Cuba claims US deploying Special Forces as part of ‘covert’ plan

Troopers assigned to 2nd Squadron, 14th Calvary Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division provide security during a combined arms live-fire exercise at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, May 15, 2018. (Photo: 1st Lt. Ryan DeBooy/Army)

U.S. Marines and other Special Operations troops are thought to have flown in from the US to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean islands, Cuba believes. The US plans to use Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis as a reason for the intervention, Havana believes. Food is said to have been stockpiled in warehouses on Venezuela’s border with Colombia ahead of a humanitarian mission.

A Cuban government spokesman claimed Washington wants to ”forcibly establish a humanitarian corridor under international protection, invoking the obligation to protect civilians”.

US special envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams branded Cuba’s claim “a new lie”. Donald Trump has refused to rule out US military action in Venezuela and insisted “all options are on the tale”. Communist-run Cuba – along with Russia and China – has continued to back under-fire Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro.

Donald Trump has demanded president Maduro resigns and hands power to opposition leader Juan Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly. A “Declaration of the Revolutionary Government” from Cuba alleged that recent events in Venezuela amounted to an attempted coup.

A Cuban government spokesman said: ”Between February 6 and 10 military transport aircraft have flown to the Rafael Miranda Airport of Puerto Rico, the San Isidro Air Base, in the Dominican Republic and to other strategically located Caribbean islands, probably without knowledge of the governments of those nations.

“These flights originated in American military installations from which units of Special Operations and Marine Corps operate, which are used for covert actions.”

Cuba claimed US sanctions are causing damage “1,000 times greater” than the aid it is trying to force on the country. The Dominican Republic’s Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas said no US military transport planes had landed in his country. He reiterated his government’s support for a peaceful solution to the Venezuelan crisis.

Venezuela is being rocked by a severe economic crisis with soaring inflation wreaking havoc on the livelihoods of residents. An estimated three million Venezuelans have fled to neighboring countries.

Communist-run Cuba has been a key backer of the Venezuelan government since the Bolivarian Revolution that began under former leader Hugo Chavez in 1998. Most Western and Latin American countries, including the UK, quickly recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.

They have pledged millions of dollars in humanitarian aid in support. Guaido said on Tuesday the aid would roll across the border on February 23 despite the Maduro government’s objections, setting up a possible flashpoint.