FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Cuba Policy: Fruitless, Mean and Cruel

by SAUL LANDAU and NELSON P. VALDÉS

In their 54-year-old effort to bring down Cuba’s revolutionary government and restore obedience in our Caribbean neighbor, U.S. officials have compiled a spectacular record of failure, overshadowed only by the determination to persist in their pursuit of wrongheaded polices, further damaging U.S. interests.

In the 1990s, Washington began to define terrorism as the new peril on the security horizon. President Clinton deemed it reasonable to make informal arrangements with other countries, even Cuba, trying to achieve anti-terrorist goals.

Indeed, Cuban intelligence agencies fed antiterrorist data to the FBI because they assumed the Bureau shared the same dread as their U.S. counterparts about the death and chaos that would result from allowing terrorists to pursue their goals. But, in September 1998, the FBI Bureau Chef in Miami perpetrated an act of security illogic. He ordered his FBI agents to arrest the Cuban intelligence agents who had supplied the Bureau with important data about terrorists operating in Florida.

Havana had sent these men to south Florida to penetrate and stop violent Cuban exile groups whose members had planted bombs in Cuban tourist hotels and clubs, killing a tourist and wounding scores of others. U.S. authorities knew of the activities the Cuban agents pursued for six years, and did not act against them because the U.S. government did not see these agents as a threat to U.S. security. They were not seeking classified or strategic U.S. documents, but rather focused on spying on rightwing Cuban terrorists in U.S. soil. Indeed, the Cuban agents pointed the Bureau in the direction of hidden arms caches in Miami and an explosive-laden boat docked on the Miami River.

In June 1998, when relations between Cuba and the U.S. had begun to improve, Havana shared with the Justice Department even more information obtained by its agents. But, Clinton also confronted Congressional investigations related to his comportment with Monica Lewinsky. This helped lead to disarray inside the Justice department. During July and August 1998, right wing Cuban American Members of Congress began pressuring Washington to arrest the known Cuban agents. The extremist exiles feared that anti-terrorist cooperation between the two countries might lead to the arrest of the exile terrorists, also their friends and colleagues, and even contribute to a normalization of relations. But Attorney General Janet Reno planned to run for high office in Florida and did not want to antagonize organized Cuban voters in Florida, so she allowed the change in policy to take place.

The right wing exiles exercised enough influence to get Héctor Pesquera appointed as the new Bureau chief in south Florida. Pesquera, a rightwing Puerto Rican with a mediocre FBI record, but close ties to violent Cuban exiles, destroyed the country-to-country cooperative effort. Within a week of his appointment, he ordered the arrest of the Cuban informants – five of the Cuban agents refused to either flee to Cuba or arrange for a plea bargain. So, the FBI allowed Miami-based exile terrorists to continue plotting violence against the island. The powerful members of the Cuban settler colony in Miami used the power of the U.S. federal police to prosecute Cuban anti-terrorist agents (punish Cuba) and in the process torpedo possible rapprochement between the neighbors; and also destroy joint anti-terrorism operations. By manipulating U.S. government institutions, the Cuban enclave’s elite superseded the larger needs of the American people by replacing anti-terrorism with their own narrow interests.

The Justice Department charged two of the Five Cuban agents with murder, or conspiracy to shoot down two Cuban exile planes (both pilots and co-pilots died) that entered Cuban air space in February 1996. At the time the pilots of the three exile planes announced publicly their intention to go into Cuban air space, making known the date and time of the flights.

The Cuban agents, however, got charged with conspiracy to spy despite the fact that the U.S. government formally and by consent received the results of their spy work on terrorism in south Florida! General James Clapper, then director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and now director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified at their trial that he saw no evidence to conclude the Cuban agents were seeking classified or strategic U.S. documents or plans. They did not conspire to commit espionage. The U.S. mass media continues to incorrectly refer to them as “convicted spies.”

The Cuban Five (now four since René Gónzalez was freed on parole, but must remain in the United States until the end of his probation period), located in different US prisons for almost 15 years, became victims of vengeance, inspired by Miami-based right wing Cuban exiles, combined with a strong dash of meanness and cruelty, which continues long after the Cuban men survived long months of solitary confinement. The Justice Department has systematically denied these men basic privileges enjoyed by other inmates.

The most recent example of heartlessness occurred on April 7, when activist-actor Danny Glover traveled from his home in San Francisco by air and then rented a car to Victorville, California, where Gerardo Hernandez survives in the Federal Maximum Security Prison. After visiting Gerardo nine times, Danny assumed he would undergo the usual passage – fill out the form, go through x-ray machine, get patted-down, and then get escorted into the Visitor Room. But the desk guard at the prison said Danny’s visit had not been authorized (after nine previous visits) and he could not see Gerardo. A supervisor affirmed the desk guard’s statement. Meanness and malice!

For 14 plus years the U.S. government had also refused to grant a visa to Gerardo’s wife (“a threat to U.S. security”). During that time she has not been able to visit him. It’s not just the anti-Castro lobby that pushes this petty, vengeful policy. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder run the federal prisons.

What’s wrong with the basic sense of humanity of those who make such decisions? Imagine if Cuba responded with equal cruelty to Alan Gross, the man convicted in Cuba for carrying out U.S. subversion for USAID. U.S. government officials would scream as would the media. But Cuba did not respond to this inhumanity by carrying out inhumane acts. Gross, confined in a Cuban military hospital cell, receives adequate medical care and frequent visits. He has access to the telephone and communicates with his family who also visit him. Gross promoted a policy of “regime change” in Cuba while Gerardo’s findings promoted U.S. security.

Washington has forced 52 plus years of broken relations on Cuba, combined with a tough embargo to punish Cuba’s people. Indeed, U.S. presidents have tried to dislodge Cuba’s government in every way short of direct military invasion. Fruitless, stupid, mean and cruel policies simply do not work in our national interest!

Saul Landau’s FIDEL and WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP are available on DVD from cinemlibrestore.com.

Nelson Valdés is Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico

 

 

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail