Guide to the ‘Report from the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba’

Winter 2005

Prepared by Cuba Study Group of Santa Cruz County -

This guide has been developed for legislators, journalists, teachers and others interested in understanding the intent and possible ramifications of a US-Cuba policy based on the recommendations in the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba Report. We have tried to:

1. emphasize the dangerous actions recommended by the Commission;

2. provide an index to the key passages of the report;

3. identify the hypocrisy in the rationale for “regime change”

We believe the report’s blatant intent is to end Cuba’s socialist government and to impose a capitalist state and an electoral system based on the two-party model of United States. The report itself does not clearly explain how the changes will come about, but there are three obvious possibilities: invasion, internal uprising, and disruption in the government on the death of Fidel Castro. The Commission report provides recommendations for capitalizing on all of these which the following pages will call to your attention.

We take the Commission report very seriously because we believe the Bush administration’s actions toward Cuba repeat a pattern that has led to aggressive US military action in other countries and because some of the recommendations have already been put into action. We will identify six steps in this pattern:

1. promote dissidence,

2. intimidate,

3. strangle the economy,

4. make accusations of dangerous military capacity,

5. demonize the existing government,

6. impose US occupation.

How to Use this Guide


1. Prelude To The Commission For Assistance To A Free Cuba

2. Mandate to the Commission

3. Six Interrelated Tasks For Hastening Regime Change


1. Recommended Funding

Format of the Document

1. all quotes from the document are italicized with page numbers that refer to the PDF file available at

2. commentary and quotes from other sources are referenced for access through the internet.

Prelude to the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba

Following are examples of the Bush Administration’s increasingly hostile language and actions against the Cuban government that establishes a context for evaluating the significance of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba Report.

1. April 1999 - Even though US intelligence agencies in 1997 stated that “Cuba did not pose a threat to U.S. national security,” in 1999, the Department of State contradicted this assessment to justify Cuba’s designation on the terrorist list. [The Cuban Threat to U.S. National Security, 1997, Defense Intelligence Agency, the Southern Command Joint Intelligence Center & Central Intelligence Agency; and Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999, US Department of State annual report on terrorism]

2. September 20, 2001 - “President Bush put state supporters of terrorism on notice in his September 20 address to the joint session of Congress: ‘Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.’ The seven designated state sponsors-Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, and Sudan-clearly heard the President’s message.” [Patterns of Global Terrorism: 2001, US Department of State annual report on terrorism]

3. May, 2002 - “Beyond the axis of evil, there are other rogue states intent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction -- particularly biological weapons... namely, Cuba.” John R. Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security stated in an address to the Heritage Foundation. “Here is what we now know: The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort. Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states.” [BBC News, Analysis: Axis of Evil Capabilities, May 9, 2002]

4. April, 2003 - U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Hans Hertell: “The war in Iraq was aimed at all countries around the world with oppressive political systems. I think what’s happening in Iraq is going to send a very positive signal, and it’s a very good example for Cuba...” [Commondreams, Strategic Manipulation of the “War on Terror” Apparent in U.S. Treatment of Cuba, by Alana Y. Price Sept 23,2004]

5. April 2003 - “ Secretary of Defense “Donald Rumsfeld did not totally close the door to the possibility of U.S. military action in Cuba --indicating it might happen if Havana has or develops weapons of mass destruction. While there is no specific evidence, the Bush administration said last year that it believed Cuba has ‘at least a limited offensive biological warfare’ program and could be sharing its expertise with other countries that are hostile to the United States.” [The Miami Herald, After Iraq, Cuba not next on U.S. list, Rumsfeld says, by Elaine de Valle, April 14, 2003]

6. May, 2003 - “The mass expulsion of Cuban diplomats is among the most sweeping ever undertaken by Washington in a long history of tit-for-tat ousters.” [New York Times, 14 May 03]

7. May, 2003 - Dagoberto Rodriguez, chief of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, DC stated that “Cuba was warned, officially, that a new wave of illegal immigration would be considered ‘an act of war’. This he fears may then be used as a pretext for US intervention.” [Guardian Unlimited Friday May 16, 2003]

8. January, 2004 - . ” ‘The United States is willing to reconsider the scheduling of the next round of migration talks when Cuba informs us that it agrees to a productive agenda...’ spokesman Richard Boucher said. The [Cuban] ministry accused the United States of unilaterally canceling the talks. Cuba said it was willing to “seriously” discuss all issues raised by US authorities. [Caribbean Net News-, US says Cuba to blame for cancellation of immigration talks, Thursday, January 8, 2004]

9. March, 2004 - “Charges of drug trafficking: Cuban territorial waters and airspace continue to serve as an inviting corridor for smugglers transiting from South America and the Caribbean to the U.S., Mexico, Haiti, and the Bahamas. The country’s geographic proximity to the U.S.,... provide a favorable environment for both air and maritime smuggling...Cuban authorities have chosen not to provide an effective use of force policy and adequate resources to counter-narcotics authorities ....” International Narcotics Control Strategy Report - 2003, Released by the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, March 2004

10. May, 2004 - Commission Report blatantly recommends that $56 million be allocated to “regime change” in Cuba

11. June, 2004 - Office of Foreign Assets Contol (OFAC) severely restricts family remittances and travel to Cuba, thus tightening the pressure on the Cuba economy.

12. July 2004 - Bush accuses Fidel Castro of promoting prostitution: “The dictator welcomes sex tourism. Here’s how he bragged about the industry,” Bush said. “This is his quote: ‘Cuba has the cleanest and most educated prostitutes in the world’.” [statement lifted from an undergraduate paper by Charles Trumbull written in 2001]

Charles Trumbull, when asked by AP, stated that the statement was taken out of context: ” Even when Castro made the remarks, ...he was not boasting about Cuba’s prostitutes as sex workers. Castro was merely trying to emphasize some of the successes of the revolution by saying ‘even our prostitutes are educated...’” (The Associated Press, Bush accuses Cuba’s Castro of encouraging sex-tourism industry, USA Today, July18,2004)

13. August, 2004 - “The US Air National Guard took the first Comando Solo flight hovering on the boundary of US airspace, broadcasting to the Cuban people.” TV and Radio Marti have been broadcasting anti- Castro propaganda to Cuba since 1985. Funding comes from the Broadcasting Board Governors. The signal has been jammed since the early 1990’s.” [Miami Herald Sun, Aug. 22, 2004]

Mandate of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba

President George W. Bush mandated that the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba identify additional means by which the United States can help the Cuban people bring about an expeditious end to the Castro dictatorship. [CAFC: 14]

The Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba sought a more proactive, integrated, and disciplined approach to undermine the survival strategies of the Castro regime. [CAFC: 15]

The Steps for Hastening Regime Change

This comprehensive framework is composed of six inter-related tasks considered central to hastening change: [CAFC: 15]

1. Empower Cuban Civil Society [CAFC: 15] - Promote Dissidence

$36 million to the State Department, USAID, and other appropriate U.S. Government agencies [CAFC: 22]:

· We strengthen...opposition through material assistance and training.[CAFC: 7]

· Information dissemination ...that will foster democratic change [CAFC: 17]

· The United States Interests Section (USINT) in Havana is also a vital asset in the effort to aid the Cuban people in their struggle [CAFC: 17]

...the regime portrays (youth, women, and Afro-Cubans) as pillars of social support and stability for Castro’s regime. [CAFC: 18] The US programs to train, develop and organize these...segments of Cuban society to take greater action [CAFC: xvii]

Outreach to Cuban youth represents one of the most significant opportunities to hasten the end of the regime. More than half of Cuba’s population is under age 35...youth have been critical catalysts for regime change in other countries...[CAFC: 18]

Afro Cubans and mixed-ethnicity Cubans comprise 62% of the population. [CAFC: 18] grants of U.S. funds could provide the critical spark to activate more of the Afro Cuban community ... in promoting change in Cuba. [CAFC: 19]... persons of color currently occupy only 33 percent of the seats.... in the National Assembly of People’s Power... [CAFC: 19] Currently in the US Senate there are NO African- Americans and in 2002 the House had only 15% minorities in total. [Office of minority Health, US Census 2000;,] According to the 2000 U.S. Census, approximately 30% of the population belongs to a racial or ethnic minority group. [ ]

2. Break the Information Blockade [CAFC: 8] - Intimidate

$18 million for...immediate deployment of the C-130 COMMANDO SOLO airborne platform and make available funds to acquire and refit a dedicated airborne platform for the transmission of Radio and Television Martí into Cuba [CAFC: 28]

“The right of each government to control telecommunications in its territory is confirmed in the 1982 Nairobi Convention of the United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which was signed by both Cuba and the United States.” []

“August 14, 2004 The US Air National Guard took the first Comando Solo flight hovering on the boundary of US airspace, broadcasting to the Cuban people.” TV and Radio Marti have been broadcasting anti- Castro propaganda to Cuba since 1985. Funding comes from the Broadcasting Board Governors. The signal has been jammed since the early 1990’s.” [Miami Herald Sun, Aug. 22, 2004]

“1995-6 continual breaches of Cuban airspace by anti-Castro Miami Cubans resulted in the shooting down of 2 planes, 4 deaths, the imprisonment of five Cubans in the US, and the tightening of the US blockade against Cuba;” []

“There are different types of C-130s. The EC-130 (Comando SOLO) is electronically equipped. The AC-130 is armed with devastating firepower; it is one of the most terrifying weapons being used on Iraq. Cubans could never be sure that the EC-130 would not turn out to be an AC- 130. This serious provocation could lead to disaster.” [Building a Prison and Preaching Democracy: Bush’s Cuba Obsession, Jane Franklin; [ZNet,June 07, 2004:]

“These [AC-130] heavily armed aircraft incorporate side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensor, navigation and fire control systems to provide surgical firepower or area saturation during extended loiter periods, at night and in adverse weather...” [Air Force Link fact sheet:]

3. Deny Revenues To The Castro Regime [CACF 28] - Strangle the Economy

The economic lifelines of the Castro regime are tourism, access to subsidized Venezuelan oil, commodities, and revenues and other support generated by those with family on the island, with the vast majority of such support coming from the United States. [CACF: xiv]

a) Tourism

· Eliminate abuses of educational travel by limiting it to undergraduate or graduate degree granting institutions and for full-semester study programs, or shorter duration only when the program directly supports U.S. policy goals;

· Support efforts by NGOs in selected third countries to highlight human rights abuses in Cuba, as part of a broader effort to discourage tourist travel.

· Eliminate the regulatory provision allowing for the import of $100 worth of Cuban goods produced by Cuban state entities, including cigars and rum;

· Eliminate the general license provision for amateur or semi-professional athletic teams to travel to Cuba to engage in competitions and require that all such travel be specifically licensed.

· Eliminate the specific license provision for travel related to clinics and workshops in Cuba, leaving general and specific license categories for professional research and attendance at professional meetings unchanged.

b) Venezuelan oil

· While the CACF goes into great detail on how the other “Revenue” categories will be addressed, the report strangely gives NO indication of the strategy to be used to thwart Venezuelan oil sales to Cuba. However, looking into Cuba/Venezuela relations and US/Venezuela relations, one can see the only path to cutting this oil source is to oust Chavez.

· The US has been accused of supporting the April 2002 coup attempt against Chavez. The US was the only American country to recognize the new leadership and claim that Chavez had resigned; the US media parroted this line [ Fair & Accuracy in Reporting: Media Advisory, April 18, 2002:], the NED financially supports the Venezuelan opposition [Venezuela Freedom of Information Act], and continues to demonize the government by accusing them of human trafficking, arms piling, and relationships with Colombian Guerrillas.

· In this report, the US questions Chavez commitment to democracy: “...governments that are not ideologically committed to democratic and free market values (e.g., the Chavez government in Venezuela).” [CAFC: 205]

· Reports from Venezuela also indicate that Cuban doctors are engaging in overt political well as more senior political and military advisors to help Chavez strengthen his authoritarian grip on the nation. [CAFC: 43]

· While the US media focuses on the Oil convention between Venezuela and Cuba claiming that its purpose is to prop up the current Cuban government,( “...53,000 barrels of oil per day ...that Chavez subsidizes for Castro to keep Cuba’s moribund economy on life support.” [Will Venezuelan Freedom Survive Chavez? Jonathan Gurwitz, Arizona Daily Star 08.20.2004]) it ignores the fact that the Chavez government is offering the same oil “deal” to all members of the Association of Caribbean States through the San Jose Pact and the Caracas Accord. In addition, a separate accord has been reached with Argentina that exchanges oil for food. [Venezuela Promotes Regional Energy Integration For Developing Nations of Central America and the Caribbean, Venezuela Information Office]

c) Commodities

· Neutralize Cuban government front companies by establishing a Cuban Asset Targeting Group, comprised of appropriate law enforcement authorities, to investigate and identify new ways in which hard currency is moved in and out of Cuba. [CAFC: 44]

· and revenues and other support generated by those with family on the island, with the vast majority of such support coming from the United States. [CAFC: xiv]

· Offer rewards to those who report on illegal remittances that lead to enforcement actions...Direct U.S. law enforcement authorities to conduct “sting” operations against “mule” networks and others who illegally carry money to Cuba as a means to disrupt and discourage the sending of illegal remittances. [CAFC: xvii]

d) Family travel and Remittances

· The Commission reduces income from tourism by restricting family visits by Cuban-Americans, educational tours and professional travel. [see “Tightening Travel Restrictions”, appendix 2]

· Remittances, gift parcels and travel-related revenues ...especially (from) those Cubans who have come to the United States since the early 1990s. [CAFC: 9] ...such parcels decrease the pressure on the government to provide the basic needs of its people, enabling it to dedicate more resources to strengthening its repressive apparatus... [CACF: 35]

· These restrictions are being challenged by Congress. An excerpt from a statement in opposition to continued funding for enforcement of the travel ban by Congressman Jeff Flake (Rep AZ), “With this bill today, and in other bills this year, we will appropriate tens of millions of dollars relating to Cuba. It is fitting that we ask, for what purpose? So that think tanks in Miami can churn out more reports telling the Congress, unsurprisingly, that we ought to continue the current policy, which includes giving them money? So that daily television programs can be produced in Miami that Cubans will never see?” [Jeff Flake, Office of Congressman Jeff Flake News Release, Wednesday, September 15, 2004,]

· For current status of legislation in congress, see Latin American Working Group;]

4. Illuminate The Reality Of Castro’s Cuba [CAFC :44] - Accuse of Military Threat

We propose increased efforts to illuminate the reality of Castro’s Cuba...and (exposing) the nature of the Castro regime, including its threat potential. [CAFC: 10]

Fund U.S. Embassy public diplomacy sections worldwide to disseminate information abroad about U.S. foreign policy....and the U.S. Government’s belief that Cuba has at least a limited, developmental offensive biological weapons research and development effort. [CAFC: 45]

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 - The Bush administration, using stringent standards adopted after the failure to find banned weapons in Iraq, has conducted a new assessment of Cuba’s biological weapons capacity and concluded that it is no longer clear that Cuba has an active, offensive bio-weapons program, according to administration officials. [In Stricter Study, U.S. Scales Back Claim on Cuba Arms, By Steven R. Weisman; New York Times, September 18, 2004,]

5. Encourage International Diplomatic Efforts To...Challenge The Castro Regime [CAFC :10] - Demonize

Recognizing the importance of an enhanced public diplomacy effort, the Commission recommends that the U.S. Government make available an additional $5 million [CAFC: 45] in order to:

...expanding coordination with willing friends and initiatives to plan for Cuba’s transition. [CACF: 10]

Fund and promote international or third-country national conferences to disseminate information abroad about U.S. policies on transition planning efforts related to Cuba [CAFC: 45]

Deter foreign investment in Cuba in confiscated properties, claims to which are owned by U.S. nationals, aggressively pursue Title IV visa sanctions against those foreign nationals trafficking in (e.g., using or benefiting from) such property, including devoting additional personnel and resources to application and enforcement. [CAFC: 44]

6. Undermine The Regime’s “Succession Strategy” [CAFC: 11] - Occupy

In Cuba’s transition to democracy, we envision and welcome an active role for the Cuban American community...Cuban Americans will be able to provide valuable insights, as well as business acumen and capital. [Foreword by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell]

United States is prohibited by law from providing assistance to a post-Castro transition government unless that government... bars Fidel and Raul Castro from any role in a future government. [Foreword by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell]

The Commission recommends: targeting regime officials for U.S. visa denial watchlists will be provided to other nations... to ensure that (these officials) cannot find refuge in these regions. [CACF: 11] ...establishing a Transition Coordinator at the State Department to... continue regular transition planning and coordination with other U.S. Government agencies. [CAFC: 11]

The Commission acknowledges that there will be resistance to the transition...a peaceful transition...will therefore require the presence of effective, professional Cuban security institutions that are committed fully to supporting the democratic transition. ...Military modernization will also be important. [CACF: 157] ...prepare to keep all schools open during an emergency phase of the transition in order to keep ... teenagers off the streets ... during this unstable period; [CACF: xxi]

Recommended Resources

1. Regarding the democratic process in Cuba:

Governance in Cuba; chap 2, Cuba: a Revolution in Motion, Isaac Saney. 2004, Zed Books, London, N1 9JF, United Kingdom ISBN 1 84277 363 1

Democracy for Cubans and Americans; Tom Crumpacker, CounterPunch, 1/20/2003;

2. Regarding human rights in Cuba:

Amnesty International Regional Report; Americas, (an overview putting Cuba within a context of the Americas)

Cuba and Its Defence of All Human Rights; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Cuba. October 26, 2004.

3. Regarding Cuba as a threat to national security:

Cuba on the Terrorist List: in defense of the nation or domestic political calculation?, Anya K. Landau and Wayne S. Smith. International Policy Report: November 2002

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