FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The CIA, Cuba and Operation Peter Pan

by SAUL LANDAU and NELSON P. VALDES

“Los niños nacen para ser felices.”

— José Martí

On November 19, 2011 NPR broadcast “Children Of Cuba Remember: Their Flight To America.” Reporter Greg Allen claimed the 1960-62 journey from Cuba to the United States of 14,000 plus Cuban children “was made possible because of a deal a priest in the Miami diocese [Father Bryan Walsh] … worked out with the US State Department. The agreement allowed him to sign visa waivers for children 16 or under.” Allen then interviewed several right-of-center Cuban Americans to offer “objective” perspective on the facts surrounding Operation Peter Pan.

Curiously, Allen omitted the CIA from his report, although ample evidence shows the Agency in the early 1960s conspired with the Church to spirit kids out of Cuba.

Once inside the nurturing borders of the greatest country in the world “Pedro Pan kids have done well,” Allen concluded, without explaining what “well” means. Now adult Pedro Pan kids remain “firmly opposed to any normalization of relations with the Castro regime, the regime that was responsible for breaking up their families and forcing them from their homeland.”

NPR staff might have discovered a more complex and sinister story – had they looked. The CIA refuses to release Peter Pan documents, but abundant testimony shows the Agency forging documents and spreading lies, with Father Walsh and the regional Catholic hierarchy. Their goal: separate elite children from parents (a Cuban brain drain) and generate political instability.

One Operation Peter Pan conspirator, Antonio Veciana, now living in Miami, told us how Maurice Bishop (aka CIA official David Atlee Phillips) recruited him in 1960 “to wage psychological war — to destabilize the government.” Veciana described how the Agency forged a law to make affluent Cubans believe the revolutionary government planned to usurp parental control. Bishop’s agents in Cuba spread this rumor, backed by a forged simulation of the supposed law, to members of the professional and propertied classes. The forgery “declared that parents would lose control of their kids to the state.”

Veciana recounted how “CIA agents claimed they’d stolen the document from the Cuban government.” This false document “created tremendous panic.” On October 26, 1960, CIA-controlled Swan island radio station, south of Cuba, broadcast breaking “news.” Cuba’s government, the radio asserted, planned to remove children from parents so as to indoctrinate them. Radio Swan reported another lie: the Cuban underground had obtained a copy of the forthcoming “law.”

Minimal research would have revealed that Leopoldina and Ramón Grau Alsina, niece and nephew of former Cuban President Ramón Grau San Martín, had confessed to Cuban security officials after being arrested in 1965 to having printed the false law in Havana, circulated it clandestinely and then lied to parents.

Article 3 of the apocryphal document stated: “When this law comes into effect, the custody of persons under 20 years of age will be exercised by the state via persons or organizations to which this power has been delegated.” Priests and CIA agents both recruited kids and persuaded parents to “trust us. The US government will care for them.”

The clergy circulated the phony document among their Cuban upper middle-class flock. Catholic school officials feared Castro’s rapidly expanding public instruction program would undermine their virtual educational monopoly among moneyed sectors.

In March 1960, President Eisenhower ordered the CIA to overthrow the Cuban government. Agency plotters designed Peter Pan to run alongside political propaganda and economic strangulation policies. These parallel tracks would weaken Castro’s government while US trainers prepared a Cuban-exile invasion force, which, in turn, would coordinate with CIA-backed urban terrorists and guerrillas.

Operation Peter Pan (recall the Disney film?) used Cuban kids and parents to further their goal: overthrowing the revolutionary government. NPR’s claim of “no evidence” of CIA involvement would have dissolved had they asked Veciana or questioned why the CIA still refuses to release its 1500 plus documents on that Operation  — while de-classifying archives on the Bay of Pigs and the 1962 Missile Crisis?

Writer Alvaro Fernandez’ father Angel Fernandez Varela, recruited by the CIA in Havana, taught at the Jesuit run Colegio Belen. Before he died in Miami, wrote Alvaro, Angel told his family “he had been one of those responsible for drafting the false law that gave rise to the hysteria.”

NPR’s report doesn’t ask: who obtained the kids’ visas, airplane tickets and contacts abroad and why did KLM and Pan American Airlines issue Peter Pan kids free tickets?

Nor does NPR Allen follow up. The US government didn’t maintain contact between parents and children, nor grant visas to most of the parents that remained in Cuba. The UN High Commissioner tried to reunite parents and children, but Washington didn’t back him.

Veciana helped facilitate this dirty trick, but later mused: “Afterward I wondered: was this the right thing to do? Because we did create panic about the government, but we also separated lots of kids from their parents.”

In fact, Cuba has won accolades for its treatment of children. “In Cuba, there are no children on the streets, no children out of school, no children without access to health services or culture, and there are no unprotected children without opportunities for development,” said Jose Juan Ortiz, UNICEF representative in Cuba.

Paradoxically, the CIA attributed its own objective to the Cuban government: separating children from their parents. Maybe, if NPR staff thought ironically they would’ve done a more accurate report on Operation Peter Pan.

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP — available on dvd from cinemalibrestore@gmail.com. Counterpunch published his BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD.

Nelson Valdes came to Florida in Operation Peter Pan and is Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico.

More articles by:
May 31, 2016
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century
Vijay Prashad
Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation
Uri Avnery
What Happened to Netanyahu?
Corey Payne
Reentry Through Resistance: Détente with Cuba was Accomplished Through Resistance and Solidarity, Not Imperial Benevolence
Bill Quigley
From Tehran to Atlanta: Social Justice Lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani’s Fight for Human Rights
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model
Bruce Lerro
“Network” 40 Years Later: Capitalism in Retrospect and Prospect and Elite Politics Today
Robert Hunziker
Chile’s Robocops
Aidan O'Brien
What’ll It be Folks: Xenophobia or Genocide?
Binoy Kampmark
Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action
Colin Todhunter
The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns
Dave Welsh
Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police
Gary Leupp
Rules for TV News Anchors, on Memorial Day and Every Day
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail