Reps. Mike McCaul and Maria Elvira Salazar
Texas Congressman Michael McCaul with Florida Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar speak amidst backdrop of photos of Bay of Pigs invaders at Miami roundtable event on July 10, designed to mobilize support for regime change. [Source:]

To commemorate the two-year anniversary of right-wing protests in Cuba in July 2021, the House Foreign Affairs Committee sponsored a roundtable next to the Bay of Pigs museum in Miami, Florida, that affirmed U.S. calls for regime change in Cuba.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) said that the peaceful protests designed to take back the island from communist tyranny “met with unspeakable brutality” at the hands of an “oppressive government” that is an “increasing threat to U.S. national security because of its growing relationship with Communist China.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas)
Michael McCaul [Source:]

Supporting a new House bill that would increase funding for radio propaganda and pro-democracy initiatives designed to facilitate regime change, McCaul emphasized how China had (allegedly) established a spy base in Cuba, which had become part of the Belt and Road initiative, and was negotiating to establish a military facility on Cuba’s northern coast.

This, he said, was taking us back to the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis when Fidel Castro had allowed the Soviet Union to establish a foothold on the island 90 miles from the United States.

According to McCaul, “history shows us that weakness invites aggression and emboldens dictators like Miguel Díaz-Canel [Cuba’s leader].” The U.S., in his estimation, should not engage with the Cuban regime but “stand with freedom fighters until they finally take back the island and reset democracy.”

McCaul may be unaware of the fact that the U.S. never supported democracy in Cuba but was a primary sponsor of the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship, which brutally ruled in the interests of foreign capital and the U.S. Mafia prior to the 1959 Cuban Revolution about which McCaul and others at the roundtable seemed aloof.

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General Fulgencio Batista: America’s boy. [Source:]

McCaul’s claim about a Chinese spy base—thought to have been constructed near the town of Bejucal between March 2017 and February 2018—has also not been verified .

This signals intelligence facility near Bejucal, built between March 2017 and February 2018, supposedly resembles similar facilities in China. However, it has not been verified that the facility was constructed by the Chinese. [Source:]

Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío said that “all of these [claims about the spy base] are lies with the malicious intention to justify the unprecedented intensification of the blockade, destabilization and aggression against Cuba and to deceive public opinion in the United States and the world.”

Cuba's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, speaks during a news conference in Havana, Cuba, November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Carlos Fernández de Cossío [Source:]

If that is indeed the case, it fits with a long historical pattern, including recent false accusations that Cuba had sent combat troops into Venezuela, and had deployed microwave weapons against U.S. diplomats that made them sick (so-called “Havana syndrome”).

At the roundtable, McCaul heaped praise on Ronald Reagan, who supported a genocidal butcher in Guatemala (Efraín Ríos Montt) and terrorist invasion in Nicaragua that was financed through illegal drug smuggling and other criminal means.

Reagan’s drive to stop Communism in Central America caused untold misery for countless people and enmeshed the U.S. in criminal acts and in support of foreign leaders, like Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala, who were later convicted for crimes against humanity and genocide. [Source:]
Maria Elvira Salazar [Source:]

Similarly stuck in the mindset of the 1980s was Republican Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar, who followed McCaul by ginning up fear of an anti-U.S. alliance between Cuba, China, Russia and Iran, whose President Ebrahim Raisi visited Cuba for the first time in June.

Salazar claimed that two percent of the Cuban population had decided to leave the island this year because they felt the administration was invincible and that it was better to leave than to fight.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, left, and Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi walk past the honor guard during a state visit in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, June 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco)
Washington’s worst nightmare: Cuban President Díaz-Canel and Iranian leader Ebrahim Raisi during the latter’s state visit to Cuba in June 2023. [Source:]

These comments underhandedly point to the futility of the U.S. regime-change strategy that has failed for more than 60 years to dislodge the Castro government and its successor under Díaz-Canel, which has instituted vast social improvements in health care and education while allowing Cuba to escape its status as a neo-colony of the U.S.

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Miguel Díaz-Canel [Source:]

While Salazar and McCaul claim that the U.S. was on the side of the Cuban people when it supported anti-government protests in July 2021, CovertAction Magazine previously reported that those protests numbered in the hundreds whereas hundreds of thousands of Cubans took to the streets at the time to defend the Cuban Revolution.

Cubans take to the streets for the biggest anti-government protests in decades - The Washington Post
The Washington Post featured this photo as an example of anti-government protests but it is clearly a pro-government rally in which the demonstrators are waving the Cuban flag in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution. The man behind the flag in the baseball cap is Gerardo Hernández, a well-known leader of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, member of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party and one of the Cuban 5, who spent 16 years in prison in the U.S., framed for his work helping to stop terrorist attacks against the Cuban people. [Source:]

The protesters whom McCaul heralds as “freedom fighters” were generally nothing of the sort as they were supported both directly and indirectly by a foreign imperialist power that plundered Cuba’s economy and hijacked its independence during the first half of the 20th century and has tried to terrorize it into submission ever since.

In 2021, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA offshoot founded in the 1980s, provided $5,538,193 in grants to opposition media and political groups in Cuba seeking regime change and in support of efforts to privatize Cuba’s largely state-run economy.

At the July 10 roundtable, speaker after speaker played up the China threat from Cuba and denounced Cuba’s ties to Vladimir Putin. Among them was former Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who claimed that the Cuban government are “thugs who thrive on violence and lash out against patriots armed with nothing but the truth.”

House Republicans and Democrats Commemorate Historic Protests Against Cuban Regime
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, 2nd from the right, at a press conference associated with roundtable event. [Source:]

Orlando Gutiérrez-Boronat, national secretary of the USAID and NED-funded Cuban Democratic Directorate, emphasized China’s training of the Cuban Black Berets, Special Forces who were allegedly involved in suppressing the July 2021 protests along with 2018 protests in Nicaragua against left-wing leader Daniel Ortega.

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Gutiérrez-Boronat (right) with Brazil’s former extremist right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro. [Source:]

Rafael Montalvo, President of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association, claimed that the Cuban government was really like a drug cartel that should be dealt with in the manner of Manuel Noriega, who was overthrown in a U.S. military invasion—the 1990 Operation Just Cause which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Panamanians and Noriega’s replacement with a regime even more enmeshed in the drug trade.

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Rafael Montalvo [Source:]

Montalvo also said he was going to send McCaul a speech by Vladimir Putin calling for a Kennedy-Khrushchev style summit, which Montalvo said was code for the establishment of a new world order led by Putin.

This was an example of the extreme right-wing viewpoint espoused at the roundtable designed to support hardline regime-change policies and U.S. military intervention.

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U.S. tank in Panama City in December 1989 during Operation Just Cause—what Montalvo, McCaul and company would like to see in Havana. [Source:]

One of the speakers, Rosa Maria Payá, claimed that her father, Oswaldo Payá, founder of the anti-Castro Christian Liberation Movement in the 1980s, was murdered by Castro 11 years ago.[1]

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Oswaldo Payá [Source:]

She and a couple of other speakers emphasized the situation of Cuba’s political prisoners, including Latin Grammy Award winner Maykel “Osorbo” Castillo Pérez, whose song “Patria y Vida” was a rallying cry for anti-regime protesters in July 2021.

What was not reported at the roundtable was that Osorbo was part of an artists’ collective that received funding from the NED, along with USAID offshoots and free-market fundamentalist think tanks, according to The Grayzone Project, as part of a U.S. government strategy—outlined by Gutiérrez-Boronat and former NED Director Carl Gershman in a 2009 paper in the NED’s Journal of Democracyof trying to encourage rebellion among marginalized minority youth, which in Cuba’s case includes Afro-Cubans.

Cuba rapper NED USAID CIA
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Danny Shaw [Source:]

Danny Shaw, a professor of Caribbean Studies at the City University of New York, told The Grayzone that artists in the NED’s purview whom he encountered were so hostile toward Cuba’s socialist system that they were oblivious to the rationale underlying that system and the impact of the U.S. economic war in undermining Cuba’s economy.

Rather than striving for an objective analysis, this roundtable provided a platform for extremists in Miami’s Cuban exile community and their political representatives to malign the Cuban government and drum up support for a regime-change operation that is destined to fail.

  1. Payá died in a suspicious car crash.

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