When the U.S. government launched its so-called “Global War on Terror” after the al Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, U.S.-led terror attacks against Cuba had already been ongoing for over 40 years.
They included: military invasion (1961), CIA-sponsored counter-revolutionary paramilitaries in the countryside (1960s), a fully loaded Cuban airliner brought down by U.S. agents (1976), attacks on coastal towns and fishing boats, biowarfare, hundreds of killings in Cuba and abroad, sabotage, and bombings of hotels and tourist facilities (1997).
With the new century, however, violence and terror seemed to be on vacation. The Cuban media and sympathetic international media were reporting little or nothing about U.S.-based terror attacks that had been their stock in trade.
On Dec. 17, 2023, Cuban Chancellor Bruno Rodríguez released a statement harking back to the violent past. He insisted that the “U.S. government is very aware of the official, public, and repeated denunciations by the Cuban government of the assistance, protection, and tolerance that promotors and perpetrators of terrorist acts against Cuba enjoy in the United States.”
He added, “Recently Cuba’s Interior Ministry has reported on the dismantling of destabilization plans developed in the United States by terrorists of Cuban origin in a security operation that led to the detention of several persons tied to this conspiracy.”
Rodríguez’s statement followed a report appearing in the Communist Party’s Granma newspaper on Dec. 9, 2023. A Florida resident, traveling on a jet ski, came ashore near Matanzas on Cuba’s northern coast in late 2023; no date was specified. Carrying pistols, ammunition, and loading clips, the individual headed for Cienfuegos, his province of origin, and was arrested.
The unnamed man “contacted several people in order to recruit them.” He allegedly had ties in South Florida with “terrorists who publicly promote violent actions against Cuba… [and who] have received military training with weapons, have the physical equipment… and other resources to carry out their plans.”
Granma stated that “the terrorists, with their plans for actions aimed at undermining internal order, go beyond a virtual setting; they concentrated on promoting violence so as to cause pain, suffering, and death at the year’s end.”
These “instigators of hate and death… appear on [Cuba’s] National List… [Cuban security officials] have investigated actions they’ve taken in the national territory or in other countries.”
A report on Jan. 4 from Mexican journalist Beto Rodríguez discusses the Interior Ministry’s “National List of persons and entities… associated with terrorism against Cuba.” Since 1999, they “have planned, carried out, and plotted acts of extreme violence in Cuban territory.’’
The List first appeared on Dec. 7 in Cuba’s Official Gazette as Resolution 19/2023. It names 61 individuals and 19 terrorist organizations, all based in the United States, presumably most of them in South Florida. One of the names on the List belongs to the jet skier, but which one is unspecified.
According to Beto Rodríguez, criminal investigations in Cuba revealed that some of the listed persons targeted “governmental and tourist installations and carrying out sabotage, illegal incursions, human trafficking, and preparations for war.” They “made plans for assassinating leaders of the revolution.”
He also reported that the arrested jet skier “intended to recruit Cubans for burning sugarcane plantations, provoke disturbances, disturb tourist centers, and hand out propaganda.” “[C]itizen denunciation” led to his arrest.
Appearing on the List is Alexander Alazo Baró, who shot at Cuba’s embassy in Washington with a semiautomatic weapon on April 30, 2020. He is still “under investigation.” Two Molotov cocktails exploded at the embassy on Sept. 24, 2023. The perpetrator is unknown.
Beto Rodríguez notes that on Nov. 24, 2023, the U.S. State Department, warning prospective travelers to Cuba of “potential terrorist actions… against the United States,” advised them to avoid “sites commonly used for demonstrations.”
A day earlier, a large pro-Palestinian march headed by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel passed by the U.S. embassy in Havana. Journalist Rodríguez surmises that “Washington already knew beforehand that anti-Cuban groups were planning to enter onto the island to commit acts of terrorism.”
Hernando Calvo Ospina, veteran analyst of U.S. terror against Cuba, reported on Jan. 10 that Cuba’s government referred the National List to the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), which deals with crime extending across borders.
Describing the activities of the listed persons, Calvo Ospina highlights their new use of social media to communicate propaganda and to “incite internal violence, the assassination of State personalities, the destruction of common goods and all kinds of sabotage.”
Ospina states that “the objectives now being pursued are similar to those of the so-called ‘historical exile group.’ Only the method has changed. Both have one thing in common: they use terrorist methods.” Some of those whose names appear were carrying out terrorist activities in the 1990s.
He indicates that “Many received direct funding from the U.S. State Department, and also from the CIA, which uses various entities and NGOs to deliver it.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, the government’s so-called “democracy and human rights funding” for Cuba, a reference to support provided for interventionist programming, amounted to $20 million annually from 2014 to 2022. In July 2023, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee, sought “to boost funding by 50% for democracy promotion efforts in Cuba.”
What looks like a revival of the U.S. government’s former anti-Cuba terror campaign may point to one or more of several possibilities:
- Terror attacks had actually continued during the past two decades, but Cuba’s government, for unknown reasons, opted not to publicize them.
- Terror attacks did continue, but at a low ebb, and now the Cuban government, at a difficult time, seeks to inform world opinion of illegal and dangerous U.S. actions, the object being to promote multi-national mobilization against prolonged U.S. all-but-war against Cuba.
- The U.S. government, taking advantage of Cubans’ discouragement aggravated by a terrible economic crisis, has successfully recruited dissidents and once more is capable of mounting terror attacks.
- The U.S. government, true to its ideologic core, to its imperialist self, stops at nothing while dominating or beating up on lesser peoples of the world.