(January 3, 2000)
Table of Contents:
Hands Off Cuba!
For 40 years the U.S. government has waged a real war against the government and people of Cuba. The U.S. openly declares that its aims are to overthrow the Cuban government and change Cuba's economic and social system.
But for 40 years, the Cuban people have not only resisted but defeated the aggression of U.S. imperialism. In the face of U.S. military invasions, covert subversion, intense ideological and political pressure and an economic embargo, the people of Cuban have refused to bend their knee. They have continued along the path of their revolution, defending their national sovereignty and independence and determining for themselves their economic and political system.
And Cuba's struggle has won the support of peoples and governments throughout the world. Nearly every government in the world has repeatedly condemned the U.S. economic embargo and blockade; every year the United Nations demands an end to the embargo. The peoples of Latin America especially find inspiration in Cuba's struggle to live free of the yoke of Yankee imperialism. So too, people from all walks of life in the U.S. have come out, again and again, in manifold ways to defend Cuba's right to sovereignty and independence and to demand an end to the U.S. government's anti-Cuba, cold-war policy.
40 Years of AggressionFrom the day of the victory of the Cuban revolution on January 1, 1959, the U.S. government began an all-sided campaign aimed at restoring U.S. domination of the country.
In 1960, the U.S. cut off Cuba's sugar quota and embargoed a number of products earmarked for Cuba. Light aircraft from the United States strafed Cuban cities and burnt cane fields. The United States openly supported and encouraged terrorist groups, designed and implemented assassination plans against the leaders of the Revolution. In January 1961, the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Cuba and financed and trained the mercenary troops that launched the Bay of Pigs invasion in April of that same year.
In 1962, the U.S. imposed an economic, financial and commercial blockade on Cuba. This includes a total ban on all food, medicine, equipment and raw materials from the U.S. and prohibits free travel between the two countries. While opposition to the blockade has grown dramatically in recent years, the United States has at the same time toughened the sanctions and tightened the blockade.
In 1992, the U.N. General Assembly adopted its first Resolution demanding the end of the blockade. That same year, Washington enacted the Torricelli Act, which specifically forbids subsidiary enterprises of American companies in other countries to trade with Cuba and prohibits the entrance to U.S. ports of ships of any flag involved in trade with Cuba. In other words, it not only attempts to prevent trade between Cuba and other countries, but also violates the sovereignty of those countries. The extraterritoriality of U.S. law and regulations concerning its embargo of Cuba show the extent to which U.S. imperialism tries to dictate the behavior of the whole world.
The Helms-Burton legislation, signed into law by President Clinton in February 1996, extends such third-party sanctions by denying entry visas to the U.S. for foreign individuals linked to any corporations doing business in Cuba. It also seeks to cut off all international loans to Cuba. Among other things, the new bill permits Americans who lost property during the Cuban revolution of 1959 to sue any foreign company which now owns this Cuban property. It also forbids entry into the U.S. for any individual who profits from such property. Other provisions call upon the President to pursue efforts to establish an international embargo against Cuba and authorize him to assist Cuban opposition groups. Furthermore, the Helms-Burton law makes it impossible for sanctions to be lifted against Cuba in the future without an act of Congress.
Overall, the economic blockade has resulted in untold hardship on the Cuban people, denying them medical and humanitarian supplies as well as the raw materials, energy and spare parts necessary to maintain the country's industrial base. The extreme anti-Cuban, anti-people character of U.S. policy is seen in this attempt by the U.S. government to impose poverty, hunger and disease on the Cuban people as a way to force them to give up their independence and their own chosen path of social and economic development.
During all these years, the U.S. government has continued organizing internal subversion, sabotage and murder against the Cuban people. It has threatened Cuba with nuclear weapons, trained counter-revolutionary armies and political shock forces in the U.S. and kept up a nonstop campaign of ideological, political and diplomatic pressure.
The U.S. blockade and pressure against Cuba is in total defiance of international law and the accepted principles of sovereign equality amongst nations, non-intervention and non-interference in the international affairs of other countries as well as the freedom of international trade and navigation. U.S. policy is directed against the sovereign right of the Cuban people to determine their own economic and political system; U.S. policy attempts to dictate to and punish other countries which refuse to accept the blockade of Cuba.
Long before the birth of Fidel Castro, U.S. armies invaded and occupied Cuba and U.S. imperialism was robbing the wealth and exploiting the people of the country. Today, the illegal blockade and aggression against Cuba aims at restoring U.S. neo-colonial domination of the country.
But the world today is not the same as it was 100 or 50 years ago. The Cuban people have risen to their feet and are determined to defend their dignity and national independence. They have declared that the political and economic system of their country are not matters for the U.S. government to decide.
A democratic foreign policy must recognize the right of independent, sovereign nations to organize their societies as they see fit. The U.S. government's illegal and inhuman policy of attempting to starve a nation into submission must be brought to an end. The U.S. must end its embargo and interference against Cuba and enter into normal relations with the Cuban government and people.
For Your Reference
Since the first half of the 19th century, the U.S. government frequently proclaimed its "right" to intervene throughout Latin America in order to protect its "security" and "national interests." The Monroe Doctrine enunciated by President Monroe in 1823, and the proclamations of manifest destiny in the decades that followed, had spelled out very early in American history that U.S. officials would not hesitate to intervene anywhere in Latin America in order to advance their economic and strategic interests.
On The History and Aims of U.S. Imperialism in Cuba
Throughout the nineteenth century, numerous attempts were made by U.S. officials to purchase Cuba from the Spanish colonial rulers. The struggle for Cuban independence by the Cuban masses, therefore, was seen as a threat by the propertied classes in both the U.S. and Cuba, since it was their hope that Cuba would eventually be annexed to the U.S., either through direct purchase or outright military conquest. In 1854, after President Franklin Pierce failed to buy Cuba by offering Spain $130 million, U.S. diplomats met in Belgium and issued the so-called Ostend Manifesto in which they threatened Spain that if it still refused to sell the island, "then, by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in wresting it from Spain if we possess the power." By the turn of the century, it became clear that the U.S. was willing to use its military power to achieve its objectives.
In 1898, when the Cuban people were on the threshold of total victory in the independence struggle against Spain, the U.S. dispatched troops to the island in order to rob the people of the fruits of their struggle. Presenting itself as the "liberator" and "defender" of the Cuban people, the U.S. signed the "Treaty of Paris" with Spain in 1898, which formally gave the U.S. not only control over Cuba, but also Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam. The Cuban people, however, were not represented in this agreement between Spain and the U.S. In 1899, Spain officially handed over its jurisdiction to the United States.
Although officially granted "independence," Cuba was put under the control of U.S. military generals. In 1901, the U.S. drafted a constitution for Cuba, and the Cubans were eventually forced to accept as part of their constitution a clause known as the "Platt amendment" (after U.S. Senator Platt), which explicitly stated that the U.S. had the "right" to intervene in Cuba at any time. The amendment also surrendered Cuban territory, the island of Pinos, and gave the U.S. navy authority to establish bases on the Cuban island. During 1901, U.S. General Wood set up "democratic elections" in Cuba, based on a franchise which represented only 5 percent of the Cuban population and which excluded Afro-Cubans, women, and those with less than $250 in assets. Two years later, the U.S. military occupation "officially" ended as Cuban president Estrada Palma took office.
From 1902 to 1959, Cuba was essentially a "pseudo republic" and run by men who refused to do anything without the explicit approval of U.S. officials in Washington.
The Estrada government quickly ratified a treaty with the U.S. in 1904 which ensured U.S. capitalist control over Cuban markets. Hordes of American businessmen rushed into Cuba, grabbing up its fertile land for next to nothing. In addition, the railroads, sugar mills and refineries and all aspects of the Cuban economy quickly came under the ownership and control of U.S. capital.
During the Cuban presidency of Estrada Palma, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt formulated a corollary to the "Monroe Doctrine" which stipulated that the U.S. had responsibility for "preserving order" and "protecting life and property" throughout Latin America. This corollary was used to justify every subsequent U.S. invasion and intervention in Latin America.
In 1905, after a falsified election resulted in civil war, the U.S. military intervened to "mediate." However, after further revolt by the Cuban people, President Roosevelt sent in more troops and the U.S. officially occupied the country once again. From 1906-1908, the U.S. administration of Charles Magoon controlled Cuba. In 1908, control was again formally handed over to a Cuban army general, Jose Miguel Gomez.
During the next decade, the U.S. military returned to quell revolts and insure Cuba's "loyalty." In 1912 and again in 1917, U.S. troops invaded the island. When the U.S. entered World War I, Cuba was used as a military training base for Marines, many of whom stayed until the early 1920s.
In the years that followed World War I, U.S. capitalists looked to Cuba as a prime investment opportunity, and began once again to buy up cheap land, aided by the world-wide drop of sugar prices. It was during these years also that U.S. investors turned Cuba into the "playground of the Caribbean" in which gambling, prostitution and the drug trade began to flourish.
By 1925 U.S. financial interests in the Cuban economy amounted to more than $1.5 billion. Eighty percent of the exported mineral wealth of Cuba was owned by the Bethlehem Steel Company. The railroads, the tobacco industry, and the electrical industry were all owned by U.S. capitalists. Most of the sugar industry was owned by the House of Morgan financial group, the National City Bank, the Chase Bank (now Chase Manhattan), the Brown Brothers, the United Fruit Company, and the Rockefeller family. Also, seventy-four percent of all Cuban imports came from the U.S.
During the 1920s and 30s, the Cuban political scene was filled with corruption and rigged elections. It was during this time also that the Cuban people became more outspoken and resistance and revolutionary movements developed throughout the island. In 1933, a general strike broke out and many Cuban workers and farmers occupied sugar mills and took to the city streets. Eventually, a Cuban army officer, Fulgencio Batista, emerged and with the backing of the U.S. assumed power in a coup d'etat.
Although the Platt amendment was officially revoked in 1934, and some social reforms were implemented in Cuba during the years prior to World War II, the Cuban people remained under the political and economic domination of U.S. imperialism and the Cuban elite. The anti-imperialist sentiment of the Cuban people, however, did not diminish during these years and, after World War II, new revolutionary leadership developed.
On July 26, 1953, Fidel Castro and other revolutionaries attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Although many of the rebels were killed during the attack, and Fidel Castro was captured and imprisoned, the resistance to U.S. imperialism and the puppet Batista regime gained new life. The famous "July 26 Movement" emerged from this battle and subsequently liberated Cuba. In December, 1956, Castro and his supporters returned from Mexico, and helped launch the revolution that succeeded in taking power on January 1, 1959.
On January 2, 1959, the revolutionaries formed a new government and quickly began implementing economic reforms as well as taking steps to defend the sovereignty of the country. Implementation of the agrarian reform law on June 3, 1959 limited ownership of sugar cane land to 3,300 acres. Those land-owners who possessed land in excess of this limit, however, were compensated when the land was expropriated.
Throughout 1960, Cuba embarked upon further economic reforms, including the nationalization of the petroleum industry, as well as the utilities, sugar mills, banks, railroads, and factories.
Although the U.S. officially recognized the new Cuban government in early January 1959, subsequent documents released by the CIA show that during the same year it had already begun its campaign of espionage and subversion. In fact, the U.S. immediately began both economic and military aggression against Cuba aimed both at undermining its sovereignty and reversing the program of economic reforms and nationalization.
During the first two years after the revolution, for example, the U.S. carried out numerous acts of sabotage against Cuba, including the bombing of sugar mills and factories by U.S. planes, and assassination plots against Cuban diplomats. In 1961, the U.S. launched the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion, a direct military attack organized by the CIA.
For over three decades following the Cuban revolution, the U.S. government has followed an aggressive foreign policy toward Cuba which has included direct military intervention, threats of nuclear annihilation (the Cuban Missile Crisis), and even assassination attempts on Fidel Castro organized by the CIA.
The economic blockade, first enacted in 1960, imposes a total ban on all food, medicine, equipment and raw materials from the U.S. and prohibits free travel between the two countries. It has resulted in untold hardship on the Cuban people, denying them medical and humanitarian supplies as well as the raw materials, energy and spare parts necessary to maintain the country's industrial base.
The embargo was further tightened in 1992 by passage of the "Torricelli Bill" which, in a blatant violation of the sovereignty of other states, imposed sanctions against other countries that trade with Cuba. The latest provisions of the "Helms-Burton" Act not only extend such sanctions even more, but also openly proclaim that the U.S. aim is to overthrow the present economic and political system in Cuba.
By once again seeking "property claims" in Cuba, the U.S. government is showing that it is still determined to overturn the gains made by the Cuban revolution of 1959, and aims at again turning Cuba into a U.S. colony where the big U.S. monopolies are free to super-exploit and plunder the country.
But in addition to the determination and will of the Cuban people which is blocking the hostile aims of the U.S. government, the American people and almost every nation in the world are speaking out against U.S. policy on Cuba. People and governments throughout the world, including the European Union, the 14-nation Caribbean Community, and the Rio Group of Latin American nations have all denounced the latest legislation and threats from the U.S. as a violation of international law as well as the Charter of the United Nations and of the Organization of American States. The UN has passed a number of resolutions demanding that the U.S. end its illegal trade embargo and condemning the U.S. policy as a violation of the principles of sovereign equality of states and non-intervention in their internal affairs.
The policy of the Clinton administration remains in complete defiance of international law and the accepted principles of sovereign equality amongst nations, non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries as well as the freedom of international trade and navigation.
A democratic foreign policy must recognize the right of independent, sovereign nations to organize their societies as they see fit. The political and economic system of Cuba is not a matter for the U.S. government to decide. The U.S. government's illegal and inhuman policy of attempting to starve a nation into submission must be brought to an end. The only democratic solution is for the U.S. to end its embargo and enter into normal relations with the government and people of Cuba.
For Your Reference
The People of Cuba Versus the Government of the United States
Recently, grassroots organizations in Cuba, brought suit in a Havana Court against the U.S. government. The suit demands human damages be paid for the nearly forty years of aggression by the U.S. against Cuba.
The extensive documentation presented in the Court includes a large number of recently de-classified U.S. documents which expose the organized, terrorist activities of the U.S. government against the Cuban people. Amongst other things, these documents prove that the U.S. government armed thousands of American and Cuban mercenaries and directed them to blow up economic and social projects, engage in banditry and kill Cuban citizens. The suit documents, for example, how U.S.-organized bandit groups killed 549 Cubans between 1959-65.
Below, we print excerpts from the first part of the court brief presented by Cuban mass organizations. In addition to supporting Cuba's just demand for human damages, people can learn a great deal about the history of U.S. aggression against Cuba and the terrorist methods employed by U.S. imperialism.
THE PEOPLE OF CUBA VS. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FOR HUMAN DAMAGES
TO BE SUBMITTED TO THE CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE COURT OF LAW AT THE PROVINCIAL PEOPLE'S COURT IN HAVANA CITY.
[The Cuban mass organizations bringing the suit include the Central Trade Union of Cuba (CTC), the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), the Federation of University Students (FEU), the Federation of Middle-level Education Students (FEEM), the "Jose Marti" Children's Organization, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), and the Association of Combatants of the Cuban Revolution (ACRC).
The brief submitted by these organizations begins:
"Hereby, by deed we appear and according to rule we say: That, we have come to institute a demand against the Government of the United States of America in Ordinary Proceeding on Compensation for Damages."
"That, this demand is based on the following: FACTS"
"That, the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959 meant for the people of Cuba -for the first time in its long history of struggles- the conquest of true independence and sovereignty, with a death toll of about 20,000 people who perished in direct and heroic combat against the forces of a military dictatorship trained, equipped and advised by the United States government."
"The revolutionary victory in Cuba was one of the most humiliating political defeats the United States sustained after it became a great imperialist power. This determined that the historic dispute between the two nations would enter a new and more acute stage of confrontation characterized by the implementation of a brutal policy of hostility and all sorts of aggressions emanating from the United States and aimed at the destruction of the Cuban Revolution, the recapture of the country and the return to the neocolonial domination system that it had imposed on Cuba for over a century and which it definitely lost over 40 years ago."
"The war unleashed by the United States against the Cuban Revolution, conceived as a state policy, has been historically proven and can be fully confirmed by multiple information released in that country as of late showing a number of political, military, economic, biologic, diplomatic, psychological, propagandist and spying actions; the execution of acts of terrorism and sabotage; the organization and logistic support of armed bandits and clandestine groups of mercenaries; the encouragement of defection and migration and the attempts at the physical elimination of the leaders of the Cuban revolutionary process."
"All this has been exposed in very significant public statements made by senior officials of the U.S. government as well as in the countless and irrefutable evidences accumulated by the Cuban authorities. Also, numerous declassified secret documents are particularly eloquent and although not all have been released those that already have suffice to fairly prove the grounds for this claim."
"One of the documents annexed in confirmation of the events described is the already declassified "Program of Covert Actions against the Castro Regime" approved on March 17, 1960 by United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The second, entitled the "Cuban project" and introduced on January 18, 1962 by Brigade General Edward Landsdale to the highest echelons of the Unites States government and the National Security Council Special Group-Augmented contains the list of 32 covert actions to be carried out by the agencies and departments taking part in the so-called "Operation Mongoose."
"Every hostile and aggressive action conducted by the United States government against Cuba from the very triumph of the Revolution up to the present have caused enormous material and human losses and incalculable suffering to the people of this country as well as hardships resulting from the shortage of medication, food and other indispensable means of life which we deserve and have the right to obtain with our honest labor.
"Likewise, the political and ideological subversion which resulted in a continual, extensive and unjustified distress endured by all the people has posed constant dangers and caused damages characterized by their pervasive presence and almost immeasurable scope. This has jeopardized an accurate assessment which we are not including this time for the purpose of this demand in order to strictly limit ourselves to the content of the restitution for moral damages as prescribed by the Cuban Civil Code presently in force, although we do not renounce our right to do it in due course."
"Pursuant to international practice, a State is responsible for the damages caused by its behavior and actions -in legislative, as well as, in administrative and judicial terms- by its agents and officials, and even for the actions of each country's natural persons, if the corresponding authorities in said State would avoid taking preventive or suppressive measures. Thus, it is its duty to compensate for such damages in compliance with what is universally rated as civil liability."
"Accordingly, the United States of America, as a State represented by its government, is accountable for the damages caused to Cuban natural persons and legal entities due to the unlawful actions undertaken by its agencies, departments, representatives, officials or the Government itself."
"That, the recent declassification in the United States of a report produced by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick on October 1961, with a review of the reasons for the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion - as it is called in America - has revealed that the covert operations organized in Washington against Cuba began in the summer of 1959, a few weeks after the adoption of the Land Reform Law on May 17, that year."
"In the month of October, President Eisenhower approved a program proposed by the Department of State and the CIA to undertake covert actions against Cuba, including air and naval pirate attacks and the promotion of, and direct support to, counter-revolutionary groups inside Cuba. According to the document, the operations were to have succeeded in making the overthrow of the revolutionary regime look like the result of its own mistakes."
"Those days saw the beginning of a campaign of flights over Cuban territory by small aircraft coming from the United States with such missions as the infiltration of agents, weapons and other equipment and the realization of acts of sabotage, bombings and other acts of terrorism."
"On October 11, 1959, a plane dropped two incendiary bombs on the "Niagara" sugar mill in Pinar del Rio province. On October 19, another two bombs were hurled from the air over the Punta Alegre sugar mill in Camaguey province. On October 21, a twin-engines aircraft machine-gunned the city of Havana, killing several people and injuring dozens while another light aircraft dropped subversive propaganda. On October 22, a passenger train was machine-gunned in Las Villas province. On October 26, two light aircraft attacked both the "Niagara" and "Violeta" sugar mills."
"From the very month of January 1960, while that year's sugar harvest was in full swing, the number of flights over sugar-cane plantations multiplied. On January 12 alone, 500,000 arrobas [1 arroba equals 25 pounds] of sugar cane were set on fire from the air in Havana province. On January 30, over 50,000 arrobas were lost at the "Chaparra" sugar mill in the former province of Oriente and, on February 1, more than 100,000 arrobas were set alight in Matanzas province."
The brief goes on to list several more examples of such terrorist actions on the part of the U.S. government. It then continues:
"The covert war against Cuba had begun, with high intensity, in the year 1959 itself. An infinite number of hostile and aggressive actions, impossible to list in detail, would follow in the coming years."
"The Inspector General of the Central Intelligence Agency recognized that "from January 1960, when it had 40 people, the branch expanded to 588 by April 16, 1961, becoming one of the largest branches in the Clandestine Services." He meant the CIA station in Miami which concentrated on activities against Cuba."
"That, barely fifteen months after the revolutionary victory, armed banditry was planned and finally unleashed by the United States government, practically all over Cuba. It began in 1960 under the Republican Administration of President Eisenhower and lasted five years until 1965."
"It's main thrust would be on the Escambray, region in the former province of Las Villas, which now comprises the provinces of Villa Clara, Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus. A so-called front operated in that zone with columns, bands and a commanding post. Weeks before the Bay of Pigs mercenary invasion, 40,000 workers and students from the nation's capital, supported by local forces from the central region and peasants and farm workers from the Escambray and organized in militia battalions, surrounded and rendered helpless that bulwark which was to have co-operated with the invasion forces. Hundreds of bandits were captured and their number reduced to a minimum in those critical days."
"Those bandits, organized by the CIA, had the support of the United States government which made the greatest efforts and resorted to every possible means to supply them with weaponry, ammunition, explosives, communication equipment and general logistics. To this end, the U.S. government used different routes by air, by sea and even via diplomatic channels through the United States embassy in Havana, until relations were severed at the beginning of 1961."
"In this respect, the previously mentioned report by the CIA Inspector General explicitly recognized the logistical support provided by that institution to the mercenary bands. One example is the so-called "Operation Silence", which consisted of the United States Central Intelligence Agency carrying out twelve air operations between September 1960 and March 1961 in order to supply the bandits with arms, ammunition, explosives and other equipment. About such operation the author of the report stated: "In all, about 151,000 pounds of arms, ammunition and equipment were transported by air."
After listing these operations aimed at supplying the bandits and detailing the activity of the bandit groups themselves, the Cuban brief summarizes:
"Between 1959 and 1965, a total of 299 bands, with 3,995 mercenaries operated throughout the national territory in the service of the U.S. government."
"The number of casualties in that struggle, regular troops and militiamen combined taking part in the operations against the bandits, as well as people murdered by the bandits whose death it has been possible to document, were as high as 549. Also, a considerable amount of people were injured whose number it has not been possible to accurately determine 34 years later, when this demand was prepared. However, there are still 200 survivors incapacitated as a result of those criminal plans. Not all the victims were among the revolutionary combatants fighting the bandits. Many civilians who had nothing to do with the military activities also died, victims of the crimes committed by the bands imposed from abroad."
The brief continues detailing the U.S. government's war against Cuba which continues up to today.