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Castro and Terrorism: A Chronology By: Eugene Pons
Institute for Cuban & Cuban-American Studies | Friday, June 10, 2005


FOREWORD

Since 1948 when, as a young student, Fidel Castro participated in the violence that rocked Colombian society and distributed anti-U.S. propaganda, he has been guided by two objectives: a commitment to violence and a virulent anti-Americanism.  His struggle since and his forty-two years rule in Cuba have been characterized primarily by these goals.

In the 1960's Castro and his brother, Raul, believed that the political and economic conditions that produced their revolution existed in Latin America and that anti-American revolutions would occur throughout the continent.  Cuban agents and diplomats established contact with revolutionary, terrorist and guerrilla groups in the area and began distributing propaganda, weapons and aid.  Many Latin Americans were brought to Cuba for training and then returned to their countries.

At the Tricontinental Conference held in Havana in 1966 and attended by revolutionary leaders from throughout the world, Castro insisted that bullets not ballots was the way to achieve power and provided the institutional means to promote his anti-American, violent line.  He insisted that "conditions exist for an armed revolutionary struggle" and criticized those who opposed armed struggle, including some Communist leaders in Latin America, as "traitorous, rightists, and deviationists."

Castro's attempts in the 1960's to bring revolutionary, anti-American regimes to power failed.  His support for guerrillas and terrorist groups in Guatemala, Venezuela, and Bolivia only produced violence  and suffering to those countries and their people, which repudiated violence as a means to achieve power.  Violence resulted in military regimes coming to power in several Latin American countries

For the next two decades, the Cuban leadership, supported by the Soviet Union, modified its tactics.  In addition to agents from the America Department, the subversive arm of Cuba's Communist Party, Castro used his Armed Forces to help friendly groups achieve power in Latin America and Africa.  In Nicaragua Cuban military personnel, weapons and intelligence supported and helped bring to power the Sandinistas.  In El Salvador, a bloody civil war in part fomented and aided by Cuba, ended in a stalemate and a negotiated peace.

In Africa, Castro achieved his most significant victories.  The Soviet-Cuban backed Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) faction was installed in power in Angola and other Cuban supported regimes came to power throughout the continent.  The Cuban military also trained and supplied the South-West African Peoples Organization (SWAPO) and the African National Congress (ANC), forces fighting the South African regime.

Castro also became involved with African-Americans in the U.S. and with the Macheteros, a Puerto Rican terrorist group.  Cuba focused particular attention on the black struggle in the U.S., providing aid and training to the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army, as well as a safehaven on the island for black leaders.  Castro continuously promoted the independence of Puerto Rico and supported the Macheteros who committed terrorist acts and bank robberies in the United States.  Several still live in Cuba.

Cuban military and intelligence personnel aided Middle Eastern groups and regimes in their struggle against Israel, and Cuban troops fought on the side of Arab States, particularly Syria, during the Yom Kippur war. Castro sent military instructors and advisors into Palestinian bases; cooperated with Libya in the founding of World Mathaba, a terrorist movement; and established close military cooperation and exchanges with Iraq, Libya, Southern Yemen, the Polisario Front for the Liberation of Western Sahara, the PLO and others in the Middle East.

Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, Castro continues to undermine U.S. policies in the Middle East in several ways: a) by portraying U.S. actions and diplomacy in the region as those of an aggressor, seeking to impose hegemony by force, particularly in Iraq and the perpetration of unjustified economic sanctions on Iraq and Iran; b) by portraying the U.S. as the main obstacle to a peaceful settlement of the Israel/Arab conflict; and c) by discrediting U.S. policies and seeking support for Cuba at the U.N.  These anti-American views and policies are conveyed as a systematic message through a network of Cuban embassies and agents, as well as at the U.N. and other non-governmental political, religious and cultural organizations.

While not abandoning his close relationships in the Middle East, Castro has recently concentrated his support on several groups:  the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), where Castro, and his new ally Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, see significant possibilities for success; ETA, the Basque terrorist/separatist organization from Spain, which has found refuge and support in Cuba, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which established its Latin American headquarters in Havana.

American policymakers should pay careful attention to the intricate web of relationships which emerges so clearly from this chronology.  It carefully details Castro's involvement with and support for terrorist regimes and organizations during the past four decades.  Cuba's geographical location, Castro's continuous connections with these groups and states and the harboring of terrorists in Havana creates a dynamic that requires vigilance and alertness.

It should be emphasized that in addition to violence and terrorism, Castro and his regime, have been for more than four decades, the most vocal and active proponents of anti-Americanism.  The often-repeated view in many  countries that the United States is an evil power, guilty for much of the problems and sufferings of the developing world, is owed in great part to the propaganda efforts of Fidel Castro.

Jaime Suchlicki, Director
Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies
September 2001
 

Castro and Terrorism A Chronology
By Eugene Pons 

1959-1967

*   Raúl Castro and Che Guevara visited Cairo and established contacts with African liberation movements stationed in and supported by Cairo. Both Cuban leaders visited Gaza and expressed support for the Palestinian cause.

*   Members of the Dominican Republic "Agrupación Política Catorce de Junio" received military training in Cuba.

*   Major emphasis was placed on instructing several hundred pro-Castro Latin Americans in violence and guerrilla warfare. Dominicans, Guatemalans, Venezuelans and Chileans were trained in special camps in Cuba and infiltrated back to their countries.

*   Castro established relations with the Algerian FLN; official and public support was extended, weapons were shipped to the FLN through Morocco (1960-1961). Cuba provided shelter, medical and educational services and cooperation in the fields of counter-intelligence and intelligence.

*   African leaders from Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa, Spanish Guinea, Tanganyika and Zanzibar arrived in Cuba for military training.

*   Che Guevara engaged in guerrilla operations in Congo-Kinshasa (former Zaire) in 1965.

*   A revolutionary trained in Cuba, John Okello, overthrew the pro-Western government in Zanzibar in 1964 and proclaimed the "People's Republic of Zanzibar" which was promptly recognized by Cuba and the Soviet Union.

*   Conference of Latin American Communist Parties held in Havana agreed to "help actively the guerrilla forces in Venezuela, Guatemala, Paraguay, Colombia, Honduras and Haiti".

*   Group of Venezuelans, members of the Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR), trained in Cuba and landed in the Venezuela coast in the State of Miranda.

*   Cuban trained Guatemalans Cesar Montes and Luis Turcios Lima led a violent terrorist/guerrilla campaign against the government in Guatemala. Montes organized the Ejercito Guerrillero de los Pobres (EGP) in Guatemala. In the 1980's he joined the FMLN in El Salvador and participated actively in the bloody civil war in that country.

*   Cuba welcomed the founding of the PLO. First contacts with Palestinian FATAH in 1965 in Algiers and Damascus.

*   The Tricontinental Conference was held in Havana in January, 1966 to adopt a common political strategy against colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism. Cuba provided the organizational structure to support terrorist, anti-American groups in the Middle East and Latin 
America. The Organization for the Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAL) was created.

*   Fidel Castro created The National Liberation Directorate (DLN) in Cuba to support revolutionary groups throughout the world. DLN was responsible for planning and coordinating Cuba's terrorist training camps in the island, covert movement of personnel and military supplies from Cuba and a propaganda apparatus.

*   A Cuban controlled Latin American Solidarity Organization (LASO), with its permanent seat in Havana was created to "coordinate and foment the fight against North American imperialism".

*   In Venezuela, Castro made a relentless and determined effort to create another Cuba by supporting the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberaci n Nacional (FALN) and promoting violence and terrorism against the democratically elected regime of R mulo Betancourt.

*   Castro sent weapons via Cairo, to the NLF in Southern Yemen. Cuban agents were sent on fact-finding missions to North and South Yemen (1967- 1968).

*   Cuba published a small book by French Marxist journalist Regis Debray Revolution in the Revolution, promoting guerrilla warfare in Latin America. The book was translated into various languages and distributed widely.

*   Cuban supported guerrillas led by Che Guevara moved into Bolivia in an attempt to create "many Vietnams " in South America.

*   Cuba and Syria developed a close alliance and supported FATAH and the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF).

1968-1975 

*   Cuba continued its military and political support for FATAH after the Syrians broke with the latter, and Cuban military, political and intelligence support was granted to other Palestinian organizations.

*   Castro sent military instructors and advisors into Palestinian bases in Jordan to train Palestinian Fedayeen (1968); first high-level delegation from FATAH-PLO visited Cuba (1970).

*   Several missions sent to Southern Yemen to support NLF/FATAH Ismail both politically and militarily.

*   Castro began supporting and training of M19, a Colombian guerrilla group that captured the Dominican Embassy and the Justice building in Bogota and assassinated several prominent Colombian judges.

*   In 1970 a "Mini Manual for Revolutionaries" was published in the official LASO publication Tricontinental, written by Brazilian urban terrorist leader Carlos Marighella. The mini manual gives precise instruction in terror tactics, kidnappings, etc. The short book was translated into numerous languages and distributed worldwide by Cuba.

*   Cuba commenced political and military cooperation with Somalia's Siad Barre (1969).

*   Economic and political cooperation began with Libya in 1974.

*   In 1974 the National Liberation Directorate (DLN) was reorganized into the America Department (DA) under the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee. The DA centralized control over Cuban activities for supporting national liberation movements. The DA was responsible for planning and coordinating Cuba's secret guerrilla and terrorist training camps, networks for the covert movement of personnel and material from Cuba, and a propaganda apparatus. DA agents also operated in Europe and other regions. Trusted Castro ally Manuel Pi±eiro, " Barbaroja" was placed in charge.

*   Cuba provided training and support to the Tupamaros, a terrorist group operating in Uruguay.

*   Cuba's America Department (DA) set up a network for the funneling of weapons and supplies to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

*   In 1979 second in command in Cuba's America Department (DA) Armando Ulises Estrada, helped unify Sandinista factions fighting Somoza.

*   Closer connections with FATAH-PLO and other Palestinian organizations were reinforced, including training of Latin American guerrillas in Lebanon; Cuba's military support included counter-intelligence and intelligence training.

*   Arafat visited Cuba in 1974.

*   Cuba provided military support and personnel to Syria during the Yom Kippur War (1973-1975).

*   Black Panther Party members from the U.S. were trained in Canada by Cuban personnel. Black Panther leaders and other U.S. blacks also received weapons and explosives training in Havana.

*   Cuba joined with Algeria and Libya on a diplomatic/political offensive in support of Frente POLISARIO (People's Front for the Liberation of Western Sahara and R o del Oro); later on provided military cooperation, and medical services.

1976-1982

*   The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that there were 300 Palestinians training in Cuban camps.

*   Cuba supported the so-called "Steadfastness Front" against the U.S. backed Camp David accord.

*   Illich Ramirez Sanchez, known as "Carlos, the Jackal", responsible for numerous terrorist acts in Europe, trained in Cuba. He attended the 1966 Tricontinental Conference in Havana and later trained in urban guerrilla tactics, automatic weapons, explosives and sabotage in Cuba.

*   Abu Iyad, a close aid to Yasser Arafat, stated in 1978 that hundreds of Palestinian had been sent to Cuban terrorist camps.

*   Additional military and political support provided to the Palestinian cause; Arafat attended the Sixth Non-Aligned Conference in Havana (1979).

*   During Havana visit, Arafat signed agreement for military cooperation and arms supply.

*   Significant hard currency loans (tens of million) were facilitated by Arafat-PLO to the Cuban government under very soft terms; Cuba granted diplomatic and political support to Arafat during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

*   The Aden (South Yemen) regime supported the Ethiopian radical officers commanded by Mengistu Haile Mariam, sending Yemeni military units in support of the latter against Somali aggression, and asking the Cubans to do the same. Cuba joined in, first with a group of officers headed by General Arnaldo Ochoa, a move that was followed later on by the deployment of large Cuban forces against the Somali invasion. Also as part of the alliance with the Aden regime, Cuba granted some small-scale support to the Dhofaris in their armed struggle against the monarchy in Oman.

*   The Cuban trained Congolese National Liberation Front  invaded Shala, Zaire.

*   As part of Cuba's alliance with Mengistu Haile Mariam's regime in Ethiopia, the Cuban leadership decided to engage in active political and military support of the Liberation Movement of Southern Sudan headed by John Garang against the Arab-Muslim regime in Khartoum.

*   Cuba developed closer ties with and sent military advisors to Iraq.

*   Cuba's America Department (DA) operated a weapons pipeline to the Farabundo Mart  National Front (FMLN) a terrorist group attempting to gain power in El Salvador.

*   Cuba cooperated with Libya in the political founding of the World MATHABA in Tripoli, to provide political support and coordinate revolutionary violence throughout the world. Cuba supported Libya's stand on Chad and the FRENTE POLISARIO.

*   Cuban trained terrorists members of the Guatemalan EGP kidnapped a businessman in Guatemala. Several were arrested in Mexico when attempting to collect ransom.

*   Despite its close links with Baghdad, Cuba recognized and praised the Iranian Revolution. Once Iraq attacked Iran, Castro withdrew his military advisors from Baghdad and adopted a position of official impartiality, though more sympathetic to Baghdad, due to his past relations.

1983-1990 

*   Argentine born Cuban intelligence agent Jorge Massetti helped funnel Cuban funds to finance Puerto Rican terrorists belonging to the Machetero group. The Macheteros highjacked a Wells Fargo truck in Connecticut in September 1983 and stole $7.2 million.

*   Cuba's America Department (DA) provided, thru Jorge Massetti, weapons and several thousand dollars to the Chilean MIR.

*   Libyan support to Latin American revolutionary movements, especially in Central America and the whole of the World MATHABA project, declined after the U.S.bombing of Tripoli in 1986.

*   Cuban agents in Mexico engaged in bank robberies to finance several terrorist groups from Latin America operating out of Mexico.

*   The Palestinian Intifada increased Cuba's support for Arafat and the PLO, both diplomatic and military.

*   Several dozen Mexicans received training in terrorism and guerrilla warfare in Sierra del Rosario, Pinar del Rio Province and in Guanabo, in eastern Cuba.

*   After the negotiations leading to the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority, Cuban-Palestinian military cooperation was enhanced, including the areas of counter-intelligence and intelligence.

*   In early 1989, Cuban General Patricio de la Guardia directed a plot in Havana and charged Jorge Massetti with blowing up the U.S. transmission balloon of TV Mart  located in the Florida Keys.

*   Cuba condemned Iraq for its invasion and annexation of Kuwait, supporting the latter's sovereignty; it also condemned U.S. military operations in the Gulf and abstained at the U.N. from supporting the bulk of the sanctions imposed on Baghdad. A Cuban military delegation was sent to Iraq to learn and share what was considered vital information and experiences from U.S. combat operations in Kuwait and Iraq.

*   Cuba provided advanced weapons and demolition training to the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in Per·. The Tupac Amaru attacked the U.S. Embassy in 1984; bombed the Texaco offices in 1985 and attacked the residence of the U.S. Ambassador in 1985 all in Lima, Per·.

1991-2001 

*   ETA, a Spanish terrorist organization seeking a separate Basque homeland, established the Cuartel General (General Headquarters) in Havana.

*   A high-level PLO military delegation including the head of Intelligence paid a visit to Cuba.

*   On February 24, 1996, Cuban Air Force Migs shot down, in international waters, two small unarmed civilian planes belonging to Brothers to the Rescue, a Miami based group. All occupants were killed, including three American citizens.

*   The election of Abdelaziz Bouteflika (April 1999) as President of Algeria, opened new opportunities for Cuba, given Bouteflika's close relationship with the Cuban government for more than three decades.

*   PLO leaders continue to have close relations with the Cuban leadership, having access to specialized military and intelligence training, either in Cuba or Palestinian territory, and in the sharing of intelligence.

*   A spokesman for the Basque government in Spain met in Havana with two high level ETA terrorist taking refuge in Cuba, Jos  Angel Urtiaga Martinez and Jes·s Lucio Abrisqueta Corte.

*   Cuba continued to provide safe haven to several terrorists fugitives from the U.S. They include: Black Liberation Army leader Joanne Chesimard aka Assata Shakur, one of New Jersey's most wanted fugitives for killing a New Jersey State trooper in 1973 and Charlie Hill a member of the Republic of New Afrika Movement wanted for the hijacking of TWA 727 and the murder of a New Mexico State trooper

*    A number of Basque ETA terrorists who gained sanctuary in Cuba some years ago continued to live on the island, as did several Puerto Ricans members of the Machetero Group.

*   Castro refused to join the other Ibero-American heads of state in condemning ETA terrorism at the 2000 Ibero-American Summit in Panama and slammed Mexico for its support of the Summit's statement against terrorism.

*   Castro continues to maintain ties to several state sponsors of terrorism in Latin America. Colombia's two largest terrorist organizations, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), both maintain a permanent presence on the island.

*   Colombian officials arrested IRA members Niall Connelly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan and accused then of training the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Connelly had been living in Cuba as the representative of the IRA for Latin America.

*    Former Defense Department counter-terrorism expert John More told UPI that Cubans, militant Palestinians, Hezbollah and even advisors from the leftist government of Venezuela are all active in Colombia.

*   During the trial of several Cuban spies in Miami, one of the accused Alejandro Alonso revealed on December 30, 2000 that he was instructed from Havana to locate areas in South Florida "where we can move persons as well as things, including arms and explosives."

*   Speaking at Tehran University in Iran on May 10, 2001 Fidel Castro vowed that "the imperialist king will finally fall".


Eugene Pons is the Coordinator of Cuba's Information System at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami.


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