Bush’s ‘secret’ plan for Cuba
Steve Wilkinson and Natasha Hickman report
By classifying part of the latest ‘Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba Report’ the Bush administration has made its intentions towards Cuba clearer than ever before.
“For reasons of national security and effective implementation some recommendations are contained in a separate classified annex”, so states the second report of the Bush administration’s ‘Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba’(CAFC): the latest addition to the US government’s plans to force “regime change” on the island following the death of President Fidel Castro.
In May 2004, CAFC issued its first report, a 450 page blueprint for the total destruction of Cuba’s socialist system, detailing how the Cuban government would be brought down, what would replace it, and how it would introduce US-style democracy, market forces and privatisation to a new US “transitioned” Cuba.
Unlike this first report, the new one - issued at a ceremony on July 10 presided over by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Commerce Secretary Gutiérrez and Cuba Transition Co-ordinator Caleb McCarry - goes out of its way to stress that its purpose is solely to offer assistance to Cubans, rather than impose US plans.
The Commission believes there to be a growing pro-democracy movement in Cuba and that when Fidel Castro dies there will be an up swell of public opinion in favour of a new system that will call on the US for help.
Unfortunately for the Commission, there is absolutely no evidence that the so-called ‘dissident’ movement is growing. In addition, Cuba’s military establishment and civil defence are well-armed, highly organised and widely supported. Therefore the only way that such a transition might be brought about is by some kind of intervention by the US as set out in the “classified annex”.
Observers believe that this suggests the US has concrete plans for a military option if the “peaceful transition” does not take place. Analysts say the problem is that the Commission disregards the fact that the present Cuban government is extremely popular and that the majority of Cubans will reject any US-prescribed plan for their future: conflict is seen to be highly likely as a result.
Despite its claims that it is up to the Cubans themselves to decide their own future, the new report contains page after page of recommendations, from establishing free trade agreements with the US, returning property to rich landowners who left after the Revolution, reorganising the economy and the health and educational systems, to the holding of US-style multi-party elections.
Ignoring UN indices and the widely known fact that Cubans enjoy better health and education than most their neighbours, including a life expectancy five years longer than that of African-Americans, the new report states: “Chronic malnutrition, polluted drinking water, and untreated chronic diseases continue to affect a significant percentage of the Cuban people”; and unsurprisingly adds that: “Conditions will not improve as long as Fidel Castro remains in power.”
It adds: “The revenue does not go to benefit the Cuban people, but is diverted to maintain the regime’s repressive security apparatus and fund Castro’s interventionist and destabilising policies in other countries of the hemisphere.”
By this we presume it is referring to Cuba’s “destabilising policies” that supply thousands of Cuban doctors to provide free health care to poor communities in Haiti, Guatemala, Bolivia and Venezuela.
First and foremost, the report calls for the United States to prepare “to respond” rapidly upon the death of president Fidel Castro, clearly considering that the window of opportunity would be gone with the consolidation of a successor government. It ties Cuba to Venezuela, implying that the Commission would be glad to block the re-election of Hugo Chavez irrespective of the popular vote in that country.
Taking as given the downfall of the present Cuban government, the report discusses two different successive governments for Cuba post-Castro: one transitional and one elected. The first is to be limited in its duration and scope, and will only be approved by the US if its conduct is compliant with US aims and wishes.
Following the transition, elections would be prepared for by the US-supported transition government. The victorious candidates, destined to be the ones favoured by the US, would take over the government with a claim to representation because of the elections. The new government would be expected to move promptly to return nationalised properties to their pre-1959 owners and to settle outstanding claims on “acceptable terms.”
Until the death of Fidel Castro when this plan is to be set into motion, the Commission calls for the US to prepare the ground. This includes trying to build an international consensus around the plan by using a diplomatic offensive with US-friendly states combined with a series of economic measures and threats to be used against what it calls ‘spoiler’ states that might deal with a succession government. The report goes so far as to suggest that the US might have to act “bilaterally” i.e. alone, ahead of the international community coming on board.
The commission calls for an allocation of $80 million in the first two years, with a further $20 million every successive year, to fund propaganda and destabilisation activities both inside and outside the island. It is to be expected that the bulk of that money would go to the professional counter-revolutionaries in Miami and elsewhere. Also, the Commission calls for a further clamping down on travel to the island, as well as renewed efforts to cripple the Cuban economy in order to provoke the population into civil strife.
In sum, the report calls for a series of measures that are aimed at trying to create an international and domestic demand for “regime change in Cuba” after Fidel Castro’s death.
The Cuban people are certain to resist any attempt by the US to ‘impose’ any kind of government on the island and therefore conflict is likely to arise.
The consequence of the US militarily intervening to implement this plan will be at the very least a war in Cuba which would be disastrous for the whole of the Caribbean region and any country that has interests there.
Forced “regime change”, regardless of what has happened in Iraq, is still illegal under international law, and although the Commission repeats that it will be for the Cuban people to decide their future after Fidel Castro’s death, the whole of its intention is to force a change in Cuba that suits the US. On a matter of principle all countries should oppose this plan.
CSC is already mounting a campaign among its members, supporters and trade union affiliates to urge Tony Blair and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office to publicly distance the British government from such policies and raise serious concerns with their counterparts in the US.