By Karen Wald
HAVANA — Thirty years after the missile crisis that led the world to the brink of nuclear war ended with a pledge by the US government that it would not invade Cuba nor encourage those who wished to do so, two separate actions have demonstrated that that promise — often breached — has disappeared along with the Soviet Union.
On the night of December 29, three counter-revolutionary terrorists who had been training in the Florida Everglades — under the eyes of US authorities who did nothing to stop them — slipped into Cuba near the town of Cardenas.
They had been ferried to the island in a yacht that left Marathon Key, Florida, in broad daylight, and dropped the men off in a motorised inflatable rubber boat near Varadero Beach. With them in the boat were an assortment of weapons and incendiary devices, to be used, they said, to carry out guerrilla warfare against the revolution.
The three men were well known in Miami exile circles. Santovenia's father took part in the aborted Bay of Pigs invasion. He and Pedro de la Caridad Alvarez were members of the Nationalist Insurrectionary Directorate according to one of its other members in Florida. Along with Eduardo Diaz Betancourt, they had trained for months in the Everglades, as Santovenia's father proudly told the Miami Herald.
Another right-wing exile group, calling itself "Human Rights in Cuba", had the audacity to disseminate a public communiqué asking people to intercede on behalf of the captured terrorists "whatever the cause or circumstances that led to the present situation". Cuba's Granma newspaper commented bitterly that the group's concern for human rights didn't extend to the "men, women and children who would have become the victims of these terrorists who were trained under the noses of the FBI".
The fact that their paramilitary activities and attempts to overthrow foreign governments are illegal under US as well as international law has never deterred anti-Castro groups such as Alpha 66 from publicly boasting of their training camps in the Everglades, and other groups have proudly announced "missions" against the island in recent years.
When captured, the group had in its possession 41 plastic incendiary devices, four gas grenades containing chemical irritants, a red smoke grenade, an AKM rifle, a Luger submachine gun, two pistols, abundant ammunition and nine tape cassettes with anti-revolutionary messages prerecorded.
Cuban authorities announced that the captured terrorists admitted planning to carry out sabotage, terrorist actions and subversive propaganda, intending to claim these had been carried out by internal opposition groups with no outside aid.
They said they had been given instructions by the leaders of various roups based in the US. If they ran into ey had been given names and addresses of leaders and members of opposition groups on the island, whom they could contact under the guise of "human rights activists".
In Miami, according to the would-be terrorists, they acted quite openly, training in public areas and carrying arms and war materiel without any problems. They took off from Marathon Key in Florida at 7 p.m. on December 28, they said, and there was a Miami reporter aboard the yacht that ferried them to Cuba.
Days after their capture was announced to the press, counter-revolutionaries from the island finished a bungled attempt to steal small boats from an aquatic amusement area in a children's camp by shooting, execution-style, two young police officers, a night watchman and a coast guardsman.
All four had been bound hand and foot and their weapons taken away from them by the would-be exiles, one of whom had previously worked at the Pioneer camp at Tarara and was known to some of the victims. Three of the men — 19, 20 and 30 years old — died immediately from multiple gunshot wounds. The fourth, in critical condition, was able to identify at least one of his assailants, who was later picked up by police.