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Is U.S. planning aggression against Cuba? (english)
by Workers World newspaper
30 Apr 2003
Modified: 03:49:16 PM
Is U.S. planning aggression against Cuba?
By Gloria La Riva, May 1, 2003
Workers World newspaper
Is U.S. planning aggression against Cuba?
By Gloria La Riva
Recent threats and actions from the White House indicate the U.S. may be laying the basis for a new confrontation with socialist Cuba.
In the wake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Bush administration's promise of "endless war," there is plenty of reason for concern.
As Washington increases its backing for subversion and terrorism against the island, it is also menacing Cuba for defending itself from those same terrorist acts.
On March 18 and 19 the Cuban government thwarted a CIA operation by arresting 75 individuals whose activities had been financed and directed over the years through the U.S. Interests Section diplomatic mission in Havana, which had been promoting them as political "dissidents."
Their trial exposed them as mercenaries who had received pay and directions to carry out actions against the Cuban state. About $20 million has been funneled into Cuban counter-revolutionary groups through the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is well known as a conduit for the CIA. The defendants were sentenced to from six to 28 years in prison on April 7.
This was a decisive blow to the small counter-revolutionary groups that have been operating in Cuba and to the top U.S. diplomat in Havana, James Cason, who declared his intention to "bring freedom and democracy" to Cuba when he took office last fall.
The offensive by the U.S. has an even more ominous side. A number of recent terrorist acts, including seven armed hijackings, are directly linked to the accelerated U.S. policy of aggression toward Cuba.
On March 19, at the same time as the 75 arrests, a plane hijacking took place in Cuba. The hijackers forced a DC-3 plane to Key West, Fla., after overpowering the pilots with knives at their throats. More than 30 passengers were on board.
Within days, U.S. authorities in Miami hinted they would grant bail to the perpetrators, thus violating international and U.S.-Cuba agreements that require the immediate return of hijackers and planes.
With this green light of approval, a man armed with a grenade hijacked another plane on March 31, an AN-24 with 46 passengers. To avoid any harm to the hostages, Cuba permitted the plane to take off to Miami after refueling.
Since those two terrorist acts, the U.S. authorities have refused to return the two planes, instead putting them up for auction on behalf of individuals who have U.S. court judgments against Cuba.
The court judgments derive from the Bush-era Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, signed into law last November. It is part of a strategy dreamed up in Washington to target countries like Iran, Syria, Iraq, North Korea and Cuba, and allow U.S. citizens to sue for these countries' frozen assets.
In Cuba's case, it is a way for the U.S. government and the Miami right-wing to harass the socialist island.
U.S. strategy invites hijacking
The U.S. government's refusal to prosecute the hijackers is a blatant invitation to more terrorist attacks.
The message is clear: If you can hijack a plane--loaded with passengers--and make it to Miami, your deeds shall go unpunished and even rewarded.
The existence of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, granting special residence privileges to Cubans who come to the U.S. by whatever means they can, is also seen as a major incentive to illegal immigration. Cubans have demanded its repeal to help stem illegal and dangerous human smuggling.
On April 2 a Cuban ferry boat, the "Baraguá," built only for inner-bay travel, was hijacked by seven individuals who kidnapped over 50 passengers and demanded travel to Miami. They were armed with one Makarov pistol and two .38-caliber guns.
After a two-day standoff, the fuel ran out. The hijackers then threatened to shoot two of the hostages. The two jumped into the rough waters, which prompted a mass rescue by Cuban authorities. The other hostages also escaped by jumping in the water.
Many passengers could have been killed in any of the seven recent hijackings.
None of the hijackers who landed in the U.S. in recent months has been prosecuted.
Etched into the memory of the Cuban people is the terrorist bombing of Cubana flight 455 on October 6, 1976, by two CIA anti-Cuba mercenaries: Orlando Bosch and Luís Posada Carriles. All 73 passengers died.
In the midst of this wave of terrorism, Cuban President Fidel Castro warned that Cuba could no longer tolerate terrorist threats against the people.
The trial of the boat hijackers began on April 5 at the provincial court level. The three principal hijackers were convicted of violating Law 93 against acts of terrorism and were sentenced to death. Their sentences were automatically appealed to Cuba's Supreme Court and the Council of State. All three sentences were upheld, and they were executed on April 11. Four others received life sentences and four were given lesser sentences.
Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque explained in a press conference on April 19 that Cuba has applied the death penalty only in extreme circumstances, saying, "It is not compatible with our philosophy of life.
"It is true that we have had to do it now, to avert a crisis in Cuba, a migratory incident aspired to by sectors in the U.S. that want a war.
"The death penalty has been applied to avert that war, to save lives. We have had to make a painful decision, which we did not enjoy, quite the opposite, because we have on our shoulders the lives of millions of Cubans and tens of thousands of U.S. citizens who would lose their lives in a confrontation between the two countries."
With the pretext of protesting the trials, the Bush administration is floating the possibility of banning all direct plane flights between the U.S. and Cuba and stopping all remittances from Cuban-Americans to their families on the island. Remittances are the monies that immigrants send back home to help support their families, whether in Mexico, El Salvador or Cuba.
Many who follow U.S.-Cuba relations believe the U.S.'s financial cutoff is meant to create pressure inside Cuba through economic hardship, while at the same time forcing Cubans to enter the U.S. through illegal means.
U.S. cuts entry visas for Cubans
Not coincidentally, the U.S. has cut back drastically on the number of entry visas for Cubans into the United States. According to a 1995 U.S.-Cuba migration accord, the U.S. is supposed to issue 20,000 entry visas per year to Cubans who have permission to leave.
In an April 9 press conference, Pérez Roque denounced the U.S. refusal to comply in recent years: "In these first five months of the agreement this year during which the United States should grant no less than 20,000 visas, they have issued 505 visas.
"Last year there were 7,237, in 2001 there were more than 8,300. What does this abrupt reduction in issued visas mean in overt violation of the Immigration Agreement?" asked Pérez.
He expressed Cuba's suspicions. "Why has the Interests Section, with the extensive consular apparatus they have working in Havana, with all their facilities, given out barely 505 visas?
"We are witnessing the implementation of a premeditated plan to encourage illegal emigration, to give those who want to emigrate from Cuba no other option than to hijack boats, planes. What we want is for migration to take place in a legal and orderly fashion.
"There are people who want to tear up the immigration agreements. There is a list of people we know quite well who don't want any immigration agreements, who want to create an incident between Cuba and the United States, who are asking the United States to use aggression against Cuba."
In southern Florida, Cuban counter-revolutionary terrorists are emboldened by the Bush administration's war on Iraq and statements against Cuba. The Sun-Sentinel newspaper of Orlando reported that the paramilitary group Comandos F-4 is openly training in camps for what it says will be armed attacks on Cuba. The group recently purchased seven AK-47s at a Miami police supply store.
These groups plotting constant violence against the island operate with complete impunity. Federal, state and city officials take absolutely no action to stop them.
On March 29, a rally in Miami of several thousand people, organized by fascist terrorists like the notorious Orlando Bosch and the Cuban American National Foundation, met under the theme: "Iraq Now, Cuba Next."
Yet above this pro-war, ultra-right crowd, bold words of truth streaked across the sky on a banner flying from a plane that said, "Free the Cuban Five, the terrorists are now on 8th Street." The banner action was sponsored by the Antonio Maceo Brigade, the Martí Alliance, and the Miami Coalition Against the Cuba Embargo.
Clearly, Cuba is facing serious new aggressions by U.S. imperialism. This is a critical time for all progressives to stand side by side with Cuba's people and leadership in defense of its sovereignty.
Reprinted from the May 1, 2003, issue of Workers World newspaper
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30 Apr 2003
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