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Louis A. Perez Jr.: US was state sponsor of terror against Cuba
June 08, 2015
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On May 29, the United States removed Cuba from the list of “state sponsors of terrorism” as one more step toward normalisation of relations between the two countries. But, historically, it is the United States that has sponsored terrorism against Cuba.

The US designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terror dates back to the early 1980s due to Cuban support of guerrilla movements in Central America. The label was ironic, since the United States engaged in a programme of extralegal paramilitary operations as part of failed attempts at Cuban regime change all through the early 1960s. These efforts included the Bay of Pigs invasion, scores of assassination attempts against Cuban leaders and years of covert operations.

The intent was to bring about the collapse of the Cuban government, the CIA explained in 1963, through a “strategy of economic strangulation to weaken and undermine the regime.”

One planned operation, the CIA detailed, was designed to “conduct major sabotage operations targets against Cuban industry and public utilities.” Another CIA project included “the contamination of fuels and lubricants,” as well as “the introduction of foreign material into moving parts of machinery.”

The Department of Defense similarly designed projects to “accomplish the objective of economic harassment.” One plan specifically directed that “fuel and food supplies should be sabotaged,” while another directive prescribed “major acts of sabotage on shipping destined for Cuba and on key installations in Cuba.”

The United States especially targeted sugar production, Cuba’s principal source of foreign exchange. Covert operations involved planned arson of cane fields, sabotage of sugar machinery, and acts of chemical warfare, including the spreading of chemicals in sugarcane fields to sicken Cuban cane cutters.

In one instance, the Defense Department contemplated military exercises made to appear as preparations for a US invasion, to be timed with the sugar harvest to force Cuba to mobilise the civilian militia and divert vast numbers of workers away from the harvest. Alexander Haig, secretary of state under President Reagan, later acknowledged the organisation of three or four “major operations” against Cuba every month during the 1960s.

The Handbook of International Law defines state-sponsored terrorism as the act “of a state sheltering, training, financing or supplying arms to enable terrorists, often foreign, to attack another state or its nationals.” US covert operations against Cuba during the early 1960s would most assuredly rise to the level of acts of state-sponsored terrorism.

Tribune News Service

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