Saturday, June 24, 2023

Russia, China and Iran in America’s Backyard: These adversaries threaten the U.S. with their moves into Latin America; Does Secretive Cuba Base Host Chinese Spy Station? US Thinks So

Photo: Vamil Lage/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Russia, China and Iran in America’s Backyard:
These adversaries threaten the U.S. with their moves into Latin America.
The news from Latin America is grim. The reaction from the Biden administration is a yawn.
To reports in this newspaper that China is offering Cuba billions of dollars in exchange for the construction of a sophisticated intelligence facility to be used against the U.S., the White House responded with a classic nondenial denial. The report was “not accurate,” a spokesperson said, which translated from Washingtonese means that the story was largely correct, but it would be politically inconvenient to say so.
By Saturday the White House was into stage 2 of nondenial. Well, the White House conceded, perhaps there is such a facility, and perhaps China and Cuba are collaborating to upgrade it, but it’s all the previous administration’s fault, and in any case the current administration is addressing any and all relevant issues through diplomatic channels.
Nothing to see here, folks, move along.
But Cuba is the tip of the iceberg. From Tijuana to Tierra del Fuego, American interests are under threat as virtually every country in Latin America suffers from major and growing social, political and economic distress. Narcotrafficking cartels have tightened their grip across much of Central America and into the Caribbean. Law and order is collapsing in Ecuador, while political instability seethes across countries like Bolivia and Peru. Argentina is again reaping the catastrophic results of populist Peronist economic policy. The Venezuelan dictatorship continues to tighten its grip as it sucks the remaining wealth from what ought to be one of the richest nations in the hemisphere. Haiti no longer has even the ghost of a government. In Brazil neither the right-populist shenanigans of the Bolsonaro government nor the left-populist quack remedies of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party offer much hope to a stagnant, rapidly deindustrializing economy.
As is traditional, Latin populists are blaming capitalism and the U.S. for the otherwise inexplicable failure of their pet policies. They are also rolling out the red carpet for America’s opponents, literally in the case of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, who is following up his navy’s recent visit to the region with official visits to Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Ties with Russia and China are booming. Moscow has resumed its Cold War efforts to subsidize a Cuban economy that somehow, despite 60 years of enlightened socialist planning, remains unable to meet the basic needs of the population. --->READ MORE HERE
 REUTERS/Dave Sherwood
Does secretive Cuba base host Chinese spy station? US thinks so:
Just outside the sleepy Cuban village of Bejucal, a winding track, rutted with potholes and losing ground to the jungle, ends at a barbed wire fence. A sign warns: "KEEP OUT, MILITARY ZONE."
What lies beyond remains largely a mystery, though the U.S. government has long suspected that China runs an intelligence gathering operation in this village that once hid Soviet nuclear warheads.
A Reuters reporter traveled to Bejucal this week, gaining rare access to the area around the site that remains an enigma, even for locals, but that has come under scrutiny after the Biden administration said Beijing may be using the island as a spying post.
The question of Chinese spying from Cuba was renewed last week following a Wall Street Journal report. The newspaper cited U.S. officials saying a new effort by China's security services was underway on the island. It comes at a time when U.S.-China relations have sunk to the lowest in decades.
Reuters saw large parabolic antennas high on a ridge above town, partially obscured by a hillside of royal palms. A rusted white metal dome, of the type that houses antennas, hovered over dark jungle, decorated on its flanks with cryptic black triangles, some inverted. Unidentified men on motorcycles, dressed in civilian clothes, photographed reporters as they worked.
The United States believes the little-known base, just 116 miles (187 km) from Key West, Florida is used to intercept U.S. electronic communications, according to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) document from November 2022.
"(China's Communist Party) maintains physical presences at Soviet-era intelligence facilities at Bejucal in what appears to be a signals intelligence collection operation," the FCC document says, citing a 2018 report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
Those concerns were, in part, noted as grounds to deny an application to connect Cuba to the United States through the ARCOS-1 undersea telecoms cable, according to the document, which was drafted by a commission that includes members of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department. --->READ MORE HERE
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