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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Castro’s assertions about U.S. attack are starting to worry some Cubans

Posted May 09, 2003 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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BY NANCY SAN MARTIN | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Miami Herald

In speeches, television broadcasts and almost daily news reports, Cubans have been subjected to ‘‘evidence’’ that they are next on the U.S. invasion list.

The snippets of proof come through disturbing images of warfare in Iraq, a string of hijacking incidents blamed on the United States, strong statements by the Bush administration repeated by Cuban officials for internal consumption and, now, the continued inclusion of Cuba as one of seven nations that sponsor terrorism.

‘‘By maintaining Cuba on its list of states sponsoring terrorism, the U.S. government is demonstrating that its irrational thirst for vengeance against the Cuban revolution is greater than any genuine interest to curb international terrorism,’’ according to a statement by the Cuban Foreign Ministry published Thursday in Granma, the Communist Party newspaper.

In the lengthy article, Cuba also accused the United States of trying to create “the right conditions for a possible military attack against Cuba.’‘

The campaign to create a siege mentality is having an impact on the island, where some citizens are beginning to believe that something is in the works, opposition leaders in Havana say.

‘‘There is a fear that Cuba will be invaded,’’ Elsa Morejon, wife of jailed dissident Oscar Elías Biscet, recently told The Herald. ‘some people are saying, `What will happen if the Americans come?’ ‘’

PROPAGANDA

Another human rights activist, Elizardo Sánchez, said that while those with access to outside news do not believe the government’s assertion that military aggression is under way, “Of course there’s an impact, because the population is submitted to a true avalanche of propaganda.’‘

U.S. officials, meanwhile, have said numerous times that Cuba is not a military target. Part of the reason: Even as it is considered a terrorist nation, it is not among the countries labeled by the Bush administration as belonging to the “axis of evil.’‘

That label, so far, is limited to Saddam Hussein-era Iraq, Iran and North Korea, officials said, though they are quick to add that military action is not planned for Iran or North Korea, either.

‘‘Cuba does not pose an imminent threat to its neighbors or the United States,’’ a State Department official said.

However, Cuba and six other nations—Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Sudan—remain on a State Deparment list as sponsors of terrorism, according to an annual report released last week.

The report, Patterns of Global Terrorism, accused Cuba of sending agents to U.S. missions around the world to provide ‘‘false leads designed to subvert the post-Sept. 11 investigation.’’ It also said Cuba continued to host many terrorists and U.S. fugitives.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, in presenting the report, said the United States, with help from many other countries, “will make certain that terrorists and their supporters are not safe in any corner or cave of the world.’‘

Statements like that have been used by President Fidel Castro as proof of an impending invasion. In addition to U.S. allegations that Cuba sponsors terrorism, the Cuban government also has cited allegations that it is trying to develop biological weapons—a charge it denies—as cause for concern.

In a May 1 speech, Castro said: “In Miami and Washington they are now discussing where, how and when Cuba will be attacked.’‘

FAMILIAR TECHNIQUE

Experts say the war rhetoric is an old political technique.

‘‘Castro has always been a proponent of anti-Americanism,’’ said Jaime Suchlicki, director of the Institute for Cuba and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami. “Before he came to power, he said that his real war was with the United States.’‘

The charged rhetoric could be a way to mobilize the Cuban population; the result of paranoia; a dose of real concern about possible action against Cuba; or a preliminary move in a plan to unleash a mass exodus or spark a U.S. conflict, Suchlicki said.

‘‘Castro doesn’t want Cuba to become a friend of the United States,’’ he added.

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