Friday, February 19, 2010

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Officials: U.S. Strike Kills Taliban Leader's Brother

Friday, February 19, 2010

ISLAMABAD —  The brother of a senior Afghan Taliban commander has been killed in a U.S. missile strike in northwestern Pakistan, intelligence officials and a Taliban commander said Friday — the latest in a series of debilitating blows against militants.
The attack apparently targeted Siraj Haqqani, a senior figure in an al-Qaida-linked network that is believed to use bases in Pakistan's northwest tribal region to plot and launch attacks on U.S. and other international forces across the border in Afghanistan.
Four people were killed when missiles struck a house on Thursday night in the Dande Darpa Khel of North Waziristan, two Pakistani intelligence officials told The Associated Press. One of the dead was Mohammed Haqqani, the brother of Siraj Haqqani, the officials said.
It was not immediately known if Siraj Haqqani was at the house at the time, and if he was, whether he was hit by the blast, they said.
A local commander of Pakistani Taliban in Mir Ali — a town in North Waziristan— confirmed to The Associated Press that Mohammed Haqqani died in the missile attack with three of his associates on Thursday. A relative from Haqqani's family told AP his funeral was held near Miram Shah, the main town in North Waziristan, and was attended by hundreds of residents and relatives.
Both the intelligence officials and the Taliban commander spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to talk to media on the record. The relative also declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the information.
The strike at the heart of the Haqqani network comes close on the heels of a series of arrests — including the capture of the Taliban No. 2 leader — that together are being seen as the most significant blows in years to insurgents fighting U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan.
The Haqqani network is an autonomous militant group that nonetheless has ties to al-Qaida and technically pledges allegiance to Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar. The group also has a history of links to Pakistani intelligence that some suspect continue today.
The U.S. considers the network one of the biggest threats to its operations in Afghanistan, and has pressed Pakistan to move against the Haqqanis in their sanctuary in North Waziristan, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan. Pakistan has held off on any major operation, but may be aiding the U.S. missile campaign.
The network's leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was a respected commander and key U.S. and Pakistani ally in resisting the Soviet Union after its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. In the 1980s and 1990s, Haqqani also hosted Saudi fighters including Osama bin Laden. That hospitality is believed to still extend to al-Qaida and other foreign fighters on both sides of the border.
Jalaluddin Haqqani, believed to be in his 60s or older, is said to be too ill to do much now, and his son Siraj is running the network. The group is alleged to make its money through kidnappings, extortion and other crime in at least three eastern Afghan provinces.
President Barack Obama has stepped up the use of missile strikes from unmanned drones in Pakistan's lawless tribal area since taking office, partly in response to the Pakistani government's reluctance to target Taliban militants who are not deemed a direct threat to the state.
The arrest earlier this month of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, second only to the Taliban's leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and of Taliban "shadow governors" for two Afghan provinces have raised hopes that Pakistan's powerful intelligence services have changed strategy and are more willing to go after senior militants.
The crackdown also comes as U.S., NATO and Afghan troops fight a major offensive against militants in the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in southern Afghanistan.
In Pakistan's main northwestern city of Peshawar, a small explosion in a store that sold sugar killed two people and wounded two others Friday, police official Gulfat Hussain said. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.
Also Friday, four Pakistanis working for the international aid group Mercy Corps were kidnapped by gunmen in the Qila Saifullah area of southwest Baluchistan province, local police official Mohammad Iqbal said. Mercy Corps officials declined to offer any immediate comment.
Kidnappings have soared throughout Pakistan in recent years, and many of the cases involve ransoms thought to help finance militant movements. Baluchistan is home to ethnic-Baluch movements seeking more autonomy for the province. The U.S. also alleges the Afghan Taliban use it as a safe haven, although those militants are believed to lay low.

Pakistan Will Not Hand Taliban No. 2 to U.S.

Friday, February 19, 2010

ISLAMABAD —  Pakistan will not turn over the Afghan Taliban's No. 2 leader and two other high-value militants captured this month to the United States, but may deport them to Afghanistan, a senior minister said Friday.
Interior Minister Rahman Malik said Pakistani authorities were still questioning Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the most senior Taliban figure arrested since the start of the Afghan war in 2001, and two other senior militants arrested with U.S. assistance in separate operations this month.
If it is determined that the militants have not committed any crimes in Pakistan, they will not remain in the country, he said.
"First we will see whether they have violated any law," Malik told reporters in Islamabad. "If they have done it, then the law will take its own course against them.
"But at the most if they have not done anything, then they will go back to the country of origin, not to USA," Malik said.
Pakistani authorities working with the CIA arrested Baradar about two weeks ago in the southern city of Karachi, Pakistani and U.S. officials have said. At about the same time, Pakistani security forces picked up Taliban "shadow governors" for two Afghan provinces, Afghan officials said.
A series of raids by Pakistani forces have followed, netting at least nine Al Qaeda-linked militants who were sheltering in Pakistan. Missiles fired from a U.S. unmanned drone aircraft on Thursday killed the brother of Afghan Taliban commander Siraj Haqqani, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
Taken together, the crackdown could be the most significant blow to the militants since U.S.-led forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to oust the hard-line Islamist Taliban regime for sheltering Usama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the U.S. was pleased with the recent arrests. He declined to say whether they were the result of better intelligence or an increased willingness by Pakistan to go after suspected militants.
"What I will say to you, yet again, is that we are enormously heartened by the fact that the Pakistani government and their military intelligence services increasingly recognize the threat within their midst and are doing something about it," Morrell said.

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Some of those caught in the recent operations are key figures in the Afghan insurgency, while others are members of militant groups that operate just across the border in Pakistan.
Among those arrested were Ameer Muawiya, a bin Laden associate who was in charge of foreign Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan's border areas, and Akhunzada Popalzai, also known as Mohammad Younis, a one-time Taliban shadow governor in Zabul province and former police chief in Kabul, according to Mullah Mamamood, a tribal leader in Ghazni province.
Others captured in Karachi included Hamza, a former Afghan army commander in Helmand province during Taliban rule, and Abu Riyad al Zarqawi, a liaison with Chechen and Tajik militants in Pakistan's border area, Pakistani officials said.
The Taliban shadow governors — Mullah Abdul Salam of Kunduz province and Mullah Mohammad in Baghlan province — were instrumental in expanding Taliban influence in Afghanistan's north, raising fears the insurgency was spreading beyond its base in the south.
Taliban spokesmen have denied the arrests, accusing NATO of spreading propaganda to undermine the morale of Taliban fighters holding out in Marjah against the biggest NATO military operation of the eight-year war. Thousands of U.S., British and Afghan troops are battling militants in the Taliban stronghold in southern Helmand province, a center of the militants' supply and drug-smuggling network.
Baradar is considered a pragmatic Taliban leader, prompting some experts to speculate that he was captured so he could liaise with the Taliban leadership. Other theories include that Pakistan arrested him to thwart attempts to exclude Islamabad from any negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama's special envoy to the region, swatted off attempts to link its timing with efforts to negotiate with the Taliban or an ongoing U.S.-led offensive in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province.
"He was picked up because the information was developed. It had nothing to do with anything else," Holbrooke told reporters in Islamabad.

US Marines airdropped into Taliban-held territory

A U.S. Marine from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment sits alone after a patrol AP – A U.S. Marine from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment sits alone after a patrol in Marjah in Afghanistan's …
MARJAH, Afghanistan – Elite Marine recon teams were dropped behind Taliban lines by helicopter Friday as the U.S.-led force escalated operations to break resistance in the besieged insurgent stronghold of Marjah. As the major NATO offensive entered its seventh day, about two dozen Marines were inserted before dawn into an area where skilled Taliban marksmen are known to operate, an officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. Other squads of Marines and Afghans, marching south in a bid to link up with Marine outposts there and expand their territory, came under sniper fire and rocket attacks by midday. The rattle of machine-gun fire and the thud of mortars echoed nearby. "We had a few companies engaged in firefights that lasted a few hours," said Marine spokesman Lt. Josh Diddams, who added that overall resistance appeared lighter than in previous days. The Marjah offensive is the biggest since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan and a test of President Barack Obama's strategy for reversing the rise of the Taliban while protecting civilians. A NATO statement said troops were still meeting "some resistance" from insurgents who engage them in firefights, but homemade bombs remain the key threat to allied and Afghan forces. Six coalition troops were killed Thursday, NATO said, making it the deadliest day since the offensive began. The death toll so far is 11 NATO troops and one Afghan soldier. Britain's Defense Ministry said two British soldiers were among those killed Thursday. No precise figures on Taliban deaths have been released, but senior Marine officers say intelligence reports suggest more than 120 have died. The officers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information. As U.S. and Afghan troops moved south Friday, they continued to sweep through houses, searching for bombs and questioning residents. One man came forward to the Marines and revealed a Taliban position a mile (1.6 kilometers) away. The man, who was not identified for security reasons, said he was angry because insurgents had earlier taken over his home. He gave U.S. forces detailed information, saying more than a dozen Taliban fighters were waiting to ambush troops there. The position was rigged with dozens of homemade bombs and booby-traps, he said. Other people interviewed said some Taliban fighters in the area were non-Afghan. "Some of them are from here. Some are from Pakistan. Some are from other countries, but they don't let us come close to them so I don't know where they are from," said opium poppy farmer Mohammad Jan, 35, a father of four. Marines also uncovered a row of machine gun bunkers alongside a canal where they suspect enemy fighters had been firing on them the previous day. Located at a crossroads, the five newly abandoned bunkers, camouflaged under a layer of mud, aimed out across an open field. In the near distance, large stones had been set up to act as machine gun sights. "These guys aren't doing anything new, but it's pretty much the good basics of defense," said Lt. Scott Holub, from Pasadena, Maryland. Outside of Marjah, U.S. and Afghan troops, backed by Stryker infantry vehicles, pushed into a section of mud-walled compounds that had been occupied by the Taliban in the Badula Qulp region, northeast of town. Hit with small arms fire, the troops retaliated with machine guns and fired off a missile at a house where insurgents were believed to be hiding, and the militants quickly withdrew. Brig. Gen. Mohiudin Ghori, who is in charge of Afghan troops in the offensive, said security responsibilities in a few sections of town, including the main bazaar, have been turned over to Afghan police, although they will continue to get assistance from Afghan soldiers. A second group of Afghan police were dispatched to Marjah on Friday, said Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said. Altogether, 1,100 additional police will join the 400 police currently assigned to Marjah and Nad Ali district to the north, he said. Some 200 of them will focus on narcotics, he said. Policeman Mohammad Lahaq Khanjer, from Kandahar, said he was proud to be chosen to help patrol town. "We are coming to Marjah to provide security for the people and clear the area of militants," he said. "I'm ready to serve Marjah's people." Ghori said five suspected militants who had stashed Afghan army and police uniforms in their homes had been arrested. They were handed over to intelligence services, he said. Infiltration of police and army ranks by insurgents has been a constant concern. U.S. and Afghan troops encountered skilled sharpshooters and better-fortified Taliban positions Thursday, indicating that insurgent resistance in their logistics and opium-smuggling center was far from crushed. Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, commander of U.S. Marines in Marjah, told The Associated Press on Thursday that allied forces had taken control of the main roads, bridges and government centers in the farming town of 80,000 people about 360 miles (610 kilometers) southwest of Kabul, but fighting raged elsewhere. Increasingly accurate sniper fire from militants — and strong intelligence on possible suicide bomb threats — indicated that insurgents from outside Marjah are still operating within the town, he said. British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, NATO commander in southern Afghanistan, told reporters in Washington via a video hookup that he expects it could take another 30 days to secure Marjah. Under NATO's "clear, hold, build" strategy, the allies plan to secure the area and then rush in a civilian Afghan administration, restore public services and pour in aid to try to win the loyalty of the population in preventing the Taliban from returning. ___
Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Helmand province and Tini Tran in Kabul contributed to this report.

Letter From Maryland Members of Congress

Friday, February 19, 2010
While U.S. and Cuban diplomats meet in Havana for migration talks today, Members of the Maryland Congressional Delegation have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing their concern over the prolonged arrest -- without charges -- of Maryland resident Alan P. Gross by the Castro regime.

Click on the letter to enlarge and read.

Video From Wife of Detained American

Thursday, February 18, 2010
The United States and Cuba will resume their periodic discussions on migration in Havana tomorrow. This time, the talks will take place more than two months after American Alan P. Gross, a USAID subcontractor, was detained in Havana, where he remains incarcerated at the Villa Marista maximum security prison. The Cuban government has not charged Mr. Gross with any crime.

Alan's wife, Judy Gross, who until now has remained largely silent on the issue, is releasing a video today, asking both U.S. and Cuban officials involved in the talks to agree on a way to resolve her husband's case. Judy also briefly discusses Alan's humanitarian work.

Click "View/Play" here.

February 17, 2010

The Island of the Disconnected

This is how Cuba’s foremost blogger, Yoani Sanchez, recently answered a question about the U.S. embargo on Cuba:
I believe that these economic restrictions − an “embargo” to some and a “blockade” to others − represent a blunder in American policy toward Cuba. Far from suffocating the ruling class of the Island, these trade restrictions create material difficulties for the population and feed the radicalization of the ideological discourse inside Cuba. The embargo has been an argument to justify the unproductive and inefficient state-run economy, including the total ruin of various sectors. Worse than that, it has been used to support the maxim, “in a country under siege, dissent is treason,” which contributes to the lack of freedoms for my fellow citizens. In its nearly 50 years, the “blockade” has done nothing to limit the material arsenal of our authorities, not one of them has ceased to enjoy their privileges. An example is the issue of Internet access. They have always blamed the restrictions on Internet access on the fact that the United States has not allowed Cuba to connect to its underwater cable. The victims of these restrictions are ordinary Cubans; we have had to postpone our enjoyment of the World Wide Web, while the police, the censors and the official media seize the few kilobytes of access available to the whole country. When Barack Obama authorized American telecommunications companies to negotiate with their Cuban counterparts, this alibi for limiting the use of the Internet fell apart. Unfortunately, the government of Raul Castro has ignored his proposal and we continue to be the “Island of the Disconnected.” But on this issue, at least, it is obvious to all that the responsibility does not rest entirely on external forces, but also on internal political will.
Yoani’s answer is as superb a condemnation of U.S. Cuba policy as I have read anywhere. It is eloquent, precise and, best of all, from a Cuban living in Cuba and not in Miami. And it doesn’t let the Cuban regime off the hook either.
But I want to concentrate on one small part of her superb statement—the “Island of the Disconnected.”
Continue reading "The Island of the Disconnected" »

February 18, 2010

Cuba political prisoners rally for their brother Zapata

Cuban political prisoners José Daniel Ferrer García and Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta have suffered great tortures at the hands of their captors, Fidel and Raúl Castro and their henchmen.
But today, their thoughts, as should be yours, are with their fellow prisoner of conscience, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who has been on hunger strike since Dec. 3 to protest the repeated violations of his human rights.
According to Radio Martí, Ferrer and Herrera — who like Zapata have been imprisoned since the "black spring" of 2003, called on the international community to unite in support of Zapata.
Specifically, Herrera, who at times has enforced his own hunger strikes by sewing his mouth shut, had a message for U.S. President Barack Obama:
"Today I am writing to ask you to intercede for the life of a courageous Cuban political prisoner, whose only crime was to defend ideas of peace and liberty."
Ferrer delivered a similar challenge.
"You can support Orlando Zapata and his family in many ways," Ferrer said. "There are many ways to demonstrate publicly, you have to take to the streets."
There are many reasons men like Zapata, Ferrer and Herrera are deserving of your respect.
None may be better than how despite their own challenges, they never hesitate to stand up for each other.
Meanwhile, Zapata's family has not been able to get any updates on his condition, according to Radio Martí.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dia del Exilio Cubano [Updated]

This morning Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa will propose before the board a resolution [PDF] designating February 24th as "International Cuban Exile Day."

The idea for "Dia del Exilio Cubano" (which I translate as "Cuban exile community day") was conceived by the militant organization La Junta Patriotica Cubana (Cuban Patriotic Council) last month. The significance of February 24th is based on the day that the Cuban War of Independence (1895-98) began, which included Jose Marti as one of its leaders.

Coincidentally, a radio marathon begins today to collect funds for Luis Posada Carriles' trial beginning in El Paso, Texas next month. (According to Radio Mambi, the fund-raising was organized by Amadeo Lopez Castro, President of Intercontinental Bank in Miami.) Radio Mambi (WAQI 710 AM) and La Poderosa (WWFE 670AM) are providing listeners with a phone number to call (number is posted on the Univision/Radio Mambi website [screenshot]), and locations where listeners can go to leave checks and money orders. Locations include the Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, the WWFE radio station, and Nuevos Horizontes, the Hialeah lodge of the Federation of Cuban Exile Masons.

This morning on Radio Mambi, Armando Perez-Roura talked about how Luis Posada Carriles is symbolic of the Cuban exile: his character of sacrifice to wage a cosmic battle against communism, only to be betrayed in the end by the rest of the world.

But, aside from praising the exploits of Posada, Perez-Roura also admires the life of being in perpetual conflict. He felt compelled this morning to quote Jose Marti saying:

"A sad thing it is to not have friends, but even sadder must it be not having any enemies; that a man should have no enemies is a sign that he has no talent to outshine others, nor character that inspires, nor valor that is feared, nor honor to be rumored, nor goods to be coveted, nor anything to be envied."

Meaning that if you have critics, then maybe you are doing something right. But, this also sounds like self-deception or making false attributions over one's own character.

[Update: The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously approving "Dia del Exilio Cubano" for February 24th, according to a report from Radio Mambi.]

[Photo of Cuban Mambises that fought the Spanish during the Cuban Wars of Independence]

[Along the Malecon has regular updates on the trial of Luis Posada Carriles]

I love the smell of purges in the morning…

I love the smell of purges in the morning. It smells like... it smells like victory for leftist despots.
One of the most often used and effective weapons utilized by leftist dictatorships to consolidate their power is the purge. Unlike blanket repression that produces bad press and external pressure, purges are masked as crusades for justice. But in reality, purges are surgical excisions aimed at the most dangerous opponents, or possible opponents to a regime. The most useful thing about purges, however, is that there is no limit to the amount of times you can use it--as long as there is an opponent, the purger's scalpel can cut them out.
We have seen purges take place in Cuba countless times since 1959, and now that Venezuela's simian prince, Chavez, is taking orders directly from Havana, no one there is safe from the purge either.
Purging Loyalists, Chávez Tightens His Inner Circle
CARACAS, Venezuela — News travels fast in this city, and rumors even faster. So when a billionaire banker named Ricardo Fernández Barrueco learned that his home had been searched by agents from the feared secret intelligence police, he might have suspected that the rumors of a purge of magnates loyal to President Hugo Chávez were true.
Being one of Venezuela’s richest and most influential men, Mr. Fernández, 44, went to the headquarters of the Disip intelligence police to clear up the matter directly with the agency’s powerful spymaster.
Then a surprising thing happened, especially in a nation that had grown accustomed to the unfettered activities of pro-Chávez tycoons like Mr. Fernández. The self-described socialist revolution of Mr. Chávez notwithstanding, the prominence of these moguls was so well known it inspired a nickname — the Boligarchs — for their fast accumulation of wealth and their ties to the government, which reveres Simón Bolívar, the 19th-century aristocrat who won Venezuela’s freedom from Spain.
But instead of dismissing the matter, the intelligence chief imprisoned Mr. Fernández last year and ordered agents to start detaining other pro-Chávez magnates. Some slipped into hiding abroad and are still being sought. Several others and their associates were arrested and put in cells adjacent to Mr. Fernández’s.
The purge has revealed a power struggle at the highest levels of government, leading to the fall of some of Mr. Chávez’s military comrades and reports of secret dossiers on businessmen compiled here by intelligence agents from Cuba, Venezuela’s top ally.

* * *

Reports by nongovernmental outlets here point to other motives for the crackdown. Teodoro Petkoff Malec, a former Marxist guerrilla and one of Venezuela’s leading intellectuals who now edits Tal Cual, a left-wing opposition newspaper, reported that a dossier prepared by Cuba’s intelligence service might have crystallized the purge. The intelligence report, Mr. Petkoff said, was delivered to Mr. Chávez by yet another former military officer, Ronald Blanco, now Venezuela’s ambassador in Cuba; he passed it along as a form of retaliation after Mr. Fernández tried to have Mr. Blanco’s brother-in-law ousted from his post as the government’s superintendent of banks, Mr. Petkoff reported.
Mr. Chávez’s government has remained silent about the existence of a Cuban dossier. The president’s information minister, Blanca Eekhout, did not respond to requests for an interview.
If you read the entire New York Times article I quoted above, you will notice how the reporter has been able to figure out that Chavez is taking all his cues from the Cuban government. The problem is, if he and his New York Times buddies keep doing this, they may find themselves the victims of the next purge.


February 18, 2010

UM to hold symposium on U.S.-Cuba ties

The debate over the ongoing shift in U.S.-Cuba relations will be explored Saturday in a symposium on the legal implications of such a change.
The symposium will address the topics of trade and investment in Cuba in a free market economy, U.S. property claims in Cuba under Raúl Castro and ongoing litigation involving these issues.
The event is free and open to the public.
(foto2) The debate – to be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the University of Miami's Storer Auditorium – will feature several panelists. They include:
• James Cason, former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and current member of the State Department.
• Daniel Fisk, former special assistant to President George W. Bush and National Security Council senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs.
• George Harper, president of the Inter-American Bar Association.
• Andy Gomez, provost at the University of Miami and a member of the Brookings Institution's Cuba Initiative Task Force. (For the names of other panelists, click here.)
The University of Miami's Inter-American Law Review will host the event. For more information, contact Lisa Atkins at 909-210-2151 or at
Posted by Renato Perez at 10:14 AM in Current Affairs, U.S.-Cuba relations
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February 17, 2010

U.S., Cuba to discuss migration accords

U.S. and Cuban representatives are scheduled to meet in Havana (foto) today (Feb. 17) to discuss implementation of the U.S.-Cuba migration accords.
According to a State Department press release, "the discussions will focus on how best to promote safe, legal, and orderly migration between Cuba and the United States. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Craig Kelly will lead the U.S. delegation, which includes representatives of the agencies involved in managing migration issues."
[UPDATE: The State Department has corrected its press release. The meeting was set for Friday, Feb. 19.] [SECOND UPDATE: On the eve of the Havana talks, the wife of an American who has been imprisoned in Havana since early December on suspicions of espionage appealed for his release. For an account in The Washington Post, click here.]
Posted by Renato Perez at 12:01 PM in Immigration, U.S.-Cuba relations
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S: Cuban Colada

Friday, February 19, 2010

CIA in 1962: "The Cuban people feel helpless and are losing hope fast"

Edward Lansdale.

Forty-eight years ago, CIA counterinsurgency specialist Edward Lansdale presented Operation Mongoose, a program of political warfare, intelligence gathering and sabotage.
Lansdale detailed his plan in a top secret Feb. 20, 1962, document. The goal was to trigger an anti-Castro revolt in Cuba by October 1962.
The document is interesting because it reveals the CIA's mindset at the time. It reads, in part:
Time is running against us. The Cuban people feel helpless and are losing hope fast. They need symbols of inside resistance and of outside interest soon. They need something they can join with the hope of starting to work surely towards the overthrow of the regime.

Americans once ran a successful revolution. It was run from within, and succeeded because there was timely and strong political, economic, and military help by nations outside who supported our cause. Using this same concept of revolution from within, we must now help the Cuban people to stamp out tyranny and gain their liberty.

A vital decision, still to be made, is on the use of open U.S. force to aid the Cuban people in winning their liberty.

When the popular movement is holding meaningful territory in Cuba, it should form a provisional government. This should permit open Latin American and U.S. help, if requested and necessary. A military government situation will exist for the initial period and we must insist upon realism in this interim period preceding reasonable civilian control.

Operation Mongoose also called for psychological warfare that would "create atmosphere of a 'crusade' for human liberty" and "set the deeply moving tone and motivating force for the liberation of Cuba."

Excerpts from the document:
This means maximum use of spiritual appeal (such as the prayer for Cuba by Bishop Boja Masvidal who has a genuine Cuban revolutionary background), recapturing the ideal of Marti by taking use of his memory away from the Communists (even to issue of commemorative U.S. stamp), and popularizing songs by commercial recordings. (USIA and CIA responsibility.)
In March, commence visits of prominent U.S. and Latin American personalities to Cuban refugee camps in Florida.
PURPOSE: To demonstrate concern for plight of refugees, particularly parentless children.
CONSIDERATIONS: Mrs. Kennedy would be especially effective in visiting children refugees. (One camp near Miami has about 1,000 children who came out without their parents.) Her impact upon Latin Americans on the recent Presidential visit to Venezuela and Colombia suggests this. (USIA responsibility.)
ACTIVITY: Publicity for selected defectors from Castro team.
PURPOSE: To demonstrate Cuban regime's failure to live up to promises of original 26th of July movement.

Along the Malecon's U.S.-Cuba relations page
Along the Malecon's Spy vs. spy page
S: Along the Malecon

LPP Archive

'The war in South Ossetia could be the most dangerous flashpoint since the Cuban crisis', says top historian

By Mark Almond
Last updated at 3:11 AM on 09th August 2008
Yesterday a small war in the Caucasus became a major international flashpoint. Until now, almost no one had heard of Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia.
But as Russian tanks and troops rolled into the disputed territory from the north, after Georgian troops invaded from the south, the world suddenly faced a major crisis.
South Ossetia has a population of fewer than 100,000 and is nestled on the southern slopes of the mountainous Caucasus region which divides Europe and Asia.
US President George Bush chats with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
US President George Bush chats with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Beijing yesterday. The world awaits America's reaction

The region is riven with ancient tribal rivalries between its mountain peoples, and this has often led to warfare in the past.
The tribes of the Caucasus have fought each other since history began and long memories and grievances have fed a vendetta culture.
In the past, their skirmishes have gone unnoticed. But today a conflict in the Caucasus could draw in the world's great powers.
A glance at the map shows why Russia is involved. The disputed land lies on Russia's southern border which, ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union, has bitterly resented Georgia's independence.
Since 1992, South Ossetia has run its own affairs after defeating a rag-tag Georgian army's attempt to control it.
Most inhabitants of breakaway South Ossetia have now opted for Russian passports rather than Georgian ones.
South Ossetian separatist fighter
War: A South Ossetian separatist fighter ready for battle
Russian troops have patrolled the dividing line between the Georgian troops and Ossetians as 'peace-keepers' for the last 15 years and Russia has suffered casualties in skirmishes between the two sides.
But the West, too, has interests in the region. Running through Georgia from the Caspian Sea in the east to the Black Sea is an oil pipeline bringing BP's crude from Azerbaijan to the West.
Anyone filling their car's petrol tank this weekend won't need reminding how sensitive an issue oil supplies are at the moment.
For the Georgian government, the pipeline crossing the country is a guarantee of Western support against their local, Russian-backed enemies in South Ossetia.
Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili does everything he can to endear himself to the West in general and America in particular as the obvious counter-weight to Russia.
George W. Bush's portrait is widely displayed in Georgia. (Vladimir Putin is the political pinup for Ossetians.) President Saakashvili makes no bones about his desire to join Nato.
Predictably, the Kremlin's reaction to that has been one of fury.
American contractors and other Nato personnel have been involved in training the Georgian army and helping plan its operations, and the Russians see this as proof that the West was behind the sudden strike into South Ossetia this week.
As a result, the Russian army launched its own massive counter-stroke. The risk is that just as Russian 'peacekeepers' have been killed by the Georgian attack so the Nato personnel advising Georgian forces may take casualties as the Russians blast back.
If a Nato soldier is killed by a Russian shell the global temperature will rise alarmingly.
This is a high stakes game - and not just for Georgia.
Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev in a meeting with President John F Kennedy
Flashpoint: Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev in a meeting with President John F Kennedy (right) during the cuban missile crisis in 1962

For the deep involvement of Russia and the U.S. in this ostensibly local skirmish means the world is suddenly closer to a clash of nuclear superpowers than it has been since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
At least then Kennedy and Khrushchev were in charge of their countries' policies and could negotiate as if playing a chess match between superpower grandmasters.
But this time local Caucasian warlords are muddying the waters for both the White House and the Kremlin. Yet it is not the Cold War which offers the best historical guide to the crisis which threatens world peace.
In many ways it is the assassination by Serbs of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo in 1914 that prefigures the messy, complicated and often irrationally aggressive politics of the Caucasus today.
This, of course, was an event which appeared to be the result of local grievances but, because of the alliegances of the then great powers, had a domino effect which spiralled into the Great War. On that occasion, Austria and its ally Germany demanded that Serbia be punished.
But Britain backed Russia's support for Serbia - ironically in the light of the present crisis, Russia was then our ally. The result was worldwide slaughter.
Neither Russia nor the West wants this conflict in the Caucasus to get out of hand. But history shows that small countries can draw their patrons into a war which is not of their choosing.
The West, led by the U.S., will not want to be seen to let down its local partner. Likewise, Russia will want to stand by South Ossetia.
What happened in the Balkans in 1914 is the classic example of lesser allies drawing their powerful backers into a conflict which had nothing to do with them directly.
And I fear that the South Ossetia could be a terrible trigger point for our time, just as Sarajevo was in 1914.

In 1919, only five years after Sarajevo, our foreign secretary Arthur Balfour opposed getting involved in the civil wars then convulsing the Caucasus.

He told the Cabinet: 'If they want to cut their own throats why do we not let them do it?. I should say we are not going to spend all our money and men in civilising a few people who do not want to be civilised.'

Idealists will be horrified by such attitudes, but people who remember how catastrophic wars get started by chivalrous interventions should beware of taking sides. If Russia respects our real interests in the region, why should we fight to decide whether Georgians rule Ossetians or vice-versa?

Does either Moscow or Washington really want to go over the brink for the sake of a small partner? We avoided superpower mutual suicide during the Cold War but could this Caucasus conflict trigger it today?

Both George Bush and Vladimir Putin are in Beijing and have been talking about the crisis. Let us hope and pray that they act together to win an Olympic gold for peacemaking.
Mark Almond is a lecturer in modern history at Oriel College, Oxford. 

Reuters quote of the day, February 16

Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:00am EST
Feb 16 (Reuters) - Following is a notable quote from history.

"The ever more sophisticated weapons piling up in the arsenals of the wealthiest and the mightiest can kill the illiterate, the ill, the poor and the hungry, but they cannot kill ignorance, illness, poverty or hunger."

-- Fidel Castro, Cuban President. On Feb. 16, 1959, Castro was sworn in as prime minister of Cuba after leading a guerrilla campaign that ousted right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista on Jan. 1.

US-Cuba immigration talks under cloud of mistrust

HAVANA – The last time U.S. diplomats traveled to Havana, they held secret talks with their Cuban counterparts that were hailed as the most significant in decades. Almost nothing has gone right for U.S.-Cuba relations in the five long months since. When State Department officials sit down with Cuban leaders for immigration talks Friday, the encounter will take place under a cloud of mutual mistrust and dashed hopes. Last year's hopes that the election of President Barack Obama could mean quicker progress toward ending a half-century of U.S-Cuban enmity now seem a pipe dream. "Expectations on both sides were perhaps too high, and as a result I think there is a lot of disappointment," said Robert Pastor, a longtime foreign policy adviser on hemispheric affairs and professor at American University. The delegation will be led by Craig Kelly, deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and the most senior U.S. official to travel to Cuba in years. One of Kelly's subordinates, Bisa Williams, came in September for separate talks aimed at re-establishing direct mail service. A State Department spokesman told The Associated Press that Kelly could venture beyond the meeting's focus and into stickier subjects. "Other matters of mutual concern may arise in our meetings," Charles Luoma-Overstreet said. That surely includes the fate of Alan P. Gross, a 60-year-old U.S. government contractor from Potomac, Maryland, arrested in Cuba on Dec. 3. Gross — a longtime international development worker who Cuba contends is a spy — has been held at Havana's high-security Villa Marista jail without charge for allegedly supplying communication equipment to members of Cuba's tiny Jewish community. "This is a matter we have raised on multiple occasions with the Cuban government and that we will continue to raise with them," said Luoma-Overstreet. "We believe he should be released and permitted to return to his family." Ending weeks of silence, Gross's wife put out an Internet video Thursday pleading for his release. "Alan has done nothing wrong and we need him home," a somber looking Judy Gross said. "Alan is a humanitarian. He loves other cultures. ... In Cuba, he was helping the Jewish community improve communications and Internet access." She expressed hope that this week's talks will help lead to her husband's release. "We're hoping that the U.S. officials and the Cuban officials can get together and mutually agree on a way to bring him home," she said. She said she had been allowed three brief phone conversations with her husband, and he had been visited twice by U.S. consular officials. Pastor said the timing of Gross' arrest has been particularly chilling for relations. "In the eyes of some in the United States, the question is, 'Why did the Cubans arrest him now?'" he said. "The Cubans apparently knew of his work and the program for many years, so the fact they arrested him at this moment has led some in the government to ask what message they are trying to send." Things seemed far more positive last September, when Williams stayed on in Cuba after the mail talks for unannounced meetings with senior officials and toured a government agricultural facility. A Cuban official told AP at the time that she also attended a rock concert that drew hundreds of thousands to the iconic Revolution Plaza, beneath a giant likeness of revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara. The visit raised hopes of a new beginning for relations under Obama, who has said he wanted to extend a hand of friendship — but it has been all downhill since then. In November, the State Department expressed concern after reputed Cuban security officials briefly detained a well-known blogger, Yoani Sanchez. Obama later personally responded to a series of questions that Sanchez posted on her Web site, raising her profile and angering Cuban officials. Havana held military exercises soon after that a senior army official said were designed to counter a possible U.S. attack. More recently, Cuban leaders have been highly critical of Obama's performance at climate talks in Copenhagen, suspicious of U.S. policy in Latin America, and downright apoplectic about Cuba's inclusion on a list of alleged state sponsors of terrorism. In December, Fidel Castro wrote in an essay that Obama's "friendly smile and African-American face" are masking Washington's sinister designs on Latin America. Cuba's foreign minister called the U.S. president an "imperial and arrogant" liar. Castro even criticized U.S. relief efforts in quake-devastated Haiti, accusing Washington of sending troops to "occupy Haitian territory." The immigration talks resumed last July after a six-year hiatus. Held twice annually, their aim is to monitor adherence to a 16-year-old agreement under which the United States issues 20,000 emigration visas to Cubans per year. The accord seeks to avoid a repeat of the rafters crisis of 1994, when Cuba briefly opened its borders and tens of thousands tried to make it to American soil in nearly anything that would float. Wayne Smith, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and former head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, said the Obama White House has fallen into the same pattern as past administrations, failing to take bold steps to improve relations. And Havana hasn't made it any easier. "What can you really expect from these talks?" he said. "It is good they are being held, and maybe some constructive steps will come of it. But it is relatively limited."


University of Miami to host symposium on U.S.-Cuba relations

The University of Miami will hold a symposium on U.S.-Cuba relations.

Similar stories:

The debate over U.S.-Cuba relations will be explored Saturday in a symposium on the legal implications of such a change.
The symposium will address the topics of trade and investment in Cuba in a free market economy; U.S. property claims in Cuba; Cuba under Raúl Castro; and ongoing litigation involving these issues.
The event is free and open to the public.
The debate -- to be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the University of Miami Storer Auditorium -- will feature several panelists. They include:
James Cason, former ambassador to Cuba and current member of the State Department. Cason was stationed in Cuba during the Elían Gonzalez saga more than a decade ago.
Daniel Fisk, former special assistant to President George W. Bush and National Security Council senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs. He is currently the coordinator for governance at the International Republican Institute.
George Harper, president of the Inter-American Bar Association.
Andy Gomez, assistant provost at the University of Miami and a member of the Brookings Institution Cuba Initiative Task Force.
``We are expecting a robust, healthy debate about how a change in U.S.-Cuba relations could affect property, trade and investment in Cuba,'' said George Williamson, editor-in-chief of the University of Miami Inter-American Law Review, who will host the symposium.
Williamson said that his law review chose this topic for its annual symposium because of its impact, relevance and importance to the South Florida community.
Other panelists include Jose Azel (Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies); Pedro Freyre (Akerman Senterfitt); Michael Gordon (professor emeritus at the University of Florida Levin College of Law); Yosbel Ibarra (Greenberg Traurig) and Nick Gutierrez (Gutierrez & Zarraluqui).
For more information e-mail

Missing man found dead between Cuba and Steelville

by Ross Rowling
Posted on February 18, 2010 at 7:21 PM
Updated yesterday at 7:22 PM

(KMOV)-The body of Keith E. Smith, from Cuba, Missouri, was found on February 18th in a wooded area between Cuba and Steelville.
The Crawford County Sheriff's Office began there search on February 17th after receiving information that Smith had been missing since February 14th, when he was involved in a car accident.
Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused Smith's death.