A history of Cuban
While we're still on
the subject of Cuba...
you ever wondered how Fidel Castro has stayed in power for so long?
one, other than the King of Jordan, has been in the top spot for a greater period
of time. The man has outlasted eight U.S. presidents, ten Olympic
Games, and the return of Halley's Comet. And no matter what the United States government does to try to
dethrone him, he's got more lives than Cher has comebacks.
not that our American leaders haven't given it their best effort. Ever since
Castro liberated his country from the corrupt U.S.- and Mafia backed Batista
regime, Washington has tried a variety of
methods to unseat him. These have included taxpayer-funded assassination attempts,
invasions, blockades, embargoes, threats of nuclear annihilation, internal
disruption, and biological warfare (the CIA dropped a bunch of African Swine
Fever germs over the country in 1971, forcing the Cubans to destroy 500,000
something that has always seemed strange to me, there is an actual US naval base on the island of Cuba! Imagine if we after
defeating the British in our Revolution, we then let them keep a few thousand
troops and a bunch of battleships in New York Harbor. Weird.
Kennedy, who followed through with President Eisenhower's plan to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, ordered the CIA to kill
Castro, trying everything from a pen filled with poison ink to an exploding
cigar. (No I do not get my information from Maxwell Smart;
it's all in the Church committee report from the U.S. congress, 1975.)
course nothing worked. Castro became stronger and the U.S. continued to go nuts. Cuba was seen as "the one
that got away." It became an embarrassment to us. Here we had every nation
in this hemisphere in our back pocket - except those damn Cubans. It looked
bad. Like when the whole family goes out to dinner and the one bad seed, little
Billy, just won't sit still and do what he is told. Everyone in the place is
looking at the parents and wondering just what kind of job they're doing. The
appearance that they have no discipline or control is the worst humiliation. So
they start whacking little Billy, but forget about it - he ain't ever going to
finish his peas.
how silly we look to the rest of the world. Like we've been
driven insane over this little island ninety miles from our shores. We
don't feel that way about a real threat to humanity, like the one posed by the
Chinese government. Talk about a bunch of thugs! Yet we can't move fast enough
to hop in bed with them. Washington spent twenty-three years
getting us all worked up against the Chinese - and then, suddenly, one day
they're our friends. It turned out that the Republicans and their corporate
buddies weren't really against communist dictators - just those who wouldn't
let them come in and make a buck.
that, of course, has been Castro's fatal mistake. Once he took over and
nationalized all the American businesses and booted the Mob out of Havana, he
might as well have taken a seat on the San Andreas fault, because the wrath of
Uncle Sam came down on him hard, and it hasn't let up for over thirty-seven
years. Yet Castro has survived. For that accomplishment alone, despite all his
flaws (political repression, four hour speeches, and a literacy rate of 100
percent), you gotta admire the guy.
why do we continue to fight this leftover turkey leg from the Cold War? The
answer can be found by looking no further than a town called Miami. It is there that a nutty bunch
of Cuban exiles have controlled U.S. foreign policy regarding this
insignificant island nation. These Cubans, many of whom were
Batista supporters and lived high on the hog while that crook ran the country,
seem not to have slept a wink since they grabbed their assets and headed to Florida.
since 1960, they have insisted on pulling us into their madness. Why is it that
every incident of national torment that has deflated
our country for the past three decades-the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Iran-Contra, our drug abuse
epidemic-the list goes on and on-we find that the Cuban exiles are always
present and involved? First it was Lee Harvey Oswald's connection to the Cubans
Orleans. (Or was it the Cuban exiles acting alone to kill Kennedy,
or Castro ordering the assassination 'cause he just got bored with Kennedy
trying to bump him off? Whichever theory you subscribe to, the Cubans are
lurking in the neighborhood.)
on the night of June 17, 1972, three Cubans - Bernard
Barker, Eugenio Martinez, and Virgilio
Gonzalez (plus Americans Frank Sturgis and James McCord Jr.)
- were caught breaking into the Watergate offices of the chairman of the
Democratic Party. This covert operation eventually brought down Richard Nixon,
so I guess there is a silver lining to that particular Cuban-exile operation.
Barker and Gonzalez are considered heroes in Miami's Cuban community. Martinez, later pardoned by Ronald
Reagan, is the only one who feels bad. "I did not want myself to be
involved in the downfall of the President of the United States." Oh, well, how nice of
Ollie North needed a cover group to run arms into Nicaragua to help overthrow the
government, who else could he turn to but the Miami Cubans? Bay of Pigs veterans Ramon Medina and
Rafael Quintero were key managers of the air-transport company that supplied
weapons to the Contras. The U.S. backed Contra War was
responsible for the deaths of thirty thousand Nicaraguans.
of the big bonuses to come out of our funding of these Cuban exiles was the
help they gave us in bringing illegal drugs into the States, destroying
families and whole sections of our cities. Beginning in the early sixties, a
number of Cubans (who also participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion) began running major
narcotics rings in this country. The DEA found little support within the
federal government to go after these Cuban exiles, because they had organized
themselves under the phony banner of "freedom
groups." In fact, most were nothing more than fronts for massive
drug-smuggling operations. These same drug runners later helped to run arms to
based Cuban terrorist organizations have been responsible for more than two
hundred bombings and at least a hundred murders since Castro's revolution. They
have got everyone so afraid to stand up to them that I probably shouldn't even
be writing this chapter. I am, after all, one of the few unarmed Americans.
why am I not worried? Because these
Cuban exiles, for all their chest thumping and terrorism, are really a bunch of
wimps. That's right. Wimps.
proof? For starters, when you don't like the oppressor in your country, you
stay there and try to overthrow him. This can be done by force (American
Revolution, French Revolution) or through peaceful means (Gandhi in India or Mandela in South Africa). But you don't just turn
tail and run like these Cubans.
if all the American colonists had all run to Canada - and then insisted the
Canadians had a responsibility to overthrow the British down in the States. The
Sandinistas never would have freed their country from Somoza if they had all
been sitting on the beach in Costa Rica, drinking margaritas and
getting rich. Mandela went to prison, not to Libya or London.
the wealthy Cubans scooted off to Miami - and got wealthier. Ninety
percent of these exiles are white, while the majority of Cubans, 62 percent,
are black or of mixed race. The whites knew they couldn't stay in Cuba because they had no support
from the people. So they came here, expecting us to fight their fight for them.
And, like morons, we have.
not that these Cuban crybabies haven't tried to help
themselves. But a quick look at their efforts resembles an old Keystone Kops
movie. The Bay
is their best known fiasco. It had all the elements of a great farce - wrong
boats, wrong beach, no ammo for the guns, no one shows up to meet them, and,
finally, they are left for dead, wandering around a part of their island
completely unfamiliar to them (their limo drivers, I guess, had never taken
them there in the good old days).
embarrassment was so monumental the world still hasn't stopped laughing - and
the Miami Cubans have never forgotten or forgiven this. Say "Bay of Pigs" to any of them, and you
might as well be a dentist with a drill on raw, decaying nerve.
would think that the Bay of Pigs defeat would have taught them a lesson,
but then you would probably be projecting. YOU would have given up. Not this
crowd. Since 1962, numerous Cuban exile groups have attempted even more raids
to "liberate" their homeland.
go to the highlights reel:
1981, a group of Miami Cuban exiles landed on Prividenciales Island in the Caribbean on their way to invading Cuba. Their boat, the only one of
four exile boats to make it out of the Miami River (the other three were turned
back by the Coast Guard due to foul weather, engine trouble, or too few life
jackets), ran aground on a reef near Providenciales.
Stuck there on the island with no food or shelter, the Miami Cubans started
fighting among themselves. They begged the people of Miami to rescue them off the
island, and after three weeks they were airlifted back to Florida. The only one of their group
to make it to Cuban waters, Geraldo Fuentes, suffered an appendicitis attack
while at sea and had to be helicoptered by the Coast
Guard to Guantanamo for treatment.
1968, a group of Miami Cubans learned that a Polish ship was docked in the port of Miami and that a Cuban delegation
might be aboard the freighter. From the MacArthur
Causeway, according to the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, the Cuban exiles fired
a homemade bazooka and hit the ship's hull. It only put a nick in the ship, and
the group's leader, Orlando Bosch, was sentenced to
ten years of prison, but was released in 1972. Bosch explained that they had
hoped to cause more damage, but, he pleaded, "It was a BIG ship!"
Bosch had earlier been arrested for towing a torpedo through downtown Miami during rush hour, and another
time he was caught with six hundred aerial bombs loaded with dynamite in the
trunk of his Cadillac. In 1990, the Bush administration released him from
prison, where he was serving time for parole violations.
to Washington Monthly, "During the summer and early fall of 1963, five
commando raids were launched against Cuba in the hopes of destabilizing
the regime. The negligible Cuban underground was instructed to leave faucets
running and light bulbs burning to waste energy."
1962, according to the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, Cuban exile, Jose Basulto, on a CIA-sponsored mission, fired a 20-mm cannon from a speedboat at the Incan Hotel next to Havana Bay, hoping to kill Fidel Castro.
The shell missed, and Basulto, seeing gasoline
spilling all over his boat, high-tailed it back to Florida. "One of our gas tanks,
made of plastic, began to leak," Basulto
explained later. "Gas ran all over the deck. We didn't know what to
later, Basulto would go on to form "Brothers to
the Rescue," an exile group that for the past few years has been flying
missions over Cuba, buzzing Cuban sites, dropping leaflets, and generally
trying to intimidate the Cuban government. In February 1996, Castro was
apparently fed up with this harassment, and after the twenty-fifth incident in
the past twenty months of the Brothers violating Cuban air-space, he ordered
that two of their planes be shot down.
though Brothers to the Rescue was violating U.S. law by flying into Cuban
airspace (a fact that FAA acknowledges), the Clinton administration again went to
the exile trough and instantly got a bill passed to tighten the embargo against
Cuba. This embargo has brought the
wrath of the rest of the world against us - UN General Assembly voted 117 to 3
to "condemn" the United States for its economic violence against Cuba
(as it has in every vote since the embargo was imposed).
week after the planes were shot down, the exiles tried to force the hand of the
U.S., hoping to get the military
to engage in some kind of action against Castro. They announced that on the
following Saturday they would take a flotilla of boats from Florida to just off the Cuban coast,
to protest the loss of the two planes. Clinton decided to stage the greatest
show of force against Cuba since the Missile Crisis, and
sent a squadron of F-15 fighters, eleven Coast Guard cutters, two Navy missile
cruisers, one Navy frigate, two C-130 planes, and a bevy of choppers, AWACs, and six hundred coast guardsmen to support the
he forgot to send was the Dramamine - which, it turned out, was what the Miami
Cubans really needed. Just forty miles out of Key West, the Cubans on the boats
started getting seasick, heaving up big chunks and begging their skippers to
turn the damn yachts around. With the whole world watching, the Cubans once
again turned tail and ran. When they got back to port, they held a press
conference to explain their retreat. One spokesman was still a little woozy,
and you could see the journalists backing away from him, expecting any moment
to be covered with a Linda Blair Special.
horrible storm arose out of the sea," said the rapidly paling Cuban exit
leader. "The waves were over ten feet high, and we had to turn back or
lose our ships!" As he spoke some creative genius working the weekend
shift at CNN ran footage of the flotilla taken from the air as it headed
towards Cuba. The sun was shining, the sea
was as smooth as glass, and the wind blew gently, if at all. Reporters out at
sea did say that after the CNN cameras left, the waters became "rather
rough." I'm sure they did.
has to be laughing his ass off.
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