US embassy cable - 88CARACAS1552

CUBA AFTER CASTRO -- ARE WE READY?

Identifier: 88CARACAS1552
Wikileaks: View 88CARACAS1552 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Caracas
Created: 1988-02-17 16:02:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL CU VE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 171602Z FEB 88
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1154
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 01552 
 
FOR ARA ABRAMS; INR ABRAMOWITZ 
DEPT PLEASE PASS NSC FOR SORZANO 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR 
TAGS:  PREL, CU, VE 
SUBJECT: CUBA AFTER CASTRO -- ARE WE READY? 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
 
2.  SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION:  THIS CABLE ASKS THE 
QUESTION: "IS THE UNITED STATES PREPARED FOR A 
SUDDEN CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT IN CUBA?"  IT DOES NOT 
ATTEMPT TO ANSWER THE QUESTION, NOR DOES IT 
SPECULATE ON THE PROBABILITY OF SUCH AN EVENT. 
IT ALSO DOES NOT PROPOSE COURSES OF ACTION DESIGNED 
TO BRING THAT EVENT ABOUT.  IT DOES SUGGEST THE 
USG ESTABLISH A STUDY GROUP TO CONSIDER OUR OPTIONS 
IN SUCH AN EVENTUALITY, AS UNLIKELY AS IT MAY APPEAR 
TO BE AT THIS TIME. 
 
 
3.  ALTHOUGH "EXPERTS" HAVE BEEN PREDICTING CASTRO'S 
DOWNFALL FOR ABOUT 29 YEARS, THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE 
THAT HE WILL NOT LAST FOREVER.  IF IT IS TRUE THAT 
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS IN CUBA ARE VERY BAD 
AND CONTINUING TO DETERIORATE; IF RECENT HIGH-LEVEL 
MILITARY AND INTELLIGENCE SERVICES DEFECTORS ARE 
INDICATIVE OF A COLLAPSE OF THE "NOMENKLATURA"; 
IF CASTRO'S AGE BEGINS TO TAKE ITS TOLL, COULD WE 
BE SEEING THE BEGINNING OF THE END?  MAYBE NOT, BUT, 
IF SO, ARE WE READY TO SEIZE WHAT MAY BE A FLEETING 
OPPORTUNITY BROUGHT ABOUT, FOR EXAMPLE, BY A MILITARY 
COUP, AS FAR-FETCHED AS THAT IDEA SEEMS RIGHT NOW? 
IT COULD BE A WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT TO STUDY OUR 
OPTIONS, INCLUDING, FOR EXAMPLE, THE QUESTION OF 
WHAT COULD BE CALLED THE "DENAZIFICATION" OF CUBA. 
THE U.S. HAS HAD PRIOR EXPERIENCE WITH "EXORCISING" 
OTHER SOCIETIES OF MILITARIZED, HATE-FILLED 
IDEOLOGIES WHICH MAINTAINED THEMSELVES IN POWER 
BY TERROR AND BRUTALITY.  HAVE WE EXAMINED, ON THE 
ONE HAND, THE SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN 
NAZI GERMANY, FASCIST ITALY AND JAPAN, AND CUBA ON 
THE OTHER?  IT WOULD BE WORTHWHILE AND CERTAINLY 
MORE THAN SIMPLY AN ACADEMIC EXERCISE.  STRANGER 
THINGS HAVE HAPPENED IN HISTORY, THAT A TYRANNY 
SUDDENLY CEASES TO EXIST, DUE TO INTERNAL OR EXTERNAL 
CAUSES.  IF THAT HAPPENS  IN CUBA, ARE WE PREPARED TO 
WORK QUICKLY WITH WHATEVER CUBANS INSIDE THE ISLAND 
MAY BE WILLING TO DETACH HER FROM THE SOVIET BLOC BEFORE 
HARD-LINE COMMUNISTS AND CASTROITES CAN SUCCESSFULLY 
REACT? IF WE ARE, CAN WE SUSTAIN THE EFFORT BY 
BEGINNING A PROCESS OF UNDOING NEARLY THIRTY YEARS OF 
BRAIN-WASHING AND PROPAGANDA? 
 
 
4.  WE COULD EXAMINE OUR EXPERIENCE  IN A MINOR 
BUT MORE RECENT AND STILL RELEVANT CASE:  GRENADA. 
WERE WE READY FOR A SUDDEN CHANGE IN GRENADA IN 
1983?  ALTHOUGH THE CIRCUMSTANCES WERE DIFFERENT, 
DID WE MAKE OUR TASK EASIER OR MORE DIFFICULT BY 
OUR ADVANCE PLANS OR LACK THEREOF? 
WHAT WAS OUR EXPERIENCE IN THE FIRST FEW WEEKS AND 
MONTHS AFTER THE RESCUE MISSION?  HOW WOULD IT HAVE 
WORKED IN THE CASE OF A SPANISH-SPEAKING COUNTRY WITH 
30 YEARS OF COMMUNIST DICTATORSHIP INSTEAD OF 4 YEARS? 
ALTHOUGH AN INVASION OR OCCUPATION OF CUBA BY U.S. 
FORCES IS NOT AT ALL LIKELY, IT COULD BE THAT, FOR 
EXAMPLE, UNDER A SCENARIO OF A SUCCESSFUL COUP BY 
CUBAN MILITARY OFFICERS FOLLOWING, LET'S SAY A CASTRO 
HEART ATTACK, THAT THE PROVISIONAL CUBAN 
GOVERNMENT WOULD ASK THE USG FOR ALL TYPES OF 
ASSISTANCE.  IF WE ARE NOT READY TO RESPOND IMMEDIATELY, 
A COUNTER-COUP COULD BE LAUNCHED. THE FATE OF CUBA 
FOR ANOTHER 30 YEARS COULD THUS BE DECIDED IN A 
MATTER OF HOURS, WITH THE CORRESPONDING CONSEQUENCES 
FOR U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY.  HOW MUCH HAS A COMMUNIST 
BASE NINETY MILES FROM FLORIDA COST US IN THE PAST 
THREE DECADES?  EVEN IF THERE IS NO VIOLENT 
RESISTANCE TO THE "NEW" CUBAN GOVERNMENT, ARE WE 
PREPARED TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY ECONOMIC (E.G., FOOD, 
OIL) AND OTHER HELP WHICH THE NEW GOVERNMENT--ASSUMING, 
OF COURSE, THAT IT IS PRN-US--SEEKS? 
 
 
5.  A WASHINGTON-BASED TASK FORCE OR STUDY GROUP 
CONSISTING OF THE PRINCIPAL USG AGENCIES WITH 
KNOWLEDGE OF CUBA, AUGMENTED BY CONSULTANTS 
INCLUDING TRUSTWORTHY CUBANS AND AMERICANS SUCH 
AS LONG-TIME EXILES, RECENT DEFECTORS, ACADEMICS, AND 
PERSONS FAMILIAR WITH ISSUES SUCH AS "DE NAZIFICATION" 
IN POST WWII GERMANY, COULD PREPARE AN ACTION 
PLAN WHICH COULD SAVE THE UNITED STATES MUCH 
COST AND SUFFERING IN THE EVENTUALITY OF A SUDDEN 
CHANGE IN CUBA. 
 
 
REICH 

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