[ Main Site Menu ] [ Back to State Terrorism Menu ] [ Index to Site Documents ]

Cuba's Renewed Support of
Violence in Latin America

[Special Report No. 90, Cuba's Renewed Support of Violence in Latin America,  December 14, 1981,
United States Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, 
Washington, D.C.]

Following is the text of research paper presented to the Subcommittee by the Department of State, December 11, 1981.



     Central America
      Nicaragua .. El Salvador .. Guatemala .. Costa Rica .. Honduras

      The Caribbean
      Jamaica .. Guyana .. Grenada .. Dominican Republic

      South America
      Colombia .. Chile .. Argentina .. Uruguay

IV. POSTSCRIPT   [footnotes]


Any formulation of U.S. foreign policy for Latin America and the Caribbean would be incomplete without in-depth analysis of Cuba's role in the region. Some of Cuba's international activities have received publicity and attention, but much has taken place out of the public view. While understanding the full range of Cuba's activities abroad is obviously essential for governments engaged in foreign policy planning, the general public is often uninformed about the nature and extent of Cuba's involvement in other countries. This study of Cuban activities in Latin America and the Caribbean is being issued in the interest of contributing to better public understanding of U.S. foreign policy and developments in the region.

The focus of this study is Cuba's activities in the Americas. It does not attempt to give a description of conditions in the countries in which Cuba is active or to analyze why violent groups develop, but instead examines the degree to which Cuba is directly engaged in efforts to destabilized its neighbors by promoting armed opposition movements. Cuba is clearly no the sole source of violence and instability in the region, but Cuban activities militarize and internationalize what would otherwise be local conflicts. In a region whose primary needs are for economic development, social equity, and greater democracy, Cuba is compounding existing problems by encouraging armed insurrection.

This report describes Cuban activities that are either publicly known or can be revealed without jeopardizing intelligence sources and methods. Cuban involvement is not limited to the examples contained in this study.


A country-by-country examination of Cuba's activities in Latin America and the Caribbean makes clear that Cuba has renewed its campaign of the 1960s to promote armed insurgencies. In particular, Cuba has stepped up efforts to stimulate violence and destabilize its neighbors, turning away from its earlier policy of strengthening normal diplomatic relations in the hemisphere.

Since 1978, Cuba has:

· Worked to unite traditionally splintered radical groups behind a commitment to armed struggle with Cuban advice and material assistance;

· Trained ideologically committed cadres in urban and rural guerrilla warfare;

· Supplied or arranged for the supply of weapons to support the Cuban trained cadres' efforts to assume power by force;

· Encouraged terrorism in the hope of provoking indiscriminate violence and repression, in order to weaken government legitimacy and attract new converts to armed struggle; and

· Used military aid and advisors to gain influence over guerrilla fronts and radical governments through armed pro Cuban Marxists.

Unlike Che Guevara's attempts during the 1960s, Cuban subversion today is backed by an extensive secret intelligence and training apparatus, modern military forces, and a large and sophisticated propaganda network. Utilizing agents and contract nurtured over more than 20 years, the Castro government is providing ideological and military training and material and propaganda support to numerous violent groups, often several in one country.

Cuba is most active in Central America, where its immediate goals are to exploit and control the revolution in Nicaragua and to induce the overthrow of the governments of El Salvador and Guatemala. At the same time, Cuba is working to destabilize governments elsewhere in the hemisphere. Cuba provides advise, safehaven, communications, training, and some financial support to several violent South American organizations. In the Caribbean, Cuban interference in the post-election period has been blunted in Jamaica, but Grenada has become a virtual Cuban client.

Cuba's new drive to promote armed insurgency does not discriminate between democracy and dictatorships. And attempts by Cuba to destabilize governments occur in spite of the existence of diplomatic ties.

This long-range campaign is directed by the Cuban Communist Party, which oversees far-flung operations that include secret training camps in Cuba, intelligence officers abroad, and propaganda support. Cuba's enormous investment of energy, money, and agents in the campaign would not be possible without Soviet help. Soviet assistance, now totaling over $8 million a day, enable Cuba to maintain the best equipped and largest per capita military forces in Latin America and to channel substantial resources abroad. In return, Cuba usually is careful not to jeopardize ongoing government relationships in Latin America important to the Soviet Union.

· In Nicaragua, Cuba has quietly increased its presence to 5,000 personnel, including more than 1,500 security and military advisers.

· In El Salvador, Cuba's key role in arming the Salvadoran guerrillas was exposed and Castro admitted supplying arms.

· In Costa Rica, a Special Legislative Commission documented Cuba's role in establishing an arms supply network during the Nicaraguan civil war and found the network was later used to supply Salvadoran insurgents.

· In Colombia, Cuba was discovered to have trained guerrillas attempting to establish a "people's army."

Cuba's new policies abroad and its reaction to emigration pressures at home have reversed the trend in Latin America toward normalization of relations with Cuba. During the last 2 years, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Jamaica suspended or broke relations with Cuba. Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador withdrew their ambassadors from Havana.

Cuban intervention is, of course, not the sole source of instability. The origins of occasional violent conflict in Latin America lie in historical social and economical inequalities which have generated frustration among a number of people. Sustained economic growth over the past 20 years and resilient national institutions, however, have limited appeal of radical groups. But in some countries, particularly the small nations of Central America, dislocations resulting from rapid growth compounded existing tensions, leading to the emergence in several countries of radical movements, which often originated with frustrated elements of the middle class. Subsequent economic reversals have subjected already weak institutions to additional stress, making these countries more vulnerable to the appeals of radical groups backed by Cuba.

Cuba is quick to exploit legitimate grievances for its own ends. But its strategy of armed struggle is not based on appeals to the "people." Instead, Cuba concentrates on developing self-proclaimed "vanguards" committed to violent action. Revolutions, according to this approach, are made by armed revolutionaries.

Cuba's readiness to train, equip, and advise those who opt for violent solutions impose obstacles to economic progress, democratic development, and self-determination in countries faced with growing economic difficulties. The spiraling cycle of violence and counter-violence which is central to Cuba's policy only exacerbates the suffering of ordinary people and makes necessary adjustments more difficult.

Cuba's renewed campaign of violence is of great concern to many countries, including the United States. Cuba should not escape responsibility for its actions. Exposing Cuba's efforts to promote armed struggle will increase the costs to Cuba of its intervention.


When it first came to power, the Castro regime had its own theory of how to spread revolution: to reproduce elsewhere the rural-based guerrilla warfare experience of Castro's 26th of July Movement in Cuba. In Che Guevara's words, the Andes would become the Sierra Maestra of South America.

Initial attempts to repeat Cuba's revolution elsewhere failed decisively. During the late 1960s, the Castro regime gradually reined in its zealots. Without abandoning its ideology or its ties to radical states and movements, Cuba began to pursue normal government-to-government relations in the hemisphere. By the mid-1970s Cuba's isolation in the Americas eased, and full diplomatic or consular relations were reestablished with a number of countries.

But diplomacy proved unable to satisfy the Castro government's ambitions. First in Africa and now in Latin America and the  Caribbean, Cuba's policy has again shifted to reemphasize intervention.

On July 26, 1980, Fidel Castro declared that the experiences of Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, and Bolivia teach us that there is no other way than revolution, that there is no other "formula" than "revolutionary armed struggle." Castro's statement was an attempt to justify publicly what Cuban agents had been doing secretly since 1978: stepping up support for armed insurgency in neighboring countries.

This study traces the development of this latest phase in Cuba's foreign policy.

Early Failures. The original Cuban theory held that a continental Marxist revolution could be achieved by establishing armed focal points (focos) in several countries. Operating in rural areas, small bands of guerrillas could initiate struggles that would spread throughout the continent.

In 1959, Castro aided armed expeditions against Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. During the early and mid-1960s, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Bolivia all faced serious Cuban-baked attempts to develop guerrilla focos.

In seeking indigenous groups with which to cooperate, the Cubans rejected orthodox Latin American Communist parties, which they regarded as ineffectual. Instead, they lent their support to more militant groups dedicated to armed violence even when their Marxism was not fully articulated.

The Soviet Union was suspicious of Cuba's policy of inciting armed violence, preferring to work through established Moscow-line Communist parties. Disagreement over this issue was a serious point of friction for several years. Cuba denounced the Soviet policy of "peaceful coexistence" as a fraud, arguing that it implicitly undercut the legitimacy of aiding "national liberation" struggles. At the 1966 Tricontinental Conference, Cuba sought to enlist North Vietnam and North Korea and create a more aggressive revolutionary internationalism.

None of the Latin American insurgencies fomented by Havana, however, aroused much popular support. The most sever blow to Cuba's policy during this period came in Bolivia in 1967, when Che Guevera's guerrilla band was opposed by both the peasantry and the Bolivian Communist Party.

After this maverick approach failed to establish a continental revolution, Cuban foreign policy moved into closer conformity with that of the Soviet Union. Castro endorsed the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and accepted Soviet views on East-West relations. Within the hemisphere, Cuba generally conformed to the Soviet approach of fostering state-to-state relations with several Latin
American countries.

The Turn to Africa. In the mid-1970s, Cuba renewed its penchant for direct intervention, not in Latin America but in Africa.(1)

· In Angola, 20,000 Cuban troops, supported by Soviet logistics and materiel, assured the supremacy of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, which had the strongest ties to Moscow of the three movements competing for power after Portugal's withdraw.

· In Ethiopia, the integration of Soviet and Cuban operations was even more complete, with the Soviets providing overall command and control, materiel, and transportation for 13-15,000 Cuban troops fighting against Somali forces.

The Moscow-Havana Axis. These African operations gave evidence of Cuba's military value to the Soviet Union. In areas of the Third World where the Soviets were under constraints not binding on Cuba, Havana could portray its actions as an outgrowth of its own foreign policy of support for "national liberation movements."

Cuba's extensive and costly activities overseas would have been impossible, however, without Soviet aid. The Cuban armed forces, some 225,000 strong, with new sophisticated weaponry from the Soviet Union, became a formidable offensive military machine. Soviet aid and subsidies to the Cuban economy have climbed to more than $3 billion annually of about one-fourth of Cuba's gross  national product. In December 1979, at a time when Soviet oil deliveries to Eastern Europe were being cut back and prices raised, Castro announced that the Soviet Union had guaranteed Cuba's oil needs through 1985 [1975?] at a price roughly one-third that of the world market. The Soviet Union also pays up to four and five times the world price for Cuban sugar.(2)

In return, Cuba champions the notion of a "natural alliance" between the Soviet bloc and the Third World in the nonaligned movement. At the Cuban Communist Party Congress in December 1980, Castro explicitly endorsed the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and defended the Soviet "right" to intervene in Poland. He also reiterated that Cuba is irrevocably committed to communism and to supporting "national liberation" struggles around the world.

Cuba's policies abroad are thus linked to its relationship to the Soviet Union. By intervening in Latin America, Cuba injects East-West dimensions into local conflicts.


Even when pursuing an open policy in the 1970s of establishing normal diplomatic relations with a number of Latin American countries, Cuba retained its clandestine ties with remnants of the insurgents and other pro-Cuban elements in Latin America, providing asylum, propaganda, some training, and other support. Between 1970 and 1973, Cuba's security services moved arms and agents into Chile. At the same time, Cubans helped organize President Allende's personal security and trained many leaders of the Chilean Movement of the Revolutionary Left.

Cuba's renewed campaign to promote insurgencies draws on these contacts and experiences and combines several different elements.

Sophisticated Strategy. Learning from Che Guevara's failure in Bolivia, Cuban doctrine now emphasizes the need to enlist support for armed struggle through advanced training of local guerrilla cadres, sustained aid and advice, and extensive propaganda activities. The foco approach of the 1960s -- when a Cuban-sponsored team in the field was considered enough to spark insurrection -- has given way to a more sophisticated strategy involving extensive commitments and risks.

Soviet Support. A major difference from the 1960s is that, instead of throwing up obstacles, the Soviet Union generally has backed Cuban efforts to incorporate nondoctrinaire groups into broad political-military fronts dedicated to armed struggle. Particularly in Central America, Soviet ties to local Communist parties and bloc relationships have been used to favor insurrectionary violence. For example, a senior Soviet Communist Party functionary traveled to Panama in August 1981 to discuss strategy for Central America with Cuban officials and leaders of Central American Communist parties. The Soviet Union has also used its extensive propaganda network to discredit governments and build support for armed opposition groups.

Allowing Havana to take the lead in the hemisphere enables Moscow to maintain a low profile and cultivate state-to-state relations and economic ties with major countries like Brazil and Argentina.

Cuba, in turn, is generally cautious not to undercut the Soviet Union where the Soviets have established valued relationships. In Peru, for example, Cuba has been careful to exercise restraint to avoid prejudicing the status of the 300 Soviet officials there of jeopardizing the Soviet Union's arms supply arrangement.

Central Control. Most of the covert operations in support of this strategy are planned and coordinated by the America Department of the Cuban Communist Party, headed by Manuel Piņeiro Losada. The American Department emerged in 1974 to centralized operational control of Cuba's covert activities. The department brings together the expertise of the Cuban military and the General Directorate of
Intelligence into a far flung operation that includes secret training camps in Cuba, networks for covert movement of personnel and materiel between Cuba and abroad, and sophisticated propaganda support.

Agents of the America Department are present in every Cuban diplomatic mission in Latin America and the Caribbean -- in at least five recent instances in the person of the ambassador or charge d'affaires. American Department officials frequently serve as employees of Cuba's official press agency, Prensa Latina, of Cuban Airlines, the Cuban Institute of Friendship with People, and other apparently benign organizations. When too great an identification with Cuba proves counterproductive, Cuban intelligence officers work through front groups, preferably those with non-Cuban leadership.(3)

Cuban military intelligence personnel selected for clandestine operations in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East go through an elaborate training program conducted by Cuban, Soviet, East German, and Czech instructors in Havana, with special sessions in surrounding cities. In addition to the language and customs of the area to which they are assigned, and typical intelligence operation such as infiltration procedures and photograph techniques, the Cubans are instructed in handling explosives. To disguise their true occupation, the intelligence agents are also instructed in civilian skills such as automotive mechanics, carpentry, and heavy equipment operation.

Armed Struggle. The new Cuban offensive relies heavily on violence. In outline, Cuba's strategy is to:

· Unite traditionally splintered radical groups behind a commitment to armed struggle with Cuban advice and material assistance;

· Train idelogically committed cadres in urban and rural guerrilla warfare;

· Supply or arrange for the supply of weapons to support the Cuban-trained cadres' efforts to assume power by force;

· Encourage terrorism in the hope of provoking indiscriminate violence and repression and generalized legitimacy and attract new converts to armed struggle; and

· Use military aid and advisers to gain influence over guerrilla fronts and radical governments through armed pro-Cuban Marxists.

The application of this strategy is demonstrated in detail in the case studies that follow. It should be noted, however, that Cuba sometimes emphasizes certain tactics over others. In pursuing its long-term strategy, Cuba concentrates initially on building a network of loyal cadres. When local extremist groups are not capable of or committed to armed struggle, Cuba generally draws on them in support of active insurgencies elsewhere while developing their capacity and willingness for agitation in their homeland. In addition, foreign policy concerns may deter Cuba from promoting armed struggle in a particular country. For example, Cuba attempts to avoid activities which could jeopardize its relations with the Mexican Government since Castro seeks Mexico's support to avoid isolation in the hemisphere.(4)

Propaganda. Cuba's extensive cultural exchange and propaganda activities are tailored to support covert operation and elicit support for armed struggle.(5) For example, during the past year, Cuban have used Mexico as a base of insurgents in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Colombia. Radio Havana and other Cuban media recently have publicized statements by Chilean Communist Party leaders urging unity of the Chilean left and calling for armed action to topple Chile's government. Radio Havana has directed broadcasts to Paraguay urging the overthrow of the Paraguayan Government.

Sports competitions, youth and culture festivals, and special scholarships to Cuba provide channels to identify potential agents for intelligence and propaganda operations. In Ecuador, Cuban Embassy officers in Quito used their ties with Ecuadoran students to try to orchestrate pro-Cuba demonstrations when the Government of Ecuador threatened to suspend relations after Cuba's forcible and unauthorized occupation in February 1981 of the Ecuadoran Embassy in Havana, following its seizure by a group of Cubans seeking to leave Cuba.

Military Training. Witnesses and former trainees have described several camps in Cuba dedicated specifically to military training, including one in Pinar del Rio Province and another near Guanabo, east of Havana. The camps can accommodate several hundred trainees. Groups from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Colombia, Grenada, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti, Chile, and Uruguay have been trained in these facilities during the past 2 years.(6)

Recruits are normally provided false documentation (sometimes Cuban passports) by Cuban agents in third countries and are flown to Cuba on civil aircraft under cover as "students" or other occupations. Panama has been used as a regular transit point for Central and South Americans to and from military training in Cuba.(7)

Once in Cuba, trainees generally are taken immediately to the guerrilla training camps where they usually are grouped according to nationality and the organization for which they are being trained in order to promote a sense of cohesiveness and esprit de corps.

Training normally last 3-6 months and consists of instruction by Cuban cadres in sabotage, explosives, military tactics, and weapon use. Although military training is frequently tied closely to operational requirements -- the M-19 guerrillas who landed in Colombia in early 1981 did so immediately upon completion of their military instruction in Cuba -- witnesses report that political indoctrination is
also included in the curriculum.

Many Cuban instructors are active military officers and veterans of Cuban expeditionary forces in Africa. Soviet personnel have been reported at these camps, but they apparently do not participate directly in the guerrilla training.

Political Training. Each year Cuba offers hundreds of scholarships to foreign students. All Cuban mass organizations operate schools in organizational work and indoctrination open to carefully selected foreign students.(8) In addition, some 11,000 non-Cuban secondary school students, mostly teenagers, were enrolled in 1980 in 15 schools on the Isle of Youth alone. Cuba does not publicize complete foreign enrollment statistics nor does it release the names of those trained. From the eastern Caribbean alone, close to 300 students are currently in Cuba studying technical and academic subjects. The study of Marxism-Leninism is compulsory in many courses, and military affairs is compulsory in some. When governments have turned down Cuban scholarship offers, as occurred recently in Belize and Dominica, Cuba has gone ahead and concluded private agreements. Local Marxist-Leninist groups with ties to Cuba play a major role in selecting those students who receive scholarships.

In sum, the infrastructure for Cuba's intensified revolutionary agitation in Latin America is a multifaceted yet carefully coordinated mechanism. The Cuban Communist Party, through its American Department, provides cohesion and direction to a complex network that consists of intelligence officers, elements of Cuba's foreign ministry, armed forces, mass organizations, commercial and cultural entities, and front groups.

This extensive apparatus is designed to support one objective: a systematic, long-range campaign to destabilize governments.


The Cuban activities described in the case studies which follow must be considered to understand developments within the countries in question. However, the focus of the case studies is Cuban involvement in each country. Readers should, therefore, guard against assuming that the cases below provide a comprehensive picture of the general situation in the country where the events described have
taken place.

Central America

Nicaragua. In July 1979, internal and external factors converged to bring about the triumph of the anti-Somoza insurrection and the subsequent domination of the new Nicaraguan Government by the Cuban-trained leadership of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). These events provided a key test for Cuba's new mechanism and strategy for promoting armed pro-Cuban movements in this hemisphere.

Opposition to Somoza's authoritarian rule in the late 1970s was widespread. The 1978 killing of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, publisher of Nicaragua's most respected newspaper, La Prensa, converted many Nicaraguans to the armed opposition of which the FSLN was the core; FSLN assurances on democracy and pluralism were accepted by newly albed political moderates and private businessmen. International, sympathy for the struggle against Somoza led Venezuela, Panama, and Costa Rica to aid the insurgents, while Somoza stood practically without friends.

This environment enabled Cuba to disguise the extent of its support for the FSLN and avoid disrupting the fragile alliances between FSLN and other opponents of Somoza. Behind the scenes, Cuba played an active role in organizing the FSLN and in training and equipping its military.

Cuba had provided some training and arms to the FSLN in the early 1960s. Until late 1977, however, Cuban support consisted mainly of propaganda and safehaven.

In 1977 and early 1978, a high-ranking America Department official, Armando Ulises Estrada,(9) made numerous secret trips to facilitate the uprising by working to unify the three major factions of the FSLN. Stepped-up Cuban support to the Sandinistas was conditional on effective unity. During the XI World Youth Festival in Havana in late July 1978, the Cubans announced that the unification of the three factions had been achieved and urged Latin American radicals present at the meeting to demonstrate solidarity with the FSLN by staging operations in their own countries.

At the same time, Estrada concentrated on building a supply network for channeling arms and other supplies to guerrilla forces. International sympathy for the struggle against Somoza provided a convenient facade for Cuban operations. In preparation for the first FSLN offensive in the fall 1978, arms were flown from Cuba to Panama, transshipped to Costa Rica on smaller planes, and supplied to
Nicaraguan guerrillas based in northern Costa Rica. To monitor and assist the flow, the America Department established a secret operations center in San Jose. By the End of 1978, Cuban advisers were dispatched to northern Costa Rica to train and equip the FSLN forces with arms which began to arrive direct from Cuba. FSLN guerrillas trained in Cuba, however, continued to return to Nicaragua via Panama.

In early 1979, Cuba helped organize, arm, and transport an "internationalist brigade" to fight alongside FSLN guerrillas. Members were drawn from several Central and South American extremist groups, many of them experienced in terrorist activities. Castro also dispatched Cuban military specialist to the field to help coordinate the war efforts. Factionalism threatened Sandinista unity agin in early 1979, and Castro met personally with leaders of three FSLN factions to hammer out a renewed unity pact.

When the insurgents' final offensive was launched in mid-1979, Cuban military advisers from the Department of Special Operations, a special military unit, were with FSLN columns and maintained direct radio communications to Havana. A number of Cuban advisers were wounded in combat and were evacuated to Cuba via Panama.

The operations center run by the America Department in San Jose was the focal point for coordination of Cuba's support. After the triumph of the anti-Somoza forces in July 1979, the chief of the center, Julian Lopez Diaz, became Cuban Ambassador to Nicaragua. One of this America Department assistants in San Jose, Andres Barahona, was redocumented as a Nicaraguan citizen and became a top official of the Nicaraguan intelligence service.

Castro has counseled the Sandinistas to protect their Western ties to keep the country afloat economically. But to insure that the FSLN could move to dominate the Nicaraguan Government, Cuba acted quickly to build up Sandinista military and security forces.

Since July 1979, Cuba has provided substantial military, technical, and political assistance. Some 5,000 Cuban advisers, teachers, and   medical personnel work at all levels of the military and civilian infrastructures.(10) Of this number, more than 1,500 military and security advisers are actively providing military instruction and combat training; instruction in intelligence and counterintelligence
activities; instruction on security protection for the FSLN leadership; and advice on organization of a Nicaraguan police force. In addition, Nicaragua has received within the past year approximately $28 million worth of military equipment from the U.S.S.R., Eastern Europe, and Cuba. This has included tanks, light aircraft, helicopters, heavy artillery, surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft weapons, hundreds of military transport vehicles, as well as tons of small arms and ammunition.

Cuba presently is using Nicaraguan territory to provide training and other facilities to guerrillas active in neighboring countries. The Cuban Ambassador to Nicaragua and other America Department officials frequently meet with Central American guerrillas in Managua to advise them on tactics and strategy. Individual Sandinista leaders have participated in such meetings and have met independently with Guatemalan and Salvadoran insurgents. The FSLN also has cooperated in a joint effort by Cuba and Palestine groups to provide military training in the Mideast to selected Latin American extremists. Some Sandinistas were themselves trained by the Palestine Liberation Organization, which maintains an embassy in Nicaragua.

Between October 1980 and February 1981, Nicaragua was the staging site for a massive Cuban-directed flow of arms to Salvadoran guerrillas. Arms destined for Salvadoran and Guatemalan guerrillas continue to pass through Nicaragua.

El Salvador
. Before 1979, Cuban support to Salvadoran radicals involved training small numbers of guerrillas, providing modest financial aid, and serving as a political conduit between Salvadoran extremists and Communists outside the hemisphere.

During the Nicaraguan civil war, Cuba concentrated on support for the FSLN. After the fall of Somoza, Cuba began intense efforts to help pro-Cuban guerrillas come to power in El Salvador. When a reform-minded, civil-military government was established in October 1979, Cuba's first priority was to tighten the political organization and unity of El Salvador's fragments violent left. At first, arms
shipments and other aid from Cuba were kept low as the Cubans insisted on a unified strategy as the price of increased material support. To forge unity, Cuba sponsored a December 1979 meeting in Havana that resulted in an initial unity agreement among the Armed Forces of National Resistence (FARN), the Popular Liberation Forces (FPL), and the Communist Party of El Salvador (PCES),
which had itself formed an armed wing at Cuban and Soviet insistence. In late May 1980, after more negotiations in Havana, the Popular Revolutionary Army (ERP) was admitted into the guerrilla coalition.

The new combined military command assumed the named of the Unified Revolutionary Directorate (DRU). During this period, Cuba also coordinated the development of clandestine support networks in Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, sometimes using arms supply mechanisms established during the Nicaraguan civil war.

With unified tactics and operations now possible, Cuba began to assist the guerrillas in formulating military strategy. Cuban specialists helped the DRU devise initial war plans in the summer of 1980. The Cubans influenced the guerrillas to launch a general offensive in January 1981. After the offensive failed, guerrilla leaders traveled to Havana in February 1981 to finalize a strategy to "improve our internal military situation" by engaging in a "negotiating maneuver" to gain time to regroup.(11)

Cuba provided few weapons and ammunition to Salvadoran guerrillas from its own resources but played a key role in coordinating the acquisition and delivery of arms from Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Eastern Europe through Nicaragua.(12) After the unmasking of this network, Cuba and Nicaragua reduced the flow in March and early April. Prior to a guerrilla offensive in August an upswing in deliveries occurred. The arms flow continues via clandestine surface and air routes. In addition, the Cubans over the past year have established a network of small ships to deliver arms to Salvadoran insurgent groups.

Cuba also assists the Salvadoran guerrillas in contacts with Arab radical states and movements to arrange military training and financing for arms acquisition. In September 1980, Cuba laundered $500,000 in Iraqi funds for the Salvadoran insurgents. In March 1981, the Salvadoran Communist Party Secretary General, Shafik Handal, visited Lebanon and Syria to meet with Palestine leaders. Cuba also coordinated the training of a relatively small number of Salvadoran guerrillas in Palestinian camps in the Mideast.

Cuban training of Salvadoran guerrillas increased sharply in 1980 as Cuba concentrated on building a trained army able to mount major offensives. A typical 3-month training program included guerrilla tactics; marksmanship and weapons use; field engineering; demolition; fortification construction; land navigation; use of artillery and mines. One observer reported seeing groups up to battalion size (250-500 men) under instruction, suggesting that some guerrillas trained as integral units.(13)

Cuba has provided selected guerrillas more intensive training on specialized subjects. A former FPL guerrilla who defected in fall 1981 reported that during 1980 he had received 7 months of military training in Cuba, including instruction in scuba diving and underwater demolition. Soviet scuba equipment was used. The group trained as frogmen called themselves "combat swimmers" and were told that their mission was to destroy dams, bridges, port facilities, and boats.

Cuba also gives political, organizational, and propaganda support to the guerrillas. Cuban diplomatic facilities worldwide help guerrilla front groups with travel arrangements and contacts. The Cuban press agency, Prensa Latina, has handled communications for guerrilla representatives abroad. Cuba and the Soviet Union have pressed Communist parties and radical groups to support insurgency directly,
and through solidarity organizations with propaganda and facilities (office space, equipment, etc.).

The Salvadoran insurgents have publicly stressed the importance of solidarity groups. A member of the FPL, Oscar Bonilla, who attended the Fourth Consultative Meeting in Havana of the Continental Organization of Latin American Students (OCLAE), a Cuban front group, told Radio Havana in August 1981 that OCLAE "has been the most important means of solidarity of all the peoples and has gotten us ready to form an anti-interventionist student front in El Salvador, Central America and the Caribbean.... We believe that it is good to carry out immediate plans for actions which will permit us to stop an imperialist intervention in El Salvador. In this respect, the students of Latin America will have to confront and attack U.S. interests so that the United States will see how the Latin American and Caribbean student movement responds to an aggression by imperialism in El Salvador."

With Soviet assistance, Cuba has orchestrated propaganda to distort the realities of the Salvadoran conflict. Unattributed foreign media  placements and efforts to organize protest against the Salvadoran Government and the U.S. policy, which have accompanied official propaganda, stress the theme of U.S. intent to intervene militarily in El Salvador.

Unfounded claims and accusations originated by the Salvadoran guerrillas are routinely replayed to a regional and world audience by Cuba's Radio Havana or Prensa Latina, then echoed by the official Soviet Press Agency TASS, Radio Moscow, and the Eastern European media. For example, a false report of a U.S. soldier killed in El Salvador that resounded widely in Cuban/Soviet propaganda during 1980 was traced finally to the Salvadoran Communist Party. This rumor was to support an even bigger lie: that hundreds of U.S. soldier were in El Salvador, building U.S. bases, and herding peasants into Vietnam-style strategic hamlets.(14)

Guatemala. Castro has stepped up Cuba's support to Guatemalan guerrillas whom he has aided with arms and training since he came to power.

As elsewhere, Cuba has influenced divided extremist groups to unite and has conditioned increased Cuban aid on a commitment to armed struggle and a unified strategy. During 1980, discussions about a unity agreement were held among leaders of the Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP), the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR), the Organization of People in Arms (ORPA), and the dissident faction of the Guatemalan Communist Party (PGT/D). At the invitation of Sandinista leaders, representatives of the four groups met in Managua under strict security to continue discussions. In November 1980, the four organizations signed a unity agreement in Managua to establish the National Revolutionary Union (with a revolutionary directorate called the General Revolutionary Command - CGR). Manuel Piņeiro Losada, Chief of the America Department, represented Fidel Castro at the signing ceremony. Following the signing of the unity agreement, representatives of the CGR traveled to Havana to present the document to Castro. ORPA publicized the agreement in a communique issued November 18, 1980. All parties agreed it was significant that the unity agreement was the first such document signed on Central American soil.

After this unity agreement was concluded, Cuba agreed to increased military training and assistance. A large number of the 2,000 or more guerrillas now active have trained in Cuba. Recent military training programs have included instruction in the use of heavy weapons.

During the past year, arms have been smuggled to Guatemala from Nicaragua passing over land through Honduras. The guerrilla arsenal now includes 50mm mortars, submachine guns, rocket launchers, and other weapons. Captured M-16 rifles have been traced to U.S. forces in Vietnam. On June 26, 1981, Paulino Castillo, a 28-year-old guerrilla with ORPA, told newsmen in Guatemala that he was part of a 23-man group of Guatemalans that underwent 7 months of training in Cuba, beginning around February 1980. His group was divided into sections for urban and rural combat training in explosives and firearms use. To get to Cuba, Castillo traveled to Costa Rica from Guatemala by public bus. In Costa Rica, a go-between obtained a Panamanian passport for Castillo to enter Panama. In Panama, other contacts equipped him with a Cuban passport and he continued on to Cuba. Castillo returned to Guatemala via
Nicaragua to rejoin the guerrillas. He later surrendered to a Guatemalan army patrol.

Guatemalan guerrillas have collaborated with Salvadoran guerrillas. In January 1981, the EGP, ORPA, FAR, and PGT/D circulated a joint bulletin announcing the intensification of their activities in support of the general offensive in El Salvador. The Salvadorans in turn have provided the Guatemalans with small quantities of arms.

Unity has not been fully achieved, as the four groups have not yet carried out plans to establish a political front group. The joint military strategy, however, is being implemented. The guerrillas have stepped up terrorist actions to provoke repression and destabilize the government. For example, the EGP took responsibility for placing a bomb in one of the pieces of luggage that was to have been loaded onto a U.S. Eastern Airlines plane on July 2. The bomb exploded before being loaded, killing a Guatemalan airport employee.

Costa Rica. Cuba took advantage of Costa Rica's strong popular and governmental opposition to Somoza's authoritarian government and of Costa Rica's open democratic system to establish and coordinate a covert support network for guerrilla operations elsewhere in Central America. The apparatus was established during the course of the Nicaraguan civil was and maintained clandestinely thereafter. Costa Rica was well disposed toward groups that opposed Somoza, including the Sandinista guerrillas. Aid provided by Panama and Venezuela was openly funneled through Costa Rica to the Nicaragua rebels. Cuba, however, kept its role largely hidden.

A Special Legislative Commission established in June 1980 by the Costa Rican legislature revealed Cuba's extensive role in arming the Nicaraguan guerrillas. The commission determined that there were at least 21 flights carrying war materiel between Cuba And Llano Grande and Juan Santamaria Airports in Costa Rica.(15)

Costa Rican pilots who made these flights reported the Cubans frequently accompanied the shipments. Although Cubans were stationed at Llano Grande, their main operations center for coordinating logistics and contacts with the Sandinistas was set up secretly in San Jose and run by America Department official Lopez Diaz. The Special Legislative Commission estimated that a minimum of 1 million pounds of arms moved to Costa Rica from Cuba and elsewhere during the Nicaraguan civil war, including  anti-aircraft machine-guns, rocket launchers, bazookas, and mortars. The commission also estimated that a substantial quantity of these weapons remained in Costa Rica after the fall of Somoza in July 1979.

The Special Legislative Commission concluded that after the Nicaraguan civil war had ended, "arms trafficking [began], originating in Costa Rica, of through Costa Rican territory, toward El Salvador, indirectly of using Honduras as a bridge." Through 1980 and in to 1981 traffic flowed intermittently through Costa Rica to El Salvador, directed clandestinely by the Cubans.

In the summer of 1979, the Cubans and their paid agent, Fernando Carrasco Illanes, a Chilean national residing in Costa Rica, along with several Costa Ricans previously involved in the logistics effort for the FSLN, agreed to continue smuggling arms to Salvadoran guerrillas. The Cuban arranged for acquisition of some of the arms and ammunition remaining in Costa Rica from the Nicaraguan airlift to supply the Salvadoran insurgents.

This new Cuban operation was coordinated from San Jose, first from their secret operations center, then later directly from the Cuban Consulate. The major coordinator, until his expulsion from Costa Rica in May 1981 following the break in consular relations between Costa Rica and Cuba, was Fernando Pascual Comas Perez of the America Department. Comas worked directly for Manuel Piņeiro and had the cover title of Cuban Vise Consul in San Jose. Cuban agents made arrangements to store arms for transshipment to El Salvador and to help hundreds of Salvadoran guerrillas pass through Costa Rica in small groups on their way to training in Cuba. Cuban operations have been facilitated by Costa Rica's three Marxist-Leninist partied, which have provided funds, safehaven, transportation,
and false documents.(16)

Terrorism had been virtually unknown in Costa Rica until March 1981 except for scattered incidents of largely foreign origin. The first Costa Rican terrorist made their appearance in March when they blew up a vehicle carrying a Costa Rican chauffeur and three Marine security guards from the U.S. embassy in San Jose. In April, four terrorists from the same group were captured after machine-gunning a police vehicle. In June, the group murdered three policemen and a taxi driver. Costa Rican authorities have arrested some 20 accused terrorists and are continuing to investigate lead linking them to South American terrorist groups such as the Argentine Montoneros, the Uruguayan Tupamaros, and Colombia's M-19, and to Cuba itself. Two of the accused terrorists are known to have received training in the Soviet Union.

Director of the Judicial Investigation Organization Eduardo Aguilar Bloise told a press conference August 12 that captured terrorist documents indicated that two Costa Rican peasants had been given "ideological/military training" in Cuba and returned to work in the Atlantic coastal zone of Costa Rica. The documents indicate that the two were in Cuba from 8 to 12 months - possibly in 1978 - and
were financed by the terrorist group known popularly in Costa Rica as "the family." Aguilar said he did not discount the possibility that other had been trained in Cuba.

Although most of Costa Rica's Marxist-Leninist parties have advocated a peaceful line in respect to Costa Rica, one group with close ties to Cuba - the Revolutionary Movement of the People (MRP) - while disavowing responsibility for terrorist acts, has spoken of them as "well intentioned." Some of the arrested terrorists are known to have belonged to the MRP at one time. On November 5, the Office of National Security announced the discovery of a terrorist cell clearly connected with the MRP. Among the Arms and terrorist paraphernalia confiscated was an Uzi submachinegun with silencer. Earlier, the authorities had confiscated a "plan for Guanacaste" from an MRP official which noted such objectives as "prevent the electoral process from developing in a festive atmosphere" and "the taking of power by the armed people." The head of the MRP has traveled many times to Cuba, and Cuba has given training to other MRP leaders.

Honduras. Cuba provided para-military training to a small number of Hondurans in the early 1960s, but relations with Honduran radicals were strained until the late 1970s. Cuba then resumed military training for members of the Honduran Communist Party (PCH) and integrated them into the "internationalist brigade" fighting in the Nicaraguan civil war. After the war, PCH members returned to
Cuba for additional training.

Since then Cuba has concentrated primarily on developing Honduras as a conduit for arms and other aid to guerrillas active elsewhere in Central American. In January 1981, Honduran officials discovered a large cache of concealed arms intended for Salvadoran guerrillas, which included M-16 rifles traced to Vietnam. Smuggled arms have continued to be intercepted.

While considering Honduras a useful support base for insurgencies elsewhere, Cuba is also working to develop the capacity for insurrection within Honduras. In the normal pattern, Havana has urged splintered extremist groups in Honduras to unify and embrace armed struggle. While holding back from levels of support given to Salvadoran and Guatemalan guerrillas, Cuba has increased its training of Honduran extremists in political organizations and military operations. Cuba has also promised to provide Honduran guerillas their own arms, including submachineguns and rifles.

On November 27, Honduran authorities discovered a guerrilla safehouse on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. Two guerrillas were killed in the resulting shootout, including an Uruguayan citizen. Nicaraguans as well as Honduran were captured at the house, where a substantial arsenal of automatic weapons and explosives was seized. Incriminating documents, including notebooks which indicate recent attendance in training course in Cuba, were also confiscated. One of those arrested, Jorge Pinel Betancourt, a 22-year-old Honduran, told reporters the group was headed for El Salvador to join El Salvadoran guerrillas. Two additional guerrilla safehouses located in La Ceiba and San Pedro Sula were raided on November 29, and authorities seized sizable arms caches, explosives, and communications equipment. These arms may have been destined for use within Honduras.

The Caribbean

Jamaica. In the late 1970s, Jamaica became a special target for Cuba. Fidel Castro and other Cuban officials developed close relations with important members of the People's National Party, which governed Jamaica from 1973 until 1980. Cuban security personnel trained Jamaican security officers in Cuba and Jamaica, including members of the security force of the office of the Prime Minister. Cuba also trained about 1,400 Jamaican youths in Cuba as construction workers through a "brigadista" program. Political indoctrination in Cuba formed part of this group's curriculum. A considerable number of these Jamaican youths received military training while in Cuba, including instruction in revolutionary tactics and use of arms.

During this same period, the Cuban diplomatic mission in Jamaica grew. Most of the embassy staff, including former Ambassador Ulises Estrada, were Cuban intelligence agents. Ulises Estrada, who served as a deputy head of the America Department for 5 years, had a long history of involvement in political action activities and intelligence operations and went to Jamaica in July 1979, after playing a major role in Cuba's involvement in the Nicaraguan civil war.

Cuba was instrumental in smuggling arms and ammunition into Jamaica. A Cuban front corporation (Moonex International, registered in Lichenstein, with subsidiaries in Panama and Jamaica) was discovered in May 1980 to be the designated recipient of a shipment of 200,000 shotgun shells and .38 caliber pistol ammunition shipped illegally to Jamaica from Miami. Jamaican authorities apprehended
the local manager of the corporation, accompanied by the Jamaican Minister of National Security and Cuban Ambassador Estrada, as the manager was attempting to leave the country, in defiance of police instructions, on a private plane. The manager subsequently paid a fine of U.S. $300,000 set by a Jamaican court.

In 1980, weapons were reported stockpiled in the Cuban embassy for possible use during the election campaign. M-16 rifles than appeared in Jamaica for the first time and were used in attacks against supporters of the opposition Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) and the security forces. Over 70 of these weapons have been found by Jamaican authorities. Some of the M-16s found in Jamaica have serial numbers in the same numerical series as captured M-16s shipped to Salvadoran guerrillas from Vietnam.

Ambassador Ulises Estrada was withdrawn from his post in November 1980, at the request of the newly elected JLP government. In January 1981, the Jamaican Government terminated the "brigadista" program and recalled Jamaican students remaining in Cuba under this program. The government decided to maintain diplomatic relations but warned Cuba to stop its interferences in Jamaican affairs. Cuba continued to maintain diplomatic relations but warned Cuba to stop its interference in Jamaican affairs. Cuba continued to maintain some 15 intelligence agents at the Cuban Embassy in Kingston. On October 29, the government broke diplomatic relations with Cuba, citing Cuba's failure to return three Jamaican fugitive criminals as the immediate cause for this action. On November 17, the government publicly detailed Cuba's role in providing covert military training under the curtailed "brigadista" program.

Guyana. In 1978, as many as 200 Cuban technicians, advisers, and medical personnel were stationed in Guyana. However, while claiming fraternal relations with Guyana's Government, Cuba maintained contact with radical opposition groups. Guyanese authorities suspected the Cubans of involvement in a crippling sugar strike. In August 1978, five Cuban diplomats were expelled for involvement in illegal activities.

Cuban military advisers have provided guerrilla training outside Guyana to members of a small radical Guyanese opposition group, the Working People's Alliance. Five of the seven members of the Cuban Embassy are known or suspected intelligence agents.

. Cuban influence in Grenada mushroomed almost immediately after the March 1979 coup led by the New Jewel Movement of Maurice Bishop. Bishop and his closest colleagues were Western-educated Marxist radicals, and they turned for help to Fidel Castro, who proved willing to provide assistance.

To allow close Cuban supervision of Grenadian programs, a senior intelligence officer from the America Department, Julian Torres Rizo, was sent to Grenada as ambassador. Torres Rizo has maintained intimate relations with Bishop and other People's Revolutionary Government ministers, such as Bernard Coard.

The Grenadian Government has followed a pro-Soviet foreign policy line. Cuban and Grenadian voting records in international organizations have been nearly identical, so much so that they alone of all Western Hemisphere nations have voted against U.N. resolutions condemning the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Cuban aid to Grenada has been most extensive in those areas which affect the security of its client government and the island's strategic usefulness to Cuba. Cuba has advisers on the island offering military, technical, security, and propaganda assistance to the Bishop government. Many Grenadians have been sent to Cuba for training in these areas. Last year journalists observed Cuban officials
directing and giving orders to Grenadian soldiers marching in ceremonies in St. George's.

Cuba is aiding the construction of a 75-kilowatt transmitter for Radio Free Granada. Grenada's state-controlled press, enjoying a government enforced monopoly, currently hews to a strict "revolutionary" line. Indications are that the new transmitter will continue this emphasis while providing facilities for beaming Cuban and Soviet-supplied propaganda into the Caribbean and South America.

Cuba's largest project in Grenada is the construction of a major airfield at Point Salines on the southern tip of the island. Cuba has provided hundreds of construction workers and Soviet equipment to build the airfield. This airfield, according to Grenadian Government statements, is required to bring tourism to its full economic potential and will be used as a civilian airport only. Many questions have been raised, however, about the economic justification for the project. The Grenadian Government has ignored requests for a standard project analysis of economic benefits. The planned 9,800-foot Point Salines runway, moreover, has clear military potential. Such an airfield will allow operations of every aircraft in the Soviet/Cuban inventory. Cuba's MiG aircraft and troop transports will enjoy a greater radius of operation. The airport will give Cuba a guaranteed refueling stop for military flights to Africa.

Bishop himself has given an implicit endorsement of future military use of the airfield. A March 31, 1980 Newsweek report quoted Bishop's comments to a U.S. reporter: "Suppose there's a war next door in Trinidad, where the forces of Fascism are about to take control, and the Trinidadians need external assistance, why should we oppose anybody passing through Grenada to assist them?"

Dominican Republic. With its renewed commitment to armed struggle, Cuba's interest in the Dominican Republic has revived. Since early 1980, the Cubans have been encouraging radicals in the Dominican Republic to unite and prepare for armed actions. Cuban intelligence officials, like Omar Cordoba Rivas, chief of the Dominican Republic desk of the America Department, make periodic visits
to the island.

The Soviet Union, Cuba, and other Communist countries have mounted extensive training programs for Dominican students. In July 1981, the Moscow-line Dominican Communist Party (PCD) for the first time publicized the Soviet scholarship program. Some 700 Dominican students are currently studying at Soviet universities, principally Patrice Lumumba university, with 75 other in five other Communist states (Bulgaria, Cuba, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, and Romania). The PCD itself selects the more than 100 students who begin the Soviet program each year.

At the same time, the Soviet Union has been pressuring the PCD to unite with other extreme left organizations. The PCD and the pro-Cuban Dominican Liberation Party receive funds from both Cuba ns the Soviet union and send significant numbers of their members and potential sympathizers for academic and political schooling as well as military training in the Communist countries. Cuba also has given military instruction to many members of small extremist splinter groups like the Social Workers Movement and the Socialist Party.

South America

Colombia. Since the 1960s, Cuba has nurtured contacts with violent extremist groups in democratic Colombia. During the 1970s, Cuba established full diplomatic relations with Colombia; Cuban involvement with Colombian revolutionaries was fairly limited, although Cuban provided some training to guerrilla leadership. Many leaders of the April 19 Movement (M-19), including the founder, Jamie Bateman - who also attended a Communist cadre school in Moscow - were trained in Cuba. Leaders of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Moscow-oriented Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) also received Cuban instruction.

Cuban assistance to Colombian guerrillas was stepped up after the February 1980 seizure of the Dominican Republic Embassy in Bogota. A number of diplomats, including the U.S. Ambassador, were taken hostage by M-19 terrorists. As part of a negotiated settlement, the terrorist were flown on April 17, 1980 to Cuba, where the remaining hostages were released and the terrorists were given asylum.

During mid-1980, Cuban intelligence officers arranged a meeting of Colombian extremists, attended by representatives from the M-19, FARC, ELN, and other Colombian radical groups, to discuss a common strategy and tactics. The M-19 had previously held talks with the Nicaraguan FSLN on ways to achieve unity of action among guerrilla groups in Latin America. Although the meeting did not result in agreement by Colombian guerrillas on a unified strategy, practical cooperation among the guerrilla organizations increased.

In late 1980, the M-19 set in motion a large-scale operation in Colombia with Cuban help. In November, the M-19 sent guerrillas to Cuba via Panama to begin training for the operation. The group included new recruits as well as members who had received no prior political or military training. In Cuba the guerrillas were given 3 months of military instruction from Cuban army instructors, including training in the use of explosives, automatic weapons, hand-to-hand combat, military tactics, and communication. A course in politics and ideology was taught as well. Members of the M-19 group given asylum in Cuba after the takeover of the Dominican Republic Embassy also participated in the training program.

In February 1981, some 100-200 armed M-19 guerrillas reinfiltrated into Colombia from Panama by boat along the Pacific coast. The guerrillas' mission to establish a "people's army" failed. The M-19 members proved to be poorly equipped for the difficult countryside, and the Cuba-organized operation was soon dismantled by Colombian authorities. Among those captured was Rosenberg Pabon Pabon, the M-19 leader who had directed the Dominican Republic Embassy takeover and then fled to Cuba. Cuba denied any involvement with the M-19 landings but did not deny training the guerrillas.(17)

Cuba's propaganda support for Colombian terrorist was impossible to deny. When a group of
dissidents kidnaped an American working for a private religious institute, Cuba implicitly supported the terrorists' action through Radio Havana broadcasts beamed to Colombia in February 1981, which denounced the institute workers as "U.S. spies." Radio Moscow picked up the unfounded accusation to use in its Spanish broadcasts to Latin America. The American was later murdered by the kidnappers.(18)

Colombia suspended relations with Cuba on March 23, in view of the clear evidence of Cuba's role in training M-19 guerrillas. President Turbay commented in an August 13 New York Times interview: "...When we found that Cuba, a country with which we had diplomatic relations, was using those diplomatic relations to prepare a group of guerrillas to come and fight against the government, it
was a kind of Pearl Harbor of us. It was like sending ministers to Washington at the same time you are about to bomb ships in Hawaii."

Chile. After Allende's fall in 1973, Castro promised Chilean radicals "all the aid in Cuba's power to provide." Although Cuban officials maintained regular contact with many Chilean exiles, divisions among the exiles inhibited major operations. The Moscow-line Chilean Communist Party (PCCH), holding the position that revolutionary change could be accomplished by non-violent means, was critical of
"left-wing forces" like the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR) with which Cuba had close relations.

Throughout the 1970s, members of the MIR received training in Cuba and in some cases instructed other Latin American revolutionaries. This training ranged from political indoctrination and instruction in small arms use to sophisticated courses in document fabrication, explosives, code writing, photography, and disguise. In addition, Cuban instruction trained MIR activists in the Mideast and Africa.

With its renewed commitment to armed struggle, Cuba increased its training of Chileans beginning in 1979. By mid-1979, the MIR had recruited several hundred Chilean exiles and sent them to Cuba for training and eventual infiltration into Chile. At the same time, members of the MIR who had been living and working in Cuba since Allende's overthrown began to receive training in urban guerrilla warfare techniques. The training in some cases lasted as long as 7 months and included organization and political strategy, small unit tactics, security, and communications.

Once training was completed, Cuba helped the terrorist return to Chile, providing false passports and false identification documents. By late 1980, at least 100 highly trained MIR terrorists had reentered Chile and the MIR had claimed responsibility for a number of bombings and bank robberies. Cuba's official newspaper, Granma, wrote in February 1981 that the "Chilean Resistance:" forces had successfully conducted more than 100 "armed actions" in Chile in 1980.

By late 1979, the PCCH was reevaluating its position in light of events in Nicaragua, where the fragmented Nicaraguan Communist Party emerged from the civil war subservient to the FSLN. In December 1980, PCCH leader Luis Corvalan held talks in Cuba with Fidel Castro, who urged Corvalan to establish a unified Chilean opposition. During the Cuban Party Congress that month, Corvalan delivered a speech which sketched a new party line calling for armed struggle to overthrown the Chilean Government and for coordination of efforts by all parties, including the violent left. In January 1981, Corvalan commended MIR terrorist acts as "helpful" and stated that the PCCH was willing not only to talk with MIR representatives but also to sign agreements with the group. Several days after this offer, Corvalan signed a unity agreement with several Chilean extremist groups, including MIR.

Until January 1981, when the new PCCH policy evidently had been ironed out and validated by the agreement for a broad opposition coalition, Corvalan's statements were issued from such places as Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Cuba, and Peru - but never from Moscow. Within two weeks of the agreement, however, Moscow showed its implicit approval of the policy change and began broadcasting in Spanish to Latin America - and to Chile in particular - PCCH explanations of the new policy and calls for mass resistance and acts of terrorism to overthrow the Chilean Government

Terrorist activities by MIR commandos operating in Chile have increase substantially during the past year. These have included increased efforts by MIR activities to establish clandestine bases for rural insurgency, killings of policemen, and a number of assassination attempts against high government officials.

Argentina. The Cubans have a long history of association with, encouragement of, and active backing for terrorism in Argentina. The Cubans were linked to the two groups responsible for unleashing the wave of leftist terrorism that swept Argentina in the early and mid-1970s, the Montoneros and the People's Revolutionary Army (ERP). Cuba backed these organizations with advice on tactics and
instructions on recruiting operations and with training in Cuba in urban and rural guerrilla techniques. During the height of Argentine terrorism, the Cubans used their embassy in Buenos Aires to maintain direct liaison with Argentine terrorists.

The Argentine terrorists were virtually defeated by 1978. In that year, Castro permitted the Montonero national leadership to relocate its headquarters to Cuba. Today, the Montonero top command, its labor organization, and its intelligence organization, among other units, are all located in Cuba. The Cuban facilitate the travel and communications of Montoneros, supplying them with false documentation and access to Cuban diplomatic pouches. Montoneros have been among the Latin American guerrillas trained in guerrilla warfare over the past year in the Mideast as part of a cooperative effort between Palestinian groups and Cuba.

Following the move of their high command to Havana, the Montoneros made repeated attempts to reinfiltrate Argentina. In late 1979, small groups of infiltrators eluded detection and were able to carry out several terrorist actions, including four murders. Subsequent attempts by the Montoneros to infiltrate terrorists in early 1980 proved unsuccessful.

With Cuban support, Montoneros are active outside Argentina. Cuban-trained Montoneros were among members of the "internationalist brigade" that Cuba supported in Nicaragua in 1979. This connection was highlighted when Montonero leader Mario Firmenich attended the first anniversary of the July 1979 victory, wearing the uniform of a Sandinista commander. Montoneros have been active elsewhere as well. Montoneros largely staffed and administrated Radio Noticias del Continente, which broadcast Cuban propaganda to Central and South America from San Jose until it was closed by the Costa Rican Government in 1981, after war material was discovered on its installations.

Uruguay. After the failure of the urban insurgent organized in the early 1970s by the National Liberation Movement (MLN-Tupamaros), several hundred Tupamaros went to Cuba. During the mid-1970s, Cuba provided some of them with training in military and terrorist tactics, weapons, and intelligence. Several of these former Tupamaros subsequently assisted Cuba in running intelligence operations in Europe and Latin America. Some participated in the Cuban-organized "internationalist brigade" that fought in the Nicaraguan civil war.

Cuba continues to provide propaganda support for the Tupamaros and the Uruguayan Communist Party. Radio Havana reported on June 30, 1981 that the leader of the Communist Party of Uruguay attended a ceremony "in solidarity with the Uruguayan people's struggle" at the headquarters of the Cuban State Committee for Material and Technical Supply in Havana. Pro-Cuban Uruguayan leaders are given red carpet treatment when the visit Havana and are usually received by at least a member of the Cuban Poliburo.


Cuba's renewed campaign of violence has had a negative impact on Cuba's relations with its neighbors. Cuba's policies abroad and its reaction to emigration pressures at home have reversed the trend in Latin America toward normalization of relations. Although the Castro government has developed close ties to Nicaragua and Grenada, Cuba finds itself increasingly isolated throughout the Americas.

Peru nearly broke relations and removed its ambassador in April 1980, when the Cuban Government encouraged Cubans eager to leave
the island to occupy the Peruvian Embassy. After more than 10,000 Cubans crowded into the embassy compound, Castro thwarted efforts by concerned governments to develop an orderly departure program and opened the port of Mariel to emigration, also expelling many criminals and the mentally ill, and ultimately allowing more than 125,000 people to leave under perilous conditions. But Cuba still refuses to still refuses to issue safe conduct passes to the 14 Cubans who remain cloistered in the Peruvian Embassy in Havana today.

Cuba's neighbors were further shocked when Cuban MiG 21s sank the Bahamian patrol boat "Flamingo" on May 10, 1980 in an unprovoked attack in Bahamian costal waters. Subsequently four Bahamian seamen were machinegunned while trying to save themselves after their vessel sank. Their bodies were never recovered. U.S. Coast Guard aircraft were harassed by Cuban MiGs while searching for the survivors at the request of the Bahamian Government.

Relations between Venezuela and Cuba deteriorated badly in 1980, principally over the asylum issue, to the degree that Venezuela removed its ambassador from Havana. In November 1980, Jamaica expelled the Cuban Ambassador for interference in Jamaica's internal affairs and in October 1981 broke diplomatic relations. Colombia suspended relations in March 1981over Cuba's training of M-19 guerrillas. Cuba's handling of an incident in which a group of Cubans demanding asylum forcibly occupied Ecuador's Embassy in Havana prompted Ecuador to remove its ambassador from Cuba in May 1981. Also in May, Costa Rica severed its existing consular ties with Cuba, expelling Cuban officials active in coordinating support networks for Central American insurgents.

Today, outside the English-speaking Caribbean, only Argentina, Panama, Mexico and Nicaragua conduct relatively normal relations through resident ambassadors in Havana. Use of Panama as a transit point for Colombian guerrillas, however, led Panama to reassess its relations with Cuba and resulted in sharp public criticism of Cuba's "manifest disregard for international standards of political co-existence" by a high Panamanian Government official.

1. Cuba's military and political activities in Africa are intense and wide ranging. Cuba still maintains expeditionary forces of at least 15-19,000 in Angola and 11-15,000 in Ethiopia. Cuba has military and security advisers contingents in a number of other African countries and South Yemen.

2. According to the World Bank, Cuba's per capita annual growth rate averaged minus 1.2% during the period 1960-78. Cuban economic performance ranked in the lowest 5% worldwide and was the worst of all socialist countries. Only massive infusions of Soviet aid have kept consumption levels from plummeting. Cuba today depends more heavily on sugar than before 1959. The industrial sector has been plagued by mismanagement, absenteeism, and serious shortages in capital goods and foreign exchange. The economic picture is so bleak that in 1979, and again in October 1981, the Cuban leadership had to warn that 10-20 more years of sacrifice lie ahead.

3. Cuba maintain some front organizations set up in the 1960s. One of these, the Continental Organization of Latin American Students, still holds irregular congresses of student leaders from Latin America to the Caribbean (the most recent in Havana in August 1981) and publishes a monthly journal distributed by the Cuban Government.

4. Although Cuba is not involved in action directly threatening to Mexican internal stability, Cuba has taken advantage of Mexico's open society and its extensive presence there -- Cuba's Embassy in Mexico City is its largest diplomatic mission in the hemisphere -- to carry out support activities for insurgencies in other countries. Mexico is a principal base for Cuban contacts with represntatives of several armed Latin American groups on guerrilla strategy, logistical support, and international activities.

5. Prensa Latina, the press agency of the Cuban Government, had field offices in 35 countries, including 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries, and combines news gathering and propaganda dissemination with intelligence operations. Radio Havana, Cuba's shortwave broadcasting service, transmits more than 350 program hours per week in eight languages to all points of the world. Cuba also transmits nightly medium wave Spanish-language broadcasts over "La Voz de Cuba," a network of high-powered transmitters located in different parts of Cuba. In the Caribbean alone, Radio Havana's weekly broadcasts include 14 hours in Creole to Haiti; 60 hours in English; 3 hours in French; and 125 hours in Spanish. Prensa Latina and Radio Havana, in close coordination with TASS and Radio Moscow, regularly use disinformation to distort news reports transmitted to the region, especially those concerning places
where Cuban covert activities are most intense.

6. Latin Americans are not the only trainees. In a May 1978 Reuters interview published in Beruit, Abu Khalaf, a leader of the military branch of Al Fatah, confirmed that Palestine agents have received training in Cuba since the late 1960s. Palestine organizations, with Cuban assistance, have reciprocated by training various Latin American groups in the Middle East. Libya, which boasted a meeting of Latin American "liberation movements" January 25 - February 1, 1979, also has trained some Latin American extremists.

7. Public exposure in March 1981 of the use of Panama as a transit point for Colombian guerrillas trained in Cuba led to sharp criticism of Cuba by the Panamanian Government. Panama imposed greater controls on activities of exiled Central and South Americans, and the transit of guerrillas through Panama appears to have ceased, at least temporarily.

8. Courses in agitation and propaganda open to foreigners include the Central Union of Cuban Workers' Lazaro Pena Trade Union Cadre School and similar courses run by the Union of Young Communists, the Cuban Women's Federation, the National Association of Small Farmers, and the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. Even the Cuban Communist Party offers special courses for non-Cubans in party provincial schools and in the Ņico Lopez National Training School, its highest educational institution. The Cuban press reported graduation ceremonies July 17, 1981, for this year's 70 Cuban graduates and announced that 69 foreigners had also attended advanced courses at the Ņico Lopez school. Foreign students represented political organizations from Venezuela, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Chile, Grenada, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Sao Tome y Principe, and South Yemen. Official Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma labeled their presence "a beautiful example of proletarian internationalism." Courses of instruction at the Ņico Lopez school, which is chaired by senior party leaders, include "political training for journalists," "political training for propagandists," economics, and ideology.

9. Ulises Estrada was given his first ambassadorial post in Jamaica following the July 1979 victory of anti-Somoza forces (see Jamaica case study). He is currently Cuba's ambassador to South Yemen.

10. The very quantity of Cuban advisers has caused resentment among nationalist Nicaraguans, leading to sporadic outbursts of anti-Cuban feelings. On June 3, 1981, the FSLN announced that 2,000 Cuban primary school teachers presently in Cuba would return to Cuba in July, at the mid-point of Nicaragua's academic year. The Nicaraguan Education Minister announced on June 18 that 800 of those departing would return in September after vacations in Cuba, while Cuba would replace the other 1,200 teachers in February. By November 1981, however, all 2,000 Cuban teachers had returned to Nicaragua.

11. A guerrilla document outlining this strategy was found in Nicaragua in February 1981. Guerrilla representatives later confirmed its authenticity to Western Europeans with the disclaimer that the strategy elaborately in the paper had been rejected.

12. The Cuban role as arms broker to the DRU since 1979 has been documented in the Department of State's Special Report No. 80, Communist Inferences in El Salvador, February 23, 1981. In April 1981, when Socialist International representative Wischnewski confronted Castro with the evidence in the report, Castro admitted to him that Cuba had shipped arms to the guerrillas. In discussions with several Inter-Parliamentary Union delegations at the September 1981 IPU conference in Havana, Castro again conceded that Cuba had supplied arms.

13. Cuban Vice President Carlos Rafael Rodriguez tactically admitted that Cuba was providing military training to Salvadoran guerillas
in an interview published in Der Spiegal on September 28, 1981.

14. At the time these reports first appeared, the United States was providing neither arms nor ammunition to El Salvador. In January 1981, the United States responded to the Cuban-orchestrated general offensive by sending some military assistance and later sent American military trainers, whose number never exceeded 55. There are no U.S. combatants, bases, or strategic hamlets in El Salvador. TASS continues to report falsely that "hundreds" of U.S. military personnel are in El Salvador and participate in combat.

15. The commission's report was issued May 14, 1981.

16. In a recorded interview broadcast by Radio Havana on June 16, 1981, Eduardo Mora, Deputy Secretary General of Costa Rica's Popular Vanguard Party (the Moscow-line traditional Communist party, the least disposed to violence of the country's several Marxist partied and splinter groups) explained his party's position: "We establish ties with all revolutionary organizations in Central America. We have close ties and are willing to give all the aid we possibly can in accordance with the principles of proletarian internationalism because we believe that the struggle of the Central American people is the struggle of our own people."

17. Cuban Vice President Carlos Rafael Rodriguez explained in an interview published in Der Spiegel on September 28, 1981 why Cuba had not denied training the M-19 guerillas: "We did not deny this because in the past few years many people came to our country for various reasons to ask for training. We did not deny this desire. If a revolutionary for Latin America  wished to learn the technique of resistance for his own self-defense, we cannot refuse in view of the brutal oppression. This also holds true for Salvadorans."

18. The U.S. citizen killed, Chester Allen Bitterman, was working for the Summer Institute of Linguistics, a religious group which develops written forms of indigenous languages.

End of Page

Copyright 1998-2014 Cuban Information Archives. All Rights Reserved.