Sunday, January 18, 2009

UM's Gomez: Cuba calling up special forces

Miami Herald, Cuban Colada, January 19, 2009

The Cuban government has called up its special forces to protect the upper echelon of power, says the University of Miami's Andy Gomez, who serves as an advisor to the U.S. Task Force on Cuba.Gomez said the word comes from “high level sources” in Washington, D.C. He stressed that troop movements on the streets of Cuba have not been detected, but that the Ministry of Interior had called in special units to protect the inner circle “just in case.”Miami has been awash in rumors that Fidel Castro is on his last legs. He hasn't written any articles lately, and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez had some rather bleak comments about him recently.The Cuban Armed Forces has several special forces units, including the “black berets” - charged with the security detail of the top members of government. They tend to be more defensive than offensive, experts say.They were not mobilized when Fidel Castro took sick July 2006, although about 200,000 reservists were.U.S. State Department officials said they had no knowledge of any special forces deployment. “It doesn’t ring true,’’ said U.S. Interests Section spokesman Greg Adams. “What is interesting is that these rumors happen from time to time and they usually trot out a picture of Fidel meeting with somebody or a video to make everyone look like idiots. That has not happened this time.”Adams pointed out however that the Cuban paper Granma ran a curious article Wednesday saying that extra police would be on major roadways in the coming days to prevent car accidents. That, Adams said, did not ring true either.Gomez, a senior fellow at UM's Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies, is on a task force which is an arm of the Brookings Institution think tank comprised of academics and former diplomats.- Frances Robles

No comments: