When we Cubans see our entire country suffer the sustained aggression of another - without as much as a declaration of war - many of us are reminded of fascist practices during World War II, when the most elementary human principles were violated, and expansionist, imperial ambitions were placed above all else.Those of us from younger generations did not experience transcendental battles like Playa Girón, the Missile Crisis, or the Escambray. To us, they are echoes in time, that some, from afar, would like to distort, to deny us valuable lessons. This war against Cuba, in which all kinds of tactics have been tried, touched us more closely when we were children and saw fellow citizens cry with rage and indignation, on television, as they recounted outrages committed by the empire.
We watched a program called “Cuba demanda,” which showed the massive, televised trials, and read the book that detailed with great clarity how many Cubans, regardless of their political positions, were victims of the empire’s rage against our small country, while the aggressors acted with impunity, spreading lies and half-truths about the events.
IN THEIR OWN WORDSThe Agrarian Reform, signed by Fidel just months after the revolutionary victory with the intention of empowering the people and breaking the cycle of internal and external dependence, was the trigger that launched the covert war. The country’s fate was tied to sugar - a fact well understood by those who reigned in Cuba prior to 1959, and the reform touched this nerve.Declassified documents show that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of State developed “A Program of Covert Action Against the Castro Regime,” approved on March 17, 1960, by U.S. President Dwight. D. Eisenhower. This plan, states, in their own words, that the U.S. would not tolerate a government in Cuba that did not bend to its interests, and therefore, aggressions of all kinds would be carried out. The objective: to undermine the people’s confidence in their leaders, and create a pretext for intervention.Their logic was that the fear and confusion generated by a state of war and insecurity would be the perfect justification to make a hypocritical call for peace on the island, in the name of the Cuban people and the interests of the region, and lead a contingent of troops from the Organization of American States (OAS) against the nascent Cuban government. The plan was not original, and is still deployed in U.S. war adventures, in the Middle East, for example.One declassified document reveals another plan, approved earlier: the Cuba Project of January 18, 1962, which had the endorsement of the government’s highest authorities and the National Security Council’s expanded special group. Some 32 tasks of covert war against Cuba were outlined, all later seen in practice.In addition to the psychological effect of panic and insecurity, a paralysis of the Cuban economy was projected, especially following sabotage of the country’s sugar industry and the blockade of its international trade, since the empire believed that the people themselves would soon see Fidel Castro as the cause of their problems.If the sugar industry and the country went hand in hand, then everything would come to a stop according to these plans, until the U.S. fixed the machinery, as was customary in the Republic.
THE WAR BEGINS
The objective was clear: destroy the 1960 harvest, thus attacks were focused mainly on workers and factories in urban centers. On January 12, in the province of Havana, 500,000 25-pound sheaves of sugar cane, arrobas, were set on fire from the air. On the 30th, more than 50,000 arrobas were lost at the Chaparra mill, in Oriente, and on February 1, more 100,000 were burnt in Matanzas.
On February 7, that year, a single plane destroyed a record 1.5 million arrobas at the Violeta, Florida, Céspedes, and Estrella mills in Camagüey. Attacks on civilians were increased, to discourage workers and reduce productivity. Such was the case, January 21, 1960, when a plane bombed the towns of Cojímar and Regla.
This armed banditry is presented today as a kind of heroic effort, using the paramilitary tactics we would later see in counter-insurgency wars in Latin America, like Colombia, for example, employing intimidation, terror, and violence to break campesinos’ support of the revolutionary government’s social project.
The escalation was planned to reach its high point and culminate in April of 1961, when a combined operation of direct warfare, guerrilla attacks, and fourth generation disinformation would all be directed against the island, before establishing a beachhead in southern Matanzas. The plan was to advance rapidly on Havana, while transporting a provisional government there from Miami. But the invasion was defeated in less than 72 hours, thanks to the resistance of the young Cuban army, the role of Fidel, and the people who knew very well where the attack had come from, and that Cuba would be subjugated again, if it fell into the hands of the mercenaries and sell-outs.
The violence, leaving droves of civilian victims (especially literacy teachers), would continue through 1965, but was defeated morally and militarily within the new peace-loving society, seeking stability.
Following the frontal defeat of counterrevolutionary forces, the war became one of harassment, attacking civilians who sympathized with the socialist project, or simply chose to live peacefully within the new order.
TERROR AND MORE TERROR
The hijacking of civilian aircraft was established as a terrorist tactic worldwide after the CIA first used it against Cuba, reaching its most serious consequences October 6, 1976, with the deaths of 73 persons aboard a Cuban flight that was blown up after taking off from Barbados. This was not the only tragic aircraft attack, during an escalation in which counterrevolutionary terrorist Orlando Bosch said, “Everything goes.”
CUBA’S LEGITIMATE DEMANDS
The activation of the Helms-Burton Act is presented to allegedly provide just compensation to U.S. citizens for nationalized properties, appropriated by the Cuban state in full compliance with international law, at the beginning of the Revolution. But the extent of Cuban losses - incurred over the last 60 years at the hands of the U.S. - cannot be forgotten.
Our demand is based on the following damages suffered by the innocent Cuban people: 3,478 killed, 2,099 permanently disabled, and a total of 181.1 billion U.S. dollars for material losses produced by attacks on the economy and sanctions.
According to positive Cuban law, a condition of accepting any compensation includes a moral retraction and recognition of responsibility on the part of the United States.
As part of an undeclared war, which violates established international norms, U.S. terrorist attacks on Cuba legally justify and require compensation.Since May 31, 1999, to date, none of the administrations that have occupied the White House have responded to Cuba’s demands submitted through diplomatic channels.But the constant appeals and unwavering dignity of Cubans have shown that this people, “energetic and virile,” has made the unjust tremble, as many times as has been necessary, putting a face on evil and defending, above all, truth and reason.