Saturday, May 30, 2009

"We Will Provoke Them" [Addendum]

Here's something you won't read or hear in the local media.

Earlier this month, the distinguished Cuban exile organization called Los Municipios de Cuba en el Exilio (Municipalities of Cuba in Exile) celebrated the inauguration of their newest President, Manuel Alzugaray (photo). Los Municipios is made up of various representatives from the traditional six provinces of Cuba. In the seventies, Cuba was officially divided into 14 provinces (with one special municipality), but it seems that Los Municipios does not recognize this change.

Anyway, Alzugaray was given a "great tribute" as the new President of Los Municipios. Spanish-language newspaper Diario las Americas reported that Alzugaray, in his speech, "invited the exile community to maintain their fight against the ruling Communism in Cuba and change the strategies and policies for the future democracy and freedom on the island."

Libre Magazine, another local Spanish-language publication, reported the same comments and quoted Alzugaray telling members of Los Municipios that it is time to "intensify the fight against the Castro tyranny."

But, both reports left out some very important facts. That day, Alzugaray provided some very important details about how he was going to "intensify the fight against the Castro tyranny."

Someone recently uploaded video excerpts on YouTube of Alzugaray's speech. The edited video is a very interesting inside-glimpse of a meeting of Los Municipios. But, most important is what Alzugaray says in the video starting at 8:24.

According to Alzugaray, his organization "will work on some programs inside Cuba which shall be with the Miami Medical Team [or] Doctors Without Borders creating what are known as the independent medical clinics... We will provoke them. Yes, we are going make a humanitarian provocation and with humanitarian things [or actions] because we can't do anything else, but we know how to do what must be done well.

"We have been preparing these last two years since I left the [prior] Presidency, methodically preparing [to] now begin the provocation against the [Castro] regime. If they accept the provocation they are going to look bad. If they don't accept it, then they are going to look bad as well."

This is the FIRST time I've ever heard a leader from the Cuban exile community describe their campaign as a "provocation" intended against the Castro regime. Normally, campaigns directed towards Cuba, and designed in Miami, are described as legitimate efforts to help the people of Cuba, and not necessarily efforts to "provoke" the regime.

Alzugaray's new strategy seems like the result of desperation, and he may also be putting many other things at risk.

First of all, it should be made clear that Alzugaray is a militant. Not only is he a leader of Los Municipios, he also belongs to the Foro Patriotico Cubano (Patriotic Cuban Forum) leadership which includes Armando Perez Roura (from Radio Mambi), Diego Suarez (from the Cuban Liberty Council), Juan Alonso (President of Unidad Cubana) and also Orlando Bosch (accused terrorist). Last month, the Foro made an official statement rejecting "all agreement, pact, settlement or dialog with Fidel and Raul Castro or those others who seek to perpetuate the current regime."

Even Alzugaray's own humanitarian organization, the Miami Medical Team (MMT), is part of his militancy. The MMT was founded by Alzugaray in the early 80s during the Cold War to provide medical assistance to the Contras of Nicaragua, and soon to the rebels in Angola. Throughout the wars, Alzugaray continued to provide his services through the MMT because "[t]he freedom fighter's struggle is the same as ours. Castro is in Nicaragua. Castro is in Angola."*

Since the end of the Cold War, the Miami Medical Team has provided much important humanitarian assistance, such as fighting a dengue epidemic in El Salvador, to name one example. But, Alzugaray risks the reputation of his own organization by saying that their main goal now is to "provoke" the Cuban government.

In fact, Alzugaray might be helping the Castro regime by giving them the perfect excuse to continue their political repression against Cuban dissidents. Back in 2003, Fidel Castro justified his worst political repression on the "provocations" of one man: then-U.S. Interest Section Chief James Cason. While Cason was able to easily deny those accusations, dissident campaigns associated with Alzugaray (or anyone in Miami) might now have a much harder time to make the same denial. (Ironically, James Cason was present during Alzugaray's speech.)

The strategy of "provocation," hidden within programs to help Cuban dissidents or Cubans in general, contributes to the endless conflict between Cuba and the U.S., and is destined to fail like other efforts of the past (such as Radio/TV Marti).

How unfortunate again for those who really want to make a difference inside Cuba.


In his speech to Los Municipios, Manuel Alzugaray mentions two years of methodical preparation for his plans of "provocation." Those plans have been reported about before, but not as "provocations."

- In a 2007 story by EFE, Alzugaray described his plans, called "Project Cuba," as a humanitarian mission by the Miami Medical Team (MMT) that would follow the emergence of a "transitional Cuban government towards democracy." The MMT would provide "logistical support" for Cuba's healthcare system with headquarters in Miami and Havana.

- In a 2008 story by Alfonso Chardy, Alzugaray provided more details of "Project Cuba." Once a "post-Castro" transitional government is in place, the MMT would deploy "300 doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and paramedics to go to Cuba in a matter of hours." They would also have the help of recently exiled Cuban doctors, who already have a "network of professional contacts with doctors and other medical personnel in the island."

It seems now that MMT's "Project Cuba" has taken a more aggressive design. Proposals for "independent medical clinics" inside Cuba will be aimed to "provoke" the Cuban government. Exactly how this "provocation" will operate is unknown. But, Alzugaray will surely find a way.

Earlier this year, it was reported by Libre Magazine that Alzugaray came up with the idea of distributing videos in Cuba that documented "the fight that has been wage over 50 years trying to overthrow this ruthless regime." The video, titled "Honor to the Fallen in the Province of Las Villas," was to be distributed through the "independent libraries" inside Cuba.

*[Rhor, Monica. (1989, October 31). Freedom healer Manuel Alzugaray travels the world... Sun-Sentinel, p.3B]

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