NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 17 Apr 2004 18:58:56 -0500
Reply-To: "pedro martori"
From: "pedro martori"
Subject: Cuba's Stealthy Special Forces
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 2004 19:58:56 -0400
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Something that has been going on for four and a half decades...yet no =
actions apparently have been taken to counter the strategy set up by =
Castro*s Department of the Americas within the Ministery of the =
Cuba's Stealthy Special Forces=20
By James Dunnigan - Strategypage=20
Colaboraci=F3n: Jos=E9 F. S=E1nchez E.U. La Nueva Cuba April 8, 2004
Cuba has gone the American Special Forces one better, and developed a
cheap, effective to spread the ideas of communist revolution without
using highly trained soldiers. Instead, the Cubans send "Medical
Brigades" of underemployed doctors and medical technicians to poor
countries that need the medical assistance, but are not as keen on the
revolutionary propaganda the accompanies the medical care. Cuba offers
the medical services at bargain prices (sometimes for free), with the
propaganda seen, by the patients, as the equivalent of commercials on
TV (a necessary evil.) Cuba currently has medical "brigades" (of
200-1,000 personnel each) in Haiti, Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras,
Ghana and Zimbabwe. Cuba has also sent Medical Brigades to other
countries for limited periods, to help deal with natural disasters.
The medical brigades have been out there for over two decades.
Cuba, one of the few communist dictatorships left, is sticking to its
revolutionary principles. That means the place is a police state, the
economy is a mess and the government still wants to export these
revolutionary ideas to other countries. Since the Soviet Union
collapsed in 1991, and withdrew billions of dollars a year in
subsidies for their communist showcase in the Caribbean, the Cuban
economy has shrunk by 40 percent. Currently, the main source of
foreign currency (with which to buy foreign goods, like medicine) is
gifts of cash sent by relatives in the United States.
But one thing the Cubans have maintained since before the 1959
revolution is the highest level of medical care in Latin America. At
the time of the revolution, Cuba had the lowest infant mortality rate
in Latin America (and the 13th lowest in the world), and the third
highest number of physicians and dentists per capita (comparable to
the Netherlands and higher than in the United Kingdom). Since the
revolution, Cuba has produced more doctors, built more hospitals and
clinics and managed to keep the level of medical care high. Well, at
least primary medical care. Cubas communist economy could not produce
the foreign currency needed to buy a lot of medical equipment and
medicines. Some hospitals have this stuff, but these are reserved for
senior members of the Communist Party.
Cuba's communist government also built a lot of schools, and increased
it's literacy rate, which was already one of the highest in Latin
America before the revolution. But food consumption per capita has
declined, as has access to media (which is all state controlled) and
consumer goods. Except for the elite of the Communist Party, everyone
is now poor. Being offered an assignment in a foreign country, to
provide medical care, was an offer few Cuban medical professionals
could turn down. In addition to more food, access to more media,
making more money than at home and a chance to do good works, there
was also the possibility of defection.
There was a catch, of course. Many of the administrative members of
the brigades belonged to the secret police. These "minders" were there
to make sure brigade members gave their patients a dose of pro-Cuba
communist propaganda along with the medical care. The minders also
kept on the lookout for defectors. While it was easier to defect when
outside Cuba, arrangements had been made with the local governments to
help the Cuban government retrieve any of its citizens who attempted
to break their contract with the brigade. That contract often included
financial arrangements with the host country that paid the Cuban
government a lot more than the $30 a month they paid doctors back in
Cuba. The brigade personnel were made to understand that things could
go badly for their families if they tried to defect.
The purpose of the brigades, in addition to providing medical care
where it was needed, and making money for the cash starved communist
government back home, was to make communist Cuba look good, to
encourage local people to follow revolutionary Cuba's example, and to
collect detailed military and political intelligence on the host
Nowhere has this worked out better than in Venezuela, where the
largest Medical Brigade (over a thousand personnel) is providing
medical care, and political indoctrination, to those Venezuelans who
need it most. But the current president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, has
most of the population trying to get him thrown out of office. When
Chavez was elected in 1999, he promised a revolutionary program to
clean up the corrupt and inefficient practices that had long hampered
the economy's growth. Chavez was revolutionary all right, but he
trashed the economy, using it more for patronage than any of his
predecessors. A compelling speaker, Chavez also stirred up class war,
telling poor Venezuelans that all their problems could be blamed on
the rich. Three years ago, Chavez made a deal with Cuba to supply cut
rate oil (worth half a billion dollars a year at market rates.) Cuba
paid for little of the oil, now owes nearly $800 million and is not
expected to ever pay the debt (mainly because Cuba simply hasn't got
the cash.) In addition to the medical brigade, Cuba has sent military,
police, political and media advisors to help Chavez out. Who says
dictators (even elected ones) don't have friends?
The Cuban Medical Brigades are doing what the American Peace Corps was
always accused of doing (mixing politics, espionage and good works.)
But the majority of Peace Corps volunteers were either neutral, or
leftist, politically. Hardly good recruiting material for a covert
operation. Actually, many Peace Corps veterans did later go to work
for the CIA. But when they were in the Peace Corps, they concentrated
on helping the people of their host country, not working to spread
revolution and financially prop up a police state back home.
Cuba does have about a thousand military "Special Forces" troops, and
these are often used to teach the techniques of guerilla warfare and
terrorism in foreign countries.
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