Few in Cuba mourn Mas Canosa's death
In this story:
November 24, 1997
Reaction in Cuba was minimal
Web posted at: 9:10 p.m. EST (0210 GMT)
HAVANA (CNN) -- The death Sunday of Jorge Mas Canosa, a
vehement opponent of Fidel Castro and a man vilified by
Cuba's communist government, went all but unnoticed in his
native country Monday.
The 58-year-old Mas Canosa died of complications from lung
cancer in Miami Sunday, but his obituary was buried on Page 7
of Monday's newspaper here under a headline that identified
him as a "well-known counterrevolutionary."
The official Cuban news agency, Prensa Latina, described Mas
Canosa as "a promoter and partisan of all actions against the
revolutionary government of Cuba."
In life, Mas Canosa was repeatedly portrayed in Cuba as the
devil incarnate. But government officials have refrained
from making any public statements about his death, saying
privately that they don't want to give Mas Canosa any
Mas Canosa, a Cuban immigrant, turned a small, family-owned
telecommunications company into a publicly traded business
worth $475 million.
He also created and controlled Radio Marti and TV Marti,
which beamed anti-communist programming that the Cuban
government was successful in jamming. And as chairman of the
Cuban American National Foundation, Mas Canosa is credited
with heavily influencing the United States' hard-line policy
'He's an assassin'
"Jorge has been a very important part of shaping U.S.-Cuba
policy for a number of years," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,
a Florida Republican.
"Had it not been for Jorge Mas Canosa, we probably would have
had normal relations with Cuba," said Wayne Smith, who headed
the U.S. Interest Section in Havana during the Carter
administration. "He has almost single-handedly blocked all
Cuban officials still think Mas Canosa's foundation
orchestrated a series of bombings that rocked Havana hotels
in July and September, although no proof has been offered to
substantiate the charge.
Nevertheless there are many here who are not sorry he's gone,
despite his attempts to rid Cuba of communism.
"He's an assassin," said one man. "He should have died
"He did a lot of harm to this country, and it's the Cuban
people who are paying for it, for his interference in the
relations between Cuba and the United States," said a young
Cubans say they feel pain of sanctions
At best, the average Cuban was indifferent, as was the man on
one downtown Havana street who said, "I don't think it's good
or bad. He was a human being, after all."
Cuban officials are still assessing the repercussions of Mas
Canosa's death, but privately they tell CNN that while they
won't miss him, they don't expect a major shift in U.S.
policy toward Cuba to result from his death.
There are many Cubans who, like Mas Canosa, would like
nothing more than to see an end to communism on the island.
But even most of them believe that the sanctions against Cuba
promoted by Mas Canosa have hurt the people more than they've
hurt Fidel Castro.
Havana Bureau Chief Lucia Newman contributed to this report.