The Escalation of Subversive Activities against Cuba in the 1990s
A New Mongoose
The failure eventually lead to brutal reprisals against the Cuban Five, still held today in US prisons. In the 1990s, a new CORU (Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations) was created. WKSCARLET-3 was Luis Posada Carriles secret code name in the 1970s.
by Manuel Hevia Frasquieri,
Director of the History Research Center of the State Security Office
May 10, 2007
Reprinted from Granma Internacional
THE decade of the 1990s will remain in the memory of the Cuban people as a symbol of resistance and victory. The fall of socialism in the USSR and in Eastern Europe strengthened the US belief that the strategic offensive it had developed in the 1980s to subvert the political and economic stability in those countries to accelerate their collapse, would have favorable results in Cuba.
NEO-COLONIZERS IIEANA ROS, JORGE MAS CANOSA AND TOMAS GARCIA FUSTE, TOGETHER WITH THEN PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH SR. SIGNING THE TORRICELLI ACT.
In 1991, Cuba faced the hardships of a complex economic situation. Expectations of an imminent collapse of the Cuban revolution grew among representatives of the Miami mafia. Some even packed their luggage in anticipation of the proximity of the event. Nevertheless, other enemies were convinced that it would not happen so easily.
For several decades, the governing US administrations and their espionage services and subversion units had failed in many of their covert operations against Cuba and had more than enough experiences to know that in Cuba an Eastern European style “Velvet Revolution” would not occur.
This challenge forced the administration of George Bush Sr. to introduce urgent, new subversion strategies to bring about “change.” Bush Sr. and the CIA predicted the possible fall of the Cuban revolution but only given the occurrence of other factors that had not developed in Cuba —a scenario much different from that of Eastern Europe— with a valiant people and an exceptional leader like Fidel Castro Ruz at the helm of an authentic revolution.
The passing of years and a look at some of the few declassified documents from that era reveals a clearer picture of the development of that brutal escalation.
On September 10, 1991, the CIA dramatically assessed, in one of its now declassified documents, “The Impact of the Soviet Change in Cuba.” The document states that the loss of soviet commercial subsidies and the lack of similar advantageous alternatives for Havana indicated that “imports will sharply decrease in the coming months,” leading to an intense contraction in the Cuban economy. “The collapse of communist rule in the USSR signals the end of the special economic and military relationship between Cuba and Moscow and will lead to an acceleration of the economic and political crisis [¼]”
A few months later, in 1992, the administration of George Bush Sr. tried to accelerate that "crisis" with the passage of the Torricelli Act, which strengthened the blockade and the economic war against Cuba. The measure prohibited US subsidiaries in third countries from doing business with Cuba. It also increased the cost of transporting goods by sea to Cuba by preventing ships serving the island from docking in US ports. The enemy considered the ploy enemy as the "coup de grace" against the Cuban Revolution.
A MASSIVE SUBVERSIVE OPERATION AGAINST CUBA HAD BEGUN
That CIA document later speculated that an increase in political repression seemed assured, and that Fidel Castro would almost certainly declare political dissidents to be sycophants of the United States and treat them severely.
A similarly contemptible prediction was made. Historical research reveals that in 1991, the CIA increased the operating capacity of its illegal center in Havana at the US Interests Section (USIS). Diplomatic immunity was employed to strengthen its espionage capabilities, as well as to provide attention and assistance to domestic counter-revolutionary groups. This became the official policy of the government of Bush Sr.
USIS HAS BEEN THE CENTER OF THE SUBVERSION AND PROVOCATIVE ACTS AGAINST CUBA
In 1991, the US State Department named a new diplomatic official to Havana charged exclusively with attending to these groups that, instigated by the USIS, expanded their provocative acts within the country. This is when the "cocktail parties" began with invitations handed out by the head of the US Interests Section to mercenaries to come and openly conspire, around tables full of drinks and select dishes. In that diabolical conspiracy, the US government assigned those mercenaries the role of the virtual cabinet of the internal opposition, supportive to the political interests of the anti-Cuba lobby in the United States and Europe. "Denunciations” made by these paid mercenaries allowed the USIS to add to its voluminous file of lies before the Human Rights Commission in Geneva and create the image of Cuba as an “intolerant and repressive violator of human rights." These ploys were part of the plot.
The USIS also boosted the work of their Culture and Press Office. In 1989, this office had only one staff member, yet by 1995 a first and second deputy had been assigned to it, along with several non-diplomatic employees. This expanded their counter-revolutionary propaganda work inside the country, supported by a large volume of computer and copying equipment, in violation of established regulations governing the introduction, processing and massive distribution of bibliographical material. Thousands of materials were directly given to individuals that the USIS considered "genuine representatives of Cuban civil society." In most of the cases those who were selected received the materials unsolicited. Parallel to this, the audience levels and "impact" among the Cuban population of subversive radio broadcasts were studied, while false information was supplied through reports provided by the groups. Those belonging to these factions were frequent participants in anti-Cuban discussion groups and movie and newscast presentations inside the facility, where they were supplied with large quantities of propaganda magazines and pamphlets for distribution.
Accredited diplomatic personnel and important groups of officials traveling to Havana for short periods of time gave extensive accounts of their provocative and interventionist actions. Several studies estimate that between 1998 and 2000 alone, more than 540 US officials visited the country, of which nearly 30 percent were identified as known or suspected operatives of US intelligence services. What could have been the missions of these "visitors" if not spying, committing acts of subversion or recruiting traitors?
In the 1990s, the USIS became the main operations center within Cuba to support this new White House directed plot. All of these actions were publicly denounced to the world by the Cuban people and government.
In August 1993, one of the most critical moments of the Special Period, the CIA produced a general overview of the complex economic situation in Cuba. Its confidence and total conviction of the eminent collapse of the Cuban Revolution was to such an extent that it even began to anticipate some of the challenges that a “successor government” in the so-called “post-Castro Cuba” would face. The report was declassified by the CIA in June 2001.
The section on Perspectives for a post-Castro Cuba concluded that there existed a “better opportunity than ever before, that the government of Fidel Castro will fall in the next few years¼"
This intelligence assessment was made according to three “underlying premises:" the refusal of the Commander in Chief to voluntarily step down, the assertion that the Cuban economy would not benefit from any internal economic bonanza and a direct relationship between the country’s severe economic deprivations and political instability.
The document went on to state that independently of when or how these events unfold, US interests would be challenged in many complex ways and possibly without precedent.
Apparently, the CIA was confident that the development of the three premises would trigger a final crisis.
In fact, this CIA opinion became a reality in the 1990s, as part of destabilization efforts aimed at destroying the Cuban Revolution. Plans to assassinate Fidel on each of his trips abroad were multiplied. An escalation in brutal terrorism was triggered to sow internal chaos and to discourage the influx of foreign tourists and the fresh currency they would inject into the damaged Cuban economy. The Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts escalated the economic war as never before, to sow discontent in the population. All these actions were an important means with which to try to politically destabilize the country.
The economic limitations imposed by these laws not only sought to cause hunger and shortages of medicines, transportation and electricity. They also tried to create an internal situation of dissatisfaction that led some citizens to want to immigrate to the US by any means. Subversive radio broadcasts contributed day and night to the encouragement of illegal acts, inciting people to violently break into foreign diplomatic compounds and to hijack airplanes or boats. The latter were intercepted by the US Coastguard vessels and their perpetrators taken to Florida, where they were received like heroes by the anti-Cuban Mafia.
Provocations from the “Brothers to the Rescue” terrorist group, with its continuous violations of Cuban airspace by small planes leaving from Florida, and the so-called “Freedom Flotillas,” with boats leaving from Miami, contributed to a dangerous atmosphere and raised tensions between the two countries to a maximum. Cuba faced these provocations decisively and courageously.
Between 1987 and 1994, the US government granted only seven percent of the 160,000 visas that had been part of an agreement with Cuba, to allow people who wished to travel legally to the United States. This constituted an obvious encouragement to illegal exits. The killer Cuban Adjustment Act continued claiming new innocent victims in the Florida Straits. Several of the commitments contracted by the United States during 1994 and 1995 at the discussion tables continue to go unfulfilled.
As part of this brutal offensive, the White House also organized an inter-agency work group —in the style of the old subversive operations of the 1960s— to bring the financing of counter-revolutionary projects to the top executive level. Among those agencies were the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Commerce and other governmental mechanisms such as the National Security Council and the US Interest Section in Havana.
In the mid-1960s, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) began providing millions in financial support to counter-revolutionary groups inside and outside the country. According to studies carried out between 1993 and 1999, more than 325 material and financial supply operations were carried out to provide groups in Cuba with large sums of cash. These deliveries were made by emissaries who came to Cuba from Florida or from other countries. At roughly the same time, from 1990 to 1998, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), known worldwide for its important financial contributions to the groups of renegades in the former USSR and in East Europe, economically supported more than 70 subversive plans against the Cuban Revolution. Currently, the United States has multiplied the sum of money and material resources it is sending to the pockets of anti-Cuban counter-revolutionary forces.
Dozens of reports and articles paid for to so-called independent journalists were published in magazines, pamphlets, and web pages in Spanish on the internet in an attempt to give a false image of the Revolution. The inter-agency group began financing purported non-governmental organizations in the United Sates to study how the imminent “transition” in Cuba would take place. Years later, these “studies” were to become the basis for the “Bush Plan."
The planners of this full-blown subversive operation against Cuba have had to take into account all the necessary ingredients, including the escalation of terrorism.
A NEW CORU
That brutal plot against the Cuban Revolution in the 1990s also revamped old tactics used by the special groups of the CIA radio station JM-Wave in Miami to try to create chaos and internal destabilization.
In 1992, an underground terrorist structure was created within the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF) called the "Security Commission," a paramilitary group, to lead and organize these kinds of actions. The group would be presided over at different stages by members of that anti-Cuba organization, most of them former CIA operatives, mercenaries of the Bay of Pigs, graduates from the School of the Americas at the Fort Benning military base or mercenaries of counter-insurgency ventures promoted by the United States in the region. In this group were also corrupt former Batista followers.
A long-time member of this terrorist group stated to the press years later that they had an arsenal that included ships, small remote-controlled planes and enough explosive material to create terror in Cuba.
In 1993, the group changed its name to the "Cuban National Front" and began to recruit members from other Miami-based counter-revolutionary organizations, finance terrorist actions and organize of a powerful base in Central America to support their terrorists.
CANF’s paramilitary group came on the scene as a new CORU (Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations) with some similarities to the terrorist group created in 1976 and led by terrorist Orlando Bosch when George Bush Sr. was the head of the CIA. The former CORU had tried to group together the “efforts” of the most active anti-Cuban terrorist groups in Miami at the time to increase their criminal efficiency, to achieve greater consistency in their actions against Cuba and to attempt —or at least to make it appear so— that those terrorist acts were carried out and planned outside of the United States.
That philosophy was politically expedient for the Bush clan and Miami’s terrorist mob in the 1990s, when they were trying to give the final push against the Cuban Revolution. They were the same characters of the 1970s; all that had changed was the time.
Can the CIA and the FBI deny today their knowledge at that time of a terrorist organization of such magnitude in the city of Miami? If the answer is yes, what did they do to control and prevent all of those illegal acts that violated the neutrality laws of that country?
WKSCARLET-3 IN CENTRAL AMERICA
After facilitating his escape from Venezuela, where Posada had been on trial for his participation in the horrific Barbados crime, George Bush Sr. and the CIA used terrorist Luis Posada Carriles from 1985 to 1986 in the Iran-Contras Operation. As part of this operation, Posada led a complex mission —testimony to the trust the CIA placed in him—, in which he was in charge of delivering supplies to the Nicaraguan Contras by air, logistics related to these war provisions and overseeing personnel linked to the operation. Posada also directly took part in operation missions and flew many of the planes that delivered weapons and explosives to the Contras. He did so not out of bravery, but rather for the extra payment that Washington gave to the crews for their illegal flights. When news broke about these activities, which directly implicated the Reagan administration and Vice President George Bush Sr., the Irangate scandal was unleashed.
According to the fourth volume of Posada’s personal file declassified by the agency, Luis Posada Carriles operated for the CIA under the secret code of WKSCARLET-3.
Posada had the “honorable” mission of eliminating all compromising traces implicating the White House in Camp Ilopango, El Salvador, after one of the base’s clandestine flights was shot down and an international scandal erupted. Years later, Posada himself admitted to having hidden a box with maps and other allegedly compromising documents, which he later took to Miami. The protection and immunity that this terrorist today enjoys from the White House is related to his important services to the Bush Clan and the CIA in actions against Cuba over several decades, including his participation in the Contras affair and the ensuing cover up.
Posada Carriles has kept total silence about these events involving the highest White House officials. Years later, when he was interviewed by the FBI in February 1992 at the US embassy in Honduras about his participation in the Iran-Contras Operation, Posada tried to cover up Vice President Bush and his colleagues’ awareness of these illegal operations. Despite the fact that Luis Posada Carriles acknowledged his participation in the dirty war against Nicaragua, that he was a fugitive from Venezuela for the Barbados Crime and that he was an active terrorist in Central America at the time, the FBI never bothered him.
At the time when subversive activities were on a sharp rise inside of Cuba in the 1990s, Posada Carriles was working in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama participating in different terrorist acts, many of them financed by the paramilitary wing of CANF. He was part of assassination plans against President Fidel Castro during his participation in Ibero-American summits or during other trips abroad. Luis Posada Carriles also organized and carried out several terrorist attacks against Cuban interests abroad. He was an active participant in weapons trafficking in the region, in training terrorists and supplying them with weapons and explosives, which were later used as part of the escalated terrorism against Cuba.
FAILURE OF THE INCREASE IN TERRORIST ACTS AGAINST CUBA
The escalation of subversive operations against Cuba, which began in the 1990s, included assassination attempts and other terrorist acts.
From 1990 to 1993, there were other terrorist acts carried out against Cuba by groups based in Miami such as Comandos L, Ejercito Libertador Cubano and Ejercito Armado Secreto. These groups undertook three armed entries along the coastlines of the provinces of Habana, Matanzas and Sancti Spiritus; shortly afterwards, their members were arrested and tried. Pirate speedboats crewed by armed mercenaries carried out three attacks against tourist facilities in Varadero and against an oil tanker that was operating in Cuban ports. By the end of 1993, the CANF paramilitary wing recruited a Guatemalan citizen in Miami to carry out terrorist acts inside Cuba. He then received training and explosives in a Central American country by Luis Posada Carriles and Gaspar Jimenez Escobedo. The supposed terrorist turned out to be Agent Fraile, a member of the Cuban security services.
From 1994 to 1996, the rise in terrorist activities accelerated, with the direct participation of the CANF paramilitary wing in some cases or with their financing in others. The Alpha-66 group staged three pirate attacks against the Guitart Hotel in Cayo Coco, while the Partido Unidad Nacional Democratica (PUND) carried out another similar attack against the Melia Las Americas Hotel in Varadero. Three armed terrorists took part in this attack and were later captured as they attempted to escape in a speedboat that had set out, hours before, from US territory. The three terrorists had opened fire with automatic weapons against several Cuban hotels full of tourists, to create chaos and terror, and thus affect Cuba’s tourism industry. At the time, there were further armed infiltrations in the provinces of Matanzas and Villa Clara from groups affiliated with Patria y Libertad, Gobierno Provisional en el Exilio and the PUND. The PUND group landed near Caibarien and killed worker Arcelio Rodriguez Garcia. All these terrorist commandos were eventually arrested and tried by Cuban courts.
In all of the above-motioned terrorist attacks, the authors, their vessels, weapons and explosives originated from US territory. Some of these paramilitary operations required in-depth preparations, such as the attack carried out by terrorists Santos Armando Martinez Rueda and Jose Enrique Ramirez Oro, under the command of terrorist Guillermo Novo Sampol. Working for CANF, these men covertly landed on the coast of the province of Las Tunas, where they buried a plastic bucket with more than 50 pounds of plastic explosive. They then left Cuba, returning a few days later as tourists with false documents and were arrested.
How could the FBI not detect an operation of such a magnitude? Could the CANF paramilitary group have been able to carry out such complex subversive operations without the support of the CIA?
In 1997, explosive devices were detonated in two Cuban tourist companies in Mexico and Nassau. In that same year, bombs exploded in several hotels in Havana and Varadero, and a plot by CANF to murder Fidel during the Ibero-American Summit in Isla Margarita, Venezuela, failed. Up until 1998, 16 high-powered plastic explosive devices had been introduced in Cuba. The perpetrators were Central American mercenaries under the guidance of Luis Posada Carriles. The plans were hatched in these countries, but the money came from Miami, provided by CANF. One of these monstrous acts took the life of a young Italian, Fabio Di Celmo. The murderer Posada Carriles would later confess to a journalist that he was involved in those terror acts.
Cuba was able to prove in court, by showing all the legal evidence, the criminal responsibility of the captured terrorists, who disguised as tourists to commit such crimes. In their statements they clearly revealed the responsibility of Posada Carriles and CANF. All the weapons, which were introduced through infiltration, were seized. Cuban authorities also seized dozens of pounds of high-power explosives, which could have caused the deaths of many innocent people and the destruction of countless property. These Posada Carriles commandoes were neutralized and their actions and those of CANF were exposed.
The terror acts targeted hotels because CANF’s aim was to create an image of internal instability in Cuba, to disrupt the tourist industry and to further damage the Cuban economy.
After that escalation of terror failed, new criminal plans were concocted. Posada and his henchmen attempted once again to assassinate President Fidel Castro, this time during the Ibero-American Summit in Panama in the year 2000. But their plans were aborted thanks to their timely denunciation of the Cuban leader himself.
In spite of the blockade and the economic war, the acts of political subversion and the brutal terrorist escalation during the 1990s, the Revolution was able to push on. With the support of the Cuban people and under the guidance of Commander Fidel Castro, the Cuban Revolution was able to preserve the levels of healthcare and education it had attained and come up with the necessary material resources to recover from and leave the Special Period behind.
The vicious subversive activity of the 1990s failed. The Cuban government systematically denounced the terror acts and provided the US authorities with evidence, with data on the perpetrators under arrest in Cuba, as well as their accomplices and instigators in the United States. Yet, these individuals continued to hatch new terrorist plans against Cuba, totally undisturbed.
But the fascist clique of Bush and their allies in Miami could not accept such a defeat. Cuban antiterrorist fighters working heroically to uncover those crimes in the very city of Miami —by their efforts protecting not only the Cuban but also the American people— were subjected to untold reprisals. The protracted and unjust incarceration of the Cuban Five and the gross, unfair treatment that they and their relatives continue to receive, almost nine years after the Five were arrested, are an expression of the enemy’s feeling of frustration and revenge in the face of their failure. Meanwhile, the worst terrorist in this continent, Luis Posada Carriles, continues to be protected.
The Cuban people will continue to struggle for the release of the Five and for the murderer Luis Posada Carriles to finally be convicted for his crimes against humanity.