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proper reply was "Ten thousand marines".40
The embassy, and Ambassador Bennett in particular, poured forth "a rising
stream of hysterical rumors, atrocity stories, and alarmist reports"41 about the rebels,

reminiscent of the Bolshevik horror stories which had filled the pages of the American
press following the Russian Revolution: embassies being ransacked ... "Castroite-style
mass executions" ... rebels parading in the streets with the heads of their victims on
poles ...
President Johnson made reference to the "atrocities" in public statements, but
none of the stories were ever proven, for none were true; no one ever located any of the
many headless Dominicans; and American officials, in a monument to chutzpah, later
denounced the press for reporting such unverified rumors.42
Meanwhile, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the US Information
Agency were conducting their own intensive propaganda campaign in the Dominican
Republic to give credence to the American position and discredit Dominican groups
opposed to it. Experts on psychological warfare arrived to ply their trade, radio stations
and newspapers were covertly set up, rebel radio stations jammed, leaflets airdropped in
the countryside. The USIA also secretly subsidized the publication of pro-
administration material aimed for distribution in the United States.43
From all the wild charges and the frequent contradictory statements made by
American officials, the expression "credibility gap" entered the American popular
language and soon came to haunt the Johnson presidency.44
Historian Richard Barnet has noted another interesting side to the American
propaganda effort:

To justify the intervention, which had aroused violent opposition from traditional
friends of the United States because of its crudeness and the swathe of lies in
which it was wrapped ... [Washington] began a direct assault on the concept of
non-intervention, the rhetorical foundation stone of Latin-American policy
enshrined in numerous treaties, declarations, and Pan-American Day speeches ...
Under Secretary Thomas Mann told newspaper correspondents that the OAS and
UN charters were drawn up in "19th-century terms" ... Averell Harriman
remarked in Montevideo that the principle of non-intervention was becoming
"obsolete". By a vote of 315 to 52 the House of Representatives passed a
resolution ... justifying the unilateral use of force on foreign territory by any
nation which considers itself threatened by "international communism, directly or
indirectly." ... The President [declared in a speech]: "The first reality is that old
concepts and old labels are largely obsolete. In today's world, with enemies of
freedom talking about 'Wars of national liberation,' the old distinction between
'Civil War' and 'International War' has already lost much of its meaning ... The
moment of decision must become the moment of action."

"This is the essence of the Johnson Doctrine," wrote Barnet, "a virtually
unlimited claim of legitimacy for armed intervention in civil strife."45

The last American troops did not leave the Dominican Republic until September
1966. The interim period witnessed a succession of ceasefires, broken truces, and
protracted negotiations under provisional governments.
In June 1966, elections were held in which Joaquín Balaguer defeated Juan
Bosch by a surprisingly large margin. Yet, it was not all that surprising. For five long
years the people of the Dominican Republic had lived under a cloud of chaos and
violence. The experience bad instilled in them a deep longing for a return to
"normalcy", to order, without foreign intervention, without soldiers patrolling their
streets, without curfews, tear gas and bloodshed. With the US Army still very much in
evidence and the American distaste for Bosch well known ... with the ubiquitous
American propaganda hammering home fear of The Red Menace and associating the
constitutionalists, and thus Bosch, with communism ... with the Dominican military still

largely Trujillista in personnel and ideology ... a victory for Bosch would be seen by
many voters as a danger that all the horrors would rain down upon their heads once
more. Bosch, who had returned several months prior to the election, was himself so
fearful for his personal safety that he never left his home during the campaign.
Joaquin Balaguer remained in office for the next 12 years, ruling his people in
the grand Latin American style: The rich became richer and the poor had babies, hungry
babies; democracy remained an alien concept; the police and military regularly
kidnapped, tortured and murdered opponents of the government and terrorized union
But the man was not, personally, the monster that Trujillo was. There was
relative calm and peace. No "communist threat" hovered over the land. The pot was
sweetened for foreign investors, and American corporations moved in with big bucks.
There was stability and order. And the men who ran the United States looked and were
satisfied. Perhaps some of them had come to the realization that the anti-communist
liberal government was an impossible ideal; for any movement seeking genuine
democracy and social reform would invariably attract individuals whom the United
States would invariably categorize as "communist"; the United States would then feel
driven to discredit, subvert and eventually overturn the movement. A Catch 22.

30. Cuba 1959 to 1980s
The unforgivable revolution

The existence of a revolutionary socialist government with growing ties to the
Soviet Union only 90 miles away, insisted the United States Government, was a
situation which no self-respecting superpower should tolerate, and in 1961 it undertook
an invasion of Cuba.
But less than 50 miles from the Soviet Union sat Pakistan, a close ally of the
United States, a member since 1955 of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization
(SEATO), the US-created anti-communist alliance. On the very border of the Soviet
Union was Iran, an even closer ally of the United States, with its relentless electronic
listening posts, aerial surveillance, and infiltration into Russian territory by American
agents. And alongside Iran, also bordering the Soviet Union, was Turkey, a member of
the Russians' mortal enemy, NATO, since 1951.
In 1962 during the "Cuban Missile Crisis", Washington, seemingly in a state of
near-panic, informed the world that the Russians were installing "offensive" missiles in
Cuba. The US promptly instituted a "quarantine" of the island”a powerful show of
naval and marine forces in the Caribbean would stop and search all vessels heading
towards Cuba; any found to contain military cargo would be forced to turn back.
The United States, however, had missiles and bomber bases already in place in
Turkey and other missiles in Western Europe pointed toward the Soviet Union. Russian
leader Nikita Khrushchev later wrote:

The Americans had surrounded our country with military bases and threatened us
with nuclear weapons, and now they would learn just what it feels like to have
enemy missiles pointing at you; we'd be doing nothing more than giving them a
little of their own medicine. ... After all, the United States had no moral or legal
quarrel with us. We hadn't given the Cubans anything more than the Americans
were giving to their allies. We had the same rights and opportunities as the

Americans. Our conduct in the international arena was governed by the same rules
and limits as the Americans.1

Lest anyone misunderstand, as Khrushchev apparently did, the rules under
which Washington was operating, Time magazine was quick to explain. "On the part of
the Communists," the magazine declared, "this equating [referring to Khrushchev's offer
to mutually remove missiles and bombers from Cuba and Turkey] had obvious tactical
motives. On the part of neutralists and pacifists [who welcomed Khrushchev's offer] it
betrayed intellectual and moral confusion." The confusion lay, it seems, in not seeing
clearly who were the good guys and who were the had guys, for "The purpose of the
U.S. bases [in Turkey] was not to blackmail Russia but to strengthen the defense system
of NATO, which had been created as a safeguard against Russian aggression. As a
member of NATO, Turkey welcomed the bases as a contribution to her own defense."
Cuba, which had been invaded only the year before, could have, it seems, no such
concern. Time continued its sermon:

Beyond these differences between the two cases, there is an enormous moral
difference between U.S. and Russian objectives ... To equate U.S. and Russian
bases is in effect to equate U.S. and Russian purposes ... The U.S. bases, such as
those in Turkey, have helped keep the peace since World War II, while the Russian
bases in Cuba threatened to upset the peace. The Russian bases were intended to
further conquest and domination, while U.S. bases were erected to preserve
freedom. The difference should have been obvious to all.2

Equally obvious was the right of the United States to maintain a military base on
Cuban soil”Guantanamo Naval Base by name, a vestige of colonialism staring down
the throats of the Cuban people, which the US, to this day, refuses to vacate despite the
vehement protest of the Castro government.
In the American lexicon, in addition to good and bad bases and missiles, there
ate good and bad revolutions. The American and French Revolutions were good. The
Cuban Revolution is bad. It must be bad because so many people have left Cuba as a
result of it.
But at least 100,000 people left the British colonies in America during and after
the American Revolution. These Tories could not abide by the political and social
changes, both actual and feared, particularly that change which attends all revolutions
worthy of the name: Those looked down upon as inferiors no longer know their place.
(Or as the US Secretary of State put it after the Russian Revolution: the Bolsheviks
sought "to make the ignorant and incapable mass of humanity dominant in the earth.")3

The Tories fled to Nova Scotia and Britain carrying tales of the godless,
dissolute, barbaric American revolutionaries. Those who remained and refused to take
an oath of allegiance to the new state governments were denied virtually all civil
liberties. Many were jailed, murdered, or forced Into exile. After the American Civil
War, thousands more fled to South America and other points, again disturbed by the
social upheaval. How much more is such an exodus to be expected following the Cuban
Revolution?”a true social revolution, giving rise to changes much more profound than
anything in the American experience. How many more would have left the United
States if 90 miles away lay the world's wealthiest nation welcoming their residence and
promising all manner of benefits and rewards?

After the Cuban Revolution in January 1959, we learned that there are also good
and bad hijackings. On several occasions Cuban planes and boats were hijacked to the

United States but they were not returned to Cuba, nor were the hijackers punished.
Instead, some of the planes and boats were seized by US authorities for non-payment of
debts claimed by American firms against the Cuban government.4 But then there were
the bad hijackings” planes forced to fly from the United States to Cuba. When there
began to be more of these than flights in the opposite direction, Washington was obliged
to reconsider its policy.
It appears that there are as well good and bad terrorists. When the Israelis
bombed PLO headquarters in Tunis in 1985, Ronald Reagan expressed his approval.
The president asserted that nations have the right to retaliate against terrorist attacks "as
long as you pick out the people responsible".5
But if Cuba had dropped bombs on any of the headquarters of the anti-Castro
exiles in Miami or New Jersey, Ronald Reagan would likely have gone to war, though
for 25 years the Castro government had been on the receiving end of an extraordinary
series of terrorist attacks carried out in Cuba, in the United States, and in other countries
by the exiles and their CIA mentors. (We shall not discuss the consequences of Cuba
bombing CIA headquarters.)
Bombing and strafing attacks of Cuba by planes based in the United States
began in October 1959, if not before.6 In early 1960, there were several fire-bomb air
raids on Cuban cane fields and sugar mills, in which American pilots also took part”at
least three of whom died in crashes, while two others were captured. The State
Department acknowledged that one plane which crashed, killing two Americans, had
taken off from Florida, but insisted that it was against the wishes of the US
In March a French freighter unloading munitions from Belgium exploded in
Havana taking 75 lives and injuring 200, some of whom subsequently died. The United
States denied Cuba's accusation of sabotage but admitted that it had sought to prevent
the shipment.8
And so it went ... reaching a high point in April of the following year in the
infamous CIA-organized invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Over 100 exiles died in
the attack. Close to 1,200 others were taken prisoner by the Cubans. It was later
revealed that four American pilots flying for the CIA had lost their lives as well.9
The Bay of Pigs assault had relied heavily on the Cuban people rising up to join
the invaders,10 but this was not to be the case. As it was, the leadership and ranks of the
exile forces were riddled with former supporters and henchmen of Fulgencio Batista,
the dictator overthrown by Castro, and would not have been welcomed back by the
Cuban people under any circumstances.
Despite the fact that the Kennedy administration was acutely embarrassed by the
unmitigated defeat”indeed, because of it”a campaign of smaller-scale attacks upon
Cuba was initiated almost immediately. Throughout the 1960s, the Caribbean island
was subjected to countless sea and air commando raids by exiles, at times accompanied
by their CIA supervisors, inflicting damage upon oil refineries, chemical plants and
railroad bridges, cane fields, sugar mills and sugar warehouses; infiltrating spies,
saboteurs and assassins ... anything to damage the Cuban economy, promote
disaffection, or make the revolution look bad ... taking the lives of Cuban militia
members and others in the process ... pirate attacks on Cuban fishing boats and
merchant ships, bombardments of Soviet vessels docked in Cuba, an assault upon a
Soviet army camp with 12 Russian soldiers reported wounded ... a hotel and a theatre
shelled from offshore because Russians and East Europeans were supposed to be
present there ...11

These actions were not always carried out on the direct order of the CIA or with
its foreknowledge, but the Agency could hardly plead "rogue elephant". It had created
an operations headquarters in Miami that was truly a state within a city”over, above,
and outside the laws of the United States, not to mention international law, with a staff
of several hundred Americans directing many more Cuban agents in just such types of
actions, with a budget in excess of $50 million a year, and an arrangement with the local
press to keep operations in Florida secret except when the CIA wanted something
Title 18 of the US Code declares it to be a crime to launch a "military or naval
expedition or enterprise" from the United States against a country with which the United
States is not (officially) at war. Although US authorities now and then aborted an exile
plot or impounded a boat”sometimes because the Coast Guard or other officials had
not been properly clued in”no Cubans were prosecuted under this act. This was no
more than to be expected inasmuch as Attorney General Robert Kennedy had
determined after the Bay of Pigs that the invasion did not constitute a military
The commando raids were combined with a total US trade and credit embargo,
which continues to this day, and which genuinely hurt the Cuban economy and chipped
away at the society's standard of living. So unyielding has the embargo been that when
Cuba was hard hit by a hurricane in October 1963, and Casa Cuba, a New York social
club, raised a large quantity of clothing for relief, the United States refused to grant it an
export license on the grounds that such shipment was "contrary to the national
Moreover, pressure was brought to bear upon other countries to conform to the
embargo, and goods destined for Cuba were sabotaged: machinery damaged, chemicals
added to lubricating fluids to cause rapid wear on diesel engines, a manufacturer in
West Germany paid to produce ball-bearings off-center, another to do the same with
balanced wheel gears”"You're talking about big money," said a CIA officer involved
in the sabotage efforts, "when you ask a manufacturer to go along with you on that kind
of project because he has to reset his whole mold. And he is probably going to worry
about the effect on future business. You might have to pay him several hundred
thousand dollars or more."15
One manufacturer who defied the embargo was the British Leyland Company,
which sold a large number of buses to Cuba in 1964. Repeated expressions of criticism
and protest by Washington officials and congressmen failed to stem deliveries of some
of the buses. Then, in October, an East German cargo ship carrying another 42 buses to
Cuba collided in thick fog with a Japanese vessel in the Thames. The Japanese ship was
able to continue on, but the cargo ship was beached on its side; the buses would have to
be "written off", said the Leyland company. In the leading British newspapers it was just
an accident story.16 In the New York Times it was not even reported. A decade was to
pass before the American columnist Jack Anderson disclosed that his CIA and National
Security Agency sources had confirmed that the collision had been arranged by the CIA
with the cooperation of British intelligence.17 Subsequently, another CIA officer stated
that he was skeptical about the collision story, although admitting that "it is true that we
were sabotaging the Leyland buses going to Cuba from England, and that was pretty
sensitive business."18


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