U.S. paid agents now described as "dissidents"....
U.S. threatens Cuba, citing Iraq as an example
Luis Martin, Boletin Latino
May 2003

April 20, 2003--Last week two Bush administration officials--Colin Powell and the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic--as well as Governor Jeb Bush, in a victory frenzy over Iraq, issued a veiled threat of aggression against Cuba. The pretext was not weapons of mass destruction, but the arrest and conviction of 75 Cubans found by Cuban courts to have been U.S. paid agents fomenting subversion on the island.

In typical style, the U.S. government loudly protested the convictions, misrepresenting the agents as "dissidents" and "prisoners of conscience" victimized by an act of "political repression." Of course, the government and media in the U.S. failed to mention that the agents were not convicted for their political beliefs or opposition to the government, but for violating a Cuban law that forbids collaboration with a foreign threat to Cuba. In fact, the most prominent political opposition leaders on the island were not included in the arrests.

During the trial, Cuban prosecutors presented ample proof for conviction, tracing laundered money used for counterrevolutionary activities back to the U.S. Agency for International Development and others which regularly finance subversive activities abroad. The convictions were also supported by the corroborating testimony of government undercover agents who had risen to important positions within the group. The U.S. ambassador in Cuba was found to be providing his personal residence and the U.S. Embassy as a meeting place for the group. U.S. taxpayer money was being used to recruit supporters with gifts such as television sets, VCRs, laptop computers, etc.

Is Bush concocting another immigration crisis?

U.S. government strategy to provoke a confrontation with Cuba is not limited to stimulating subversion. During the same period, three Cubans who hijacked a Cuban ferry, threatening to throw passengers overboard, were tried and executed for their crime. This foiled hijacking was closely preceded by two successful armed hijackings of Cuban passenger aircraft diverted to Florida.

The economic blockade of Cuba, in addition to acts of terrorism by exiles, has been for 44 years the main weapon of the U.S. to crush the Cuban revolution. To make matters worse for the Cuban government, the U.S. curtails legal immigration from the island but rewards illegal means for propaganda purposes. Unable to leave the island legally--for economic reasons or to be reunited with relatives--Cubans have resorted to illegal and dangerous travel, being assured by the U.S. they will be allowed to remain in the country and not be punished even for hijacking.

In 1980 and again in 1994 the Cuban government responded in frustration to this strategy by dropping all legal requirements for safe means to leave Cuba. Thousands illegally emigrated to the U.S. creating a situation that U.S. authorities deemed intolerable: it precipitated a crisis in U.S.-Cuba relations.

The two countries resolved the crisis created by the rafter exodus of 1994 by entering into an agreement requiring the U.S. to (1) issue 20,000 visas to Cubans annually and (2) strictly punish hijackers. Called the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1995, it also modified U.S. law by requiring the return of Cubans intercepted at sea.

However, the Bush administration has shown a reluctance, when not outright refusal, to comply with the agreement on both counts. Hijackers from Cuba have been exonerated and allowed to remain in the U.S. Faced with the likelihood of another migration crisis, Cuba has felt obliged to impose the death penalty for hijacking in order to counteract impunity for the crime in the U.S.

The Foreign Minister of Cuba revealed in a recent press conference that, to make matters worse, the U.S. has been again drastically curtailing the number of visas issued to Cubans who wish to emigrate to the U.S. The apparent intent of the combined actions--condone hijackings and curtail legal migration--is to create conditions that would provoke the Cuban government into desperate acts that would destroy the U.S.-Cuba Immigration Accords. This time, the expected outcome of the inevitable chain of events would be a crisis between the two nations that the U.S. government could use to justify military intervention.

HRC: a third front against Cuba

Usually, the breakout of a crisis in Cuba coincides with yearly meetings of the U.N. Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Geneva. The U.S. government coerces vulnerable governments in Latin America to condemn Cuba for alleged violations of human rights. As expected, this year Cuba was urged by the HRC to accept a U.N. relator on the island to investigate and report purported violations of human rights (something like inspectors looking for weapons of mass destruction).

The vote, which Cuba regards as a moral victory, was 24 in favor of the U.S. proposal, 20 opposed and 9 abstentions.

Cuba has rejected the presence of a U.N. relator, saying that the measure has not been proposed for countries known to be true violators of human rights. Cuba pointed out, for instance, that no one is suggesting a relator to investigate the abuses being committed against Afghani prisoners of war at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo. Another reason why Cuba should reject the relator is that if the investigation should clear the Cuban government, it would never be enough to satisfy the U.S., as was demonstrated in the weapons controversy with Iraq.

Following the end of the HRC meeting in Geneva, U.S. Ambassador to that U.N. body, Kevin Moley, stated that the greatest triumph during the six weeks of the commission's session was "the liberation of Iraq, formerly in the hands of a crazed murderer." He added, "Hopefully next year, on the same date, the Cuban people can participate in democratic elections and have that longed-for freedom."

Further evidence that the U.S. is moving in the direction of a confrontation with Cuba is found in a statement by White House spokesperson Claire Buchan on April 18. She stated, in reference to the arrests in Cuba, that the attempts of the Cuban government to repress political dissidency will only result in "more urgent attempts" by the U.S. to promote democracy on the island and cooperate with the Cuban opposition. "We are ready to consider all the measures that would be necessary to accomplish our objective," she added.

Buchan also disclosed that the U.S. is attempting to oust Cuba from the U.N. Human Rights Commission, a position that Cuba enjoys as a result of the support of nonaligned nations.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that President Bush is considering a series of steps to punish Cuba for the conviction of U.S. agents on the island. Bush pointed out that he may address the nation on this matter in a few days. He is also expected to tell Cuba that "he is not going to accept another rafter exodus" to Florida, "such as the one from 1980 to 1994." He did not say, however, whether he intends to avoid an exodus by ending the denial of the required number of U.S. visas to Cubans.

The U.S. quest for world domination did not end with the occupation of Iraq. When recently asked if the U.S. was about to attack Cuba, Rumsfeld answered: "Not for now." The U.S. war machine can be stopped if progressive forces stand united on the local level and with national and international organizations.


The author can be reached at carlosbalino@netzero.net

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