by Agustin Blazquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton

Castro is anti-Israel and a Jewish hater. He stole Jewish properties and decimated their community in Cuba.

It is a surprising paradox that for quite some time citrus production on the Isle of Youth (the second largest island of the Cuban archipelago formerly known as Isle of Pines prior to 1959) is in the hands of Israeli businessmen in a join venture with their own enemy, Castro.

The Israeli’s three factories are located precisely on the island, which was one of the suppliers of grapefruit and oranges before 1959. After that date, Castro changed its name to Isle of Youth.

To explain the immorality of it all, let’s go back to November 1966, when Castro opened more than a dozen guerrilla-training camps under the direction of KGB Col. Vadim Kotchergine where Palestinians were trained as terrorists against Israel. In 1967, after the Six-Day War, Ricardo Alarcon, then Cuba's UN Ambassador, referring to Israel called the war an "armed aggression against the Arab people . . . by a most treacherous . . . surprise attack in the Nazi manner." Actually, he equated Israelis to Nazis.

From the 1970s to date, Jews and the state of Israel have been scorned in Castro's controlled press.

In October 1973, Castro broke diplomatic relations with Israel after Cuban tank crews fought alongside the Syrians during the Yom Kippur War. To insult Jews and Israel even further, Castro gave the PLO an expropriated Jewish community center in Havana (El Sol Tapado Con Un Dedo, 1992, chronology, p. 82). On November 14, 1974, Yasser Arafat was enthusiastically received in Havana and given Castro's foremost decoration, the Bay of Pigs Medal. I guess a semantically fitting award for Arafat.

On May 30, 1978, Reuters news agency finally confirmed 12 years after the fact that PLO personnel were being trained in Cuba. On September 13, 1978, the Egyptian newspaper Ahar Sa'ah reported that 500 Palestinians were leaving for training in Cuba.

The Jewish presence in Cuba dates back to before World War I when many Spanish-speaking Sephardic Jews from the Balkans and Palestine immigrated to Cuba. In the 1920s many Polish Jews settled in Cuba after being refused entry into the U.S. Other European Jews fleeing Hitler went to Cuba as a waiting place for entrance to the U.S. Once refused entry into the U.S., many stayed in Cuba. They liked the country and its free enterprise system and opened businesses, schools, community centers and synagogues. Many married Cubans and prospered in the 1950s economic boom.

According to the Puebla Institute’s book “CUBA: Castro’s War on Religion” (1991) page 16, the number of Jews in Cuba was about "30,000 at their peak and were reduced to 15,000 by 1959."

Jews in Cuba, acquainted with Hitler, were concerned by Castro's similarities. They saw what was coming and warned others. Castro's unbridled anti-Semitism, from his Hitler admiring days, soon led to the expropriation of all assets of the thriving Cuban Jewish community, driving them into exile.

By 1967, around 2,000 were left--less than 1,000 today. Many joined the increasing Cuban exile community in Miami, New Jersey and other places.

As a matter of principle it is very difficult to comprehend why the Israelis have three factories in Cuba staffed with Israeli personal working as supervisors and in the fields alongside the Cuban military.

As described on August 28, 2003 by Lazaro Ricardo Perez Garcia, the President of the illegal Cuban Human Rights Foundation of Isle of Pines, published by, the three factories are: a plant for processing fresh fruit for export, a juice producing plant with a capability of 12 tons per hour, (where in addition essential oils and dehydrated forage is obtained) and a metal container factory. All with state-of-the-art Israeli technology occupying an indoor space of 90,000 square feet.

According to Perez Garcia, the monthly salaries of the Cuban workers at the factories is 186 worthless pesos (equivalent to less than 7 dollars), while the Israelis are paid approximately $3,000. per month. However, “most of the work is done by the Juvenile Work Army and by students from the high schools located in the countryside, who do not receive any salary.” So, the Israelis are turning their backs to this repugnant exploitation not only of Cuban workers but are taking advantage of free child labor.

The only incentive for the Cuban agricultural workers in the citrus factories is a government store “which sells exclusively basic necessities, but it works through a point system. According to the amount of points accumulated by each worker doing different tasks, they are sold whatever is decided [by the government] should be sold to them, such as: bicycles, shampoo, soap, etc., which has cause division amongst workers.”

To be fair, the Israelis are not the only ones involved in the exploitation of Cuban workers and the use of free child labor--the Canadians, Spaniards, Mexicans and other nations involved in join ventures with the Cuban government are also willing participants in these immoral operations. These practices have been denounced for years to the deaf ears of the international community and the United Nations.

And American corporations like Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), through their Spanish subsidiary, ALFI S.A., invested 65 million dollars in 1997 to build a refinery for the production of alcohol from molasses in Cardenas, the town where Elian Gonzalez was born.

ADM is one of the main sponsors of the pro-Castro lobby on Capitol Hill to lift the U.S. embargo and for the easing of the travel ban. American businessmen and the agribusiness are salivating at the prospect of huge profits from the exploitation of the little Cuban workers and are not interested at all for Castro’s regime to fall. And an increasing number of American politicians rush to obey the interests of ADM and other corporations to assure their contributions.

There is an interesting precedent in the U.S. that could put a stop to all these greedy foreign companies exploiting the Cuban workers and children. Actually, we don’t need Helms-Burton. So Bush can continue waiving its enforcement that Clinton started.

As reported by Lisa Girion in the Los Angeles Times on September 19, 2002, a federal appeals panel in Pasadena, California ruled that multinational corporations “can be held liable in US courts for aiding and abetting human rights violations committed by others abroad.”

The cases included the Unocal Corporation in Burma for “turning a blind eye to alleged human rights abuses, including murder and rape, against Burmese villagers. Myanmar government soldiers allegedly forced the villagers to work on a $1.2 billion natural gas pipeline.” This decision, the article says “was seen as a breakthrough for foreigners seeking to hold multinational corporations accountable for the alleged complicity with repressive regimes in human rights abuses.”

It reveals that “At least 10 similar lawsuits are pending around the country against corporations, including Chevron Texaco Corp. and Coca-Cola Co., and human rights lawyers have several other cases involving multinational companies waiting in the wings. Now this court has clarified that you cannot knowingly assist a crime and claim you are not responsible.” So this applies also to all of the foreigners that are doing business with the Castro regime and exploiting the Cuban workers in an apartheid system.

As of September 3, 2003, the Unocal Corporation was in big trouble and received judicial demands in state and federal courts in California for 1 billion dollars for their complicity in the violation of human rights in Burma and its complicity with the military regime in charge. As a result, U.S. investors panicked and demanded that Unocal implement the internationally recognized labor laws and made them responsible for their loss of money because of these demands.

The investors estimated that if the current regime in Burma collapses, they will lose everything. With this legal tangle, the value of their stock is down and because of this mess the investors are paralyzed.

Foreign businessmen should beware because the same thing can happen to all of them dealing with the Castro regime.

In Castro’s Cuba, all labor rights are violated. The foreign companies involved in these joint ventures are working in complicity with Castro’s regime. They know that all salaries are paid to Castro in U.S. dollars, not to the Cuban workers. They know that Castro keeps 95% of it and pays the other 5% in worthless Cuban pesos to the workers. They know that Castro’s regime provides child labor free.

These foreign companies are accomplices in the arrest, torture and incarceration of Cuban independent union leaders when they try to demand their rights. But some of them managed to escape Cuba and they live in exile in the U.S.—former employees, adults and children--and can press charges against those foreign companies. A time bomb is ticking . . ..

Therefore, foreign businesses and investments in Castro’s Cuba are on very shaky grounds. Sooner or later they are going to lose everything. They are in complicity with a repressive and corrupt military regime and they are going to lose billions on a tyranny that is on its last leg. And all because of greed.


© ABIP 2003

Agustin Blazquez, Producer/director of the documentaries

COVERING CUBA, CUBA: The Pearl of the Antilles, COVERING CUBA 2: The Next Generation, COVERING CUBA 3: Elian (presented at the 2003 Miami Latin Film Festival) and the upcoming COVERING CUBA 4: The Rats Below.

Author with Carlos Wotzkow of the book COVERING AND DISCOVERING and translator with Jaums Sutton of the book by Luis Grave de Peralta Morell THE MAFIA OF HAVANA: The Cuban Cosa Nostra.

For a preview and information on the documentary and books click here: ABIP

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