The Cuban dictatorship in a desperate attempt to justify a massive crackdown in 2003 in which human rights activists, independent journalists, independent librarians, and organizers of the Varela project were rounded up, subjected to summary trials and 75 were sentenced to long prison sentences of up to 28 years. All of the Cubans rounded up in the crackdown were recognized by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience.
Years later in 2009 Raul Castro claimed that Donald Rumsfeld had planned a huge attack against Cuba in mid 2003 and used this as a justification for the March 2003 crackdown. There is no evidence to back up this claim. Worse yet agents of the dictatorship cite Bob Woodward as a source. In Woodward's book Bush at War there is no mention of such plans. The source of the Woodward claim appears to originate in an article by Robert Jensen in the left-wing site Counterpunch in a book review panning Woodward's Bush at War as "boring." So boring in fact that Jensen falls asleep and begins to imagine in his dream what it would be like to be in the room with Bush's inner circle:
After the last National Security Council meeting, her job was getting harder. Rumsfeld had proposed that the next phase of the war on terrorism should be a massive attack on Cuba to expand the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay to the whole island -- a three-day air campaign followed by boots-on-the-ground. Cheney had liked the plan, and Tenet had said his paramilitary teams were ready to work with the Special Forces units that would take the lead.The reality is quite the opposite. Beginning during the Bush Administration the Cuban dictatorship began purchasing on a cash and carry basis agricultural products from the United States. According to the U.S. Cuba Trade and Economic Council between 2001 and 2010 the dictatorship purchased over $3.2 billion dollars in food and agricultural products from the United States.
Furthermore, the Cuban dictatorship now tries to downplay there links with the US military that according to Raul Castro in a December 2008 interview with Sean Penn are extensive: "We've had permanent contact with the US military, by secret agreement, since 1994." Not only contacts but joint military exercises. Again the source is Raul Castro:
"It is based on the premise that we would discuss issues only related to Guantánamo. On February 17, 1993, following a request by the United States to discuss issues related to buoy locators for ship navigations into the bay, was the first contact in the history of the revolution. Between March 4 and July 1, the Rafters Crisis took place. A military-to-military hot line was established, and on May 9, 1995, we agreed to monthly meetings with primaries from both governments. To this day, there have been 157 meetings, and there is a taped record of every meeting. The meetings are conducted on the third Friday of every month. We alternate locations between the American base at Guantánamo and in Cuban-held territory. We conduct joint emergency-response exercises. For example, we set a fire, and American helicopters bring water from the bay, in concert with Cuban helicopters.Reports confirming this relationship between the United States and Cuban armed forces appeared in July 2009 news articles describing the maneuvers:
About 150 U.S. and Cuban uniformed and civilian personnel took part in the drill, which saw Cuban military helicopters cross to the American side of the fence, and American and Cuban medics establish a triage centre on Cuban territory.These exercises were taking place over the eight years of the Bush Administration. Not exactly the kind of relationship one would expect when a military invasion is being planned by one side or by the other being on the receiving end. According to navy Lt.-Cmdr. Brook DeWalt,"The bilateral fenceline drill exercises began in 1999, when the U.S. naval station and Cuban authorities agreed to conduct annual first responders and emergency response drills at the Northeast Gate."