April 5, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013
This week revelations surfaced that the US has been waging a “super-secret” cyber-war against Cuba. The goal apparently is to “stir up” anti-Castro sentiments and cultivate a new wave of young, socially conscious Cuban-hipsters. These new and improved, politically savvy Cubanos, will then, if all goes according to the master-plan hatched inside the cubicles of the USAID offices in Washington DC, rise up against their Communist/Dictatorship government. Armed only with their smartphones and their Twitter account feeds from the USAID they will collectively unleash a Havana-Hurricane of revolutionary upheaval. A political storm that will dramatically alter the future of this island which sits a mere 88 miles off the coast of Miami.
Or something like that.
You see, we’ve been hatching and “master-minding” plots to stir things up in Cuba, cultivate anti-Castro sentiment and help lead a revolution on this tiny island for oh, close to 60 years now. And they’ve all been, as you can plainly see, wildly successful. And with each “super-secret” plan that goes kablooey in our face like a defective Cohiba Cuban cigar it’s us who’s left to pick up the ashes of our own lost credibility and moral authority.
If you are new to the game called “Let’s De-Stabilize Cuba” here’s a quick primer. Fidel Castro lead a revolution between 1953-1959 that ousted strongman dictator Fulgencio Batista. Initially, the US supported this charismatic leader, hoping he would make good on his promises of a more open and just Cuba. For a short while he became the “darling” of the avant-garde press, posing for magazine covers, giving interviews and encouraging the kind of adulation usually reserved for rock stars like the up and coming Beatles.
But soon the political tide of good will from the West went out and Castro turned against the US as he consolidated his own power base. From 1959 to 2008 he ruled Cuba with an iron, ruthless and often deadly fist, effectively serving as a dictator, regardless of what title he chose to anoint himself with through the years. In 2008 he officially turned power over to his brother, Raoul, who over the years had served as an even more ruthless henchman and enforcer for his dictator-brother. Now, at age 88, Fidel is seen as more a symbolic presence but still rules when needed from behind the scenes despite his ill-health.
But man, what a rocky, Cuba-Libre ride this has been since 1959. In 1975, then US Senator Frank Church lead an investigation into secret and illegal CIA run activities we had sponsored since Castro’s rise to power. The Committee publicly verified that under James-Bond type programs like “Operation Mongoose,” we had tried to assassinate Castro at least 8 times with no success.
These attempts included wildly creative if not inevitable failures like an exploding cigar, a poisonous Conch shell, a poison-laden scuba diving suit we gave as a “gift” to Fidel, deadly bacterium we tried to put in his boots at the UN in New York, poisoned fish and even out and out contracts we took out on him via that tried and usually true method of assassination, the mafia.
If you are curious, yes, the man is still alive. At least as far as I know.
Of course, all of this stirring-up took place after the notorious “Bay of Pigs” invasion which was finally given the fateful green-light by new president John F. Kennedy. The idea was roughly that we would train Cuban freedom fighters and along with CIA help, invade the shores of Cuba, drop lots of propaganda leaflets onto the island and along with “super-secret” radio broadcasts the “people” of Cuba, the true democratic-loving Cubanos would join these heroic freedom-fighters and soon Castro would be toppled. This “master-plan” failed horribly. The CIA backed revolutionaries were slaughtered.
Stop me if this sounds all too familiar.
Emboldened by this astonishing lack of good judgment, Castro covertly worked with the Soviets and planted and aimed missiles at the US, threatening to cause widespread death and damage to the mainland US.
That led to the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Thankfully, Castro and the Russian leader Nikita Kruschev, who had famously promised to “bury the US” at a United Nations meeting prior, backed down. The missiles were removed. An unstable era of peace between the US and Cuba was ushered in.
But not without a political and economic price.
Before Castro, Havana was a thriving if not a decadent, destination for jet-setters and international (Western mostly) tourism. Elegant beachfront hotels, nightclubs, gambling, shopping, and yes, prostitution, Havana, Cuba was a mecca for big-money and even bigger crime bosses.
Outside of Havana, the US had a lively and mutually profitable trade relationship with its Cuba neighbor.
For the past six decades though, the US when not trying to bump-off Castro, has imposed economic sanctions on Cuba and refused to recognize it as a nation, designating it as a country who sponsors terrorism. Nearly all trade has been halted over the years. Cuba claims its cost US companies about $1.25 trillion. The US downplays this figure.
Either way, while Cuba has lifted some of the travel restrictions recently, Beyoncé and Jay-Z recently went there for a quick vay-cay (angering many Cuban exiles in Miami) there remains much tension and claims of “master-plans” to de-stabilize the island.
In 2008, Alan Gross, a USAID sub-contractor was accused of setting up secret communications aimed at de-stabilizing the Cuban regime and was imprisoned. Between his imprisonment in Cuba and our holding of accused Cuban nationals, we have well, not a Mexican stand-off but a Cuban-Countdown to hostilities. Again.
Which brings us back to where this whole bizarre chapter of US-Cuban history began. “Super-secret” plots at de-stabilization, Twitter accounts and covert feeds that will lead to revolution. And US tax dollars being sent to try one more time at getting the Cubanos to shout a hearty “No” to Castro’s Communism and a resounding “Si” to Democracy.
Look, I would love for Cuba to get out from under the yoke of its thinly veiled, Castro-Family led Communist-Dictatorship. I would like nothing more than one day to see Cuban-Americans and Cuban exiles be able to once again embrace their beloved Cuba as a democratic, peace-loving, fully recognized nation among nations.
It’s just I don’t see that happening until Cuba runs out of Castros. And who knows when that will be.
But I also wish that just once, when all our “super-secret” plans are being hatched by the well-intentioned men and women in government cubicles throughout Washington DC that someone stops for a moment and wonders aloud, “Gee, boys, haven’t we already tried that plan before?” And, “Didn’t similar plans fail miserably?”
The truth is covert plans at de-stabilization only seem to work in old James Bond movies. In real-life, the covert plan is quickly uncovered for all to see it for what it is-a really, bad idea.
What’s worse, with every secret plan that goes flatter than a week old Cuba-Libre drink, our moral integrity and authority to influence new generations of Cubanos goes out to sea.
As one Cubano said after the news broke about our efforts to wage “cyber-war” against Cuba, “Nothing surprises us about the US anymore…they are just as bad as the worst of what is here.”
Gee, I hope not. I’d really like to visit Havana someday as part of a new, Cuban democracy.