Cuban War Crimes in Vietnam
The Cuban government is an oppressive regime known for its human rights violations. In late last year, sixteen American diplomats based at Havana's U.S. Embassy, appear to have suffered traumatic brain injury caused by a subsonic attack. President Trump has gone on the record accusing the Cubans of responsibility for the attacks. But this is not the first time it has experimented on Americans.
As a former Marine, Mike Benge believes that there were seventeen Americans held in the Villa Marista prison and confirms that there were Cubans who tortured American POWs in Vietnam. In 1968, he worked for the Agency for International Development, serving as a civilian economic and community development advisor.
On January 28th Benge was captured by the North Vietnamese. He told American Thinker, “For five silent years I endured forced marches through South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, into North Vietnam. I was tortured by the hands of the Communists for my ‘bad attitude.’ While in captivity I was kept in solitary confinement for 27 months. At intervals I was forced to maintain a difficult position on my knees with my hands over my head for between 11 and 16 hours at a time. If I dropped my hands I was beaten. Although I was never beaten by the Cubans, nor was I a part of the Cuban program, I did witness nineteen American POW's that I know of who were tortured by the Cubans in Hanoi during the Vietnam War.”
On November 4th, 1999 he testified before Congress that a team of interrogators, believed to be Cubans, brutally beat and tortured 19 American airmen, killing one in the prisoner of war camp known as `The Zoo,' a name given by American POWs to describe the Cuban section of the Hanoi prison. Through the psychological experiments they attempted to test interrogation methods, to obtain absolute compliance and submission to captor demands, ultimately using them as propaganda. If the prisoners did not cooperate they were tortured physically and psychologically by ‘Fidel’, ‘Chico’, and ‘Pancho’ as the torturers were called.
The testimony of Jack Bomar concurs with this. He was a retired Air Force colonel who became “a graduate of the ``Fidel'' Program, Class of 1968 after being shot down in 1967. Bomar stated before the Committee, “`Fidel'' used torture not for direct propaganda or antiwar statements as the Vietnamese did. He used torture to break us initially, and to control us and keep us right under his thumb so we would do what he wanted done. His brutal torture of Cobeil and Kasler was due mostly to his frustration and his inability to force his will on them. When he lost his temper, he was a complete madman.”
Through his research Mike discovered, “Upon their return to the U.S., the POW's were told by the U.S. Government not to talk about the Cuba Program. Some of them resisted, as they had resisted ‘Fidel.’ and they broke silence. Regardless, the U.S. Government swept the Cuba Program under the rug. I began researching the Cuba Program and wrote a paper in 1996 for presentation at the annual meeting of the National Alliance of Families. I found intelligence intercepts that that Cubans were guarding POWs in Laos, and Intel reports stated that 17 American POWs from Vietnam were being held in Cuba. There is a distinct possibility that American POWs from the Vietnam War have been held in Los Maristas, a secret Cuban prison run by Castro's G-2 intelligence service. The Cubans who claimed to have seen them later escaped, made it to the U.S., and were debriefed by the FBI. In fact, in my research paper "The Cuban Program," I identify Fidel (Maj. Alegret), something that DIA and the CIA said they couldn't do, and that man was the Minister of Education in Cuba. POWs who had been tortured by the Cubans verified this ID.”
Mike thinks Senator McCain is a war hero, but is very disappointed in his actions regarding this issue. “I decided to research the "Cuban Program" after repeated claims by the Administration, Senators John McCain and John Kerry, Ambassador Pete Peterson, and members of the Department of Defense (DOD) that the Vietnamese Government was ‘cooperating fully’ in resolving the POW/MIA issue. This is far from the truth. Senator McCain likes to make himself out as the speaker of the truth, but interestingly enough he did nothing regarding VN POWS supposedly tortured by the Cubans. In addition, The Cuban Program was evaluated by two of the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office's (DPMO) chief analysts Robert Destatte and Chuck Towbridge. Destatte also has the audacity to claim that the Vietnamese were unaware of the Cuban Program, and it was stopped once the Vietnamese found out that "Fidel" and the others were torturing the American POWs.”
Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Defense to obtain records about American POWs who may have been held captive by the Cuban government or military forces on the island of Cuba. The lawsuit came about after the Defense Department failed to comply with a June 1, 2015, FOIA request seeking "Any and all records depicting the names, service branch, ranks, Military Occupational Specialty, and dates and locations of capture of all American servicemen believed to have been held captive by Cuban government or military forces on the island of Cuba since 1960.”
Tom Fitton, the President of Judicial Watch told of his impression, “the fact that we had to sue the Obama administration to get simple answers as to whether Cuba held and tortured American POWs strongly suggests that a cover-up is underway. In replying to the suit, the Department of Defense initially claimed to have no responsive records.”
Mike is hoping that the Trump Administration will restrict “relations with Cuba until the documents are released. The Cubans should admit that they participated in War Crimes, using diplomatic cover during the Vietnam War. Full cooperation by the communist governments in Cuba and Hanoi includes the full disclosure of the true identities and roles of these Cuban ‘diplomats,’ who were ‘advisors’ to the Hanoi prison system, and were directly responsible for the murder, torture, and severe disablement of American POWs.” Let’s hope that unlike the Obama Administration who chose to look the other way, the Trump Administration will seek answers and give Mike and others closure on this subject.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.