Cuba

US Still Trying to Subvert Cuban Government

53 years, nothing learned

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Havana
Ed Yourdon/Foter.com

When I saw the headline about the U.S. government and Cuba in my newspaper the other day, I thought I'd awoken in 1961. It was a Twilight Zone moment for sure: "U.S. program aimed to stir dissent in Cuba." I expected Rod Serling to welcome me to "another dimension."

But it was 2014. The AP news report said President Barack Obama and his administration had plotted to incite a popular uprising — to "gin up opposition" — against the Cuban government by sending in young Latin Americans masquerading as tourists and health workers.

Did Obama, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which oversaw the operation, learn nothing from the 1960s, when the Kennedy and Johnson administrations tried repeatedly to overthrow Cuban ruler Fidel Castro and even to assassinate him?

The AP investigation disclosed that the USAID agents had "little training in the dangers of clandestine operations — or how to evade one of the world's most sophisticated counter-intelligence services." Nevertheless, the AP continued, "their assignment was to recruit young Cubans to anti-government activism, which they did under the guise of civic programs, including an HIV prevention workshop." The program, which lasted at least two years, began shortly after Obama's inauguration.

The private firm Creative Associates International ran the operation. The undercover agents "posed as tourists, visited college campuses and used a ruse that could undermine USAID's credibility in critical health work around the world: an HIV-prevention workshop one called the 'perfect excuse' to recruit political activists."

This is reminiscent of the ruse used in the attempt to find Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, in which American agents posed as health personnel encouraging people to get vaccinated against hepatitis B. In the wake of that operation, some expressed concern that future vaccination efforts in foreign countries could be met with public skepticism. In fact, in 2012 the Taliban shot and killed a polio worker in Pakistan.

Covert American efforts to effect regime change, as occurred in Ukraine in February, also undermine genuine indigenous dissent against repressive governments by enabling rulers plausibly to accuse opposition groups of being foreign agents.

In the Cuban operation USAID agents had close calls with the government:

The AP investigation revealed an operation that often teetered on disaster. Cuban authorities questioned who was bankrolling the travelers. The young workers came dangerously close to blowing their mission to "identify potential social-change actors." And there was no safety net for the inexperienced travelers, who were doing work that was explicitly illegal in Cuba.

The AP says that an instruction manual tried to assure the agents they were safe. "Although there is never total certainty," the manual states, "trust that the authorities will not try to harm you physically, only frighten you. Remember that the Cuban government prefers to avoid negative media reports abroad, so a beaten foreigner is not convenient for them."

The AP concludes, "There's no evidence that the program advanced the mission to create a pro-democracy movement against the government of Raul Castro."

That makes the U.S. government's 53-year-long campaign for regime change in Cuba a perfect failure. Repeated efforts to spark an anti-Castro revolution or to kill the revolutionary-turned-dictator did nothing but strengthen the government's power. The embargo that the U.S. government imposed on Cuba in 1960, and which remains in force today, has given the Castros an excuse for the chronic hardship that Cubans suffer and has brought the Cuban people no closer to freedom.

News of the USAID operation reminds us of some of the U.S. government's most despicable acts during the Cold War. The government made eight attempts on Castro's life and other attempts on the lives of other Cuban leaders. In 1961 the CIA sent 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. That operation, part of the Cuba Project (or Operation Mongoose), failed miserably and embarrassed President John F. Kennedy, who had taken office that year. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff even contemplated having terrorists acts committed on U.S. soil in order to blame Castro and whip up war fever among Americans (Operation Northwoods). Thankfully, Kennedy vetoed that plan.

After all that, you'd think Obama and his administration would have learned that the best way to liberate Cuba is for the United States to normalize relations, complete with free trade and free travel.

A version of this article appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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  1. by sending in young Latin Americans

    Well, it’s one solution to those kids showings up at the U.S. border.

    1. And shipping them to Cuba would significantly reduce the chances of them walking back across the border again. Well, except for the ones named Jesus, of course.

  2. Richman asks whether the Obama administration learned anything from those failures

    “With the right people in charge, this time it will work.”

    /Admin

  3. It’s funny how leftist say Cuba is such a great country because they have universal healthcare. And righties just say, “Communism!”

    Can’t a dude just go and buy some nice cigars and rum and be left alone?

    1. Can’t a dude just go and buy some nice cigars and rum and be left alone?

      To sell rum and cigars is act capitalist comrade.

      Come with me, I have a camp you’re going to have a nice time at…

  4. The embargo that the U.S. government imposed on Cuba in 1960, and which remains in force today, has given the Castros an excuse for the chronic hardship that Cubans suffer and has brought the Cuban people no closer to freedom.

    So the Castros admit to the people suffering it that there is chronic hardship? Good for them, that transparency. If there was no embargo, like true leftists, they would find some other outside force to blame for the crap factory that is Communism.

    Smuggle the internet to the Cubans. That’s the best way to subvert any government.

    1. Just get them a few good casinos, like back in my day. Cuba will be free (or run by mobsters) in a under a decade.

  5. Fascists gonna fascist. They won’t learn from Kennedy.

  6. As bad as Cuba is, most leftist like it that way, because it somehow makes them feel superior.

    I swear, talking to a lefty friend about it, I got the feeling that they feel above the Cuban people and would rather keep them in horrible economic shape just to have a few talking points.

    1. “I swear, talking to a lefty friend about it, I got the feeling that they feel above the Cuban people and would rather keep them in horrible economic shape just to have a few talking points.”

      The son of that lefty twit Jessica Mittford used to live in the SF Bay area (Berkeley, I think). He tuned pianos for a living and every year or so, the fawning lefty press made a big deal of him going to Cuba and tuning pianos for free.
      Now, I ask you: Without Cuba, where could such a worthless lump of protoplasm go to feel oh, so good about himself?
      I just checked, BTW, he’s living in a tent on a beach outside Edinburgh. The lefty press hasn’t been keeping up to date.

      1. Robert Treuhaft? As in Treuhaft, Walker, and Bernstein, where Hillary Clinton interned?

        (Should it be ironic that Hillary Clinton interned for Oswald Mosley’s (leader of the British Union of Fascists) brother-in-law’s firm?)

    2. I wonder what the “ZOMG INEQUALITY” crowd makes of Cuba, where all wages are capped at $20 per month, yet the Castros own their own private island.

      1. I can’t figure out if they really think the Cuban people are doing ok (universal healthcare) or if they just don’t give a shit.

        Another point they bring up is that most Cubans graduate from college as if that in and of itself is some major accomplishment.

        I don’t know if they just don’t think rationally or just don’t care.

        1. 99% (or thereabouts) literacy… but you can go to jail for reading the wrong book, if you can get your hands on books at all.

          Well-staffed universal healthcare system… with insufficient equipment and medicine, despite being able to trade with any country in the world aside from the USA. (I remember a story a few years ago about a Cuban hospital in which a number of patients froze to death. If people are freezing to death INSIDE A HOSPITAL IN THE FUCKING CARIBBEAN then you’re doing something terribly wrong.)

          Also, the Cuban government puts gays in camps, and you know who else did that?

          1. It’s almost as if results don’t matter. Almost.

            And seriously, freezing? I’m gonna have to google that one. Should be a good read.

  7. Anybody here seen my old friend Vladimir?
    Can you tell me where he’s gone?
    He freed lotta people but it seems the good they die young
    You know I just looked around and he’s gone

    Anybody here seen my old friend Josef?
    Can you tell me where he’s gone?
    He freed lotta people but it seems the good they die young
    I just looked around and he’s gone

    Anybody here seen my old friend Mao?
    Can you tell me where he’s gone?
    He freed lotta people but it seems the good they die young
    I just looked around and he’s gone

    Didn’t you love the things that they stood for?
    Didn’t they try to find some good for you and me?
    And we’ll be free
    Some day soon, it’s gonna be one day

    Anybody here seen my old friend Fidel?
    Can you tell me where he’s gone?
    I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill
    With Vladimir, Josef, and Mao

  8. Almanian’s Proposal – re-establish “normal” relations and trade with Cuba, and – especially – encourage US tourism.

    My bet is the whole thing finally collapses within a decade, and Cuba modernizes, the standard of living rises, democracy/representative government returns….and the oceans cease to rise…

    Hey – a guy can dream.

    1. “My bet is the whole thing finally collapses within a decade, and Cuba modernizes, the standard of living rises, democracy/representative government returns”

      Ya know, I look at Eastern Europe and despair.
      They lived in hell under the commies, threw ’em out, and now pine for the ‘free shit’ that wasn’t free anyhow.
      I think it was Azimov who offered anyone a get-rich-quick scheme; just develop some cockamamie religion with the promise of eternal life, and rake in the contributions.
      Well, I’ve got Sevo’s recipe for eternal electoral success: Just offer free shit. That’s all it takes; you don’t even have to deliver. Just say ‘vote for me and I’ll give you free shit!’
      It’s been working ever since FDR, at least.

    2. re-establish “normal” relations and trade with Cuba

      Yeah, how’s that 54 year embargo workin out?

  9. I never thought about it like that before. Wow.

    http://www.AnonGalaxy.tk

    1. I am glad Reason could bring enlightenment to you, anonybot.

  10. Of all the planks in the Obama (2008) platform, the only one I really agreed with was a more open policy with Cuba. Now we know it was just a Communist plot.

    1. I’m curious how the Tonys would spin this…

  11. President Barack Obama and his administration had plotted to incite a popular uprising ? to “gin up opposition” ? against the Cuban government

    Anyone else find it ironic that the government he’s trying to subvert in Cuba is the same form of government he’s trying to establish here?

  12. Are you saying subversion works only for the bad guys?

  13. It is easy for USA folks to visit Cuba–I did it 3 times. You just go to Mexico City., see a travel agency, and arrange a package tour.

    I am an anthropologist, so it was fascinating. Whenever people see a line forming, they get in it & then start asking, “what’s this line for?”

    Things are really cheap–IF you can find at the govt. run stores. Everywhere is shabby because places don’t “belong” to any human–just to the “society”

    Go and see it, (but don’t stay there!)

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