On September 17, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez
launched the 2007-2008 Heritage Foundation series "Cuba at the
Crossroads," which explores the choices Cuba faces after the end of
Fidel Castro's 50-year reign. The next event in the series will
focus on the threat that Cuba currently poses to U.S. national
security through its activities in Latin America, intelligence
operations, and relations with U.S. enemies.
At the Crossroads
Cuba at the Crossroads will provide a series of perspectives to
support U.S. government planning for the transition that will occur
in Cuba after the (perhaps imminent) death of Fidel Castro.
After 50 years of tyranny, will Cubans finally be free to build
a market-based democracy? Or will the Castro regime's apparatchiks
cling to control of Castro's totalitarian machinery? What will be
the role of Venezuelan dictator and Castro protégé
Hugo Chávez? Will the Cuban people be forced to endure 50
more years of life in a cruel command-economy police state?
Over the next few months, leaders from Congress, the Executive
Branch, academia, and the media will come to Heritage to lead
focused discussions on the potential role of the United States in
shaping post-Castro Cuba, the future of U.S.-Cuba relations, and
the role a newly democratic Cuba might play in the hemisphere.
Cuba's Threat to U.S. National Security
The next event will feature a discussion of the many ways that
Castro's Cuba threatens U.S. national security. A number of
security issues stand out:
- Cuba is aggressively spreading anti-Americanism throughout
Latin America and is deeply involved in backing and advising the
increasingly totalitarian and virulently anti-U.S. regime of
Venezuelan dictator-President Hugo Chávez.
- Since Raul Castro took the reins as acting head of state in
2006, Cuban intelligence services have intensified their targeting
of the U.S. Since 9/11, however, U.S. intelligence agencies have
reduced the priority assigned to Cuba.
- Cuba's Directorate of Intelligence (DI) is among the top six
intelligence services in the world. Thirty-five of its intelligence
officers or agents have been identified operating in the U.S. and
neutralized between 1996 and 2003. This is strong evidence of
DI's aggressiveness and hostility toward the U.S.
- Cuba traffics in intelligence. U.S. intelligence secrets
collected by Cuba have been sold to or bartered with Russia, China,
North Korea, Iran, and other enemies of the United States. China is
known to have had intelligence personnel posted to the Cuban
Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) site at Bejucal since 2001, and
Russia continues to receive Cuban SIGINT information. Additionally,
many Cuban intelligence agents and security police are advising
Hugo Chávez in Venezuela.
- Cuban intelligence has successfully compromised every major
U.S. military operation since the 1983 invasion of Grenada and has
provided America's enemies with forewarning of impending U.S.
- Beijing is busy working to improve Cuban signals intelligence
and electronic warfare facilities, which had languished after the
fall of the Soviet Union, integrating them into China's own global
satellite network. Mary O'Grady of the Wall Street Journal
has noted that this means the Chinese army, at a cyber-warfare
complex 20 miles south of Havana, can now monitor phone
conversations and Internet transmissions in America.
Recommendations for the Bush Administration and
- The Bush Administration should raise the priority of Cuba at
all U.S. defense and intelligence agencies.
- The Bush Administration should increase funding for efforts by
these agencies to counter the Cuban intelligence threat as the
post-Castro transition approaches.
- Congress should hold hearings on ways that current threats to
U.S. national security can be eliminated and market-based democracy
can be promoted in post-Castro Cuba.
James M. Roberts
is Research Fellow for Economic Freedom and Growth in the Center
for International Trade and Economics at The Heritage
Oscar Corral, "Analyst's New Job: Visualizing Cuba After Castro
Dies," The Miami Herald, June 2, 2006, p. A1.