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La Couvre

The munitions laden French ship La Couvre exploded in Havana harbor on March 4, 1960. Cuba has ever since blamed US intelligence services. In recent years, suspicions of CIA invovlement have been strenghtened by the emergence of several archival sources that are classified for long periods of time, including 150 years in the case of the French shipping company files. See CIA attack on La Coubre files restricted for 150 years  3/10/2011 Granma.

An alternate theory out of Miami claims that Fidel Castro caused the explosion in order to corral people into adopting communism. However, if that were the case, we would have seen a cascade of documents supporting that and certainly not the withholding of documents we have experienced.

Two mysterious explosions killed over 75 people in Havana harbour and wounded over 300, many of them dockworkers many of whom would likely have been Abakwa.  This aspect of the story is touched on in an interview with a ranking Abakwa official:

Gerardo Pazos del Cristo “El Chino”
(1925-2002)
Mokóngo de Kamaroró Efó

Entrevistas por Andy Petit

"En 1962, poco después de la crisis de Octubre, la policía llamó una reunión de todos los juegos de La Habana en el Malecón, esquina Blanco, en el barrio de Colón. Yo fui a esa reunión, y la policía pidió que no funcionara el Abakuá hasta el año ‘70 por problema de la zafra. Entonces nosotros dijimos que todos los años había zafra, y los hombres Abakuá seguian funcionando, que eso no afectaba a la zafra, que la fiesta de nosotros eran los sábados y los domingos. La junta era dirigido por el teniente Peña. Entonces saltó otro teniente, que a poco tiempo después conocimos que se fue de la Revolución para los EE.UU., y él dijó que dentro de veinte años ellos aspiraba a que desaparecería el Abakuá.[1] Yo le dije “Teniente, a usted lo engañaron. Mire, yo tengo más de 40 años, y estos ekobios que son más jóvenes que yo van a vivir más de 20 años y yo voy a vivir más de 20 años. El Abakuá planta hasta arriba de una palma y el Abakuá se mantenía.” Entonces me habló de que ellos tenia comités en cada cuadra, pero yo manifesté que en la Biblia Dios señaló el Judas como traidor, y nosotros conocíamos a todos los traidores de la religión y que el Abakuá plantaría aunque sea arriba de una azotea. Estaba allí Horacio L’lastra y muchas otras plazas que están vivos. En esa junta yo le manifesté que “Cuando la crisis de octubre habían muchos que pertenecían al gobierno que tenían grados que estuvieron escondido abajo de la cama, y yo, como obrero portuario, cubano y Abakuá, estaba trabajando como estibador en un barco que tenia dinamita y armas, que si pasaba un mosquito volaba junto con ella porque era muy peligroso. Cuando la crisis nosotros estábamos firmes para defender el país, y no somos revolucionarios, somos Abakuá.”[2]
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[1] Cuban publications of the period reflect the same anti-Abakuá sentiments as “El Chino” describes here. In an article aimed to fill the public with fear of the society and its members, framing them as anti-social, amoral, anti-female, and murderers, the unidentified author wrote: “No, el abakuá irá desapareciendo, como todas las supercherías en el desarrollo del proceso revolucionario” (No, the Abakuá will disappear, like all other frauds in the development of the revolutionary process). “La sociedad secreta Abakuá [ñáñigos].” 1969. Revista Jurídica Militar. (1) : 13 - 24. [quote from p. 18].


[2] Ayorinde (2011: 144) quoted Thomas, Cuba, page 1122, as saying: “Aracelio Iglesias, the leader of the Maritime Workers Union, who was a santero and Abakuá member.”

Ayorinde (2011: 147) wrote that during the 1991 Communist Party congress, “exemplary practitioners of all creeds were named, including Aracelio Iglesias, an Abakuá who was a militant in the first Cuban Communist Party. Eusebio Leal, the official historian of Havana asked, ‘are we to deny [party membership] to my Abakuá friends in Old Havana who still remember, ancient and venerable, how in the name of God and in silence they unloaded arms from the La Coubre?” She cited Partido Comunista de Cuba. Departamento de Orientación Revolucionaria. IV Congreso del Partido Comunista de Cuba. Discursos y documentos. La Habana: Editora Política, 1992, page 97. The La Coubre was a French ship that carried munitions from Belguim to Cuba in 1960. It exploded in the Havana docks, killing 75 people and injuring over 300. The explosion was believed to have been the result of U.S. sabotage.” P. note 82, page 154.

Articles/Artículostop

CIA attack on La Coubre files restricted for 150 years  3/10/2011 Granma: "With the aim of conserving French maritime resources, this foundation, the Association French Lines, manages a historical research service for a number of shipping enterprises, in its headquarters located on Lucien Corbeaux Street in the port city of Le Havre. Of the 30,000-plus files in the foundation’s archives, 79 contain references to La Coubre. One, numbered 22091, placed in the collection in 1997, has the following description: "La Coubre. Explosion in Havana, repairs, photographs, press articles, list of the missing persons, report to the executive committee, insurance terms, correspondence." The content of this file would seem to be of greatest interest, given its information on details of the act of terrorism in Havana that have never been made public. It came from the Legal Office of the defunct CGT and is marked "Classified," with the surprising prohibition "PUBLICATION RESTRICTED 150 YEARS.""

THE MYSTERIOUS EXPLOSION OF LA COUBRE - Washington maintains strict silence over the sabotage of the French boat  3/16/2006 Granma: "Moreover, the shipping company hired to transport the arms to Cuba contracted U.S. divers to inspect La Coubre before it embarked. The Cuban authorities did not receive official hull inspection reports from the divers or from the nautical company. All the information linked to the U.S. government, such as the possible implication of the photographer and the reports of the U.S. divers were strictly silenced. Proof of that is the blank existing in the Department of State book in which official communications between the U.S. government and its diplomatic mission in Havana are compiled. There was an interruption in the traffic of messages between February 18 and March 12, 1960."


Links/Enlaces top

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Coubre_explosion

be.findeen.com/la_coubre_explosion.html

www.cubadebate.cu/etiqueta/la-coubre

 

 

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