Washingtons long war against Cuba

1174.jpgFollowing up on a May 2004 report, the “U.S. Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba” issued an update that appeared on the State Department web site on June 20, but was not unveiled publicly until July 10. The commission, headed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is but the latest incarnation of U.S. government’s longstanding campaign to overthrow the island’s socialist government.

Sections of the report speak of bringing down the “Castro dictatorship,” holding “free and fair elections” and building a market economy. One chapter focuses on the role of Cuban exiles and another on “preparing now to support the transition.”

Readers learn that this is an “unclassified report,” but that “for reasons of national security and effective implementation, some recommendations are contained in a separate classified annex.”

Commenting on the secret annex, Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba’s National Assembly, wryly remarked, “What’s most important is that they admit to a secret plan to overthrow another government. … What on earth could the secret part say when the public part violates all kinds of international law?”

Alarcon called the report “a declaration of war.”

1187.jpgThe 61-page report projects the formation of a “transition government” after the death of Cuban President Fidel Castro that will immediately begin to organize multiparty elections. It envisions the release of alleged political prisoners, the disappearance of the Communist Party and the “restoration” of individual rights. It foresees the dispensation of “humanitarian aid” to the Cuban people during the early transition period.

A transitional regime will presumably have been waiting in the wings, ready for action, although the report is silent on this point. The report does specify, however, that opposition elements in Cuba and in exile — possible functionaries of a new, would-be government — need support now.

To that end, the commission recommends spending $80 million over the next two years “to increase support for Cuban civil society, expand international awareness, [and] break the regime’s information blockade” about the country’s “dissidents.” It also called for subsequent expenditures of $20 million annually “until the dictatorship ceases to exist.”

Certain themes recur in the report, among them the hazards of the Venezuela-Cuba alliance, the role of the Helms-Burton Law of 1996 in bestowing legality on U.S. intervention, and the example provided by Eastern European countries for a “transition.”

The report is at pains to stress that U.S. “assistance” will hinge on the transitional government’s formal request for aid.

1188.jpgPrivatization, business freedom, and participation in the global market economy are held up as the means for Cuba’s survival. The report claims that Cuban exiles, international banks, multinational corporations, private donors and UN agencies will be supplying the money needed for Cuba’s transition, not Washington.

The “Commission for the Restitution of Property Rights” and the “Standing Committee for Economic Reconstruction” (for running a post-socialist Cuban economy) did not rate a return appearance in this version of the report. Apparently, wealthy Cuban exiles, whose factories and big plantations were nationalized by the Cuban revolution, are being urged to keep quiet about their longings to recapture their former, ill-begotten assets.

The report also mutes the threats against Cuba’s revolutionary leaders that were part of the 2004 version. Jailers, prosecutors and abusers of “dissidents” may, however, be in trouble; they are named as deserving of punishment.

U.S. challengers to restrictions on travel to Cuba may have new cause for concern in view of a recommendation that criminal charges be leveled against “those found to have been involved in organizing or facilitating unlicensed travel transactions with Cuba.”

The authors of the report express admiration for the “leadership and bravery” of the Cuban people. They are “our natural allies in breaking both the dictatorship and the Cuba-Venezuela axis that protects and sustains it. … The Cuban people have a right to determine their future. … Their sovereignty should be returned to them.”

The hypocrisy of such language is transparent to any objective observer of Cuba’s history. Thanks to a brutal, U.S.-imposed economic blockade, the Cuban people have been victimized, their sovereignty under siege, for four decades. Thousands of Cubans have been cruelly victimized by U.S.-sponsored terrorism, personified by persons like Luis Posada Carilles and Orlando Bosch, both of whom today enjoy U.S. protection.

But according to Ricardo Alarcon, the new report essentially is a repeat of its big brother that came out two years ago. That leads to questions like, why a new report – and why now? Answer: For Republican election-year strategists, the report may find use as a tool for pandering to the Bush right-wing base in Florida.

Chronicle of a war foretold

By Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada

“There is nothing covered up that will not be uncovered, nothing hidden that will not be made known.” — Luke 12:2

On May 20, 2004, with all pomp and ceremony, George W. Bush announced his plan for the annexation of Cuba. The interminable, monster document — of more than 450 pages — provoked a volley of criticism from all sides, above all from the Cuban people, who are threatened with extermination and with the liquidation of their nation.

As the sinister plan states in plain language, Cuba would simply disappear. Let us quickly review what would happen here if what Bush has approved were to be applied:

• The return to their former owners of all properties, including all homes from which millions of families would be evicted, in less than one year and under the supervision and control of the U.S. government.

• All aspects of the economy would be completely privatized, including education and health services; all cooperatives would be dissolved and the old latifundia (estates) restored; social security and assistance would be eliminated, including all pensions and retirement plans, and a special program of public works would be organized for senior citizens which would employ them as long as their state of health allows it; the guidelines of the crudest neoliberalism would be rigorously applied.

• In order to carry out what is perceived as meeting the tenacious and invincible resistance of the people (“It will not be easy,” Bush acknowledges in the above mentioned document), they would give maximum priority to mass and generalized repression of all Communist Party members, all members of social and mass organizations and “other government sympathizers,” according to the text, which warns (is there any need?) that the list of the victims of repression will be a long one.

• The leadership of this program would be in the hands of a bureaucrat appointed by Bush with the pompous title of “Coordinator for the Transition and Reconstruction of Cuba,” a species of administrator and governor general for the island. He would have the same function — including the same title — as that carried out by Mr. Brenner in invaded and destroyed Iraq.

• The Bush Plan also included specific measures against Cuban Americans, whose links with their families on the island were drastically reduced.

In order to achieve its goal, the U.S. government would intensify its actions to do away with the Cuban Revolution by following three basic lines: a constantly more rigorous economic blockade, an increase in funding and material support for internal mercenary grouplets and an ever-growing campaign of propaganda and disinformation.

Anyone knows that undertaking to defeat the government of another country change its political, economic and social regime and subject it to its domination is a scandalous outrage to international law only conceivable in people with a fascist mentality.

The illegal and aggressive nature of the Bush Plan is so evident, such its delirious lack of moderation, that it was overtly objected to even by agencies and individuals opposed to the Cuban Revolution and defenders of imperialist policies and interests.

Suddenly, out of the blue, when everybody had forgotten about it, it was announced from Washington that there was to be another report on Cuba in May 2006.

Speculation abounded. Among the politicians and academics who criticized the simplistic barbarities from the right, there were even those who imagined the possibility of a rectification.

May 20, 2006, arrived. The media became edgy and asked questions. But nothing happened that day or in the following days.

The third week of June arrived and strangely, stealthily, it appeared on the State Department web site datelined 06/20/2006. But it would appear that nobody saw it. A week went by while spokespersons and informers maintained a total silence, until some of the Miami media and certain news agencies “discovered” what they decided to baptize a “draft.”

The text that has now been published does not stray one millimeter from the Bush Plan. On the contrary, it begins by noting its ratification, greeting the supposed successes that its application has had and, on that “solid base,” announcing “additional measures” to “accelerate” the end of the Cuban Revolution.

But there is something that demands the most energetic and urgent condemnation — something totally unusual.

Before detailing the “additional measures,” those that have been made public, the report states that there are others contained in an appendix that is to remain secret for “reasons of national security” and to ensure their “effective realization.”

After having divulged everything that they have divulged — tens of millions of dollars more for their mercenaries, new economic restrictions and illegal actions against international trade and the sovereignty of Cuba and other nations, additional punishments for Cubans and for citizens of other countries — and having made public more than two years ago their plan that describes to the finest detail their intention to re-colonize Cuba; after all that, what is there at this height to conceal with maximum secrecy? What are they hiding for reasons of “national security and effective realization?”

More terrorist attacks? New assassination attempts on Fidel? Military aggression?

In the case of Bush and his buddies, anything is possible.

Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada is president of Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power. This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the July 6 edition of Granma International.

Friendshipment caravan heads to Cuba

Special to the World

We, members of Pastors for Peace, are writing this statement from the Customs dock in Reynosa, Mexico, having successfully passed across the U.S. border this morning without incident.

Our caravan of nine brightly painted vehicles arrived at the international border at 6:15 a.m., escorted by local police, and continued on into Mexico. One of the toll collectors flashed a “V” sign — for victory and for peace — at the passing caravanistas as we passed through the tollbooth and headed across the Pharr International Bridge, carrying more than 100 tons of humanitarian aid for Cuba. The aid was collected in 127 communities around the U.S. and Canada.

We were briefed by local police on the day prior to our crossing. We understand that there were high-level meetings involving U.S. attorneys, Customs officials and local police to determine how they would handle the challenge from Pastors for Peace this year. Their refusal to meet our challenge is especially significant in light of last year’s action, in which U.S. Customs, under orders from the Commerce Department, selectively inspected and confiscated items of humanitarian aid, including computers destined for disabled Cuban children.

The Reverend Lucius Walker, executive director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace, said, “The U.S. is calling for regime change in Cuba; but we are here today calling for regime change in the U.S. It’s time that our government turned toward peace, toward reconciliation and toward respect for the sovereignty of Cuba and of all our neighbors. We are here today to show it can be done.”

Pastors for Peace is a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (ifco@igc.org), a national ecumenical agency which has been working for social justice since 1967.