Anti-Castro Cubans

Anti-Castro Cubans

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After Fidel Castro gained power in Cuba a large number of Cubans went to live in the United States. These people developed a variety of different organizations. These anti-Castro organizations received considerable funding from right-wing figures such as Henry Luce, Claire Booth Luce, William Pawley, Carlos Prio and Roland Masferrer. It is also believed that some crime bosses who had obtained great profits from Cuba also funded these groups. This included Santo Trafficante, Sam Giancana and Carlos Marcello.

In 1962 and 1963 Alpha 66 launched several raids on Cuba. This included attacks on port installations and foreign shipping. Tony Cuesta and Eddie Bayo were both prominent figures in these attacks. Cuesta carried out raids on Cuba and was involved in the sinking of the Russian merchantman Baku. His activities were reported in Life Magazine in the spring of 1963.

Some members of Alpha 66 were also active in the Student Revolutionary Directorate (DRE). It had originally been established to protest against the rule of Fulgencio Batista. The DRE was opposed to Castro's communist views and many of its leaders fled to the United States. In 1962 Manual Salvat became the leader of the DRE. Those living in Miami received financial support from the Central Intelligence Agency.

Another important anti-Castro group was the Movement for the Recovery of the Revolution (MRR). Its leaders included Manuel Artime and Tony Varona. The MRR gained support from those who held strong anti-communist views. So also did JDGE, an organization headed by Carlos Prio. Those with more liberal views tended to favour Manolo Rey and the JURE party.

When Fidel Castro's Revolutionary Armed Forces routed the U.S.-backed Cuban exiles in the Bay of Pigs fiasco 40 years ago this week, President John F. Kennedy took full responsibility for the defeat. But the contrition of the young commander in chief, while popular with the American people, played poorly among the tens of thousands of Cubans living here in Miami. Many believed the liberal chief executive's refusal to send planes to support the men scrambling for cover at Playa Girón was a failure of nerve, if not a betrayal. And to this day a certain embittered distrust of Washington, born four decades ago, runs deep in Cuban Miami, erupting whenever the federal government (in the person of Janet Reno or farm-belt Republicans in Congress) pursues policies contrary to the agenda of the first generation of el exilio. But the truth is that whatever the disappointment of the Bay of Pigs, Miami's Cuban exiles have never lacked for support at the highest levels of the U.S. government. From the beginning their anti-Castro cause was taken up by senior leaders of the CIA, who encouraged their ambitions to destroy the Cuban regime. For 38 years one of the most powerful of those leaders has guarded a secret about the events leading up to Kennedy's violent death, a secret potentially damaging to the exile cause as well as to the agency itself.

The Mariel Boatlift: How Cold War Politics Drove Thousands of Cubans to Florida in 1980

The Mariel Boatlift of 1980 was a mass emigration of Cubans to the United States. The exodus was driven by a stagnant economy that had weakened under the grip of a U.S. trade embargo and by Cuban President Fidel Castro&aposs exasperation with dissent.

“Those who have no revolutionary genes, those who have no revolutionary blood. we do not want them, we do not need them,” Castro declared in a May 1, 1980 speech. In a stance that reversed the Communist regime&aposs closed emigration policy, Castro told Cubans who wanted to leave Cuba to leave, and directed would-be emigrants to go to the Port of Mariel. 

Some 125,000 Cubans took Castro up on his words and boarded fish and shrimp vessels, crossed the treacherous Florida Straits and arrived at U.S. shores. Their arrival—over the course of five months—infused the United States with a dynamic group of new immigrants and raised alarm about strains on resettlement facilities and the U.S. economy.

American Experience

Fidel Castro called them gusanos ("worms"), escoria ("trash"), and more recently, "the Miami Mafia." Of all the aspects of the Cuban Revolution, none has had a greater impact on America than the immigration of over one million Cubans to the United States. Settling mostly in Miami, but also elsewhere, Cuban Americans have created a wealthy, successful, politically influential immigrant society. As wave upon wave of immigrants rebuilt their lives after the traumatic experience of the revolution, they recreated and reinterpreted Cuban culture in a new homeland, blazing a path that led to the transformation of Miami into a Latin American city. Along with other Latinos — immigrants and U.S. born — they have brought a Latin flavor to American shores.

Florida Moving Image Archive

Dreams of the Exiled
"Calle Ocho," Little Havana, the epicenter of the Cuban exile community, was built on strong Cuban coffee, Cuban food, Cuban music and Cuban business sense. But mostly it was built on politics — on the burning desire of a people to recapture what they remembered as "a lost paradise." "The dream of return, the dream of revenge, the dream of settling scores and turning back the clock has held a significant proportion of the diaspora in its thrall for nearly five decades. The impact of these sentiments has been felt in U.S. politics and policy — logically during the Cold War, but also for more than a decade since its conclusion," writes Latin American expert Mark Falcoff.

Four Waves
Since the triumph of Fidel Castro's revolution in 1959, there has been a steady influx of Cubans into the United States, punctuated by four significant waves: 1959-1962 1965-1974 1980 and 1993-5. Each wave has reached deeper into the layers of Cuban society, from the wealthy in the 1960s to the dwellers of Havana's squalid inner city neighborhoods in the 1990s.

The First Arrivals
The Cubans who came to Miami in 1959 were supporters of the ousted Batista government. Soon they were joined by increasing numbers of wealthy Cubans whose property had been confiscated by the Cuban government: executives of U.S. companies and well-established professionals, including many doctors. Most did not expect exile to last long, but thought Cuba would soon be liberated -- first placing their hopes on the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, and later on the certainty that the United States would never allow the consolidation of a Communist government ninety miles away from their shores.

Starting Over
Many of these pioneers left Cuba with nothing and had to begin anew. Sugar mill owners became gas station attendants professional women took jobs as maids. Told many times over, their story has by now become an epic. Character loans, dispensed by the Republican Bank, and especially by a Cuban banker named Luis Botifoll, allowed Cubans to start small businesses. Applying the entrepreneurial skills brought from their native Cuba, and taking advantage of the growing Cuban population in Miami, little by little they created the Miami success story for which Cuban Americans have become known.

Violent Anti-Castroism
There was a dark side to this story. As the Cuban exiles fought Castro's repressive regime from abroad, many committed acts of terrorism. There were illegal incursions into Cuba, assassinations, bombs, and plots -- some involving the U.S. government, such as Operation Mongoose. The burglars who broke into the Democratic headquarters at Washington, D.C.'s Watergate complex were Cuban Americans. The terrorist who placed the bomb that killed Chile's ambassador to the United States, Orlando Letelier, was Cuban American. But the most shocking act committed by Cuban Americans took place in 1976, when Orlando Bosch and Luis Carriles Posada placed a bomb aboard a Cuban civilian airliner, killing dozens of innocent victims including young athletes returning from abroad.

Political Muscle
By the early 1980s Cuban Americans began to try new strategies. Organized behind the powerful Cuban American National Foundation, led by a successful builder named Jorge Más Canosa, they became a strong lobbying force in Washington and, for the next two decades played an instrumental role in the formulation of U.S. policy toward Fidel Castro's Cuba. Even after the end of the Cold War, the Cuban American Foundation succeeded in maintaining, and even tightening, the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.

The Second Wave: Freedom Flights
By the mid to late 1960s, a swell of discontent rose in Cuba, fed by economic hardship along with the erosion and virtual disappearance of political freedoms. In particular, when Castro closed down some 55,000 small businesses in 1968, virtually eliminating all private property, more Cubans turned against the revolution. It was now the turn of the middle- and lower-middle classes, and skilled laborers. As pressure mounted, Castro opened the port of Camarioca. Relatives from Miami came to collect those left behind in Cuba. Within weeks President Lyndon Johnson inaugurated the so-called "freedom flights." By 1974, a quarter of a million Cubans had been welcomed into the United States. A small portion of the refugees arrived indirectly through countries such as Spain and Mexico.

The Third Wave: Mariel Boatlift
Between April and September 1980, 125,000 Cubans arrived in Florida from the port of El Mariel, in a dramatic boatlift that had longstanding repercussions for the United States and for Castro's image. It all began when a bus crashed through the gates of the Peruvian Embassy in Havana. Two guards were wounded as they shot each other, and Fidel Castro, in a fit of anger, removed the security post from the embassy entrance. "Bad mistake," recalled the chief of the newly opened U.S. Interest Section in Havana, Wayne Smith, "because within hours there were 10,000 Cubans inside the embassy and thousands more on the way." Embarrassed, the Cuban government called the refugees escoria: "trash." Castro decided to open the port of El Mariel to anyone who wanted to leave Cuba.

Changing Refugee Demographics
A flotilla assembled by Cuban Americans left Miami and anchored at the port of El Mariel. As the constant influx of exiles arrived in Florida everyone noticed the difference between these refugees and those who had come before. Of the newcomers, 71% were blue collar workers -- the very people in whose name the revolution had been made. Castro also sent the U.S. a group of criminals and mentally ill individuals. The Cuban American community in Miami, just emerging as an important economic and political force, would have to contend with its new image criminals, uneducated Cubans, and non-whites had now joined their ranks. But the one most embarrassed was Fidel Castro himself. "Mariel was a shame because not only Cuba's upper class immigrated, but ordinary workers immigrated. Many young people who had grown up under the revolution immigrated as well," said Professor Jorge Domínguez. "But Mariel was also a shame because the regime showed its ugly side to the international community when it deported common criminals to the United States, committing an act of aggression not only against the 'imperialist U.S. government,' but against the American people."

A Fourth Wave: Balseros
The Soviet Union's 1991 collapse took the bottom out of an already ailing Cuban economy. Within three years the economy shrunk by 40%. For the first time there were riots in Havana. To release pressure, Fidel Castro declared once more that anyone who wanted to leave Cuba could go. For some time, balseros ("rafters") washed up along the coast of Florida aboard every conceivable thing -- truck tires, wooden rafts, anything that would float. As they left Cuban shores by the tens of thousands, they made an unforgettable spectacle.

Timeline of Cuba History

Christopher Columbus claims Cuba for Spain.

Spanish conquistador Diego Velazquez becomes first governor of Cuba.

City of Havana founded as San Cristobel de la Habana.

Construction of El Morro Castle, built by the Spanish, at an entrance to Havana harbor begins.

English capture Santiago de Cuba to assist trade with Jamaica.

English withdraw from Cuba after Spain acknowledges England’s right to Jamaica.

Located in the Vedado district of Havana, the University of Havana or “Universidad de La Habana” was founded on January 5, 1728 as the oldest in Cuba, and one of the first to be founded in the Americas.

British and Spanish fleets fight in Havana Harbor.

August 11
British attack Havana and take control of Cuba as part of the Seven Years’ War.

The British cede Cuba to Spain in the Treaty of Paris.

January 28
José Julian Martí y Perez , Cuban poet and essayist, patriot and martyr was born.

October 10
The Ten Years’ War begins and was part of Cuba’s fight for independence from Spain.

February 10
Ten Years’ War of independence ends with truce with Spain.

October 7
Slavery was abolished and made illegal by royal decree in Cuba.

February 24
José Martí leads The Second War for Independence.

Martí Killed in Battle

May 19
José Martí was shot and killed in battle against Spanish troops at the Battle of Dos Ríos.

April 20
The Spanish–American War between Spain and the United States begins with the US blaming Spain for an explosion aboard the USS Maine in Havana harbor in Cuba. The US defeats Spain, the Treaty of Paris is signed and Spain cedes Cuba to the US.

US Secretary of War, William Howard Taft creates the Provisional Government of Cuba, names himself Provisional Governor of Cuba and establishes a naval base at Guantanamo Bay (GTMO).

United States passes the Platt Amendment, as part of the 1901 Army Appropriations Bill, stating the conditions for the withdrawal of the US troops in Cuba from the Spanish-American War.

Cuba and United States sign lease granting use of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

A new lease is signed in Havana for Guantanamo Bay. The United States will pay about $2000 per year for the lease.

September 28
Tomas Estrada, first president of Cuba, resigns.

Second Occupation of Cuba Begins

US begins the Second Occupation of Cuba.

January 28
Jose Miguel Gómez, leading candidate for the Liberal Party, becomes president.

US ends the Second Occupation of Cuba.

US returns to Cuba to put down Afro-Cuban rebellion.

Cuba enters World War I on the side of the Allies.

Fidel Castro born in province of Holguin.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara is born in Rosario, Argentina.

Machado overthrown in a coup led by Fulgencio Batista.

May 29
Cuban–American Treaty of Relations is signed by the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba.

Cuba and US sign a perpetual lease of the Guantanamo Naval Base for about $4000 per year.

The naval base remains in US hands and the US continues to pay an annual rent although Cuba reportedly does not cash the checks.

United States abandons its right to intervene in Cuba.

New Treaty Ratified

June 9
Cuban–American Treaty of Relations Act is ratified and proclaimed by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 1

Communist Party is legalized again.

October 10
Fulgencio Batista, supported by the Democratic Socialists Coalition, is elected president of Cuba.

1940 Constitution In Effect

October 10
The 1940 Constitution takes effect providing land reform, public education, a minimum wage and other social programs.

Hemingway Purchases Home in Cuba

Ernest Hemingway purchases a home in Cuba where he lives for the next 20 years.

Batista seizes power again and suspends the 1940 Constitution. Batista is a United States backed dictator from 1952-1959.

July 26
Fidel Castro and brother Raul leads an unsuccessful revolt against Batista on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba.

Castro Gives “History Will Absolve Me” Speech

October 16
Fidel Castro gives his four-hour “History Will Absolve Me” speech during his trial for the charges brought against him for the attack in Santiago de Cuba.

May 1
Batista issues an amnesty that frees Castro and others members from prison.

Castro meets Che Guevera

June 1
Fidel Castro and his brother Raul are introduced to Che Guevara in Mexico City.

Castro, aided by Che Guevara, wages guerrilla war in Cuba from the Sierra Maestra Mountains.

March 13
An anti-communist University student group charged the Presidential Palace in Havana to assassinate Cuban dictator, Batista. The attack was unsuccessful and 50 students were killed.

The United States suspends military aid to Batista forces.

January 1
Fidel Castro leads a guerrilla army into Havana and forces Batista to flee the country. Batista resigns presidency.

Castro Becomes Prime Minister

February 16
Castro is sworn in as prime minister and brother Raul Castro becomes his deputy. Che Guevara becomes third in command.

Castro Visits Princeton University

April 29
Castro speaks on the theme of “The United States and the Revolutionary Spirit” at Princeton University, New Jersey.

CIA Issues Memo on Castro

December 11
The United States Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) issues memorandum urging “the elimination of Fidel Castro.”

Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev offers support to Cuba. Cuba allies with the Soviet Union.

US Businesses Nationalized

August 6
All US businesses and commercial property in Cuba are nationalized with no compensation by the Cuban government.

US Imposes Embargo

October 19
The United States embargoes all exports to Cuba except food and medical supplies.

March 1
Castro proclaims Cuba a communist state and allies with USSR. Castro announces he is a Socialist.

US Ends Relations with Cuba

March 27
US breaks off all diplomatic relations with Havana.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

April 15
Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles, with United States support, fails.

Sunday, January 21
Cuba expelled from the Organization of the American States (OAS).

October 15–28

Castro indicates Cuba will soon have new defenses against the US.

Castro allows Union of Soviet Socialist Republics(USSR) nuclear missiles on Cuba.

Wednesday, August 29
U-2 spy plane photos verify service-to-air missile (SAM) site under construction in La Coloma, Cuba.

Sunday, October 14
U-2 photos show medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) and intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launch pads under construction.

Friday, October 19
Ex-Comm, group of American political leaders, discuss Cuban quarantine.

Saturday, October 20
Ex-Comm recommends quarantine.

Sunday, October 21
President John F. Kennedy orders a naval blockade of Cuba. Operation is reviewed and approved.

Monday, October 22
President John F. Kennedy addresses the public and announces a naval blockade of Cuba. US Military issues DEFCON 3.

Tuesday, October 23
Khrushchev orders Soviet ships to stop 750 miles from Cuba.

Wednesday, October 24
Soviet Union Premier Nikita Khrushchev responds to Kennedy’s message that the US blockade was an “act of aggression.” Refuses to remove missiles from Cuba. US Military issue DEFCON 2.

Thursday, October 25
Kennedy orders flights over Cuba to increase from once to twice per day.

Friday, October 26
Ex-Comm discusses plans to invade Cuba.

Soviets offer to withdraw missiles in return for a US guarantee to not invade Cuba.

Saturday, October 27
Khrushchev sends message to Kennedy that deal must include removal of US Jupiter missiles from Turkey.

US U-2F shot down with surface-to-air missile near Banes, Cuba.

Kennedy ignores first message and responds to second message.

Kennedy proposes removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba under United Nations supervision and guarantee that US would not attack Cuba.

Sunday, October 28
Khrushchev agrees to remove Soviet missiles. He accepts Kennedy’s pledge not to invade Cuba. Kennedy agrees to remove missiles from Turkey.

US announces removal of the last Soviet missiles from Cuba.

Operation Peter Pan brings Cuban children to the US.

October 3
Cuba’s sole political party renamed the Communist Party of Cuba.

October 9
Socialist revolutionary and guerilla leader, Che Guevara executed in La Higuera, Bolivia at the age of 39.

©Wikimedia Commons User:Egs / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Cuba begins sending troops to Africa to assist in revolutions.

April 15 – October 31
Approximately 125,000 Cubans flee to the United States.

Castro makes the following statement in a speech in Nicaragua: “In our country we have a military base against the will of our people. It has been there throughout the twenty-six years of the revolution, and it is being occupied by force.” 3 4

Reagan Affirms Purpose of GTMO

In an interview with Soviet journalists, US President Ronald Reagan affirms that the purpose of the Guantanamo Naval Base is political to impose the US presence, even if the Cubans don’t want it. 3 4

March 27
US launches TV Martí, US funded anti-Castro broadcast aimed at Cuba.

President Fidel Castro announces Cuba had entered a “Special Period” with reduced levels of import from the Soviet Union due to it’s economic collapse.

August 19
The United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution condemning the ongoing impact of the US embargo and declaring it in violation of the Charter of the UN and international law. This resolution is passed annually.

GTMO Converted to Prison

November 15
Guantanamo Naval Base starts to be used as a prison.

October 30
Cuba opens state enterprises to private investment.

February 24
Cuban fighter jets shoot down 2 Cessna aircraft flown by Cuban-Americans dropping anti-Castro leaflets.

US Implements Permanent Embargo

March 12
US Trade embargo made permanent in response to the downing of the planes.

January 24
Pope John Paul II meets Fidel Castro and spends five days visiting Cuba. Celebrates Mass on Revolution Square in Havana.

November 25
Five-year-old Cuban Elian Gonzalez found afloat in Straits of Florida. After negotiations, the boy is returned to his father in Cuba.

©Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-4.0

December 14
Russian president Vladimir Putin visits Cuba and signs accords.

Cuba learns the US will use Guantanamo Bay to house prisoners.

January 11
First detainees from Afghanistan and Pakistan arrive at Guantanamo detention facility. 11

©Wikimedia Commons User:Magnus Manske / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, states that the captives at GTMO are prisoners of war entitled to rights under the Geneva Convention.

At the United Nations Assembly, Castro demands that the Guantanamo territory be returned to Cuba.

Bush administration says that GTMO detainees have no rights under the US Constitution or in the US justice system.

Carter Visits Cuba

May 20
Former President Jimmy Carter visits Cuba on a goodwill mission, criticizes the embargo.

March 18
Cuba cracks down on anti-Castro dissidents.

Number of detainees at GTMO reaches about 680.

February 26
United States sanctions restrict US-Cuba family visits and cash remittances from expatriates.

Cuba’s Human Rights Record Censured

April 15
The United Nations Human Rights Commission passed a motion censuring Cuba for human rights abuses.

5 British Citizens Held at GTMO

An article in the NY Times reveals that 5 British citizens who were held at GTMO were beaten and tortured. They were released to the British and never charged by the British. 5

Supreme Court Affirms Detainees’ Right to Use Courts

June 30
United States Supreme Court rules foreign nationals at Guantanamo detention facility have the right to legal consul.

May 15
Following a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the Associated Press, the Pentagon releases a detailed list of GTMO detainees. 6

June 29
In a 5-3 ruling, the US Supreme Court places limits on the government’s ability to try detainees. 7

July 31
Raul Castro assumes duties of president of Cuba while Fidel Castro recovers from surgery.

February 24
Fidel Castro resigns as President of Cuba.

photograph by Roosewelt Pinheiro/ABr, distributed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil.

Raul Castro is elected president by the National Assembly.

Cuba Lifts Restrictions On Personal Cellphones

Bans on private ownership of mobile phones and computers lifted.

Court Rules Detainees Have Constitutional Right

US Supreme Court says that detainees have the right to go before a federal judge to challenge their indefinite imprisonment. 12

EU Agrees to Lift Sanctions on Cuba

June 19
European Union lifts diplomatic sanction imposed on Cuba in 2003 over crackdown of dissidents.

January 22
US President Barack Obama issues an order to close the Guantanamo prison. United States Senate votes to keep the prison at Guantanamo open.

OAS lifts 47-year suspension of Cuba

June 3
Organization of American States votes to lift ban on Cuban membership imposed in 1962.

Congress passes a defense policy bill which limits the administration from trying detainees in a civilian court.

January 14
US President Barack Obama relaxes restrictions on travel to Cuba.

Cuba Passes Law Allowing Private Home Sales

November 3
Cuba passes law allowing individuals to buy and sell private property for the first time in 50 years.

Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. Conclusion: Torturing prisoners does not provide reputable intelligence or gain cooperation from detainees, but it does damage the international standing of the US.

February 24
The National Assembly reelects Raul Castro as president.

Cuba accepts European invitation to begin talks on improving relations and boosting economic ties.

US Reestablishes Diplomatic Relations

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) Public Domain

July 1
US President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro re-establish diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Cuba Sends Medical Relief to West Africa

October 11
Cuba sends more medical professionals than any other country to assist with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

January 15
United States eases trade and travel restrictions with Cuba allowing airlines to fly scheduled routes to Cuba, travelers to return with Cuban goods, etal.

Cuba Establishes Banking Ties in US

May 19
Cuba diplomats gain access to banking services in the US.

US and Cuban Reopen Embassies

July 1
US and Cuba reopen embassies and exchange charges d’affaires for first time in 54 years.

March 27
President Barack Obama makes a historic three-day visit to Cuba, the first US president to visit Cuba in 88 years.

Castro Dies

November 25
Cuban revolutionary and politician, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz. dies.

Additional detainees at GTMO are transferred abroad. As of January 2017, about 40 detainees remain at GTMO.

SC Senator Introduces Free Travel Act

January 6
South Carolina Senator Mark Sanford introduces The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017 (H.R. 351). 10

End of “Wet foot, Dry foot” policy

January 12
President Barack Obama ends the Cuba “Wet foot, Dry foot” policy that allowed any Cuban who makes it to US soil to stay and become a legal resident. The policy dates from 1995 under US President Bill Clinton. 8

Not Closing GITMO

January 17
US President Donald Trump says he will not close Guantanamo Detention Center. 9

Cuba’s History: CHRONOLOGY OF THE CAPTURE / EXECUTION of Cuban Anti-Castro leaders of Guerrillas * Historia de Cuba: CRONOLOGIA DE LA CAPTURA/FUSILAMIENTO de Jefes de las Guerrillas cubanas contra Castro.

Very shortly after Fidel Castro took power in January 1959 several thousand Cuban guerrillas–many of whom had fought alongside Castro against the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship–began a war against the new leader that lasted until 1966. This often brutal conflict took place mostly in the rugged Escambray Mountains of south-central Cuba, but it touched many parts of the island.

Although the uprising lasted longer than the war against Batista, those who turned on Castro and his policies were simply labeled “bandits” and fighting them became one of the main reasons in 1960 for setting up the still-omnipresent Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. Still this conflict was seldom taken seriously by those writing on the Cuban revolution.

CUBA’S HISTORY: CHRONOLOGY OF THE CAPTURE/EXECUTION of some of the leaders of anti-Castro Cuban Guerrillas.

November: the first is captured rebel group that operated in the Escambray, who came from the counterrevolutionary White Rose.

October: Sinesio Walsh and Plinio Prieto

February 17: Alejandro Lima Bárzaga, Nando Lima.
December 12: Margarito Flores Lanza, Tondique.

March 23: Noel Peña Sánchez
April 17: Osvaldo Ramirez
April: Congo Pacheco
May 17: Idael Rodriguez Lasval, the Gunner
August 4: Gilberto Rodriguez
October 1: Arnoldo Martinez Andrade
October 17: Leonardo Peñate
November 26: Pablo Triana Rodriguez

January 4: Porfirio Guillen
January 22: Red Celestino
February 1: Osiris Red Borges
February 28: Tomas San Gil
19 and March 22: Gustavo Sargent
March 24: Manuel Vazquez Vera, El Gallego, and Ramon Galindo Almeida, The Pelua
April 3: Filiberto González García, the Asturianito
April 27: Orestes Castle and The Angry
May 16: Jesus Ramon Real, Realito
May 23: Miguel Jerez Besu, Oriental
May 26: Domingo González García, Mingo Melena
May 28: Esteban Acosta Moreira
1st and June 2nd: Manuel Otero Echevarria
June 11: Celestino Rivero Alarcón, Quimbo, and Eusebio Capote, Patiblanca
June 17: Ephraim Peña Peña
July 8: Pedro Leon Hernandez, Perico
July 11: Rigoberto Ojeda
August 20: Rigoberto Tartabull
September: Roman Demetrio Perez Perez Nano
November 5: Nicolás Gutiérrez Viera. Zumba Viera.
December: El Boticario.

January 25: Ramon Mesa Medinilla, Charamusca
February 4: Maro Borges
Principles: Pancho Jutía
February 16: Ramon del Sol Sori, Ramon del Sol
March 28: Julio Emilio Carretero
April 4: Silvino Diaz Rodriguez
May 2: Reuben Cordova
June 5: Cheíto Leon
Mid: Benito Campos
November 12th: Salvador Abreu Oropesa
December 18: Francisco Pineda Cabrera, Mumo

March 11: Blas Tardio
July 4: Juan Alberto Martínez Andrade

Sources: Escambray / Wiki / InternetPhotos /
Cuba’s History: CHRONOLOGY OF THE CAPTURE/EXECUTION of some of the leaders of anti-Castro Cuban Guerrillas.
The Cuban History, Arnoldo Varona, Editor

HISTORIA DE CUBA: CRONOLOGIA DE LA CAPTURA/FUSILAMIENTO de algunos de Jefes de las Guerrillas cubanas contra Castro.

Muy poco después de que Fidel Castro tomó el poder en enero de 1959 varios miles de guerrilleros cubanos, muchos de los cuales habían luchado junto a Castro contra la dictadura de Fulgencio Batista, comenzó una guerra contra el nuevo líder, que duró hasta 1966. Este conflicto a menudo brutal tuvo lugar sobre todo en las montañas del Escambray escarpadas del sur-centro de Cuba, sino que tocó muchas partes de la isla.

Aunque el levantamiento duró más que la guerra contra Batista, aquellos que se opusieron a Castro y sus políticas fueron simplemente etiquetados como “bandidos” y la lucha contra ellos se convirtió en una de las principales razones en 1960 para la creación de los Comités para la Defensa de la Revolución (CDR), aún omnipresentes. Sin embargo este conflicto rara vez se tomaron seriamente entre los que escriben sobre la revolución cubana y sus opositores.

HISTORIA DE CUBA: CRONOLOGÍA DE LA CAPTURA/EJECUCION de algunos de los líderes de las guerrillas anticastristas cubanas.

Noviembre: Se captura el primer grupo de alzados que operó en el Escambray, que procedían de la organización contrarrevolucionaria la Rosa Blanca.

Octubre: Sinesio Walsh y Plinio Prieto

17 de febrero: Alejandro Lima Bárzaga, Nando Lima.
12 de diciembre: Margarito Lanza Flores, Tondique.

23 de marzo: Noel Peña Sánchez
17 de abril: Osvaldo Ramírez
Abril: Congo Pacheco
17 de mayo: Idael Rodríguez Lasval, el Artillero
4 de agosto: Gilberto Rodríguez
1º de octubre: Arnoldo Martínez Andrade
17 de octubre: Leonardo Peñate
26 de noviembre: Pablo Triana Rodríguez

4 de enero: Porfirio Guillén
22 de enero: Celestino Rojas
1o de febrero: Osiris Borges Rojas
28 de febrero: Tomás San Gil
19 y 22 de marzo: Gustavo Sargent
24 de marzo: Manuel Vázquez Vera, El Gallego, y Ramón Galindo Almeida, La Pelúa
3 de abril: Filiberto González García, el Asturianito
27 de abril: Orestes Castillo y Los Airados
16 de mayo: Jesús Ramón Real, Realito
23 de mayo: Miguel Jerez Besú, el Oriental
26 de mayo: Domingo González García, Mingo Melena
28 de mayo: Esteban Moreira Acosta
1º y 2 de junio: Manuel Otero Echevarría
11 de junio: Celestino Alarcón Rivero, Quimbo, y Eusebio Capote, Patiblanca
17 de junio: Efraín Peña Peña
8 de julio: Pedro León Hernández, Perico
11 de julio: Rigoberto Ojeda
20 de agosto: Rigoberto Tartabull
Septiembre: Demetrio Román Pérez, Nano Pérez
5 de noviembre: Nicolás Viera Gutiérrez. Zumba Viera.
Diciembre: El Boticario

25 de enero: Ramón Mesa Medinilla, Charamusca
4 de febrero: Maro Borges
Principios: Pancho Jutía
16 de febrero: Ramón del Sol Sorí, Ramoncito del Sol
28 de marzo: Julio Emilio Carretero
4 de abril: Silvino Díaz Rodríguez
2 de mayo: Rubén Cordovés
5 de junio: Cheíto León
Mediados: Benito Campos
12 de noviembre: Salvador Oropesa Abreu
18 de diciembre: Francisco Pineda Cabrera, Mumo

11 de marzo: Blas Tardío
4 de julio: Juan Alberto Martínez Andrade

Anti-Castro Cubans - History


[Reference: binder part 7 ]

U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington D.C. 20535


For information of recipients, the Terrorist Research and Analytical Center (TRAC) is producing a continuing series of short, informative articles on a variety of topics relating to FBI terrorism investigations. The following addresses a series of bombings in Florida and the issue of anti-Castro terrorism.

Since May, 1987, the Miami, Florida metropolitan area has been the site of at least 25 bombings or attempted bombings. Fifteen attacks have been directed against similar targets, i.e., persons or businesses with alleged sympathies or ties to the Government of Cuba. The 15 bombings have involved the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mostly pipe bombs. Some bombing components have been positively linked through forensic analysis. Only one of the 15 bombings has been claimed - by the Organization Alliance of Cuban Intransigence (or Intransigent Cubans) (AIC) - and is listed as a terrorist incident by the FBI. Of the remaining 14 bombings, 12 have been designated as suspected terrorist incidents.

Despite the lack of explanatory communiques for the attacks, it is apparent from the chosen targets that anti-Cuban Communism is the principal issue behind the bombings. These attacks are not the first of their kind committed to further the goals of anti-Castro Cubans rather, they are a continuation of a long-standing fight against the Communist Government of Cuba. Ever since the late 1950s, when the first exiles escaping the Communists on Cuba arrived in the United States, there has been almost constant anti- Castro Cuban activities in Florida and elsewhere. Various groups were organized among the exiles. Although some of these groups have been no more than social organizations, others were comprised of militants who sought to overthrow the Castro regime through violence. This resulted in bombings, assassinations and other acts of violence against pro-Cuban Communist targets. Through the years, different groups emerged to either claim credit or be held responsible for the acts of terrorism.

The attacks by militant anti-Castro Cubans initially involved armed incursions by land or sea onto the Cuban mainland, but by the middle of the 1960's, individuals or businesses in the United States began to be increasingly targeted One of the early leading anti-Castro Cubans was Orlando Bosch Avila, a Cuban national, who arrived as an exile from Cuba in 1960. He was the leader of the anti-Castro group, Revolutionary Recovery Insurrection Movement (MIRR). In June, 1965, he and four others were arrested near Orlando, Florida, with 18 aerial bombs, small arms and ammunition. These munitions were allegedly to be used by Bosch and his associates to bomb targets in Cuba. Bosch claimed at the time of his arrest that his group had already conducted two aerial attacks against Cuba however, this information could not be corroborated. All of the defendants were later acquitted of charges that they had conspired to violate the Munitions Control Act.

By January, 1968, Bosch had organized a militant activist group called Cuban Power, although he still maintained the leadership of MIRR. In January, Cuban Power claimed credit for the bombing of a B-25 cargo plane at the Miami International Airport. This was followed by other attacks claimed by Cuban Power. Some of these attacks, however, were not committed by Bosch's group. There were two factions of Cuban Power, neither aligned to the other. Bosch controlled one faction, while the other was led by another Cuban militant, Hector Cornillot.

Bosch's group did not commit another act until May, 1968, when it claimed to have bombed a British freighter in Key West, Florida, and a Japanese freighter in Tampa, Florida. Bosch's faction, furthermore, sent cablegram extortion messages to the following heads of state: Harold Wilson (Great Britain) Gustavo Ordaz (Mexico) and Francisco Franco (Spain). These leaders were warned that attacks would be conducted against their countries' ships and planes unless trade with Cuba was stopped. The cablegrams were signed: "Ernesto, General Delegate of Cuban Power." Communiques were also issued by "Ernesto" claiming credit for the bombings in January and May, 1968. It was later determined that Orlando Bosch was Ernesto.

Between January, 1961 and May, 1968, more than 30 violent acts were either claimed by or attributed to Bosch. These included bombings, armed incursions and aerial attacks against targets in Cuba, Panama and the United States. In the summer of 1968, Bosch claimed to have placed 36 pounds of explosives against the hull of a British freighter, the "Lancastrian Princess." The explosives were recovered. They had been attacked to the ship's hull by chains. The explosives were part of a 300-pound supply which had been provided to Bosch in an FBI operation. Bosch also indicated that he had placed explosives on six other freighters belonging to Great Britain and Japan however, this could not be verified.

On September 16, 1968, an attack was conducted against a Polish vessel, "Polanica," in Miami Bay, with a 57 millimeter recoilless rifle. Less than a month later, Bosch and eight others were arrested and charged with this assault. They were also charged in connection with the mailing of extortion letters to the three heads of state and with conspiracy to damage ships of foreign registry.

Bosch was convicted of the charges against him on November 15, 1968, and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. On December 15, 1972, he was released on parole from the United State Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois. In April, 1974, he left the United States for South America in violation of his parole.

Bosch's arrest and departure from the United States did not end the anti-Castro terrorism. In late 1974, another militant, anti-Castro group, Omega 7, was founded by Eduardo Arocena. His reason for organizing this group was his belief that the anti-Castro movement was not active enough in seeking the violent overthrow of the Castro Government. The membership of Omega 7 was drawn from the (Jose) Marti Insurrectional Movement, an anti-Castro group.

During an eight-year period beginning in 1975, Omega 7 members were reportedly responsible for between 30 and 50 bombings and two assassinations. The exact number of these attacks cannot be determined because other anti-Castro groups, such as the Cuban Nationalist Movement (CNM), issued false claims of credit on behalf of Omega 7 which confused law enforcement. Omega 7-claimed acts occurred in the New York City metropolitan area, the Miami metropolitan area, and Washington D.C. Among these acts were attacks against individuals sympathetic to or businesses dealing with Communist Cuba, Cuban Government interests, and interests of other countries dealings with Cuba.

Omega 7 was neutralized when Arocena was arrested during July, 1983, in Miami. He had in his possession automatic weapons and bombing paraphernalia. He was convicted on a 25-count indictment which included charges of first degree murder, Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations and bombing and explosives violations. More than a dozen Omega 7 members or their associates were also charged and convicted, mostly on criminal contempt violations for failure to testify before a Federal grand jury. Two Omega 7 members cooperated with Federal prosecutors. A third, Jose Ignacio Gonzalez, fled the country before he could testify. He remains a fugitive and is believed to be in Guatemala.

Arocena was sentenced to a term of life in prison plus 35 years. Prison sentences for other convicted Omega 7 members ranged from four to nine years. In 1984, Arocena was also convicted in two trials on charges involving weapons violations, bombings and conspiracy. He was sentenced to an additional 20 years' imprisonment to run concurrent with his earlier sentence. Furthermore, in 1986, three Omega 7 members, Pedro Remon, Andres Garcia and Eduardo Fernandez, each of whom had been sentenced previously to 5 years' imprisonment on contempt charges, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to murder a foreign official and conspiracy to bomb or destroy property of a foreign government. Each received a 10-year prison sentence.

Of the Omega 7 members who were imprisoned, only four - Arocena, Garcia, Fernandez and Ramon - remain in jail. All of the others have been paroled. Omega 7 has never been able to recover from these arrests. Even after those who were imprisoned were released, the group was not reestablished to the extent that it had been. Perhaps the fact that the leader, Arocena, remains in custody has had some bearing on this.

The last act that was claimed by Omega 7 was in May, 1983, several weeks before Arocena was arrested. No additional anti-Castro styled bombings are known to have been committed until May, 1987, when the current series of attacks began. The Cuban anti-Communist movement, to be sure, had not lain dormant during this four-year period. The Omega 7 arrests eliminated neither the anti-Castro feelings nor the radicals who saw violence as their only recourse. The arrests, however, did temper, albeit for a short period, the violent activities of the radicals.

Because reasons for an attack were given in only one instance, it is not known why bombings began anew in May, 1987, or what event, if any, triggered them. Since the initial targets were freight forwarding companies, thorough which goods are transported to Cuba via third countries, one possible motive might be to force these companies to stop. It is also not presently known whether all of the attacks are interrelated and are the result of efforts of one group, or if they are alike solely because of the general nature of the target - anti-Castroism - and are being committed by more than one group. Before this can be determined, there are many differences and similarities which need to be considered regarding targets, victims and modus operandi.

Of the 13 attacks which appear to be anti-Castro in nature and which have been designated as either terrorist incidents or suspected terrorist incidents, nine involved the use of pipe bombs, of which one failed to detonate. They are as follows:

-- May 1, 1987, a pipe bombing at Cubanacan in Miami

-- May 2, 1987, a pipe bombing at Almacen El Espanol in Hialeah, Florida

-- May 25, 1987, a pipe bombing at Cuba Envios in Miami

-- July 30, 1987, a pipe bombing at Machi Community Services in Miami

-- August 27, 1987, a pipe bombing at Va Cuba in Hialeah

-- January 2, 1988, a pipe bombing at Miami-Cuban in Miami

-- May 3, 1988, a pipe bombing at the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture in Miami

-- May 26, 1988, a bombing at the residence of the executive director for the Institute of Cuban Studies in
Coral Gables, Florida, claimed by the AIC

-- September 5, 1988, a pipe bombing at Bela Cuba in Miami

-- September 18, 1988, a bombing intended for a leader of the Reunion Flotilla, a group which advocates that all persons
should be able to enter or leave Cuba as they please, in Miami

-- February 24, 1989, an attempted pipe bombing at Almacen El Espanol in Miami

-- March 26, 1989, a bombing at Marazul Charters in Miami and

-- September 10, 1989, a bombing at Super Optical in Hialeah.

Of the 12 successful bombings, 11 occurred either during the late evening or early morning hours, between 10:20 p.m. and 3:45 a.m. the most recent attack occurred at 5:50 a.m. Although some of the bombings have specifically targeted residences, there have been no deaths or injuries as a result.

None of the pipe bombings were claimed, and no prior warning calls were received. Only one of the other bombings was claimed, and in another, targeting a leader of the Reunion Flotilla, there was a warning call but no claim of credit. These two attacks were unlike any of the other bombings in that private residences were targeted. In the other attacks, businesses and in one case a museum were targeted.

The first six bombings have been positively linked through forensic analysis. Toolmarks on the six devices are identical, indicating that the same tool was used to construct them. Tests have not been completed on the remaining pipe bombings. It has not been determined if they are identical to the first six. The first six pipe bombings are also similar in that the targets were Cuban freight forwarding companies. The other pipe bombings are similar to the first six attacks in that Cuban businesses were attacked. In all of the pipe bombings, the targets involved pro-Communist Cuban interests.

In addition, forensic analysis has not been completed on the remaining four explosions. Therefore, it has not been determined whether they are similar in construction to one another or to the first six pipe bombings. Two of these attacks were against targets similar to those of the pipe bombings, (Cuban businesses). But two were completely different in that residences were targeted and one of these was claimed.

On May 25, 1988, a bomb detonated at the home of the executive director of the Institute of Cuban Studies in Hialeah, Florida. A telephone caller to a Spanish language radio station claimed credit for the bombing on behalf of the AIC. This bombing was the eight in the series that began in May, 1987. The other attack against a residence occurred on September 18, 1988. The intended target was the residence of a leader of the Reunion Flotilla. On September 17, a telephone call to the residence advised that a bombing would occur and that a certain individual would be responsible. On September 18, a bomb exploded. However, it was at a residence with an address similar to but different from the one at which the warning call was received. A telephone caller later claimed that the wrong building had been bombed. The person whose name was given as being responsible was found not to have been involved.

Several suspects have been identified in the current wave of bombings. However, because of the differences in the targets and in the types of bombing devices used, it is not known if the same individuals or group is responsible for all of the attacks.

Furthermore, there are some indications, that the bombings may have connections to earlier anti-Castro militants. The one recent bombing that was claimed by AIC, for example, was reportedly committed on behalf of Orlando Bosch. Bosch, following his flight to South America in 1974, became involved in another anti-Castro group. In 1976, he was arrested by Venezuelan authorities for his involvement in the bombing of a Cuban airliner in which 73 people died. Bosch spent 11 years in prison during which he was twice tried and acquitted for this crime. He was released in August 1987. Three months later, he applied for permission to enter the United States but was denied a non-immigrant visa. Nevertheless, on February 16, 1988, he arrived in Miami, Florida, without entry documents and was arrested by the U.S. Marshals on a warrant based on his 1974 parole violation. He served three months in prison.

Following his release on May 16, 1988 Bosch was rearrested by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and given notice that the U.S. Government considered him excludable. His parole into the United States was also denied by the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida. Because he posed a flight risk, he was ordered detained until a decision could be reached on his deportation. On May 25, 1988, the AIC-claimed bombing occurred. The caller who claimed credit stated that if Bosch was not released within a specified time, reprisals would be taken against the INS district director in Miami. On June 2, 1988, the day after Bosch legal efforts to effect his release from custody were denied, the AIC threatened to bomb the Miami INS office if Bosch was not released.

On this same date, a letter was received by a Spanish language newspaper in Los Angeles. The letter states that the group had bombs and grenades and that the group had already committed eight bombings in Miami. No connection however, could be found between this letter and the Miami bombings.

The Orlando Bosch issue was given as the motive for only one of the attacks, but it may be a factor of greater significance. U.S. Government efforts to deport Bosch have been decried by a number of his supporters, including militants such as Ramon Sanchez, an Omega 7 member, who had been convicted and imprisoned in 1984. Threats of violence have been made against FBI and INS offices should the Government's efforts to deport Bosch be successful. Sanchez's open support for Bosch, as well as his past propensity for violence, have caused law enforcement to look into any involvement that h or any other Omega 7 members may have with these bombings.

The Bosch deportation issue cannot account for all of the bombings as it (the issue) did not become a factor until after seven bombings had occurred. The bombings initially may have been influenced by the paroling of Omega 7 members, such as Ramon Sanchez. The attacks may have been committed to show that the militant anti-Castro movement had not been destroyed despite the Omega 7 arrests and Arocena's continued imprisonment.

If all of the bombings are the responsibility of one group, the Bosch issue may have been seized upon as a means to expand the group's activist base by attracting militant Bosch supporters. If more than one group is responsible for the attack, the second group may have been influenced by the seven successful bombings within a year. It may also be possible that some of the bombings are being committed by pro-Castro forces as a means of bringing adverse publicity to and law enforcement efforts against anti-Castro factions.

What has become apparent is that the bombings will not likely end until there no longer exists a reason for them to continue. Arrests may cause the bombings to cease temporarily, but it will not cause them to stop entirely. The history of the militant anti- Castro movement has proven this. The issue behind the attacks is so emotional a topic that it remains largely unchanged even after 30 years. And there is no reason to suspect that it will cease to be an issue as long as the status quo remains. It therefore behooves law enforcement to continue efforts to apprehend those responsible for the attacks, but at the same time, not lose sight of the fact that eventually bombers will return as long as Castro is in power or Cuba remains communist.

To get to the building the CIA used as the nerve center of its secret war against Fidel Castro, you head south on the Florida Turnpike to the Coral Reef Drive exit, just as if you were taking the kids to Metrozoo. Then you go west on Coral Reef about a mile, past the antenna fields of a Coast Guard communications station and the cookie-cutter townhouses of a development called Deerwood before you come to the zoo's main entrance.

Look carefully for the very next opportunity to turn left, onto a nameless road reached through an open gate marked with the unexplained acronym: RTAO-USAF. Ignoring the small, anonymous office buildings that appear from nowhere on your right, you follow the battered pavement south, toward a far more imposing landmark — a bizarre, 200-foot-tall concrete monolith that looms above the hurricane-smashed pineland like a giant broken tooth, crowned with mysterious antennae. Your destination stands a few hundred yards from the base of this blimp-hangar remnant: a rambling, two-story wood-frame structure, obviously long abandoned, plastered with government-issue No Trespassing signs.

Fronted by tall white columns and topped with a gabled roof, plywood covering its windows and paint peeling from its clapboard exterior, it looks like nothing so much as the Fraternity House of Usher. More than twenty years after the last of the Agency's spooks cleared out, their old headquarters remains profoundly spooky, the passage of time having done little to dissipate the air of skullduggery that hangs over the place, hinting at ominous secrets buried just below its rotting floorboards.

Make no mistake about it — such secrets are there in spirit if not in material fact. After all, this was the spy base the Company code-named JM/WAVE, the largest CIA field station in the world at the height of the Cold War and the dark heart of a thousand cloak-and-dagger conspiracies aimed at the communist menace to the south. This was the home office for Operation Mongoose, the global campaign of espionage, sabotage, propaganda, and assassination that the Kennedy administration launched in the wake of the Agency disaster at the Bay of Pigs, which marks its 36th anniversary today, Thursday, April 17.

Donald Trump's bold promises earlier this week to finally blow the lid off the JFK assassination mystery by declassifying reams of secret documents turned out to be a gigantic tease. The National Archives ended up making public only a fraction of the JFK documents last night.

Still, the 2,800 papers included in the new document dump confirm some salacious details of America's decades-long quest to kill or depose Fidel Castro — including a fairly shocking plan by the CIA to sow terror in Miami.

After Castro's revolution succeeded and thousands of Cubans fled to South Florida, the agency actually considered murdering a boatload of refugees, assassinating exile leaders, and planting bombs in Miami — all so Castro could be blamed for the chaos.

The basic idea was to turn world opinion against Castro and possibly justify a U.S. military invasion by pinning the atrocities on him. The details of the sinister plot are included in a summary about Operation Mongoose, a 1960 covert op hatched by the CIA under President Dwight Eisenhower with the aim of toppling Communist Cuba.

The campaign was included in a report on "pretexts" the U.S. could conjure up to justify a military intervention in Cuba. The paper was sent by Gen. Edward Landsdale, a top Cold War officer who worked with the CIA to plot out Operation Mongoose he sent the report, which included nine other "pretexts," on April 12, 1962, to Gen. Maxwell Taylor, who would soon become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Just to reiterate how crazy this idea is: The CIA thought about blowing stuff up in Florida and murdering innocent refugees simply to make Castro look bad.

Thanks to the cache of John F. Kennedy-related files the government recently released, Miamians now know about the utterly bonkers plot the feds cooked up to stage a false-flag bombing on its own populace in Miami and then blame the deaths and chaos on Fidel Castro.

But according to CIA documents the Miami Herald dug up yesterday (and a few that New Times subsequently found), the JFK archive is full of all kinds of other insane tidbits about life in the CIA-informant-filled Magic City during the Cold War era. Namely, two Herald journalists — reporter Alvin Burt and Latin America editor Don Bohning — were working as covert CIA informants while also writing and editing for the newspaper in the late '60s.

According to declassified CIA documents, Burt was given the codename "AMCARBON-1," while Bohning was called "AMCARBON-3." Records show the CIA believed both men could have had access to useful information about the Cuban exile community in Miami. Documents show both men gave information to the CIA: Burt reported on Cuban anti-Castro revolutionaries, while Bohning passed along at least one tidbit about then-Louisiana prosecutor Jim Garrison's investigation into the Kennedy assassination. Another CIA report shows the agency hoped to use its South Florida news-media connections for "surfacing propaganda items."

The existence of the AMCARBON informants in the Herald newsroom has been discussed since at least 2005, when writer Joan Mellen referenced Burt and Bohning in her controversial book about the Garrison investigation, A Farewell to Justice. But the newly released archive paints a picture of the work the two journalists did for the intelligence agency. The "AMCARBON-1" nickname also turns up in JFK documents published by the Mary Ferrell Foundation: The foundation's CIA codename database also notes that another possible informant, AMCARBON-2, might have existed in the Herald newsroom as well.

First, on March 19, 1964, records from the Mary Ferrell Foundation show the agency wrote a full report about Burt's relationship with the unnamed "AMCARBON-2" journalist, the CIA's "KUBARK" interrogation and torture program, and the infamous "JM/WAVE" CIA outpost on the University of Miami campus. The report says CIA higherups gave JM/WAVE operatives permission to "contact the major South Florida news media in an attempt to work out a relationship with these news media which would ensure that they would not turn the publicity spotlight on those KUBARK activities in South Florida which might come to their attention."

Later in the report, the CIA says it "successfully" used Burt as a "propaganda outlet through which items of interest to KUBARK could be surfaced in the free world press." The CIA then listed three instances in which it fed stories to Burt.

That a liberal bastion like the New York Times would command Congress to turn off TV Marti came as a surprise to no one. In an editorial published October 1, the Times referred to the controversial television project as "the limp blimp," and noted that it had consumed $67 million since 1990, when it began broadcasting an assortment of Popeye cartoons and news programs toward Cuba. The word toward Cuba being significant, since rarely does the signal get through to the people it is intended to entertain and inform.

The unmanned "blimp," tethered to Cudjoe Key a few miles north of Key West, relays Marti's signal from 3:30 and 6:00 a.m. to avoid violating international broadcasting treaties. Not exactly prime-time hours. Worse, the floating transmitter can only operate during good weather. Worse still, the pictures are almost always jammed by Fidel Castro's government. "Given the sacrifices asked of all federal agencies," implored the Times, "it is indecent to squander millions on TV programs that scarcely anybody ever watches."

5. TV Martí then transitioned to using a private airplane until 2015. Via the Washington Post:

At an airfield in rural Georgia, the U.S. government pays a contractor $6,600 a month for a plane that doesn’t fly.

The plane is a 1960s turboprop with an odd array of antennas on its back end and the name of a Cuban national hero painted on its tail. It can fly, but it doesn’t. Government orders.

“The contract now is a ‘non-fly’?” contract, said Steve Christopher of Phoenix Air Group, standing next to the plane. “That’s what the customer wants.”

The airplane is called “Aero Martí,” and it is stuck in a kind of federal limbo. After two years of haphazard spending cuts in Washington, it has too little funding to function but too much to die.

The plane was outfitted to fly over the ocean and broadcast an American-run TV station into Cuba. The effort was part of the long-running U.S. campaign to combat communism in Cuba by providing information to the Cuban people uncensored by their government.

But Cuban officials jammed the signal almost immediately, and surveys showed that less than 1?percent of Cubans watched. Still, when Congress started making budget cuts, lawmakers refused to kill the plane.

6. The Office of Cuba Broadcasting tried to smuggle satellite receivers into Cuba before realizing Cubans were using them to watch porn. Via the Miami Herald:

With the Cuban government’s persistent jamming of their broadcasts, Radio and TV Martí have used alternative means to deliver content to the island —– including sneaking in the same technology that put Alan Gross in prison.

Gross, a subcontractor with the U.S. Agency for International Development, spent five years jailed in Havana for giving Cubans forbidden technology for accessing the internet. It's now clear that the U.S. government's Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), which runs the Martí operations, did the same for years.

The OCB slipped into the island small satellite sets known as BGAN — Broadband Global Area Network — as part of its effort to provide Cubans with access to the internet that was not monitored by the Cuban government, and to deliver Martí programs to the island.

The BGAN program began during Fiscal Year 2013, which started Oct. 1, 2012, and ended in FY2015, according to Nasserie Carew, a spokesman for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency that runs OCB.

Gross was arrested in Havana in 2009 after delivering BGAN transmitters to the island's Jewish community. He was convicted of “acts against the independence or territorial integrity” of Cuba and was freed in December 2014 as part of a prisoner exchange with the Obama administration.

The BGAN program “consisted of small two-way satellite devices that were distributed within Cuba by OCB,” Carew wrote in an email to el Nuevo Herald.

“Users of these devices could access the Internet via commercial satellites, which allowed circumvention of censorship of the internet by the Cuban government. Users could also share this access with other nearby people over WiFi,” he added.

“Access speeds were faster than dial-up speeds commonly available in Cuba, but at approximately 400 kilobits/second, significantly slower than modern broadband access available in most of the rest of the world,” he said.

“The program was discontinued due to the high costs of the program,” he wrote. “The cost per user was high due to both the BGAN hardware costs and the bandwidth costs of the satellite Internet access,” the spokesman wrote.

“We used to do it. We no longer do it because it was not cost effective,” said André Mendes, who was interim OCB director until his resignation Wednesday. He said that the BGANs had been used by some to access pornography, which is illegal in Cuba. “We are not in the business to give access to porn.”

The US government is using a sophisticated cell phone program in a failed effort to spark anti-Castro demonstrations on the island, according to Cuban officials and a US expert.

The US Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) sponsors a cell phone service called "Piramideo" (roughly translated as Pyramid), which spreads propaganda through text messages, according to Nestor Garcia, a former Cuban diplomat who now teaches at the Institute for International Relations in Havana.

"My students started getting text messages on their cell phones with news reports about demonstrations that never happened," Garcia said. "The US is trying to create a climate to protest against the Cuban government."

Piramideo, which has received little media coverage, is just one skirmish in an internet war between the American and Cuban governments, included ZunZuneo, a Twitter-like program secretly backed by USAID from 2010-12. USAID contractors developing ZunZuneo discussed plans to spark anti-government demonstrations.

In 2009 the Cuban government arrested Alan Gross, a USAID contractor, for distributing satellite phones aimed at establishing WiFi hotspots to be used by Cuba's small Jewish community. He was convicted of spying, sentenced to 15 years, and remains jailed in Havana.

The OCB publicly announced the existence of Piramideo in June 2013, and it continues to operate today.

Whether or not Donald Trump colluded with Russian agents, there's no doubt Moscow is running a sophisticated online campaign to sow dissent in America. Robert Mueller has already indicted numerous Russian agents for using Facebook to meddle in the 2016 election, and journalists have clearly spelled out how Vladimir Putin's Internet Research Agency manipulates the web.

The United States has even condemned the Russian government and sanctioned its leaders. But at the same time, the U.S. has put together its own plans to use Facebook to foment dissent clandestinely in Cuba.

At the center of those plans is the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which runs the Miami-based Radio Martí, TV Martí, and Martí Noticias. OCB is led by former Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.

The plans are spelled out in budget documents for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years from the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs pro-U.S. networks such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. The agency says the government has plans to use "native" and "non-branded" Cuban Facebook accounts to spread government-created content without informing Cuban Facebook users:

Due to Marti’s web blockage on the island, OCB’s digital strategy has shifted into a social media consistent with the metrics that place YouTube, Google, and Facebook among the most visited sites in Cuba. With the use of AVRA technology, Radio Marti programs evolved into visual radio and streamed via Facebook Live along with the TV Marti programming. This provides OCB with an additional efficient and cost effective distribution outlet both for its radio (visual radio) and TV content.

In FY 2018, OCB is establishing on island digital teams to create non-branded local Facebook accounts to disseminate information. Native pages increase the chances of appearing on Cuban Facebook users' newsfeeds. The same strategy will be replicated on other preferred social media networks [emphasis by New Times].

The coddled "terrorists" of South Florida

By Tristram Korten - Kirk Nielsen
Published January 14, 2008 12:00PM (EST)


On a hot subtropical Sunday, deep in the humid brush bordering the Everglades west of Miami, Osiel Gonzalez squints down the worn barrel of an AK-47 rifle and squeezes the trigger. With a crack and kick the bullet whizzes over a field of neatly trimmed grass and hits a human silhouette on a paper target 40 yards away.

Gonzalez wipes the sweat off his brow and smiles. Perspiration stains the neck and armpits of his camouflage jacket. All around him are men in fatigues, some flat-bellied on the grass shooting rounds, others cleaning their weapons or picking through ammunition boxes. The air is thick with cigar smoke. At age 71, Gonzalez is still one of the best marksmen at this training camp for Alpha 66, the paramilitary Cuban exile group formed in 1961 "with the intention of making commando type attacks on Cuba," as the organization's Web site baldly puts it. Gonzalez hopes to put his skills to use when the second revolution comes, the one that will tear his homeland free from the grip of communist dictator Fidel Castro. At that point Gonzalez hopes to have a Cuban soldier in his sights, not a paper silhouette.

Plans to attack Cuba are constantly being hatched in South Florida. Over the years militant exiles have been linked to everything from downing airliners to hit-and-run commando raids on the Cuban coast to hotel bombings in Havana. They've killed Cuban diplomats and made numerous attempts on Castro's life.

But, other than an occasional federal gun charge, nothing much seems to happen to most of these would-be revolutionaries. They are allowed to train nearly unimpeded despite making explicit plans to violate the 70-year-old U.S. Neutrality Act and overthrow a sovereign country's government. Though separate anti-terror laws passed in 1994 and 1996 would seem to apply directly to their activities, no one has ever been charged for anti-Cuban terrorism under those laws. And 9/11 seems to have changed nothing. In the past few years in South Florida, a newly created local terrorism task force has investigated Jose Padilla and the hapless Seas of David cult, and juries have delivered mixed reviews, but no terrorism charges have been brought against anti-Castro militants. The federal government has even failed to extradite to other countries militants who are credibly accused of acts of murder. Among the most notorious is Luis Posada Carriles, wanted for bombing a Cuban jet in 1976 and Havana hotels in 1997. It is, perhaps, a testament to the power of South Florida's crucial Cuban-American voting bloc -- and the political allegiances of the current president.

In Greater Miami, home to the majority of the nation's 1.5 million Cuban-Americans, the presence of what could credibly be described as a terrorist training camp has become an accepted norm during the half-century of the anti-Castro Cuban diaspora. Alpha 66 and numerous other paramilitary groups -- Comandos F4, Brigade 2506, Accion Cubana -- are so common they've taken on the benign patina of Rotary Clubs with weapons.

But Alpha 66 members are eager to remind you that even if they are graying and prosperous they are not toothless old tigers. Their Web site boasts that "in recent years" they've sabotaged Cuba's tourist economy by attacking hotels in the beach resort of Caya Coco. At the group's headquarters in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, the walls are hung with the portraits of dozens of men who have died on Alpha 66 missions.

To reach Alpha 66's South Florida camp you have to drive to the farmlands west of Miami's sprawl, then wait for a guide. You follow the guide down a winding, pitted dirt road for a few miles until you get to a gate and a yellow watchtower hung with an old-fashioned school bell. Behind a wall of trees and shrubs is a compound that looks like a hunting lodge. A low-slung wood-plank bunker with a deck and awning provides refuge from the sun.

Before hitting the range, the men -- there are no women here today -- had done maneuvers, marching in double file around the field, while a short, barrel-chested former Cuban army officer named Ivan Ayala barked directions: "Columna izquierda!" Many of the aging, uniformed men laboring to make it around the field are veterans of the failed CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961 and alumni of Castro's jails. Some, like Osiel Gonzalez, even fought alongside Castro against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, before Castro's turn toward communism. Most, if you believe them, have a "commando" mission or two with Alpha under their belts -- landing on a remote beach and burning sugar cane fields, or strafing a shoreline with machine-gun fire. In other words, they've walked the walk of counterrevolutionary violence, even if it's now reduced to a shuffle.

They deny they have anything in common with the militants hiding in the caves of Afghanistan and Pakistan. "No, we are not terrorists," says Gonzalez, the second-in-command and a co-founder of the group who, when he is not donning fatigues and shouldering a rifle, is a financial consultant. "We don't want to kill civilians."

"Our goal is to free our country for our children and grandchildren," drawls Al Bacallao, who has already retreated to the porch's shade behind Gonzalez and the shooting range. The 61-year-old Bacallao was raised in Georgia after arriving from Cuba at age 8, and is the rare Cuban exile with a Southern twang. "The United States fought for its liberty, why can't we?"

But Alpha members may have a fluid definition of what a civilian is. Raking the coast with .50-caliber machine-gun fire certainly does not exclude civilian casualties, nor does attacking tourist spots. By his own admission, Bacallao, who joined Alpha 66 23 years ago, has gone on several missions to Cuba. In 1993 U.S. authorities arrested him and a boatload of other men setting out for the island.

"Our plan was to land and make a hit and run -- those are the best actions, you know," recounts Bacallao, as rifle shots punctuate the air. "And we had everything on board a .50 caliber gun, hand grenades, AK-47s, plastic explosives. We had enough to blow up Florida, Georgia and Alabama!" He lands hard on the "bam" in Alabama. Then he laughs. "But we broke down. The motor started failing and the currents were strong. Eventually we were picked up."

"Let me tell you, we were treated like animals," he says. "And all we were trying to do was liberate our country."

But if he was treated like an animal, he is not in a cage. Federal prosecutors charged him and his companions with illegal weapons possession but a judge dismissed the case against most of the men, and a jury found the rest not guilty. Like other anti-Castro exiles before him, despite violent acts he is free to continue reporting to the training camp, and free to continue preparing for counter-revolution.

Video: Photos and audio from Alpha 66's training camp

When it comes to South Florida and terror, the official line from current and former federal law enforcement officials is that the law is enforced without fear or favor. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, R. Alexander Acosta, declined comment for this story, but several of his predecessors insisted to Salon that the law is applied objectively and without regard to local or national politics.

"I don't think there has ever been or is presently a refusal to consider more aggressive charges if the evidence truly sustains them," asserts Kendall Coffey, who was the Southern District's U.S. attorney from 1993 to 1996 and is now a prominent defense lawyer. Coffey adds that he never experienced pressure from his bosses in Washington regarding Cuban militants. "Not at all," he says.

"The politics of a case simply do not come into play," states Guy Lewis, U.S. attorney in South Florida from 2000 to 2002.

Judy Orihuela, spokeswoman for the FBI's Miami office, insists the agency will investigate any group that intends to violate U.S. law and poses a violent threat. At the Department of Justice in Washington, Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the national security division, rejects the notion that federal law enforcement shows leniency toward exile militants. Boyd maintains the DOJ would never attempt to influence a local case for political reasons and is blind to community or political pressure. "We pursue charges based on the evidence, not on other considerations," he says.

"That's sheer bullshit," counters Wayne Smith, who was chief of mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba under Presidents Carter and Reagan from 1979 to 1982, making him the de facto U.S. ambassador to Havana. Smith, who now runs the Cuba Program at the D.C.-based Center for International Policy, invokes the names of two of the most notorious Cuban exiles to argue that the U.S. does, in fact, play favorites. "We are certainly not applying these laws objectively in the case of Luis Posada Carriles, Orlando Bosch and a whole lot of others who have been involved in terrorist activities. We say that countries must take action against terrorists, but we're clearly not. And I think it's because we're sympathetic to their actions."

At the beginning of Castro's reign, the U.S. was more than sympathetic to the militant exiles. In the 1960s, the U.S. government actively encouraged and supported anti-Castro violence, including the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion. "Throughout most of the 1960s, rolling back the Cuban revolution through violent exile surrogates remained a top U.S. priority," says Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive and a specialist on U.S. policy toward Cuba. With exile involvement, the U.S. government made numerous attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro between 1961 and 1975, though the number cited in the title of the British documentary "638 Ways to Kill Castro" may be an exaggeration. Many anti-Castro Cubans went to work for U.S. intelligence and compiled long résumés of covert activity. In the 1980s, some assisted with the Reagan administration's covert effort to arm the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

Cuban-American entanglement with the CIA eventually bled into U.S. politics two of the five "plumbers" who broke into the Democratic Party's national headquarters at the Watergate in 1972 were Cuban-American. Tolerance for anti-Castro militancy, meanwhile, also had domestic consequences. Throughout the '60s and '70s and into the '80s, exiles carried out dozens of bombings and assassinations in Miami and other American cities, targeting people they deemed too accommodating to the Castro government.

Over time, as Kornbluh notes, the exiles seemed to change their approach somewhat as they aged and as they prospered economically -- and as the CIA backed away. By the 1980s, says Kornbluh, support for militancy "shifted from official funding to private backing from wealthy Cuban-Americans." Much of the anti-Castro activism among Cuban-Americans was directed by a Miami businessman named Jorge Mas Canosa, head of the Cuban American National Foundation. Cuban intelligence, and even anti-Castro militants, have linked CANF to violent plots targeting Cuba.

Still, however, the militants continued to train within the borders of the U.S., and to amass weaponry. Retired Army Col. Larry Wilkerson remembers attending briefings during Caribbean war game exercises from 1992 to 1997 where he learned of the exiles' capabilities. "We would always be fed this intelligence and I was astounded at how many suspected caches of arms they had access to not just in Florida, but in California, New Jersey and other places light machine guns, grenades, C4, dynamite, all manner of side arms and long arms," recalls Wilkerson, who was former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff from 2002 to 2005. "It was a veritable terrorist haven. This is Hezbollah in Florida, if you're looking at it through Havana's eyes."

In general, it would be hard to deny that the U.S. government has at least created the appearance that it is willing to tolerate a great deal of legally questionable behavior. But to be fair, even if federal prosecutors want to be objective, they are part of a political culture where such decorous sentiments aren't always honored. Juries, judges -- even the prosecutor's families -- are liable to feel the tug of local anti-Castro feeling. "I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Castro," Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami recently told a British documentary crew. Ros-Lehtinen, who has also publicly expressed support for famed militant Orlando Bosch, is married to Dexter Lehtinen, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Even outside South Florida, juries can balk at convicting anti-Castro exiles. In 1997, the U.S. Attorney in Puerto Rico charged seven Cuban exiles with attempted murder of a foreign official after authorities searched a boat in Puerto Rico and found sniper rifles and night vision goggles, and interviewed a defendant who revealed a plan to whack Castro in Venezuela. The defendants tried to get a change of venue to South Florida and failed, but still succeeded in finding a sympathetic panel. A Puerto Rican jury acquitted the men of the attempted murder charges.

In perhaps the highest-profile criminal case involving Cuban exiles, federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., were unable to keep suspects in the assassination of former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier behind bars. Five Cuban-Americans were alleged to have played roles in the murder of Letelier and his American aide by car-bomb in D.C. in 1976. Three years later, Alvin Ross Diaz and Guillermo Novo Sampoll were convicted of murder and conspiracy to murder a foreign official and sentenced to life. Novo Sampoll's brother Ignacio was convicted on lesser charges.

Ross Diaz and Guillermo Novo Sampoll ended up serving less than five years, however, after winning a new trial and then acquittals. Ignacio Novo Sampoll, whose initial sentence was only three years, also had his conviction overturned on appeal. The last two defendants, Virgilio Paz Romero and Jose Dionisio Suarez Esquivel, eluded capture for 15 years, and then cut deals allowing them to serve less than a dozen years apiece. After his release, Guillermo Novo Sampoll would be arrested in Panama for plotting to murder Fidel Castro.

Today, federal law enforcement's de facto approach toward militant exiles seems to be to infiltrate and monitor them and attempt to disrupt their "missions" as they're launched. The Cuban government would maintain that the U.S. does not show sufficient interest in this limited task.

In 1997, Cuban intelligence agents discovered an exile plot to blow up airplanes carrying tourists to and from Cuba, according to a report released by the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, Havana's diplomatic post in the U.S. Castro himself wrote a letter to then-President Clinton asking for help investigating the plot, given the potential impact on both countries.

On June 15, 1998, a delegation of FBI agents went to Havana. The Cubans say they gave the agents documents, surveillance videos and samples from a defused bomb found in one of the hotels. The Cubans alleged the evidence led back to individuals in Miami. But when the FBI left, the Cubans claim they never heard anything more about the matter. Instead, three months after returning stateside, FBI agents arrested a network of 10 Cuban intelligence agents -- the source of much of the shared bombing information. Five of them pleaded guilty and received minimal sentences. Five others are serving terms ranging from 15 years to life. Havana has waged a prolonged propaganda campaign to free them.

One former law enforcement official dismisses the Cuban government's version of events. "They gave the FBI manila folders with a bunch of newspaper articles in them," the official scoffs, pointing out that the spy network had been under investigation for more than a year before the arrests.

When the feds do disrupt a mission and federal prosecutors do follow up criminally, they often charge the exiles with illegal weapons possession, a crime that carries a five-year prison sentence, rather than more serious offenses. Prosecutors have proven willing to accept lenient plea bargains and ask for lenient sentences. They have done so despite the fact that in 1994 and 1996, Congress passed laws that would give them far greater latitude to crack down on violent anti-Castro militants.

The 1994 Violent Crime and Control and Law Enforcement Act, an anti-terrorism measure passed after the first attack on New York's World Trade Center, made it illegal to knowingly provide material assistance for terrorist activity. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 was also intended to deter terrorism. The section titled "Conspiracy to Harm People and Property Overseas" states that anyone within the jurisdiction of the U.S. who conspires to commit "an act that would constitute the offense of murder, kidnapping, or maiming" abroad faces punishment up to life in prison.

During the Clinton administration, no anti-Castro militants were prosecuted under those laws. And then came the Bush administration, and 9/11.

In 2001, George Bush was inaugurated as president on the strength of Florida's 25 electoral votes. One reason he got close enough in the state's popular vote for the U.S. Supreme Court to hand him the victory was because Florida's Cuban voters supported him by a lopsided ratio of 4 to 1. His brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, had already established ties to the state's Cuban community, which had supported him by a similar margin in the gubernatorial election two years earlier. Jeb had also served as a campaign manager for Cuban-American Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in 1988, and during that campaign had called his father, George, then the vice president and a candidate for president, to enlist his help in blocking the deportation of militant Orlando Bosch.

All three Bushes have relied on Cuban-American money and support to carry Florida. In 2004, President George W. Bush placed new restrictions on U.S. citizens and Cuban residents in the U.S. who want to visit relatives on the island, and increased enforcement of the embargo against Cuba. To date, his administration has not invoked the 1994 and 1996 anti-terror laws against any anti-Castro militants.

The support of unsavory characters simply because they were fighting our fight was more understandable when we were engaged in a global war on communism. But given the Bush administration's "war on terror," some experts think our government's approach to Cuban militants within our own borders harms our credibility. "There's always some discretion allowed prosecutors, but generally the goal is to apply the laws equitably," explains Peter Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University School of Law, who has written about anti-terrorist laws and formerly taught at St. Thomas University in Miami. "If you don't, you undermine the legitimacy not only of U.S. law, but our standing in the world. Governments in Latin America now profoundly distrust us because we don't apply the same rules when dealing with Cuba that we do to the Middle East."

Under Bush, the FBI continues to monitor Cuban groups, but Miami spokeswoman Judy Orihuela says the agency considers the militants to be of "diminished capacity." The administration has its own ideas about who is and isn't a terrorist.

In August 2007, less than 30 miles from the Alpha 66 training camp, a federal jury in downtown Miami convicted a Brooklyn-born Muslim convert named Jose Padilla of conspiracy to kidnap, maim or kill people abroad. His sentencing hearing began last Wednesday he faces up to life in prison. Although the military originally alleged he planned to detonate a dirty bomb in the U.S., the criminal case finally brought against him charged he plotted overseas attacks and plotted to provide support to terrorists as part of a U.S.-based terrorist cell. Prosecutors used the 1996 terrorism law in this case.

In December 2007, a federal jury failed to convict any of seven adherents of the Seas of David group of terror-related charges. The members of the tiny religious sect, who were also charged under the 1996 law, had allegedly conspired to purchase weapons from an informant they believed to be a representative of al-Qaida, and were supposedly plotting to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago and a federal building in Florida. When the FBI raided the group's headquarters, the most serious weapons agents found were three machetes and some handgun bullets. They never found any plans for a terrorist plot. The jury acquitted one man on all charges and could not agree on verdicts for the other six defendants. The judge declared a mistrial the U.S. Attorney's office plans to retry the men in 2008.

The 1994 and 1996 anti-terror laws have been invoked more than 40 times since 9/11, but never against anti-Castro militants. If authorities in South Florida wanted to apply the same scrutiny to Cuban-Americans that they applied to Padilla, who is Puerto Rican, and the Seas of David group, which was largely Haitian-American, they could surely find some suspects who have both a training camp and more weaponry than machetes. Among the South Florida residents who might bear some scrutiny:

Santiago Alvarez and Osvaldo Mitat -- Cuban authorities allege that Alvarez, a founder of Alpha 66 who is now a Miami developer, was on board a motorboat that strafed the shoreline of a Cuban fishing village in 1971 killing two men and wounding four others, including two young girls.

Alvarez is known to have provided financial and other material support to Luis Posada Carriles and other militants. In April of 2001 Cuban authorities reported capturing three Miami area residents after they clambered ashore with AK-47 assault rifles, an M-3 carbine fitted with a silencer and three semi-automatic Makarov pistols. While in custody, one of the men phoned Alvarez, while Cuban agents recorded the call. "The other day, when you told me about the Tropicana, do you want me to do something there?" Ihosvani Suris de la Torre asked, referring to a popular nightclub. Alvarez responded: "If you want to do that there, so much the better. Makes no difference to me." Cuba asked the FBI to do a voice analysis to prove it was Alvarez. The FBI has never acknowledged opening an investigation. The Cuban government released a transcript of the call to foreign journalists and broadcast audio of it on national television.

Through his lawyer, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida Kendall Coffey, Alvarez told Salon he was not involved in the operation and was only trying to help Suris he knew the call was being recorded, and that Suris faced the firing squad, so he wanted to say something that would make Suris appear to be providing valuable assistance to his captors.

But Alvarez sounded supportive in a 2001 interview with the Miami New Times. "My first connection with them is that we all believe that in order to fight Castro we have to fight in Cuba," he said in a previously unpublished portion of the interview, adding, "We're not terrorists."

In 2005 federal agents searched an apartment Alvarez kept north of Miami in Broward County and found a store of military hardware including an M-11 A1 machine gun, two Colt AR-15 assault rifles, a silencer, and a Heckler & Koch grenade launcher. Agents arrested Alvarez and his assistant, Osvaldo Mitat.

According to Peter Margulies, prosecutors could have considered charging Alvarez with providing material support for terrorist activity, which carries a sentence of 15 years to life. Instead, they charged Alvarez and Mitat with seven counts of illegal weapons possession.

Both pleaded guilty to one of the counts. The judge sentenced Mitat to about three years and Alvarez to just under four years. "While I have always been passionately interested in a free and democratic Cuba, I recognize that any conduct of mine must occur within the bounds of the law," Alvarez stated at his sentencing. After the plea, Alvarez supporters, who were able to remain anonymous, brokered a deal with prosecutors through a lawyer. In exchange for even more weapons, including 200 pounds of dynamite, 14 pounds of C-4 explosives and 30 assault weapons, the judge further reduced Alvarez's sentence to 30 months.

"Alvarez and Mitat are the paradigm of Miami justice," Miguel Alvarez, chief advisor to Ricardo Alarcón, president of Cuba's National Assembly of the People's Power, says wryly. "They confiscate a cache of arms from them, they try them, and when they turn over another cache of arms, they reduce their sentences. It's amazing."

Wonders Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive: "What was all that hardware for? Why did they let him plea bargain without getting the story on what he planned to do with all those weapons?"

"You can bet your bottom dollar," says Jose Pertierra, the Washington, D.C., attorney hired by the Venezuelan government to press for the extradition of militant Luis Posada, "if their names were Mohammed they wouldn't be as lenient and they'd certainly be looking for the rest of the arms."

Gaspar Jimenez -- Jimenez was indicted in the 1976 car bombing of Cuban-American radio commentator and critic of exile violence Emilio Milian in Miami. The U.S. attorney dropped the charges. In 1977 Mexican authorities arrested Jimenez and two others for attempting to kidnap the Cuban consul and killing the consul's bodyguard. Jimenez escaped and was rearrested in Miami in 1978. He was deported to Mexico and served less than three years. In 2000, he was jailed in Panama for attempting to assassinate Castro, as were Guillermo Novo, Pedro Remon and Luis Posada Carriles. All four were pardoned by the Panamanian president in 2004.

Pedro Remon -- One of the four exiles arrested in Panama for the Castro assassination plot, Remon was also arrested in 1985 in the United States for a bombing at the Cuban mission to the United Nations in New York. He was indicted for the murder of Cuban diplomat Felix Garcia-Rodriguez in New York and the attempted murder of the Cuban ambassador. He was sentenced to 10 years on reduced charges.

And then there's Luis Posada Carriles. With Orlando Bosch, he is a suspect in the 1976 bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people. Posada is perhaps the most wanted of all of Miami's militants. "Certainly what Posada is accused of fits [the] standard [of the terrorism acts]," says Margulies.

"The Santiago and Posada cases create some real questions about whether we are applying the law in this matter in an objective manner. The premise of the anti-terrorism laws, including providing material support, is that people who are in this country shouldn't plan violence in another country, because 1) it is inherently wrong, particularly if it involves civilians, and 2) it can entangle the U.S. in complications, including war."

But the idea of indicting Posada as a terrorist would prompt laughter in many Cuban exile circles, if not a few bomb threats.

It's a warm night in Westchester, a largely Cuban suburb southwest of Miami. Shade trees sway outside the folksy Miami Havana restaurant inside waiters pour sangria in the rear dining room, which is packed with heavily perfumed women draped in gold jewelry and men in starched guayaberas. Alpha 66 is hosting this fundraiser to repair storm damage at its training camp, but it is also a pep rally for "the struggle," la lucha.

Shortly after the American and Cuban national anthems play over a scratchy sound system but before the chicken and rice is served, an old man with neatly combed white hair enters through the French doors. He is barely visible behind a scrum of men who quickly surround him. Diners crane to see. They begin to whisper. Then clap. Soon there is a standing ovation. Luis Posada Carriles, the hero of the counter-revolution, is making his way to the head table.

"Bambi" Posada, 79, is wearing a light gray suit, white shirt and dark tie. As he sits down, the crowd asks him to speak. Talking publicly is not his strong suit after an assassination attempt in 1990 took out a chunk of his tongue. Nonetheless he mumbles a thanks to the crowd for their support, then sits down. During dinner a 9 mm Beretta pistol is raffled. The winner is a young mother.

The Cuban government has implicated Posada in a series of 1997 Havana hotel bombings, which killed an Italian tourist and injured 11 people. In 1998 Posada, a former CIA and Venezuelan intelligence operative, told the New York Times that he was responsible for the bombings. The Venezuelan government wants Posada for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner, which killed 73 people. Although Havana-bound Cubana Flight 455 originated in Trinidad and Tobago, the plot was allegedly hatched by Posada in Caracas. Two men who worked for Posada admitted to the crime, but Posada has repeatedly denied any involvement in that attack.

Venezuelan authorities arrested Posada and Orlando Bosch in 1976 for planning the bombing. Posada escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1985, in an operation allegedly funded by Jorge Mas Canosa, and fled to El Salvador. He then began working for a CIA-led gun-running operation. Posada was paid $3,000 per month by Oliver North deputy Maj. Gen. Richard Secord to funnel guns to the Nicaraguan Contras. After the Iran-Contra debacle, he remained in Central America as an advisor to the Guatemalan government.

In 2000 Panamanian authorities arrested Posada and three Miami Cubans for a plot to bomb a Panamanian auditorium where Castro was scheduled to give a speech. Posada was in possession of a gym bag full of C4 explosives. The four men were convicted on related charges in 2004 one was a CANF employee, another was Pedro Remon. Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, a close U.S. ally, pardoned all four men that same year just before she left office. All of them returned to Miami except Posada.

In 2005 Posada entered the U.S illegally he was later arrested with a false passport and jailed. He requested political asylum in April and the Venezuelan government requested his extradition in May. A U.S. immigration judge in Texas rejected Venezuela's request when prosecutors did not challenge Posada's assertion he'd be tortured if sent back. Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega said publicly in 2005 that the Cuban and Venezuelan charges against Posada "may be a completely manufactured issue." Posada was held by U.S. immigration authorities from May 2005 to April 2007, when he was released on bail. In May 2007, a U.S. district judge tossed out all charges of immigration fraud against him.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a Castro ally, has vowed to do all he can to prosecute Posada. "They have wanted to stonewall the extradition by giving the appearance of criminal prosecution on lesser matters," says Jose Pertierra, Venezuela's Washington attorney. "They use that at diplomatic meetings. They tell government officials from Venezuela, 'We're taking care of the Posada matter. We have a criminal investigation going on.'"

Whatever authorities might be investigating, whether it is Posada's role in the Havana bombings or his fake passport, "doesn't even compare with an extradition involving 73 counts of first-degree murder," Pertierra says. "Can you imagine Osama bin Laden [entering] Pakistan on a camel," he adds, "and Pakistani immigration authorities telling the White House that they don't want to extradite Osama bin Laden for murder because they've got him on an immigration charge?"

Eduardo Soto, Posada's lawyer in the immigration case, asserts that the international convention against torture prohibits his client's extradition to Venezuela. "You could be a convicted mass murderer, you could be Adolf Hitler, it matters not, if there is a possibility that he would be tortured in countries that would [otherwise] be entitled to take him," Soto says. It helped Posada's case that federal prosecutors didn't contest this claim.

There is another option. "Either extradite him to the country that is demanding him, Venezuela, or try him as if the act, the bombing of the Cubana plane, had been committed in U.S. territory," says Cuba's Miguel Alvarez, citing agreements hammered out at the Montreal Convention of 1991 on explosives, one of a series of international conventions meant to spell out the obligations of national governments when terrorism occurs.

Back at the Miami Havana restaurant, Posada has been joined at the front table by an old comrade in arms. Sitting next to Posada is Pedro Remon, who shared a cell with Posada in Panama. Remon stands up to speak. "It's an honor to have gathered here tonight for a just cause," he tells the crowd. "To cooperate with an organization that has been the vanguard over so many years of struggle against communism in Cuba."

Remon's years behind bars give him, like Posada, a kind of elder statesman status among the exiles, and prison has hardly diminished his resolve. Athletic with a thick mustache, he still believes in groups like Alpha 66. "The organization has been strengthened," he tells Salon in an interview at the restaurant. "They have very good new people who are dedicated to the cause of Cuba." And he laments the absence at the fundraising dinner of comrade-in-arms Santiago Alvarez. "I'm very hopeful he'll be with us soon," he says.

Posada is less talkative with strangers. "I'm sorry, I still have a legal matter." After dessert he politely waves goodbye to his supporters and heads for the door escorted by Alpha 66's jefe militar Reinol Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, a towering man with white hair and mustache, returns to the dining room and stands with a group of men in a half-circle, including Al Bacallao, who back at the training camp talked about his 1993 arrest on a weapons-laden boat headed for Cuba. They've loosened their collars, rolled up their sleeves, and are talking hopefully about the hot summer in Havana and how the heat might fuel discontent. "We're waiting for the spark," Rodriguez says. "We're ready to go when the moment comes."

"We have what it takes," Bacallao adds, extending his hands as if he were holding a couple of melons. "Cojones."

Tristram Korten

Tristram Korten is a journalist living in Miami Beach.

Kirk Nielsen

Kirk Nielsen is a journalist based in Miami Beach. He has written about Cuba and Cuba-related politics for the Village Voice and Miami New Times.

Anti-Castro Miami Celebrates The Former Cuban Leader's Death

Miami is the home to the largest diaspora of Cuban exiles, who fled their country after Fidel Castro came to power and in the decades since.

Many Cuban-Americans in Miami got the news around midnight. Fidel Castro was dead.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Speaking Spanish).

SIMON: There were celebrations throughout South Florida. People came out for spontaneous demonstrations that continued until dawn in Miami's Little Havana. The crowds forced police to close the street to vehicles. NPR's Greg Allen was at an early-morning celebration in Miami and joins us. Greg, thanks for being with us.


SIMON: Describe the scene for us.

SIMON: People have been waiting for this for 50 years, arguably.

ALLEN: Oh, yes. And, you know, we had so many kind of false alarms in the past of Fidel's passing that we've had kind of fire drills on this kind of thing. People have come out to these same venues and and banged their pots and pans before and then learned that, in fact, he was not dead.

So there was a lot last night. I stopped at one in some southern Dade County outside a Cuban-American restaurant. And the people were saying, you know, is it real this time? And they had to convince themselves it's real. But they were very happy.

So we saw lots of young people out there - people who were born in this country - many of them who never knew life under Fidel. We saw men in ties and women in dresses. People had been out for a night in the town and came out to celebrate.

You heard the cars honking, people waving Cuban and American flags. And then you see these elderly people standing there with joy on their faces, banging pots and pans. So there was really a lot of emotion there last night. And it was affecting to me.

SIMON: It may sound to us in 2016 in the United States insensitive to cheer about the death of someone. But let's pause to note - for many Cuban-American families, their feeling about Fidel Castro is quite personal. And many have very personal stories of family members who they believe were jailed and even murdered by the regime.

ALLEN: That's exactly right, Scott. I mean, you know, it's one way to view Cuban-Americans and Castro and the relations between the two from outside of Miami. When you're here, and you meet people, and you hear the stories over and over again - how they were affected personally - you really realize that - why this is such an important moment for them. And so that's what I saw last night.

SIMON: About 20 percent of the Cuban population wound up living outside - has wound up over the past 50 years living outside of Cuba. A good chunk of that, obviously - in Miami and South Florida. It's brought about huge changes to Miami and South Florida, hasn't it? - in many ways, stepped up Florida's identity and profile and importance in the United States.

ALLEN: Right. Anyone who's visited Miami in their life has seen it here. And it's just - it's happened over the course of 50, 60 years here. And, you know, the waves of migration started in the early '60s. And they've continued.

Even now, we have unprecedented waves of migration because of the normalization that's happening. Many Cubans are coming, thinking that the laws are going to be changing. And so it continues today. I mean, an important one was the Pedro Pan program, which brought all these young people whose families sent them to Miami away from the Castro regime in the early '60s.

Many have gone on to become business leaders in Miami and America throughout the area - came here, left their families, got educations and have really helped build the city and been an important part of America. So it's really changed Miami here. The Cuban-American influence is very clear.

SIMON: Is there a feeling among people with whom you spoke last night or early this morning that this represents not just a passage in history but an opportunity to open a door right now?

ALLEN: I'm not so sure that a lot of people last night were willing to talk about that. It is clear this is a very important passing. But it's kind of symbolic. You know, Fidel has not been an important part of Cuban government for some time now. There's still a lot of enmity toward Raul. People want to see him gone before they really consider things.

But we know that many more Cuban-Americans are embracing these moves towards normalization. We've seen polls suggesting 70 percent support it. We'll have to see what Donald Trump does about that now.

SIMON: NPR's Greg Allen in Miami, thanks so much.

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