Liberty, Not from Provo Daily Herald, Politics, War

U.S. officials note growth of Cuban-backed violence

Click to see original imageA warning by two United States officials of the activities of Soviet-backed Cuba in supporting violence and insurgencies in the Caribbean and Latin America should not go unheeded.

Addressing the Subcommittee on western Hemisphere Affairs of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in Mid December, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Enders said Cuba is most active in Central America “where its immediate goals are to exploit and control the Nicaragua revolution and induce overthrow of governments of El Salvador and Guatemala.”

Under-Secretary of Defense Fred Ikle warned of Cuba’s role in a “new Imperialism” which has “expanded in the East and is expanding still, stretching from the center of Europe to Afghanistan and Mongolia, with outlying colonies and military outposts across the globe, including Vietnam, South Yemen and Angola.”

He called Cuba the New Imperialism’s “crown colony in the Caribbean,” a direct military threat to the region, and an arms depot and logistics base for annexations in Africa and Central America.”

Soviet Union arms shipments to Cuba since 1960 have totaled about $2.5 billion, Ikle said, and 1981 imports were the highest since 1962, year of the missile crisis.

Enders testified that four developments combine to create a “state of danger” in the Caribbean Basin:

(1) New Cuban strategy to unite, arm and train the “left” in countries of the region; (2) severe economic crisis; (3) the developing role of Nicaragua as a platform for intervention throughout Central America; and (4) the struggle in El Salvador.

“If after Nicaragua, El Salvador is captured by a violent minority, what state in Central America will be able to resist?” Enders asked. “How long would it be before the major strategic U.S. interests – the canal, sea lanes, oil supply – were at risk?”

Enders gave a country-by-country report on what he called Cuba’s renewed efforts to “stimulate violence and destabilize its neighbors, turning away from its earlier policy of normal diplomatic relations.

Included were El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua in Central America; Jamaica, Grenada and the Dominion Republic in the Caribbean; and Columbia, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay in South America.

Ikle said Cuban military capability is “far in excess of any actual or imaginary defensive needs,” with on army of over 225,000, a navy of about 11,000, and air defense forces of 16,000.

“Fidel Castro maintains about a 10-to-20 times larger military effort than any other major nation in this hemispheres,” Ikle declared.

Cuba’s neighbors in Central America, except Nicaragua, have small defense forces which vary from almost none for Costa Rica to about 8,000 to 10,000 for Panama and 15,000 to 18,000 for Honduras and Guatemala. El Salvador has about 20,000 under arms, an expansion forced “because of totalitarian aggression against it.”

Ikle said Cuba’s military arsenal includes over 200 MIG fighter air-craft and 650 tanks. Soviet Union influence is pervasive, with a brigade of 2,600 to 3,000 near Havana, 5,000 to 8,000 civilian advisers, and 2,000 military advisers on such sophisticated weapons as the MIGs and surface-to-air missiles.

Enders said Cuba’s campaign of violence has caused deteriorating relations with several neighboring countries. But this doesn’t necessarily ease the military threat.

Concern extends to critical sea lanes, especially with Soviet naval vessels increasing their presence in the South Atlantic 13-fold in the last decade. In peacetime, 44 percent of all foreign trade tonnage and 45 percent of the crude oil to the U.S. pass through the Caribbean.

It is obvious from reading the Enders and Ikle reports that it would be a serious mistake if the U.S. and other Western Hemisphere nations played down the military threat the Soviet-Cuban arsenal represents only 80 miles from Florida.

It’s encouraging that U.S. officials are addressing the problem; also that a favorable consensus toward a more cooperative mutual security effort was developed at the 14th conference of American armies in November and the more recent Organization of American States meeting in St. Lucia.

The whole question deserves high priority. Besides keeping the peace, it is vital that the American nations preserve the right to control their own destinies without manipulation from Havana and other outside interests.