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US-Cuba (1959-2005)

Project: History of US Interventions
Open-Content project managed by Derek, mtuck

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Fidel Castro leads a force of 9,000 into the Cuban capital of Havana and overthrows the Batista dictatorship, which was being supported by the US at a cost of $16 million in military aid per year. (Perez 1995; BBC 12/14/2005)

The US begins a 40-year plus trade embargo on Cuba. (Perez 1995; Guardian 11/28/2001) The embargo applies to a wide range of goods including both food and medicine. (Perez 1995; Guardian 11/28/2001) Beginning in 1992, the UN General Assembly will annually condemn these sanctions against Cuba. (Guardian 11/28/2001)

The US carries out 40-plus years of clandestine military operations against Cuba, including numerous assassination attempts on Fidel Castro, the introduction of swine fever in 1971, and support for a anti-Castro militant organization blamed for the bombing of tourist hotels in 1997. (Newsday 1/10/1977; Blum 1995; Schaap 1999)

The CIA’s Technical Services Division (TSD) considers plans to undermine Fidel Castro’s charismatic appeal by sabotaging his speeches. At one point, there is discussion of spraying Castro’s broadcasting studio with a hallucinogenic chemical. The plan is taken of the shelf because the chemical is deemed unreliable. During this period, the TSD laces a box of cigars with a chemical that would produce temporary disorientation, hoping that he will smoke one of the cigars before giving a speech. In another instance, the TSD comes up with a scheme to dust Castro’s shoes with thallium salts during a trip outside of Cuba. The salts would cause his beard to fall out. The plan is abandoned when Castro cancels the trip. (US Congress 12/18/1975)

The CIA offers to pay a Cuban $10,000 to arrange a fatal accident involving Fidel Castro’s brother, Raul. After the Cuban leaves to meet with Raul, the CIA instructs the local case officer in Havana to abort the operation. The Cuban later says he did not have an opportunity to set up an accident. (US Congress 12/18/1975)

The CIA plans an operation to poison Fidel Castro, as well as his brother Raul and Che Chevarra, with pills containing botulinum toxin. The plan drags on for more than two years, but is ultimately aborted. (US Congress 12/18/1975; Central Intelligence Agency Inspector General 1/1996)

A CIA official laces a box of Fidel Castro’s favorite cigars with botulinum toxin that is “so potent… a person would die after putting in his mouth.” The box of poisoned cigars is then delivered to an unnamed person who is instructed to deliver them to Castro. It is not known what happens to the cigars or if Castro ever receives them. (US Congress 12/18/1975; Central Intelligence Agency Inspector General 1/1996)

The US fails in an attempt to invade Cuba using 1500 exiled Cubans in what becomes known as the Bay of Pigs. (Perez 1995; Central Intelligence Agency 1998)

The CIA works with a high-level Cuban official, codenamed “AM/LASH,” on a plan to assassinate Fidel Castro and overthrow his government. In June 1965, the CIA ends its contact with AM/LASH and his associates, citing security concerns. (US Congress 12/18/1975; Central Intelligence Agency Inspector General 1/1996)

In 2001, documents detailing a US military plan called Operation Northwoods will be declassified (see April 24, 2001). The plan suggests conducting terrorist attacks in the US and blame them on Castro’s government in order to create public support for a war against Cuba. The documents are dated March 9, 1962 and are written by the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Representative on the Caribbean Survey Group for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The papers suggest several possible events that the US could fabricate, including the sinking of boats of Cuban refugees, hijacking planes, blowing up a US ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in US cities. One of the document’s authors notes, “casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.” (US Department of Defense 3/13/1962 pdf file; Ruppe 5/1/2001; Bamford 2002)

The CIA’s Task Force W devises two plans to assassinate Fidel Castro. The first one, involving an exploding sea shell that would be placed where Castro regularly dives, is dismissed by the CIA’s Technical Services Division (TSD) as impractical. In the second plan, James Donovan (who has been negotiating with Castro for the release of prisoners taken during the Bay of Pigs operation) would present Castro with a contaminated diving suit. TSD decides to give the plan a try. It purchases a diving suit and laces its breathing apparatus with tubercule bacillus. The suit itself is dusted with a fungus that is known to cause a chronic skin disease. But the suit never leaves the laboratory. (US Congress 12/18/1975; Central Intelligence Agency Inspector General 1/1996)

While a US emissary is meeting with Fidel Castro to discuss the possibility of improved relations, a CIA official offers a poison pen to a Cuban, hoping that it will be used by Fidel Castro. (US Congress 12/18/1975)

The Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations releases its report, “Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders,” which finds “concrete evidence of at least eight plots involving the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro from 1960 to 1965.” (US Congress 12/18/1975)

A bomb is detonated in the lavatory of Cubana de Aviacion Flight 455. The plane, on its way from Bridgetown, Barbados, to Havana, Cuba, plunges into the sea killing all 73 people aboard. A Cuban exile by the name of Orlando Bosch is accused of masterminding the bombing and spends 11 years in a Venezuelan prison. During Bosch’s time in prison, Otto Reich discusses the possibility of a visa for Bosch with the US State Department. After Bosch is acquitted, he heads to Miami, entering on February 16, 1988 without a visa. (Tapper 1/11/2002)

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) representative in Cuba states that “there is no question that Cuba has the best health statistics in Latin America.” (Chomsky 1993, pp. 151)

Eduardo Arocena, leader of the Cuban-exile militant group OMEGA-7, testifies during his trial in New York that in the latter part of 1980 a ship traveled from Florida to Cuba with “a mission to carry some germs to introduce them in Cuba to be used against the Soviets and against the Cuban economy, to begin what was called chemical war, which later on produced results that were not what we had expected, because we thought that it was going to be used against the Soviet forces, and it was used against our own people, and with that we did not agree.” The testimony is later used by some to support the allegation that Cuba’s 1981 Dengue fever epidemic, which infected 300,000 and killed 154, was the result of US biowarfare. (Blum 1995; Schaap 1999; Nimmo 10/11/2003)

The World Health Organization (WHO) presents Cuban leader Fidel Castro with its “Health for All” award in recognition of Cuba reaching all the WHO health goals set for developing countries to achieve by 2000. (Franklin 6/2003)

UNICEF publishes a report on the “State of the World’s Children,” which concludes that “Cuba is the only [Latin American] country on a par with developed nations” with regard to infant mortality rates. (Chomsky 1993)

Under political pressure, the Justice Department allows Orlando Bosch, the alleged mastermind of the bombing of Cubana de Aviacion Flight 455 (see October 6, 1976), to remain in the US. Bosch has been in US custody since he entered the US illegally in 1988 (see October 6, 1976). The Justice Department’s decision releases Bosch from custody and puts him under house arrest. It also reverses an earlier ruling that Bosch be deported and it ignores Cuba’s request that he be extradited to Cuba to stand trial for the downing of Flight 455. Later, in 2001, he will be accused of supplying the explosives used in more than a dozen 1997 bombings in Havana. Despite his alleged connection to the bombings, he is permitted to stay in the US. (Tapper 1/11/2002)

Cuba has sent 25,000 doctors to developing countries—more than the World Health Organization (WHO). Currently, it has almost 2,000 doctors working in 14 countries. (Xinhua News Agency (Beijing) 4/15/2000)

The 2003 Human Development Index—which ranks countries according to life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income—places Cuba in the 52nd position out of 175 countries. Of its closest neighbors, Haiti ranks 150th, the Dominican Republic 94th, Grenada 93rd, and Jamaica 78th. (United Nations 2003)

For the fourteenth consecutive year, the UN General Assembly, in a record 182 to 4 vote, calls on the US to end its four-decade-old embargo against Cuba (see 1960). Voting against the measure are the US, Israel, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. Micronesia abstains, while El Salvador, Iraq, Morocco, and Nicaragua do not vote. (Lederer 11/8/2005; CBC News 11/8/2005; EuroNews 11/9/2005) (The Palau Archipelago was administered by the United States as the last UN trust territory until 1994. The Marshall Islands, taken by the US during World War II, became self-governing under US military protection in 1976, achieving free-association status in 1986. The combined population of Palau and the Marshall Islands is less than 80,000.) (Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. 2005; Columbia Encyclopedia. Sixth edition 2005) Before the vote, speaker after speaker in the General Assembly debate speaks out against the US sanctions (Lederer 11/8/2005) , while Ronald Godard, a deputy United States ambassador, asserts that “if the people of Cuba are jobless, hungry, or lack medical care, as Castro admits, it’s because of his economic mismanagement.” (New York Times 11/9/2005) After the votes are tallied up, many delegates in the General Assembly hall reportedly burst into applause. (Lederer 11/8/2005) US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, calls the vote “a complete exercise in irrelevancy.” (Lederer 11/8/2005)


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