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US-Cuba (1959-2005)

 
  

Project: History of US Interventions

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1959

       Fidel Castro leads a force of 9,000 into the Cuban capital of Havana and overthrows the Batista dictatorship which was being supported by the US at a cost of $16 million in military aid per year. [BBC, n.d.; Perez, 1995]
People and organizations involved: Fulgencio Batista, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz
          

After 1959

       The US carries out 40-plus years of clandestine military operations against Cuba, including numerous assassination attempts on Fidel Castro, the introduction of swine fever in 1971, and support for a anti-Castro militant organization blamed for the bombing of tourist hotels in 1997. [CovertAction Quarterly, Fall/Winter 1999; Blum, 1995; Newsday, 1/10/1977]
People and organizations involved: Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz
          

1960

       The US begins a 40-year plus trade embargo on Cuba. [Guardian, 11/28/01; Perez, 1995] The embargo applies to a wide range of goods including both food and medicine. [Guardian, 11/28/01; Perez, 1995] Beginning in 1992, the UN General Assembly will annually condemn these sanctions against Cuba. [Guardian, 11/28/01]
          

March 1960-August 1960

       The CIA's Technical Services Division (TSD) considers plans to undermine Fidel Castro's charismatic appeal by sabotaging his speeches. At one point, there is discussion of spraying Castro's broadcasting studio with a hallucinogenic chemical. The plan is taken of the shelf because the chemical is deemed unreliable. During this period, the TSD laces a box of cigars with a chemical that would produce temporary disorientation, hoping that he will smoke one of the cigars before giving a speech. In another instance, the TSD comes up with a scheme to dust Castro's shoes with thallium salts during a trip outside of Cuba. The salts would cause his beard to fall out. The plan is abandoned when Castro cancels the trip. [Sources: Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders - Cuba, 11/20/1975]
People and organizations involved: Technical Services Division (TSD), Fidel Castro
          

July 1960

       The CIA offers to pay a Cuban $10,000 to arrange a fatal accident involving Fidel Castro's brother, Raul. After the Cuban leaves to meet with Raul, the CIA instructs the local case officer in Havana to abort the operation. The Cuban later says he did not have an opportunity to set up an accident. [Sources: Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders - Cuba, 11/20/1975]
People and organizations involved: Raul Castro
          

August 1960-February 1963

       The CIA plans an operation to poison Fidel Castro, as well as his brother Raul and Che Chevarra, with pills containing botulinum toxin. The plan drags on for more than two years, but is ultimately aborted. [Sources: Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders - Cuba, 11/20/1975, CIA Inspector General's Report on Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro]
People and organizations involved: Robert E. Maheu, Technical Services Division (TSD), William Harvey, James O 'Connell, Richard Bissell, Ch← Guevara, Sheffield Edwards, Raul Castro, Fidel Castro
          

October 7, 1960 and February 13,1961

       A CIA official laces a box of Fidel Castro's favorite cigars with botulinum toxin that is “so potent ... a person would die after putting in his mouth.” The box of poisoned cigars is then delivered to an unnamed person who is instructed to deliver them to Castro. It is not known what happens to the cigars or if Castro ever receives them. [Sources: CIA Inspector General's Report on Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro, Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders - Cuba, 11/20/1975]
People and organizations involved: Fidel Castro
          

1961

       The US fails in an attempt to invade Cuba using 1500 exiled Cubans in what becomes known as the Bay of Pigs. [Perez, 1995; CIA Internal Probe]
          

Early 1961-June 1965

       The CIA works with a high-level Cuban official, codenamed “AM/LASH,” on a plan to assassinate Fidel Castro and overthrow his government. In June 1965, the CIA ends its contact with AM/LASH and his associates citing security concerns. [Sources: CIA Inspector General's Report on Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro, Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders - Cuba, 11/20/1975]
          

Early 1963

       Task Force W devises two plans to assassinate Fidel Castro. The first one, involving an exploding sea shell that would be placed where Castro regularly dives, is dismissed by the CIA's Technical Services Division (TSD) as impractical. In the second plan, James Donovan (who has been negotiating with Castro for the release of prisoners taken during the Bay of Pigs operation) would present Castro with a contaminated diving suit. TSD decides to give the plan a try. It purchases a diving suit and laces its breathing apparatus with tubercule bacillus. The suit itself is dusted with a fungus that is known to cause a chronic skin disease. But the suit never leaves the laboratory. [Sources: Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders - Cuba, 11/20/1975, CIA Inspector General's Report on Plots to Assassinate Fidel Castro]
People and organizations involved: Fidel Castro, James Donovan, Technical Services Division (TSD)
          

November 22, 1963

       While a US emissary is meeting with Fidel Castro to discuss the possibility of improved relations, a CIA official offers a poison pen to a Cuban hoping that it will be used by Fidel Castro. [Sources: Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders - Cuba, 11/20/1975]
People and organizations involved: Fidel Castro
          

November 20, 1975

       The Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations releases its report, “Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders,” which finds “concrete evidence of at least eight plots involving the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro from 1960 to 1965.” [Sources: Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders - Cuba, 11/20/1975]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Fidel Castro
          

October 6, 1976

       A bomb is detonated in the lavatory of Cubana de Aviacion Flight 455. The plane, on its way from Bridgetown, Barbados, to Havana, Cuba, plunges into the sea killing all 73 people aboard. A Cuban exile by the name of Orlando Bosch is accused of masterminding the bombing and spends 11 years in a Venezuelan prison. During Bosch's time in prison, Otto Reich discusses the possibility of a visa for Mr. Bosch with the US State Department. After Bosch is acquitted, he heads to Miami, entering on February 16, 1988 without a visa. [Salon, 1/11/2002]
People and organizations involved: Orlando Bosch, Otto Juan Reich
          

1980

       The World Health Organization's (WHO) representative in Cuba states that “there is no question that Cuba has the best health statistics in Latin America.” [Chomsky, 1993]
          

September 10, 1984

       Eduardo Arocena, leader of the Cuban-exile militant group OMEGA-7, testifies during his trial in New York that in the latter part of 1980 a ship traveled from Florida to Cuba with “a mission to carry some germs to introduce them in Cuba to be used against the Soviets and against the Cuban economy, to begin what was called chemical war, which later on produced results that were not what we had expected, because we thought that it was going to be used against the Soviet forces, and it was used against our own people, and with that we did not agree.” The testimony is later used by some to support the allegation that Cuba's 1981 Dengue fever epidemic, which infected 300,000 and killed 154, had been the result of US biowarfare. [Blum, 1995; Covert Action Quarterly, Fall/Winter 1999; Counterpunch, 10/11/2003]
People and organizations involved: Eduardo Arocena
          

1988

       The World Health Organization (WHO) presents Fidel Castro with its “Health for All” award in recognition of Cuba reaching all the WHO health goals set for developing countries to achieve by 2000. [Z Magazine, 6/2003]
People and organizations involved: Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz
          

1990

       UNICEF publishes a report on the “State of the World's Children,” which concludes that “Cuba is the only [Latin American] country on a par with developed nations” with regard to infant mortality rates. [Chomsky, 1993]
          

July 17, 1990

       Under political pressure, the US Department of Justice allows Orlando Bosch, the alleged mastermind of the bombing of Cubana de Aviacion Flight 455 (see October 6, 1976), to remain in the US. Bosch has been in US custody since he entered the US illegally in 1988 (see October 6, 1976).The Justice Department's decision releases Bosch from custody and puts him under house arrest. It also reverses an earlier ruling that Bosch be deported and it ignores Cuba's request that he be extradited to Cuba to stand trial for the downing of Flight 455. Later, in 2001, he is accused of supplying the explosives used in more than a dozen 1997 bombings in Havana. Despite his alleged connection to the bombings, he is permitted to stay in the US. [Salon, 1/11/2002]
People and organizations involved: Orlando Bosch
          

1991

       During this year, Cuba has more doctors working abroad in oppressed countries than does the World Health Organization (WHO). [Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 12/2000]
          

2001

       The Operation Northwood documents are declassified detailing the US military's past plans to commit terrorist attacks in the US and blame them on Castro's government in order to create public support for a war against Cuba. The documents are dated March 9, 1962 and are written by the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Representative on the Caribbean Survey Group for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The papers suggest several possible events that the US could fabricate, including the sinking of boats of Cuban refugees, hijacking planes, blowing up a US ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in US cities. One of the document's authors notes, “casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.” [ABC News, 5/1/2001; Bamford, 2001 Sources: Operation Northwoods]
          

2003

       The 2003 Human Development Index—which ranks countries according to life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income—places Cuba in the 52nd position out of 175 countries. Of its closest neighbors, Haiti ranks 150th, the Dominican Republic 94th, Grenada 93rd and Jamaica 78th. [Sources: 2003 Human Development Index Report]
          

November 8, 2005

       For the fourteenth consecutive year, the UN General Assembly, in a record 182 to 4 vote, calls on the US to end its four-decade-old embargo against Cuba (see 1960). Voting against the measure are the US, Israel, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. Micronesia abstains, while El Salvador, Iraq, Morocco, and Nicaragua do not vote. [Associated Press, 11/8/2005; EuroNews, 11/9/2005; CBC News, 11/8/2005] (The Palau Archipelago was administered by the United States as the last UN trust territory until 1994. The Marshall Islands, taken by the US during World War II, became self-governing under US military protection in 1976, achieving free-association status in 1986. The combined population of Palau and the Marshall Islands is less than 80,000.) [The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001-2005 (A); The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001-2005 (B)] Before the vote, speaker after speaker in the General Assembly debate speaks out against the US sanctions [Associated Press, 11/8/2005] , while Ronald Godard, a deputy United States ambassador, asserts that “if the people of Cuba are jobless, hungry, or lack medical care, as Castro admits, it's because of his economic mismanagement.” [New York Times, 11/9/2005] After the votes are tallied up, many delegates in the General Assembly hall reportedly burst into applause. [Associated Press, 11/8/2005] US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, calls the vote “a complete exercise in irrelevancy.” [Associated Press, 11/8/2005]
People and organizations involved: Ronald Godard, UN General Assembly, Israel, United States, John R. Bolton
          


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