40 Years of Counter-revolution

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Mon Aug 23 13:21:48 MDT 1999

Forty years of counterrevolution organized in Wshington

By Julia Lutsky

As Americans barbecued in the back yard and watched fireworks over the
Fourth of July weekend, Cubans prepared to bring suit against the United
States for 40 years of unremitting hostility.

On July 5 a group of eight Cuban organizations representing the Cuban
people - among them the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), the Committees
for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), the Cuban Workers' Central
(CTC), and the Federation of University Students (FEU) - brought suit in
Havana against the United States.

The groups charge the United States with the deaths of at least 3,478
Cubans and the permanent disability of 2,099 more.

The lawsuit is based upon evidence presented during weeks of public
hearings in Havana, which concluded July 20. Testimony was delivered by
193 citizens and experts buttressed with reports, films and photographs
as well as 27 declassified U.S. documents.

Cuba is seeking indemnification of $181.1 billion from the United
States. In summing up on July 21, Juan Mendoza, one of the lawyers for
the eight organizations, emphasized that although it is never possible
to repay the loss of a single life, the Cuban people have the right to

He is asking a civil judgment of guilty as part of which the judge will
determine the exact amount of sanction to be demanded. After the lawyers
have presented their summaries and any additional material they wish to
have included, the court will have eight working days to reach a

U.S. National Lawyers Guild member William Schaap went to Havana as a
privately hired observer at the trial. He predicted the U.S. press would
ignore this trial as, indeed, it has done. He believed, however, that
Cuba's case was strong in terms of international law, according to
Granma Internacional, because "the blockade [in place since 1961]
violates the Geneva Convention. The medicine embargo is scandalous
because such a thing is not permissible even in wartime - and they apply
it to Cuba as if it were the right thing to do."

Recently declassified CIA documents indicate that U.S. hostility toward
Cuba began as early as the summer of 1959, barely six months after the
triumph of the Revolution in January. Significantly, it was but a few
weeks after the signing of the first Agrarian Reform Law in May,
according to a report by Lyman Kirkpatrick, then the CIA inspector

In October of the same year, President Eisenhower approved a program
drafted by the State Department and the CIA to begin covert actions
against Cuba. These were to include both naval and aerial attacks and
the promotion of and direct aid to counterrevolutionary groups operating
within Cuba itself.

>From that time forward, Cuba became the object of overflights by small
planes from the United States, which dropped supplies to
counterrevolutionary bands, parachuted agents into the country and
bombed sugar centrals and plantations.

A plane of U.S. origin strafed Havana with machine gun fire, s killing
several people and injuring many more. Other small planes dropped
subversive propaganda. Kirkpatrick boasted that "by the time of the
invasion [at Playa Girón (the Bay of Pigs) in April of 1961] they had
dropped a total of 12 million books of flyers" containing
counterrevolutionary propaganda.

In February 1960, a small plane set fire to approximately 19,000 tons of
cut sugar cane in four centrals in the province of Camaguey. That same
month another plane exploded, a casualty of its own bombs. Its
registration indicated that it had taken off from the airport in
Tamiami, Florida. Other documents indicated that the pilot had
previously flown against Cuba at least three times.

The Cuban lawsuit makes it clear that "according to the [Kirkpatrick]
document, these operations had to make the overthrow of the Cuban
Government appear to have been the result of its own mistakes."

In the United States, the CIA Miami center dedicated to activities
against Cuba was growing by leaps and bounds. According to Kirkpatrick,
"from January 1960, when it had 40 employees, the bureau expanded to 588
by the 16th of April, 1961 and became one of the largest bureaus of
clandestine services." In March 1960, Eisenhower signed off on "Covert
Action against the Castro Regime."

One of the early terrorist acts charged to the United States was the
sabotage of the French ship La Coubre in Havana Harbor in March 1960. It
had been carrying a cargo of arms and supplies from Europe purchased
from the Belgian national industry.

Bombs planted at the point of departure and set to explode when the ship
was unloaded. Whoever set the bombs did it quite carefully: a second
bomb had been set to detonate soon after the first trapping and killing
those who had come to help. More than 100 people died that day, among
them six French sailors. Hundreds more were hurt.

Alberto Solís Sotolongo, the son of one of the longshoremen killed on
the dock while unloading La Coubre, was 14 at the time of the explosion.

"I was in the house, having just come home from militia training," he
told Granma Internacional, "when I heard a loud explosion and right away
saw a huge column of black smoke rising ... I went running out of the
house to get to the dock. I couldn't get onto it [no matter how] I
insisted or pressured because I wanted to help too, but the [police]
wouldn't allow me. Maybe if I'd entered I'd be among the victims because
very soon thereafter there was another explosion that caused the deaths
of many who had come to help - a proof of the cold-bloodedness of those
who perpetrated the killings."

"My father did not appear right away," Alberto noted. "After a week we
identified him at the morgue ... he was literally destroyed; he had lost
part of his face and one leg. He was completely burned and had impact
marks from the munitions that the ship had transported ... With the
death of my father, in my own flesh I lived the horrendous crimes that
imperialism has committed against our people and I am, with more than
sufficient reason, among the millions of Cubans who consider ourselves
part of the demand."

By mid-1960 the United States had unleashed armed banditry in almost all
parts of Cuba. Bands were infiltrated into the country in hopes of
providing support to the exiles who were to land at Playa Girón in April
1961. Instead of being welcomed by the local Cubans, however, they were
surrounded and wiped out one by one. In spite of arms and supplies
dropped to them, for all intents and purposes, they ceased to exist by
the time of the invasion. The hoped for uprising of the Cuban people
failed to materialize: Cubans had too much to lose not to defend their
new found freedom.

Not that these counterrevolutionary bands did no harm; far from it. 1961
had been declared the Year of Literacy in Cuba: those who could teach
went out to the countryside to bring learning to a largely illiterate
population. Many of the "alfabetizadores" (teachers of literacy) and
their students were murdered for their support of the Revolution.

One of the witnesses "who appeared to present testimony [at the trial]
was ... the son of Pedro Lantigua, a peasant farmer who was killed ...
along with his teacher, Miguel Ascunce Domenech. Both of them were
hanged with barbed wire after being brutalized." Miguel's mother
testified, "They were merciless with his body, that of a 16 year old
boy. And I am not the only mother affected: there are thousands of
mothers who have been mauled by the empire's claws."

In April 1961, only days before the Playa Girón invasion, El Encanto,
the largest department store in the country, was set afire and
completely destroyed by one of a "select [terrorist] group of Cubans,"
whose formation was approved by Eisenhower in his 1960 program of covert
action. The idea here was, of course, to demoralize and set the stage
for the forthcoming Playa Girón invasion.

The invasion itself had actually been planned by the United States for
well over a year. In his memoirs Eisenhower wrote, "On the 17th of
March, 1960 ... I ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to begin
organizing the training of exile Cubans, principally in Guatemala." The
Cuban lawsuit lists the equipment and arms with which the exiles
invaded. Everything from landing boats and Sherman tanks to bazookas and
hand grenades.

With the failure of the invasion, the United States realized the Cuban
people were not interested in revolt; they had built a government and a
system and they could and would support it. The United States, thus,
found itself forced to take other paths to reduce the island to its
prior state of subjugation.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy is quoted in the Cuban lawsuit as
saying: "The solution to the Cuban problem is maximum priority for the
United States. Everything else is secondary." This, after having
informed President John F. Kennedy's aides that the last chapter had not
been written and that Castro's overthrow was possible.

Consequently, in January 1962 the "Cuba Project" was put forward by
Brigadier General Lansdale and a special committee of the National
Security Committee. With it began the so-called "Operation Mongoose,"
consisting of 32 specific tasks to be accomplished by the participating
departments and agencies.

In March 1962, the Office of the Secretary of Defense submitted the
document, "Pretexts to Justify Military Intervention of Cuba by the
United States," to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Cuba presents a list of
the possible pretexts contained in the document, from a coordinated
series of provocations occurring either on Guatánamo Base or close to it
in order to sinking a boat full of Cubans fleeing to Florida. This last
could either be "simulated" or "real." Apparently the death even of
Cubans seeking "freedom" meant nothing to those intent on the
destruction of Cuba's socialist society.

The U.S. naval base at Guantánamo has been a sore spot for Cuba ever
since it was established at the beginning of this century. Cuba charges
that at least since the triumph of the Revolution the base has become an
active center of subversion and provocation.

Mercenaries fleeing Cuban justice have found refuge there. Stolen Cuban
planes and boats have taken those whom Cuba considers traitors to
Guantánamo where they have also found refuge.

Cuba charges that between 1962 and 1994 when, as a result of the
migratory agreements between the two countries, measures were taken to
reduce them, there were 13,498 acts of provocation committed from the
base. Most of these were minor such as shining lights into the eyes of
Cuban guards on the perimeter of the base, making obscene gestures and
committing what Cuba calls pornographic acts.

Many were not, however. A Cuban who had worked at the base for 13 years
was tortured in 1961; another was found dead in a ditch on the base that
same year. The following year a fisherman off the base was kidnapped by
base personnel; his body was found two months later.

In July 1964, a member of the Cuban Frontier Battalion was fired upon
and killed while he stood his post. Two years later another member of
the same battalion was killed the same way. In sum, eight Cubans have
been killed on or near the base and another 15 have become permanently

In 1964 there were still some 3,000 Cubans working on Guantánamo. Of
these, about 700 lived on the base. Beginning in February of that year
the United States began laying off Cuban workers.

By October, 1,560 had been dismissed. The dismissals continued until
finally there remained no more than 100.

In March 1966, the United States announced it would not pay a penny of
the retirement funds earned by the Cuban Guantánamo workers. Workers
could not even reclaim the money they had invested. Thus, Cuban workers
had the choice of asking asylum or losing all their rights as workers.
Today there are only 17 Cubans who go back and forth to work at the base
each day.

Cuba has also charged the United States with waging war on the health of
its people including the use of biological warfare. In May of 1981
reports began to come simultaneously from communities scattered
throughout Cuba of cases of Type 2 hemorrhagic dengue fever. There had
been no reported cases in any country with which Cuba had contact, nor
in any country in that area of Latin America. Cuban scientists and
specialists from other countries concluded that this epidemic could only
have come as a result of deliberate introduction by agents in the
service of the United States. U.S. biological warfare specialists were
the only ones who had been able to get the single variety of the
mosquito Aedes aegypti associated with the transmission of this virus.

In 1984 Edward Arocena, a ringleader of the terrorist group Alpha 66
confessed publicly to having introduced germs into Cuba and that dengue
fever was introduced into Cuba that way. In addition, the U.S. Army
announced it had a vaccine which included protection against dengue
fever - and that not one case of dengue was found at the base even
though no other part of the island escaped its scourge. In Cuba 334,203
people were affected, of whom 158 died; 101 of these were children.

The need to defend itself militarily against the United States has meant
for Cuba the maintenance of a large standing army. Citing
internationally accepted estimates that a country needs to maintain
about 0.4 percent of its population mobilized, the lawsuit states that
between 1960 and 1988 Cuba has had to maintain approximately 4,362,465
more people mobilized than the agreed upon figure.

It is Cuba's position that this burden of defense is a complete anomaly
for a small country with limited economic resources and is necessitated
by the political aggression of the United States.

The United States, by Cuban lights, has turned the so called "Cuban
problem" into a question of internal politics and made it the object of
all kinds of manipulations, demagogic posturing, and personal ambitions.
The U.S. Congress passes laws with extraterritorial and interventionist
provisions and promulgates norms to be followed both by Cuba and by
other countries in their dealings with Cuba simply in order to satisfy
its own pretensions to the domination of that island.

Among other charges aired during the 12 days of testimony were those
alleging attempts by the United States to eliminate Cuba's leaders and
foreign diplomats. No fewer than 300 attempts were made on the life of
Fidel Castro, Cuba's president.

According to an article in Granma Internacional, "If each [Cuban]
citizen looks around, it will not be long before he or she finds at
least one sign of the brutal policy of hostility and aggression with
which the United States has tried to destroy the Cuban Revolution."

Carlos Alberto Cremata Malberti lost his father when the plane carrying
him, a Cuban airline worker, and 75 others was blown up by a terrorist
in the pay of exile Cubans in October of 1976.

"They killed him in the prime of his life, practically at the same age I
am today ... I have always maintained that the intellectual authors of
this crime must answer for it, but really they are nothing more than
instruments of a policy that is absolutely incompatible with anything

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