality is that the blockade has greatly limited the development of the island, preventing it from accessing international credit organizations, generating shortages and shortages of products and preventing the acquisition of basic inputs for production. This has caused the island to lose billions of dollars.

The government of Donald Trump took 264 measures aimed at tightening the blockade. At least 50 of them were taken during the pandemic, which reinforces its criminal nature. All of them are still maintained by Joe Biden’s administration.

The arrival of remittances from abroad has been extremely limited, in a context in which the main source of income for the island, tourism, is practically paralyzed by the pandemic. In the context of the growth of cases of covid-19 in the world and on the island, as a result of the new variants, the measures that prevent the arrival of medicines (among others, to combat fever, one of the main symptoms of this disease) are maintained. The shortage of basic products has increased and the lack of spare parts and fuel has caused the generation of electricity to decrease, which has led the government to prioritize electricity for hospitals and isolation centers for covid patients.

All this (lack of medicines, shortage of products, power cuts, the lack of money coming in due to the fall in tourism or because remittances from abroad no longer arrive) added to the fact that, according to President Miguel Díaz-Canel himself, there were neighborhoods (especially in Havana) that have been left behind in the development of the country or whose needs were not properly attended to, generated a climate of unrest that was taken advantage of by sectors seeking to destabilize the government.

Marches were called and some groups provoked riots or acts of vandalism. By means of a campaign in the networks, through robots that replicate thousands of tweets per minute, and the hegemonic media, they sought to misinform and thus justify new aggressions against the island, justify sanctions and even an attempt at military intervention.

Once again, the intention was to create the logic of the “Arab springs” or “colored springs”. Regional henchmen, violators of human rights in their countries, such as Iván Duque, Sebastián Piñera, Lacalle Pou and Mauricio Macri, came out to talk about human rights in Cuba. Of course, the empire’s top bishop, Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), came out to call for sanctions against the island.

However, once again, the empire’s strategy seems to be collapsing. From John F. Kennedy to Joe Biden, from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump, Democrats and Republicans, each in their own style, manner and era, have tried to destroy the Cuban Revolution. All have failed.

Translation by Internationalist 360°