19 April 2007

Cuba on EU Agenda

While on a visit to Mexico, Javier Solana, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, was asked about the Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos’, recent visit to Havana.

In answering the reporter’s question, Solana said that the European Union will be meeting next week to try to reach a common position on Cuba. The Union’s Council will analyze the possibility of arriving at a common position based on Cuba’s current political climate.

After Cuba jailed 75 dissidents in what is now called “the Black Spring” in March of 2003, the European Union adopted a more hard line towards the Castro regime. When the Zapatero government took over Spain, Spain shifted its policy towards the Castro regime and the EU eased its own position.

Currently, the ex-communist bloc nations which have been joining the EU, have been pushing the Eu to adopt a pro active position on Cuba in which the EU would work towards achieving the democratization of the only totalitarian government in the Americas.

While in Mexico, Solana told the Universal that he would like to see a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba as soon as possible.

Solana added that the EU would work with Mexico or any other country willing to work towards a process of democratic transition in Cuba.

Next week will be an interesting week in Brussels with the Spanish fighting to keep the Castro regime in power and the Czech Republic pushing to try to bring about a democratic transition to Cuba.

Profits vs. Freedom

1 comment:

Phil Peters said...

Guys, I just saw your March 21 post about an article I wrote. With all due respect, I think you missed some of my points.

Obviously Cuba was a major security problem during the Cold War.

Given Cuba’s capability in pharmaceuticals and basic science, no one can doubt Cuba’s capability to carry out a chemical or biological weapons program.

Whether Cuba has such a program is another matter altogether. What I pointed out in the article is that even after the defector Ortega gave his account, U.S. intelligence agencies downgraded their assessment and said unanimously that it was “unclear whether Cuba has an active offensive biological warfare effort now, or even had one in the past.”

If you check, I think you misstate what the defector said. He alleges that in 1992 he saw a facility where agents are being developed for military purposes. If he used the term “weaponized,” which implies delivery systems and a different stage of development, please point out where he did so.

Your assertion that I take Ana Montes at her word is ridiculous. Read the article again; the English version is below. What I point out is that the 1998 Pentagon report that everyone criticizes because of her involvement, has never been modified or updated. If Cuba posed more than a “negligible” threat, don’t you think that in six years of the Bush Administration, where no one is bashful when it comes to talking about Cuban misconduct, there would have been some kind of report to the contrary?

You know that Cubans who reach U.S. territory – whether by boat or by showing up at a U.S.-Mexico border crossing – are admitted routinely, thousands each year. There are humanitarian reasons for this policy, and one can debate whether it makes sense in terms of our overall immigration policy. But my point regarding security is this: Is it conceivable that the Bush Administration would continue this policy, post-9/11, if it believed that Cuba represented a terrorism threat?

I was not taking a dig at Bush regarding North Korea and Iran. I support the idea of using diplomacy to try to solve those cases, even though there’s no guarantee that diplomacy will work. The lack of diplomacy with Cuba tells us that the Administration probably sees no threat.

Outside of those who see all the intelligence (and, who knows, maybe not even there) there are no experts. But those of us on the outside can take clues from our own government, which does not have a casual attitude toward national security issues.

There’s a lot here that’s like the Sherlock Holmes story with the dog that did not bark. The U.S. government’s silence and inaction, especially under this Administration, is a good indication of its assessment of the Cuban threat. My bet is that to them, the number one national security threat from Cuba is potential mass migration. That, at least, is the only case where there’s visible U.S. preparation.




The Miami Herald, March 16, 2007

Cuba -- How scared should we be?
BY PHILIP PETERS
According to a defector, Cuba has a secret, underground laboratory southeast of Havana called ''Labor Uno,'' where biological agents -- ''viruses and bacteria and dangerous sicknesses'' -- are being developed for military use.

The administration calls Cuba a ''state sponsor of terrorism,'' so if the defector's story is true, Cuba would represent what President Bush terms one of the worst national security threats of the 21st century: the world's most dangerous weapons in the hands of the world's most dangerous people.

How scared should we be?

Not scared at all, if we judge by the administration's policies and public statements, none of which betray concern, much less certainty, about any threat emanating from Cuba.

The defector, Roberto Ortega, was Cuba's top military doctor. He visited Labor Uno in 1992 while he was escorting a visiting Russian delegation.

Ortega may be entirely truthful, but the Iraq experience teaches that fragments of interesting information do not amount to ''slam-dunk'' intelligence.

Indeed, the Iraq intelligence failure led U.S. agencies to reassess their views on weapons programs worldwide. The result came in August 2005 when, with Ortega's account in hand, these agencies downgraded their Cuba assessment, concluding unanimously that it was ``unclear whether Cuba has an active offensive biological-warfare effort now, or even had one in the past.''

But the administration gives us more reasons to sleep easy.

• Cuba missed the ``axis of evil.'' With the exception of now-departed John Bolton, senior officials responsible for security matters have been silent about Cuba. In October 2005, Bolton's successor as the State Department's top security official, Robert Joseph, did not mention Cuba in a global survey of weapons of mass destruction issues. Cabinet-level officials routinely chide Cuba's human rights abuses but mention no security concerns.

• Ana Montes unchallenged. After Cuban spy Ana Montes was discovered to be working as the administration's top Cuba defense-intelligence analyst in 2001, Bolton and other officials charged that she had skewed U.S. intelligence, including a famous 1998 report that called Cuba's military capabilities ''residual'' and ''defensive'' and its threat ''negligible.'' But in six years, the administration has issued no report offering a less benign assessment, even though it would serve its political interests to do so. Montes' betrayal, we can deduce, involved leaking the identities of agents and other U.S. secrets to Cuba rather than distorting U.S. intelligence.

• Migration exception. If the administration had the slightest concern about terrorism coming from Cuba, it would not have a unique, open-door policy toward undocumented Cuban migrants, where we welcome those who reach our shores or Mexican border crossings and release them into the community within hours. This may make humanitarian sense, but it is truly a pre-9/11 policy in a post-9/11 world. It tells Cuba, if indeed it is a terrorist state, to infiltrate operatives not through cloak-and-dagger ruses but mixed in with everyday migrants.

• No negotiations. In return for a promise to cap its nuclear program, North Korea will receive fuel oil and direct talks with Washington that could lead to normalized relations. Similarly, Iran has been offered rewards for ending its nuclear ambitions. In the Cuban case, the administration seeks no talks and does not pursue Ortega's recommendation that international inspectors go to Cuba. Apparently, the administration sees nothing to talk about.

What we are left with is that the only visible U.S. action in response to a Cuba-related security issue is a maritime exercise to prepare for a possible migration crisis in the Florida Straits.

Floridians can therefore go back to worrying about hurricanes, tornadoes and inadequate insurance coverage -- until, that is, Raúl Castro figures out that a new weapons program might be the ticket to achieve normal relations with the United States.

Philip Peters is vice president of the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va.