In order to please crucial “swing” voters in his brother’s state, Junior has ratcheted up the anti-Castro rhetoric.
Bush has not threatened Castro outright — not yet anyway — but instead has said he will increase “restrictions” on Cuba. “The transition to freedom will present many challenges to the Cuban people and to America, and we will be prepared,” declared Bush. He told Secretary of State Colin Powell and Housing Secretary Mel Martinez to “plan for the happy day when Castro’s regime is no more and democracy comes to the island.”
It wasn’t all that long ago Bush said the same about Iraq.
In response to Bush’s latest saber-rattling, Dagoberto Rodriguez, head of Cuba’s diplomatic mission, said Bush should “stop acting like a lawless cowboy” and “start listening to the voices of the nations of the world.”
Not likely. Bush doesn’t know anything but the “lawless cowboy” routine. Like the run-of-the-mill playground bully, it’s how he and the neocons deal with the world.
Of course, considering how strapped the Pentagon is with the whole Iraq imbroglio, chances they will invade Cuba anytime soon are slim to none. Instead, they will continue to make life miserable for a few million Cubans.
But then, thanks to over four decades of economic warfare, misery is common fare for the vast majority of Cubans.
Paying for the egregious sin of deposing the brutal military dictator Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar — friend of both US business interests and gangster Meyer Lansky — is a never-ending and ever-increasing debt for the Cuban people.
It seems the lawless cowboy in Washington wants them to hanker for the good old days when Havana served as an international drug port and as the “Latin Las Vegas” for the likes of Frank Costello, Vito Genovese, Santo Trafficante Jr., Moe Dalitz and other notable mobsters.
Neoconservatives, who like to call themselves “Conservative Internationalists,” have always had it out for Castro and the communists of Cuba. But then so have any number of US presidents, from Kennedy to Clinton.
It’s just that the Bushites are more operatic about it.
Last year Josh Bolton, US Under Secretary of State, gave a speech before the rabid rightwing Heritage Foundation entitled “Beyond the Axis of Evil.” In the speech, Bolton designated Cuba, Libya and Syria as “rogue states,” in other words states facing possible military action. Bolton went so far as to say “Cuba’s threat to our security has often been underplayed,” stopping an inch short of claiming Castro plans to attack Florida with biological weapons.
It was the other way around, though.
Back in 1961 and 1962, the CIA used biological weapons on Cuba’s agricultural workers. A decade later, the CIA introduced swine fever into the island, precipitating an epidemic which culminated in the death of 500,000 pigs.
The Washington Post further detailed the US covert war against Cuba in 1979 when it published an article claiming the Pentagon had produced biological agents to use against Cuba’s sugar cane and tobacco production. Other suspicious disease outbreaks include haemorraghic conjunctivitis, dengue fever, dysentery, ulcerative mammillitis, black sigatoka, and citric sapper blight, to name but a few. In 1977, CIA documents disclosed that the Agency “maintained a clandestine anti-crop warfare research program targeted during the 1960s at a number of countries throughout the world,” according to the Washington Post.
“In 1984, Eduardo Arocena, leader of the terrorist group OMEGA-7, admitted to an American jury that he had taken part in operations to introduce deadly viruses into Cuba as part of a secret biological warfare programme against Havana,” writes Marcia Miranda. Arocena was trained in the use of explosives by Cuban exiles who were trained by the CIA.
And then there was Operation Northwoods.
As James Bamford writes in his book, Body of Secrets, “Operation Northwoods called for a war in which many patriotic Americans and innocent Cubans would die senseless deaths — all to satisfy the egos of twisted generals back in Washington, safe in their taxpayer-financed homes and limousines.”
So fanatically anti-Castro was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Lemnitzer that he not only proposed killing scores of innocent Cubans, but also John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. “Thus, as NASA prepared to send the first American into space, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were preparing to use John Glenn’s possible death as a pretext to launch a war,” Bamford writes.
As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported in 1961, right-wing extremism was prevalent in the Pentagon. “Among the key targets of the extremists, the Committee said, was the Kennedy administration’s domestic social program, which many ultraconservatives accused of being communistic… much of the administration’s domestic legislative program… would be characterized as steps toward communism.” Not long after the Senate issued its report, Kennedy was assassinated.
Now we call “ultraconservatives” neocons.
No doubt this current crop of fascistic rightwingers would love to engineer the same sort of social chaos in Havana they engineered in Baghdad. Imagine Raul and Ramon Castro, the younger brothers of Fidel, suffering the same fate as Uday and Qusay Hussein. Imagine yet another deck of playing cards distributed by the Pentagon with pictures of Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, Lázaro Peña, and other members of the Communist Party of Cuba.
Naturally, the Bushites will not be invading Cuba soon, especially considering how over stretched and bogged down they are in Iraq. No, there are more practical matters at hand, such as the United Nations vote on easing the embargo on Cuba next month. Junior has also warned that he will veto any measure approved by the Congress that gives relief to the Cuban people.
“Cuba sera pronto libre [Cuba will soon be free],” said Bush from the Rose Garden the other day. In the meantime, however, he will settle for a spate of new visas and investigations by the Ministry of Homeland Security of Americans who travel to Cuba.
As to the former — well, of course, the election is a little over a year away and closing in fast.
Let’s not forget how instrumental Florida was in the last Bush coup d’etat. Recall the role played by Republican Party operatives and Cuban fascists in Broward County four years ago. Likewise tactics may serve well again, especially considering how bad the Bush economy is and how terrible the Bush occupation of Iraq is going. No doubt the political trickster and former Donald Segretti understudy Karl Rove understands all this very well. As the Valerie Plame affair demonstrates, there is no shortage of “necessary viciousness” (as John Dean terms it) on the part of the Bushites.
Junior’s going to need all the extra votes he can get come November, 2004.
KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/blogger.html . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, will be published this fall by Dandelion Books.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org