What About the Cubans?
The story of the role of Cubans in Grenada had Fidel Castro angry at the Revolutionary Military Government (RMC). According to Sandford:
Castro issued, through his person in charge - Colonel Tortola - an order that the Cubans on Grenada, barracked at the northern part of the airport construction site, will fire if fired upon. U.S. troops were of the mind that they were going to meet Cubans as the enemy; not Grenadians. Thus you have some referring to Point Salines as Point Salinas, and some wondering of they should hone up on their Spanish language skills. When a mass of U.S. troops dropped by helicopter at Point Salines in the early hours before dawn on 25 October 1983, those soldiers could have incurred serious losses if the Cuban troops were at hand. But they were not. The Cubans were watching out the window of their barracks or being awakened. PRA troops made their offense, numbering around 700 total troops, augmented by militia.
"Castro was livid. On October 25 he broadcast a formal statement distancing himself from the regime in St. George's, declaring that 'no doctrine, no principle or position held up as revolutionary, and no internal division justifies atrocious proceedings like the physical elimination of Bishop and the . . . worthy leaders killed yesterday.'"
"The guilty parties, he said, should be 'punished in an exemplary way.'"
There was a battle on that same day around 8 a.m. when U.S. forces advanced on the Cuban facilities. The Cubans surrendered on that first day, 25 Monday 1983 in the late morning. You would not have known this by reading the press or watching television. In those accounts the Cubans were hidden out in the hills for days. But this was not true.
There were 784 Cuban personnel on the island. This figure was arrived at and accepted after the Cuban Government, on Saturday 29 October, published a list specifying the job descriptions of all Cubans on the island.
The official newspaper of Cuba, named GRANMA, reported, on 8 November 1983, this breakdown of Cuban troops on Grenada at the time of the invasion:
636 from the Ministry of Construction
17 from public health
12 from education
6 from agriculture
6 from transport
6 from the State Committee for Cooperation
5 from fishing
3 from basic industry
3 from culture
2 from domestic trade
1 from communications
1 from foreign trade
1 from the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation
1 from Central Planning Board
+3 from the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (MINFAR): 22 officers and the rest translators and service personnel
9 from the Ministry of the Interior
12 comprising the twin crew and guards of an AN-26 plane that arrived at Grenville airport the day before the invasion
2 passengers on the plane: Colonel Pedro Tortoló, of MINFAR, who traveled to the island on a working visit, and Carlos Diaz, official of the Party Central Committee's America Department
18 from the diplomatic mission, including women and children
Of the 784 Cubans, 44 were women
Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, in his funeral address for the Cuban personnel killed in combat in Grenada, spoke on November 14, 1983 in Havana.
Fidel Castro, Undated
Appreciation to Team 18355 ©1998.
All rights reserved.
Castro said: In order to justify its invasion of Grenada and its subsequent actions, the U.S. government and its spokesmen told nineteen lies. Reagan personally told the first thirteen:
- Cuba had to do with the coup d'etat and the death of Bishop.
- The American students were in danger of being taken hostage.
- The main purpose of the invasion was to protect the lives of American citizens.
- The invasion was a multinacional operation undertaken at the request of Mr. Scoon and the eastern Caribbean nations.
- Cuba was planning to invade and occupy Grenada.
- Grenada was being turned into an important Soviet-Cuban military base.
- The airport under construction was not civilian but military.
- The weapons in Grenada would be used to export subversion and terrorism.
- The Cubans fired first.
- There were over 1000 Cubans in Grenada.
- Most of the Cubans were not construction workers but professional soldiers.
- The invading forces took care not to destroy civilian property or inflict casualties on civilians.
- The U.S. troops would remain in Grenada for a week.
- Missile silos were being built in Grenada.
- The Viet Nam Heroico was transporting special weapons.
- Cuba was warned of the invasion.
- Five hundred Cubans are fighting in the mountains of Grenada.
- Cuba has issued instructions for reprisals to be taken against U.S. citizens.
- The journalists were excluded for their own protection.