By Hugo J.Byrne

The old Castro apologist Wayne S. Smith, in an article published in Los Angeles Times on 6-16-02 accused the Bush administration of playing Cuban-American politics by including Castro in its terrorist list, and viewing the Cuban totalitarian regime as a terrorist state hostile to the U.S. Smith says Bush's Cuban policy is solely dictated by Florida's domestic politics, designed to placate the "hard right" Cuban American community.

To back that statement Smith claims the U.S. has no evidence of Castro's guilt, and that his favorite dictator has consistently denounced terrorism since Sept. 11 of last year. To anyone truly knowledgeable about Castro's life and times, and about Mr. Smith himself, the proposition is laughable.

While it is true Castro denounced the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, offering his "help and cooperation" for the "total eradication of terrorism", the case can be easily made that he had no choice in the matter.

Can anyone imagine Castro cheering and openly supporting the terrorist's slaughtering of over 2,800 innocent American lives today, given his past actions and present predicament?

With the Soviet umbrella gone for good, and his economy in self-made shambles, the idea of the bearded dictator destroying with one single stroke his best possibility of survival -that of his regime being supported by the U.S. taxpayers- is preposterous, let alone of becoming himself by virtue of that action, a legitimate prime target for the U.S war on terrorism.

However, the notion that Castro's protestations are legitimate, defy common sense.

Smith hopes we forget that his friend is the same dictator that once requested from the former Soviet Union the means to endanger our survival to a point never reached after or before in history, and the fact that to achieve his political ends, Castro has a lengthy record of betrayal and deception.

First, he deceived the Cuban people by promising a legal government under the 1940 constitution, but once in power imposed his life long dictatorship instead. Then, he deceived the U.S. government and everybody else by claiming he was not a communist, just to admit later that he was in fact a Marxist-Leninist, and had been since his college days, and that he would be just that until "the last day of my life."

During the days immediately before the 1962 Missile Crisis, Castro, in cahoots with the Soviets, denied with vehemence the Cuban exile community's accusation of his deployment of mid-range nuclear Soviet missiles. The U2 surveying flights proved his treachery.

The testimony on his craftiness, provided by his former henchmen and others, is impressive. According to Jorge Masetti, former Castro's "hit-man" and son in law of the so-called "Castro's James Bond"; the late MININT Colonel Antonio de la Guardia Fonts, Castro personally promised the latter to spare his life in exchange for cooperation during his high profile drug trial in 1989. After de la Guardia incriminated himself and others, he was executed anyway. Recently Castro promised current Mexican President Fox to maintain confidentiality over a personal telephone conversation, a common courtesy among chiefs of state. Instead, Castro tapped the entire conversation, including Fox's request for confidentiality and his own promise to comply, making it public when it suited his whim.

Castro himself displayed the evidence of his duplicity for the whole world to hear. His alibi? The dictator claimed Mexico's Foreign Minister was lying about him! This is the epitome of shamelessness. To put it in simple terms, the dictator cannot be trusted.

That is of course, unless you take Wayne Smith seriously.

Among various and sundry convoluted claims about why Castro is not really a terrorist, and his regime not really giving safe haven to terrorism, Smith denies Castro ever saying last year in Teheran that "Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring America to its knees." "It is a complete fabrication", wrote Smith. What evidence Smith advances in support of his claim? First, a certain "Professor Nelson Valdes of the University of New Mexico", who "did analyze all the transcripts of Castro's statements in Iran", could not find anything on them "even resembling such a quote." Absent in Smith's essay is the source where "Professor Valdes" acquired Castro's transcripts. Smith also wrote that in his last visit to Havana, "Cuban foreign ministry officials confirmed that Castro categorically denies making such statement." Oh boy, are we reassured!

For starters, Castro's speeches in Teheran, including that statement, and other worse anti-American propaganda, were initially reported by the left-leaning French news agency France Press. Is Mr. Smith perhaps suggesting France Press is part of a George W. Bush's anti-Castro conspiracy?

Smith does not provide one single line on his essay to the trial and conviction of five members of Castro's "Wasp Net" spy ring in Florida. The five were convicted of trying to infiltrate and subvert the U.S. Army Southern Command and two among them were sentenced to life in prison for their part in the murder of American citizens.

The jury in that trial was unanimous in its guilty verdict on all charges, in spite of being stripped of Cuban-Americans and heavily composed of other minority groups at the defense request. The defense in that trial was also permitted to depose Castro's Army officers -obviously part of the spy conspiracy- by way of prerecorded video interviews. That was really a Kafkaesque situation!

Castro calls the five felons "heroes", and is supposedly mounting a big propaganda movement in their behalf.

Another name we could not find in Smith's piece is that of Ana B. Montes, ex senior analyst of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and also convicted as a spy after pleading guilty on all counts of espionage for Castro. Montes whose sentence of 25 years without possibility of parole is the product of plea-bargaining, is believed to be, together with Federal Bureau of Investigation's George Hansen, the biggest U.S. spy catches of the last twenty years. Yet, Smith ignores her totally.

No big surprise here. If Castro himself has not acknowledged any relation to Ana B. Montes until today, why should Smith? Perhaps Montes is ready to stay in the shade for 25 years as part of George W. "anti-Castro conspiracy."

The problem with Smith's claims, aside of being ridiculous, is the author's credibility.

For Jimmy Carter's ex-ambassador -he was the first head of the U.S. Interest Section in Havana- anyone opposing in any fashion forty-four years of one man and one party totalitarian rule in Cuba, is just a "hard-liner." Some times he has gone beyond that. He accused in writing the late founder and Chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation, Jorge Mas Canosa of being a "mafioso." Mas sued for libel and Smith lost the judgment. Faced with paying damages, Smith settled, offering a public written apology.

Yet, we agree with Smith there is a fundamental difference between Castro and Bin Laden. Bin Laden does not have a base of operations any more.


Hugo J. Byrne

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