Castro and Terrorism: A Chronology
By Eugene Pons
Institute for Cuban & Cuban-American Studies | June 10, 2005
Since 1948 when, as a young student, Fidel Castro participated in the
violence that rocked Colombian society and distributed anti-U.S.
he has been guided by two objectives: a commitment to violence and a
virulent anti-Americanism. His struggle since and his forty-two years
in Cuba have been characterized primarily by these goals.
In the 1960's Castro and his brother, Raul, believed that the political
economic conditions that produced their revolution existed in Latin
and that anti-American revolutions would occur throughout the
Cuban agents and diplomats established contact with revolutionary,
and guerrilla groups in the area and began distributing propaganda,
and aid. Many Latin Americans were brought to Cuba for training and
returned to their countries.
At the Tricontinental Conference held in Havana in 1966 and attended by
revolutionary leaders from throughout the world, Castro insisted that
bullets not ballots was the way to achieve power and provided the
institutional means to promote his anti-American, violent line. He
that "conditions exist for an armed revolutionary struggle" and
those who opposed armed struggle, including some Communist leaders in
America, as "traitorous, rightists, and deviationists."
Castro's attempts in the 1960's to bring revolutionary, anti-American
regimes to power failed. His support for guerrillas and terrorist
Guatemala, Venezuela, and Bolivia only produced violence and suffering
those countries and their people, which repudiated violence as a means
achieve power. Violence resulted in military regimes coming to power
several Latin American countries
For the next two decades, the Cuban leadership, supported by the Soviet
Union, modified its tactics. In addition to agents from the America
Department, the subversive arm of Cuba's Communist Party, Castro used
Armed Forces to help friendly groups achieve power in Latin America and
Africa. In Nicaragua Cuban military personnel, weapons and
supported and helped bring to power the Sandinistas. In El Salvador, a
bloody civil war in part fomented and aided by Cuba, ended in a
and a negotiated peace.
In Africa, Castro achieved his most significant victories. The
backed Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) faction was
power in Angola and other Cuban supported regimes came to power
the continent. The Cuban military also trained and supplied the
African Peoples Organization (SWAPO) and the African National Congress
(ANC), forces fighting the South African regime.
Castro also became involved with African-Americans in the U.S. and with
Macheteros, a Puerto Rican terrorist group. Cuba focused particular
attention on the black struggle in the U.S., providing aid and training
the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army, as well as a
the island for black leaders. Castro continuously promoted the
of Puerto Rico and supported the Macheteros who committed terrorist
bank robberies in the United States. Several still live in Cuba.
Cuban military and intelligence personnel aided Middle Eastern groups
regimes in their struggle against Israel, and Cuban troops fought on
side of Arab States, particularly Syria, during the Yom Kippur war.
sent military instructors and advisors into Palestinian bases;
with Libya in the founding of World Mathaba, a terrorist movement; and
established close military cooperation and exchanges with Iraq, Libya,
Southern Yemen, the Polisario Front for the Liberation of Western
the PLO and others in the Middle East.
Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, Castro continues to undermine
policies in the Middle East in several ways: a) by portraying U.S.
and diplomacy in the region as those of an aggressor, seeking to impose
hegemony by force, particularly in Iraq and the perpetration of
economic sanctions on Iraq and Iran; b) by portraying the U.S. as the
obstacle to a peaceful settlement of the Israel/Arab conflict; and c)
discrediting U.S. policies and seeking support for Cuba at the U.N.
anti-American views and policies are conveyed as a systematic message
through a network of Cuban embassies and agents, as well as at the U.N.
other non-governmental political, religious and cultural organizations.
While not abandoning his close relationships in the Middle East, Castro
recently concentrated his support on several groups: the Fuerzas
Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), where Castro, and his new ally Hugo
Chavez of Venezuela, see significant possibilities for success; ETA,
Basque terrorist/separatist organization from Spain, which has found
and support in Cuba, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which
its Latin American headquarters in Havana.
American policymakers should pay careful attention to the intricate web
relationships which emerges so clearly from this chronology. It
details Castro's involvement with and support for terrorist regimes and
organizations during the past four decades. Cuba's geographical
Castro's continuous connections with these groups and states and the
harboring of terrorists in Havana creates a dynamic that requires
It should be emphasized that in addition to violence and terrorism,
and his regime, have been for more than four decades, the most vocal
active proponents of anti-Americanism. The often-repeated view in many
countries that the United States is an evil power, guilty for much of
problems and sufferings of the developing world, is owed in great part
the propaganda efforts of Fidel Castro.
Jaime Suchlicki, Director
Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies
Castro and Terrorism A Chronology
By Eugene Pons
* Raúl Castro and Che Guevara visited Cairo and established contacts
African liberation movements stationed in and supported by Cairo. Both
leaders visited Gaza and expressed support for the Palestinian cause.
* Members of the Dominican Republic "Agrupación Política Catorce de
received military training in Cuba.
* Major emphasis was placed on instructing several hundred pro-Castro
Latin Americans in violence and guerrilla warfare. Dominicans,
Venezuelans and Chileans were trained in special camps in Cuba and
infiltrated back to their countries.
* Castro established relations with the Algerian FLN; official and
support was extended, weapons were shipped to the FLN through Morocco
(1960-1961). Cuba provided shelter, medical and educational services
cooperation in the fields of counter-intelligence and intelligence.
* African leaders from Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, South
Spanish Guinea, Tanganyika and Zanzibar arrived in Cuba for military
* Che Guevara engaged in guerrilla operations in Congo-Kinshasa
Zaire) in 1965.
* A revolutionary trained in Cuba, John Okello, overthrew the
government in Zanzibar in 1964 and proclaimed the "People's Republic of
Zanzibar" which was promptly recognized by Cuba and the Soviet Union.
* Conference of Latin American Communist Parties held in Havana
"help actively the guerrilla forces in Venezuela, Guatemala, Paraguay,
Colombia, Honduras and Haiti".
* Group of Venezuelans, members of the Movimiento de la Izquierda
Revolucionaria (MIR), trained in Cuba and landed in the Venezuela coast
the State of Miranda.
* Cuban trained Guatemalans Cesar Montes and Luis Turcios Lima led a
violent terrorist/guerrilla campaign against the government in
Montes organized the Ejercito Guerrillero de los Pobres (EGP) in
In the 1980's he joined the FMLN in El Salvador and participated
the bloody civil war in that country.
* Cuba welcomed the founding of the PLO. First contacts with
FATAH in 1965 in Algiers and Damascus.
* The Tricontinental Conference was held in Havana in January, 1966
adopt a common political strategy against colonialism, neocolonialism,
imperialism. Cuba provided the organizational structure to support
terrorist, anti-American groups in the Middle East and Latin
America. The Organization for the Solidarity with the Peoples of
Asia and Latin America (OSPAAL) was created.
* Fidel Castro created The National Liberation Directorate (DLN) in
to support revolutionary groups throughout the world. DLN was
for planning and coordinating Cuba's terrorist training camps in the
covert movement of personnel and military supplies from Cuba and a
* A Cuban controlled Latin American Solidarity Organization (LASO),
its permanent seat in Havana was created to "coordinate and foment the
against North American imperialism".
* In Venezuela, Castro made a relentless and determined effort to
another Cuba by supporting the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberaci n Nacional
and promoting violence and terrorism against the democratically elected
regime of R mulo Betancourt.
* Castro sent weapons via Cairo, to the NLF in Southern Yemen. Cuban
agents were sent on fact-finding missions to North and South Yemen
* Cuba published a small book by French Marxist journalist Regis
Revolution in the Revolution, promoting guerrilla warfare in Latin
The book was translated into various languages and distributed widely.
* Cuban supported guerrillas led by Che Guevara moved into Bolivia in
attempt to create "many Vietnams " in South America.
* Cuba and Syria developed a close alliance and supported FATAH and
Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF).
* Cuba continued its military and political support for FATAH after
Syrians broke with the latter, and Cuban military, political and
intelligence support was granted to other Palestinian organizations.
* Castro sent military instructors and advisors into Palestinian
Jordan to train Palestinian Fedayeen (1968); first high-level
from FATAH-PLO visited Cuba (1970).
* Several missions sent to Southern Yemen to support NLF/FATAH Ismail
politically and militarily.
* Castro began supporting and training of M19, a Colombian guerrilla
that captured the Dominican Embassy and the Justice building in Bogota
assassinated several prominent Colombian judges.
* In 1970 a "Mini Manual for Revolutionaries" was published in the
official LASO publication Tricontinental, written by Brazilian urban
terrorist leader Carlos Marighella. The mini manual gives precise
instruction in terror tactics, kidnappings, etc. The short book was
translated into numerous languages and distributed worldwide by Cuba.
* Cuba commenced political and military cooperation with Somalia's
* Economic and political cooperation began with Libya in 1974.
* In 1974 the National Liberation Directorate (DLN) was reorganized
the America Department (DA) under the Communist Party of Cuba Central
Committee. The DA centralized control over Cuban activities for
national liberation movements. The DA was responsible for planning and
coordinating Cuba's secret guerrilla and terrorist training camps,
for the covert movement of personnel and material from Cuba, and a
propaganda apparatus. DA agents also operated in Europe and other
Trusted Castro ally Manuel Pi±eiro, " Barbaroja" was placed in charge.
* Cuba provided training and support to the Tupamaros, a terrorist
operating in Uruguay.
* Cuba's America Department (DA) set up a network for the funneling
weapons and supplies to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
* In 1979 second in command in Cuba's America Department (DA) Armando
Ulises Estrada, helped unify Sandinista factions fighting Somoza.
* Closer connections with FATAH-PLO and other Palestinian
were reinforced, including training of Latin American guerrillas in
Cuba's military support included counter-intelligence and intelligence
* Arafat visited Cuba in 1974.
* Cuba provided military support and personnel to Syria during the
Kippur War (1973-1975).
* Black Panther Party members from the U.S. were trained in Canada by
Cuban personnel. Black Panther leaders and other U.S. blacks also
weapons and explosives training in Havana.
* Cuba joined with Algeria and Libya on a diplomatic/political
in support of Frente POLISARIO (People's Front for the Liberation of
Sahara and R o del Oro); later on provided military cooperation, and
* The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that there
Palestinians training in Cuban camps.
* Cuba supported the so-called "Steadfastness Front" against the U.S.
backed Camp David accord.
* Illich Ramirez Sanchez, known as "Carlos, the Jackal", responsible
numerous terrorist acts in Europe, trained in Cuba. He attended the
Tricontinental Conference in Havana and later trained in urban
tactics, automatic weapons, explosives and sabotage in Cuba.
* Abu Iyad, a close aid to Yasser Arafat, stated in 1978 that
Palestinian had been sent to Cuban terrorist camps.
* Additional military and political support provided to the
cause; Arafat attended the Sixth Non-Aligned Conference in Havana
* During Havana visit, Arafat signed agreement for military
and arms supply.
* Significant hard currency loans (tens of million) were facilitated
Arafat-PLO to the Cuban government under very soft terms; Cuba granted
diplomatic and political support to Arafat during the 1982 Israeli
* The Aden (South Yemen) regime supported the Ethiopian radical
commanded by Mengistu Haile Mariam, sending Yemeni military units in
of the latter against Somali aggression, and asking the Cubans to do
same. Cuba joined in, first with a group of officers headed by General
Arnaldo Ochoa, a move that was followed later on by the deployment of
Cuban forces against the Somali invasion. Also as part of the alliance
the Aden regime, Cuba granted some small-scale support to the Dhofaris
their armed struggle against the monarchy in Oman.
* The Cuban trained Congolese National Liberation Front invaded
* As part of Cuba's alliance with Mengistu Haile Mariam's regime in
Ethiopia, the Cuban leadership decided to engage in active political
military support of the Liberation Movement of Southern Sudan headed by
Garang against the Arab-Muslim regime in Khartoum.
* Cuba developed closer ties with and sent military advisors to Iraq.
* Cuba's America Department (DA) operated a weapons pipeline to the
Farabundo Mart National Front (FMLN) a terrorist group attempting to
power in El Salvador.
* Cuba cooperated with Libya in the political founding of the World
MATHABA in Tripoli, to provide political support and coordinate
revolutionary violence throughout the world. Cuba supported Libya's
Chad and the FRENTE POLISARIO.
* Cuban trained terrorists members of the Guatemalan EGP kidnapped a
businessman in Guatemala. Several were arrested in Mexico when
* Despite its close links with Baghdad, Cuba recognized and praised
Iranian Revolution. Once Iraq attacked Iran, Castro withdrew his
advisors from Baghdad and adopted a position of official impartiality,
though more sympathetic to Baghdad, due to his past relations.
* Argentine born Cuban intelligence agent Jorge Massetti helped
Cuban funds to finance Puerto Rican terrorists belonging to the
group. The Macheteros highjacked a Wells Fargo truck in Connecticut in
September 1983 and stole $7.2 million.
* Cuba's America Department (DA) provided, thru Jorge Massetti,
and several thousand dollars to the Chilean MIR.
* Libyan support to Latin American revolutionary movements,
Central America and the whole of the World MATHABA project, declined
the U.S.bombing of Tripoli in 1986.
* Cuban agents in Mexico engaged in bank robberies to finance several
terrorist groups from Latin America operating out of Mexico.
* The Palestinian Intifada increased Cuba's support for Arafat and
PLO, both diplomatic and military.
* Several dozen Mexicans received training in terrorism and guerrilla
warfare in Sierra del Rosario, Pinar del Rio Province and in Guanabo,
* After the negotiations leading to the establishment of the
National Authority, Cuban-Palestinian military cooperation was
including the areas of counter-intelligence and intelligence.
* In early 1989, Cuban General Patricio de la Guardia directed a plot
Havana and charged Jorge Massetti with blowing up the U.S. transmission
balloon of TV Mart located in the Florida Keys.
* Cuba condemned Iraq for its invasion and annexation of Kuwait,
supporting the latter's sovereignty; it also condemned U.S. military
operations in the Gulf and abstained at the U.N. from supporting the
the sanctions imposed on Baghdad. A Cuban military delegation was sent
Iraq to learn and share what was considered vital information and
experiences from U.S. combat operations in Kuwait and Iraq.
* Cuba provided advanced weapons and demolition training to the Tupac
Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in Per·. The Tupac Amaru attacked
U.S. Embassy in 1984; bombed the Texaco offices in 1985 and attacked
residence of the U.S. Ambassador in 1985 all in Lima, Per·.
* ETA, a Spanish terrorist organization seeking a separate Basque
homeland, established the Cuartel General (General Headquarters) in
* A high-level PLO military delegation including the head of
paid a visit to Cuba.
* On February 24, 1996, Cuban Air Force Migs shot down, in
waters, two small unarmed civilian planes belonging to Brothers to the
Rescue, a Miami based group. All occupants were killed, including three
* The election of Abdelaziz Bouteflika (April 1999) as President of
Algeria, opened new opportunities for Cuba, given Bouteflika's close
relationship with the Cuban government for more than three decades.
* PLO leaders continue to have close relations with the Cuban
having access to specialized military and intelligence training, either
Cuba or Palestinian territory, and in the sharing of intelligence.
* A spokesman for the Basque government in Spain met in Havana with
high level ETA terrorist taking refuge in Cuba, Jos Angel Urtiaga
and Jes·s Lucio Abrisqueta Corte.
* Cuba continued to provide safe haven to several terrorists
from the U.S. They include: Black Liberation Army leader Joanne
aka Assata Shakur, one of New Jersey's most wanted fugitives for
New Jersey State trooper in 1973 and Charlie Hill a member of the
of New Afrika Movement wanted for the hijacking of TWA 727 and the
a New Mexico State trooper
* A number of Basque ETA terrorists who gained sanctuary in Cuba
years ago continued to live on the island, as did several Puerto Ricans
members of the Machetero Group.
* Castro refused to join the other Ibero-American heads of state in
condemning ETA terrorism at the 2000 Ibero-American Summit in Panama
slammed Mexico for its support of the Summit's statement against
* Castro continues to maintain ties to several state sponsors of
in Latin America. Colombia's two largest terrorist organizations, the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National
Army (ELN), both maintain a permanent presence on the island.
* Colombian officials arrested IRA members Niall Connelly, Martin
and James Monaghan and accused then of training the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC). Connelly had been living in Cuba as the
representative of the IRA for Latin America.
* Former Defense Department counter-terrorism expert John More told
that Cubans, militant Palestinians, Hezbollah and even advisors from
leftist government of Venezuela are all active in Colombia.
* During the trial of several Cuban spies in Miami, one of the
Alejandro Alonso revealed on December 30, 2000 that he was instructed
Havana to locate areas in South Florida "where we can move persons as
as things, including arms and explosives."
* Speaking at Tehran University in Iran on May 10, 2001 Fidel Castro
that "the imperialist king will finally fall".