Skip to comments.Experts debate taking Cuba off terrorism list
Posted on 04/07/2002 4:27:00 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
MIAMI -- Four months before terrorists turned the World Trade Center into a mass grave, Cuban President Fidel Castro offered a grim picture of the future while touring three countries that, like his own, are on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist nations.
"Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring America to its knees," Castro said at the University of Tehran. "The U.S. regime is very weak, and we are witnessing this weakness from close up."
In a post-Sept. 11 world, Castro foes have repeatedly cited those words, reported by the Agence France-Presse on May 10, 2001, as yet another reason to retain Cuba's 20-year-old designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Despite the aging dictator's inflammatory rhetoric, however, there is growing consensus among foreign-policy experts that Cuba's appearance on the list, alongside Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, North Korea and Sudan, is a Cold War relic counter to U.S. interests.
"It's undeniable that Cuba promoted revolution in Latin America and supported communist insurgents in Nicaragua and El Salvador, but it sticks out like sore thumb on the terrorist list today," said Philip Peter, a State Department official during the Reagan and first Bush administrations.
Few critics, though, have any illusion the State Department will minimize Cuba's status as a rogue nation when it issues its annual report on Global Patterns of Terrorism, due out next month. They contend that Cuba remains on the list only for political reasons. With Florida such an important swing state, they say President Bush, like the presidents before him, can ill afford to alienate hard-liners in Miami's politically potent exile community by minimizing Cuba's threat.
"Frankly, I don't know anyone in or outside of government who believes in private that Cuba belongs on the terrorist list," said Richard Nuccio, President Clinton's adviser on Cuba. "People who defend it know it is a political calculation. It keeps a certain part of the voting public in Florida happy, and it doesn't cost anything."
A State Department spokesman indicated such assertions are nonsense. So did Florida's senior senator, Bob Graham, who, as chair of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, is regularly briefed on Cuba. He said Cuba is still providing assistance, particularly medical assistance, to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and is the Latin American headquarters for the Irish Republican Army.
"All that is on top of a long history of active promotion of instability in the region," Graham said.
The State Department first designated Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982 when, as a satellite of the Soviet Union, the island was training and arming Latin American and African revolutionaries. With its Soviet sponsor and subsidies long gone, it remains on the list, the State Department says, for harboring a number of Basque terrorists and several U.S. fugitives and for allowing Colombia's two largest guerrilla groups to maintain "a permanent presence" on the island.
The drumbeat to knock Cuba off the list began just two weeks after Middle Eastern hijackers slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Wayne Smith, the top U.S. diplomat in Havana under President Carter, joined 17 other individuals in assailing the rationale for keeping it there. The United States "can no longer afford to confuse and divert our struggle against real terrorist threats because of domestic political considerations," they wrote.
Now a senior fellow with the Center for International Policy, Smith concedes that members of Spain's Basque separatist group, known as ETA, live on the island. But he notes they are there under an agreement between Castro and former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, whose successor has not requested their extradition.
Likewise, he acknowledges that a number of fugitives from U.S. justice, including a member of Los Macheteros, Puerto Rico's terrorist independence group responsible for the1975 bombing in New York that killed four, live in Cuba. But he argues they cannot be returned because the United States and Cuba have not had an operative extradition treaty since Castro's revolution triumphed in 1959.
Smith also expresses dismay that Cuba is criticized for its contacts with FARC and the ELN, or National Liberation Army. Noting that Cuba hosted peace talks between the Colombian government and the rebels, he said Cuba is a recognized, legitimate player in the peace process.
Several other Cuba analysts have since weighed in with similar reasoning, with the Foreign Relations Council, a nonprofit think tank, summing up the prevailing sentiment in its online terrorism encyclopedia. In examining each of the state sponsors of terrorism, its entry for Cuba is the only one laden with heavy skepticism.
"[I]ntelligence experts have been hard pressed to find evidence that Cuba currently provides weapons or military training to terrorists groups," it states. "In 1998, a comprehensive review by the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Cuba does not pose a threat to U.S. national security, which implies that Cuba no longer sponsors terrorism."
But that opinion is by no means universal. Dennis Hays, who preceded Nuccio as coordinator for Cuban affairs under Clinton, shoots back with his own skepticism. Now executive vice president of the Cuban American National Foundation, the most powerful anti-Castro lobby, Hays says the 1998 intelligence report is deeply flawed because of the senior Cuba analyst who had a hand in it: Ana Belen Montes.
A U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican descent, Montes, 45, is the highest-ranking Cuba spy ever caught. Arrested 10 days after Sept. 11, she pleaded guilty last month to one count of espionage, admitting she had passed top-secret information to Cuba during her years with the Defense Intelligence Agency.
While acknowledging that the reasons for keeping Cuba on the list are weak, Hays said the language had been "watered down" by a Clinton administration eager to expand relations with Cuba. He predicted that the upcoming report would make a far more persuasive case for maintaining Cuba's rogue status.
Cuba-watchers agree, given President Bush's recent appointment of Otto Reich as his top diplomat for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Reich, a staunch anti-Castro Cuban native appointed over Senate objections, has made it clear he opposes softening U.S. policy on Cuba.
Hays, who was delighted with Reich's appointment, said the State Department has a wealth of evidence detailing Cuba's "unrepentant and continuing" sponsorship of international terrorism, much of which should have been included in previous terrorism reports.
He cited, for example, the 1996 incident in which Cuban fighter jets shot down two Cessna aircraft carrying members of the exile organization Brothers to the Rescue. All four men aboard, three of them American citizens, were killed. Cuba defended the action, saying the planes violated its airspace.
Hays also noted that the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Adm. Tom Watson, recently told congressional investigators that Cuba has the potential to use "information warfare" to disrupt U.S. access or flow of forces to the region.
But not least of all, Hays said, the United States cannot ignore Castro's May 2001 visit to Iran, Iraq and Libya, or the regime's ongoing terrorism against its own people. As Human Rights Watch has reported, Cuba has a "highly effective machinery of repression."
In Havana, where billboards of a finger-wagging Castro condemn both terrorism and the Afghanistan war, government officials said they don't lose sleep over Cuba's designation.
Rafael Dausa, head of the North American division for Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Relations, said it serves to underscore how alone the U.S. stands.
"We have good relations with 172 countries," Dausa said. "No one can seriously believe the U.S. is serious about the list if we are on it."
Indeed, British Energy Minister Brian Wilson, visiting Cuba a month after the Sept. 11 attacks, said, "We are not in agreement with the U.S. view that Cuba sponsors terrorism." And an embassy spokesman for neighboring Canada, which has condemned Cuba for violating human rights, says Canada is "pleased" Cuba signed all United Nations instruments related to the fight against terrorism.
But nothing, Dausa said, proves how flawed the list is more than the United States' own double standard. For years, he said, the United States has harbored exiles committed to terrorizing the island. As an example, he pointed to Orlando Bosch, a pediatrician accused of masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner, originating in Venezuela, that killed 73 people. After spending 11 years in Venezuelan prisons, Bosch was paroled to his family home in Miami, where he was embraced as a hero.
"Perhaps if we made a list, the U.S. would be on it," Dausa said.
Maya Bell can be reached at 305-810-5003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Castaneda: Mexico did not pressure Castro to leave U.N. conference **** Last year, Cuban officials accused Castaneda of trying to get Mexican delegates to vote in favor of a U.N. motion condemning Cuba for its human rights record. Mexico abstained from the vote, and Castaneda has said that it will do the same this year. However, when asked about the vote during a news conference Thursday, Fox said he could not comment on Mexico's position because the text of the motion had not yet been prepared.****
Really? Really, now??? Well, then, amigo..........howcomeisit that your little island Workers' Paradise is so incredibly backward, you can't feed your own people worth a darn, you can't buy basics in your stores if you even HAD the money, and your citizens routinely risk their lives to float across 90+ miles of shark-infested waters to seek asylum in the US of A?? If you're so damned beloved by all of these countries and have such terrific relations with so many, why do you remain such a backwater, Communist s**thole?
Sign me.........."Just Wondering"
Paul Greenberg: Fidel and friends**** The problem is that, like any other economy that's been run into the ground by some Communist caudillo, F. Castro and brutal company are a little short of cash just now and always. Cuba is already some $11 billion in debt, it defaulted on its international loans years ago, and so it can't get any more money from the World Bank. Or any other lending agency that has this thing about being repaid. In short, Fidel's is a typical Communist economy, that is, bankrupt -- and not just morally. That's where American banks and credit and you, the American taxpayer, come in. Because all the loans and grants that Cuba's sordid little dictatorship would need to buy our rice and shore up its own power would have to be backed some way by the U.S. government. That's the dirty little secret none of those pushing for an end to this embargo emphasize. They see trade with Cuba as still another farm subsidy.****
Selfish, lying, money grubbing elites, socialists, congresscritters, merchants and useful idiots.
He and his comrades are old but their strips are still the same. He's been busy grooming Hugo Chavez in Venezuela
Venezuela Oil Workers' Dispute Could Threaten Supplies for U.S.****Describing the conflict as "very worrisome," John H. Lichtblau, chairman of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation in New York, said: "Venezuela has been a top foreign source for the United States for a long time. Potentially, this is a bigger threat for the U.S. market than disruptions in the Middle East, which are hypothetical. This isn't hypothetical." A clash on Thursday between government supporters and opposition party members at a drilling site in Monagas State killed two oil workers and injured three, the police said today.****
Doesn't Castro have a brother who would take over in Cuba if Castro died now. I don't remember as it has been so long since I've thought about options since Kennedy promised Krushchev that Castro would remain untouched as his trade off concession to bring an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Wow! Kewl! As far as I can figure out these people's definition of U.S. interests is maximum enlargement of the number of hand biting dictators receiving U.S. foreign aid.
Bush Calls Cuba A Repressive Regime--[Excerpt] "I'm just going to remind the Human Rights Commission to remember that Cuba is an incredibly repressive regime. It's the one non-democratic government in the Western Hemisphere," said the president. The UN commission meetings began on Tuesday and will continue through April 26. President Bush said the Cuban people have suffered because of Castro's dictatorship. "They put people in prison if they don't agree with you. There's no rule of law there. It's the rule of one person. He's been there for a long period of time and, unfortunately, the people of that country are suffering as a result of him," he said. [End Excerpt]
Vicki Huddleston Q&A: Veteran leader speaks about dissidents, Castro and the U.S. role****Her tour of duty ends in September. She has been more vocal in recent months in defense of island dissidents and in her criticism of the Cuban government.****
Leftwing stooges create another front for Castro [Excerpt] The Cuba Policy Foundation is headed by Ambassador Sally Grooms Cowal, who acts as its president. If you can remember back to the Elian Gonzalez debacle, Sally Grooms Cowal was the individual whose other group, Youth for Friendship, "hosted" the Cuban boy in the Rosedale mansion after he was taken by Janet Reno's agents in Miami. The Rosedale compound, which is in Maryland, is owned and operated by Youth for Friendship. Additionally Grooms Cowal, was a former deputy assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs under President George Bush in the late 1980s. She has also served as ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago. The CPF is bankrolled by the Arca Foundation.
For those of you who don't know about the Arca foundation, it passes itself as a philanthropic organization that gives millions of dollars annually to organizations that fight for social justice around the world. Unfortunately a grand majority of these organizations are of a far leftist nature, like in 1998 when it gave $1,000 to an obscure contingent called Fondo Del Sol which helped surviving members of the Stalinist Abraham Lincoln Brigade view a photo exhibit on the Spanish Civil War! Among the pro Castro groups Arca has funded have been the Pastors for Peace ($10,000 in 1999), Global Exchange ($50,000 in 1999), and the TransAfrica Forum ($100,000). Communist Cuba is the main focus of Arca's Foreign Policy grants list, and although it gives money to other international and domestic institutions, it annually gives a substantial amount of funds to causes dealing with communist Cuba. In 1999 alone, the Arca Foundation gave to over 19 organizations that are sympathetic to revolutionary Cuba.[End Excerpt]
Then maybe we'll *think* about it.
OUR FIRST BILLBOARD IS UP! In Miami, Florida at the busy intersection of Bird Rd. and 37th Ave. the first billboard of our new campaign has gone up. Next stop: Washington, D.C.
For this remark alone, Castro should be sent to a painful and humiliating death. Castro has been a thorn in British sides for supporting the IRA. We should have killed him a long time ago. I see no reason to leave Fidel out of the Axis of Evil - get the blighter.
I'm glad we have one of him in the U.S. waving his finger and quoting him praising terrorism. Way to go!!
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