CUBAN INFORMATION ARCHIVES
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[one version -- emphasis on Exile groups]
[REF: binder part 5 ]
Beginning of the Exodus
In 1959, a rebel army led by Fidel Castro toppled the Cuban government and took control of Cuba's governmental affairs.
By 1961, Fidel Castro had been named prime minister of Cuba and his government had expropriated over eight million acres of estate and plantation, had delayed general elections, and had broken diplomatic relations with the United States.
Castro's actions triggered a large exodus of Cubans from the island. The majority of the immigrants traveled to the U.S. and settled in South Florida and New Jersey. The newly arrived refugees were representatives of Cuba's upper and middle classes. While in exile, the refugees plotted to overthrow Castro's government and they were given military training by CIA operatives in secret training camps located in Guatemala, South America.
On April 17, 1961, the U.S. supported a Cuban-American exile invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. The invasion failed three days later, and a total of 1,180 soldiers were captured and imprisoned until their release in December, 1962.
Suddenly, Cuban exiles residing in the U.S. became disillusioned with the outcome of Cuba's invasion and with the new neutrality agreement which was agreed upon by the U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed to remove its missiles from the island.
Knowing fully well that the ability to launch a major attack on Cuba had dissipated, large groups of exiles began a span of clandestine assaults against the Cuban government. A group of former members of Fidel Castro's army established the militant group Alpha 66. This group was created by Eloy Gutierrez-Menoyo, ex-commander of the Cuban Second National Front. Menoyo had previously headed all military operations in the Escambray region in central Cuba and occupied a high position in Castro's new government. Having fallen out of Castro's favor sometime later, Menoyo and other high ranking officers such as Andres Nazario- Sargen and Diego Medina fled from Cuba and settled in the U.S. Alpha 66 was established in March, 1963 and Antonio Veciana was named head of operations.
Throughout the 1960s, Alpha 66 claimed to have conducted hundreds of military operations against the Cuban government. Many of those exiles which participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion as members of Assault Brigade 2506 joined Alpha 66 and waged guerrilla warfare against Castro's government.
In 1969, Menoyo was captured while conducting military activities in Cuba and was imprisoned until his recent release in 1987. During that time, Andres Nazario-Sargen surfaced as head of Alpha 66 and he has remained in that position until present day.
Alpha 66 by far has been the most militant of all Cuban exile organizations and has conducted the largest amount of sabotage acts against Cuba.
THE EARLY 1970s
During the early 1970s other prominent Cuban terrorist groups were: Movimiento Insurreccional Martiano (headed by Ramon Sanchez and Luis Crespo), Abdala (headed by Gustavo Marin-Duarte), Movimiento Nacionalista Cubano (headed by Guillermo Novo-Sampol), Frente de Liberacion Nacional Cubano (headed by Frank Castro), Omega 7 (headed by Eduardo Arocena), and Accion Cubana. Most of the groups mentioned operated under the umbrella group Coordinacion de Organizaciones Revolucionarias Unidas. Members of these groups were fierce anti-Communists who dedicated their efforts to the violent overthrow of the Castro's regime.
Between 1975 through 1983, Dade County experienced a total of 57 terrorist related bombings most of which were deployed by Cuban exile group members. Other acts of terrorism, such as the bombing of a Cuban airplane in 1976 and the bombing of the Chilean embassy, were carried out abroad.
In the meantime, Dade County's Cuban exile community was beginning to doubt that Cuba's government would be toppled by use of force and it turned its attention to other means which would assure family reunification. This attitude was received very harshly by hard-core militant group members, and as a result, groups such as Omega 7 began to target those business and persons which were believed to be collaborating with the Cuban government. Businesses such as El Epsilon Travel, Padron Cigars, Replica Magazine, Continental Bank, and individuals such as Rolando Masferrer, Ramon Donestevez, and Emilio Milian were singled out and were severely dealt with.
The bombing of radio news commentator Emilio Milian caused Dade County's exile community to divide even further. Milian, a staunch defender of freedom of expression, denounced the ongoing bombing spree as plain acts of terrorism which deserved no praise and had no place in a free society. Milian challenged those individuals believed to be responsible for such acts to abstain from such conduct and to attempt to achieve a peaceful solution to the Cuban situation. Due to his editorials on the radio, Milian became a bombing victim on April 30, 1976. Miraculously he survived the incident even though he received severe injuries including the loss of a leg. Milian's bombing incident was viewed by most exiles as a despised act of aggression by organized thugs which had gotten out of control. Cuban exiles which had previously supported all types of action against the Cuban government whether actual or symbolic, were now becoming more hesitant to follow the militant group's doctrine.
THE LATE 1979s
As the late 1970s arrived, the U.S. changed some of its policies towards Cuba. In 1977, travel to Cuba was authorized. On July 1, 1979 the first airline flights since 1961 resumed between Cuba and the U.S.
During this time, Reverend Manual Espinosa became the most pronounced of all Cuban activists. Espinosa was the head figure of a passive movement which intended to dialogue a peaceful solution to the Cuban situation. Espinosa led an expedition of Cuban exiles to the open ocean in an attempt to reach the Cuban coasts. A brief period later, Espinosa gained notoriety in South Florida when he established the Church. Espinosa's pitch line prayed upon many unsuspecting Cuban exiles whom attended the church meetings in hope of receiving a travel visa which would allow them entrance in Cuba. Espinosa along with other community members, met with Cuban government officials in Havana to discuss several options including "Vuelos de la Comunidad" (Cuban community flights). These flights were of utmost importance for both parties, since Cuban exiles desired to visit relatives in Cuba and Castro's economy, already showing distressful signs, needed U.S. currency to survive.
Espinosa's meeting with Cuban officials brought forth the term "dialoguero" or dialogue seeker. This term describes those parties which desired to arrive at a peaceful solution with the Cuban government. During his presence in the Cuban activist arena, Espinosa gained the hatred of a large section of Cuban exiles and as a result, his church in West Hialeah became a bombing target. Espinosa did not suffer injuries; however, at a moment's notice he changed his political position, claiming to be a C.I.A. double agent whose sole purpose was to penetrate Castro's government.
By the late 1970s and early 1980s, South Florida became a more peaceful place with the arrests of terrorists Guillermo and Ignacio Novo-Sampol, Rolando Otero, Orlando Bosch, and the nucleus members of Omega 7.
In the spring of 1980, several citizens requested asylum at the Peruvian embassy in Havana. Castro utilized that incident as a pretext to unload thousands of Cuban refugees on the coasts of South Florida. Even though the arrival of thousands of hardened criminals elevated Miami's crime rate to a new level, the rate of terrorist attacks by Cuban groups did not show a considerable increase. A large percentage of new immigrants joined groups such as Alpha 66. However, even though the new members provided much needed strength, they did not make an impact in the activist and terrorist field.
In the early 1980s, the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF) became the front runner of all Cuban activist organizations. CANF's President Jorge Mas-Canosa was praised by former President Ronald Reagan as a hard working patriot serving the interest of the Cuban people. With U.S. government backing, CANF became the major supporting group behind the creation of Radio an TV Marti. CANF also became involved in a human rights campaign which exposed the Cuban government's atrocities to the United Nations. From the early 1980s to present day, CANF has gained additional notoriety and is presently one the strongest lobbying entities in the U.S. No other Cuban exile organization has ever enjoyed the privileges or triumphs accomplished by CANF.
In the late 1980s several new political activist groups arrived at the scene. Most of these groups were drawn by the sheer success of CANF. With the collapse of eastern Europe, yet other groups became involved in local activism, perhaps sensing Castro's imminent downfall.
Newly arrived figures with different political ideas began to strive for recognizance within South Florida's activist elite. Groups whose members had refrained from public appearances for fear of being thought of as too liberal and against the mainstream, were now making their appearance and stating their beliefs.
For many years the Antonio Maceo Brigade headed by Andres Gomez made a stand against the established anti-Communist hard-line. Gomez has always been perceived as a Cuban government collaborator due to his actions and because of his involvement with Areito newspaper, a leftist propaganda monthly. Gomez has also developed a close relationship with members of the Haitian community and he is considered a strong force behind the Pathfinder, a local bookstore that caters to leftist propaganda.
Other prominent groups which have received negative responses from the Cuban community include the Cuban Museum of Arts Directors and Union Liberal Cubana. These groups along with several businessmen and artists share liberal political views. The Cuban Museum of Arts is an example of the ongoing disparity among today's Cuban activist groups. The 1988 the museum auctioned the works of several Cuban painters which were living in the island and at the time had not broken ties with Castro's government. A dispute ensued amongst the board of directors of the museum regarding the auction. As a result of disparaging opinions, several members resigned from the museum's board of directors. Both the Cuban Museum of Arts and Union Liberal Cubana have battled for a period of three years in an attempt to gain control of the museum and their disputes has even dragged in prominent city officials. Since the time of the controversial auction, two bombs have exploded at the Cuban Museum of Arts.
Also emerging in the late 1980s is Francisco Aruca who is perceived as the ultimate Castro agent by anti-Communist groups. Aruca is a prominent businessman and owner of Marazul Tours (a Miami to Havana airline) and Radio Progreso 1450 (a radio station) which is perceived to be leftist. Marazul Tours arranges trips for exiles to Cuba and later flies them on Aruca's own airline. Radio Progreso 1450 has become a provocation to most of the exile community. According to the leaders of anti-Castro groups, Aruca's radio station programming is carefully planned by Castro's agents and is meant to cause disarray in the community. The exile leaders also claim that Aruca is only a front man for the Cuban government and that all of the profits made by Aruca's business ventures go directly to the Cuban government.
Today, there are two groups of exiles with the same objective of liberating Cuba, but with very different ideas on how to achieve that goal. The older and more established of anti-Communist groups seeks the overthrow of Castro and his government and the implementation of a democratic government in Cuba. The leaders of those groups have clearly stated that the only solution to their problem is an all out war against the Cuban government, preferably with the assistance of the U.S. This solution seems almost impossible to achieve and if it ever were to occur would cause severe casualties on both sides of the conflict.
The newer groups have taken a different approach for which their leaders have been strongly criticized. This approach consists of arriving at a mutual accord with Castro in order to stabilize Cuba's economic downfall, reestablish a democratic government, and reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the U.S. The strongest of these organizations is the Jose Marti Liberal Foundation, an umbrella institution based in Madrid, Spain.
Recently, many activist leaders signed a proposal titled "The Cuban Democratic Platform". This document reaffirms the efforts made by those groups to arrive at their desired goal. Groups that signed this proposal included: Partido Democrata Cristiano Cubano (Cuban Christian Democratic Party), Union Liberal Cubana (Cuban Liberal Union), and Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Derechos Humanos (Social Democratic Coordinating Center).
The future of Cuba's government appears to be very bleak. Without backing from the Soviet Union, Cuba's economic recovery is uncertain and other factors such as inner dissident movements have eroded its communist system to its core. With surmounting political pressures and the decrease of every day essentials from Cuban citizens, Fidel Castro appears to be less believable every day.
CUBAN EXILE ACTIVIST AND TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS
Due to the fact that since 1959 there have been hundreds of Cuban exile organizations in existence, and since that time many of those organizations have disbanded or ceased to exist, this study will concentrate on those which were most influential from 1960 through the early 1980s. A partial listing of all known organizations and their respective leaders is also available and can be utilized as a quick-reference guide.
BEGINNING OF ANTI-CASTRO MOVEMENT
The White Rose (La Rosa Blanca), founded by Rafael Diaz-Balart in early January 1959, has been recognized by a large majority of Cuban exiles as the first anti-Castro organization in exile.
During the late 1950s, the U.S. Government, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), began to recruit and train exiles for use against the Castro regime. In the early 1960s, the CIA utilized Cuban exiles to form small clandestine guerrilla cells for the purpose of infiltrating Cuba. Also, in preparation for a military invasion in Cuba, a full combat brigade, known as Brigade 2506, the identification number of one of its members who was accidentally killed during training, was trained and equipped.
Brigade 2606 landed during April, 1961, in the ill-fated invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos). After this assault failed to remove Castro from power, the Kennedy administration stopped all but a few small clandestine operations against Cuba. During the Johnson administration, with the increased emphasis on Vietnam, there was virtually no clandestine U.S. Government activity against the Castro regime or support for the exile community.
By 1968, militant elements within the exile community realized that U.S. Government support was waning. However, they declared that they would continue to fight against the tyranny of Castro to liberate Cuba. These individuals, many of whom had received CIA training, had a their disposal a large stock of weapons and explosives which they acquired since the early 1960s. They decided to formulate their own plans to attack and liberate Cuba. Usually, these plans called for attacking individuals or businesses in the United States which dealt with or were sympathetic toward Cuba since these targets were more accessible than targets in Cuba.
On January 25, 1968, the first anti-Castro terrorist attacks occurred in the United States. Two Miami, Florida, firms, which shipped packages from Cuban exiles to relatives in Cuba, were bombed. The attacks were carried out by a group known as El Poder Cubano (Cuban Power or Accion Cubana) led by Dr. Orlando Bosch. Bosch, later to be charged with the October 6, 1976, bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight en route to Barbados which caused the death of 73 people, served a prison sentence in Venezuela and is currently residing in South Florida.
When militant Cuban exiles began conducting terrorist attacks in the United States because the targets were more accessible, they ran afoul of U.S. laws. Consequently, the U.S. government viewed the exiles' activities as criminal rather than a continuation of the patriotic fight against communism and began to prosecute exiles.
Arrests and prosecutions by the Government usually disrupted the activities of individuals and specific groups rather than the overall anti-Castro movement. For instance in September, 1968, Bosch and eight accomplices were arrested when they attempted to attack a Polish freighter anchored in Miami Bay. The arrests effectively destroyed Bosch' group, El Poder Cubano; however, members who were not prosecuted formed new groups and continued their terrorist attacks.
Generally, it was dedicated, militant Cuban radicals, originally inspired by the U.S. Government, who were responsible for the development of the anti-Castro terrorist movement in the United States.End of Page
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