Cuba starts large-scale military exercises

Campaign News | Tuesday, 14 December 2004

Massive drill aimed at deminstating Cuba's preparedness for an invasion

HAVANA, Dec. 13 Cuba's Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, Raul Castro, on Monday ordered the beginning of 7-day strategic drills in which 100,000 soldiers and millions of civilians will have participated.

In a speech broadcast by local media at 9:00 a.m. local time, Castro, younger brother of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, said the civilian-military exercises, dubbed Bastion 2004, will put to test the effectiveness of planned measures to help the economy adapt to war conditions, and will perfect the cohesion of command institutions at all levels.

We are aware that "the only way to cope with an aggression is by making it clear that in such a scenario the country will turn into a gigantic wasp nest which will be able to fight against even the strongest enemy," said the minister, the No. 2 man in Cuba's political hierarchy.

The first five days of the exercises will be attended by 100,000 troops, including reservists. On Saturday and Sunday, called the national defense days of the drills, millions of civilians will join.

Cuba has repeatedly warned its population of the danger of being next in line for a US invasion after Iraq. President Castro has accused the Bush administration of planning to invade Cuba.

Cuba said earlier the exercises will be a show of preparedness so that Washington does not underestimate Cuba's defense capability.

Cuba has an All-People's War defense strategy, which establishes that every Cuban has the means and place to combat the enemy should the country be invaded and even occupied.

Bastion 2004 is the latest annual mass drill based on a guerrilla strategy designed to resist an invasion force. This year's operation is more extensive than last year's.

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