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Country Reports
CUBA, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: Cuba participated as an observer in the First Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty and in some of the treaty’s intersessional meetings. It abstained on the 1999 UN General Assembly vote in support of the treaty, as it had in previous years.

Mine Ban Policy

Cuba and the U.S. are the only countries in the Americas region that have not yet joined the Mine Ban Treaty. Cuba’s landmine policy has not changed in 1999 or 2000. In June 2000, Cuba provided Landmine Monitor with an eight-page statement, which presented its position in detail. Cuba indicated that it cannot join the treaty because:

... for the time being, it is not possible for it to fulfil the responsibilities deriving from that international legal instrument and mainly because the possession and use of antipersonnel landmines form part of the country's defense doctrine called ‘People’s War.’ The defense concept of the Republic of Cuba is the result of the Cuban people's willingness to defend its sovereignty and independence [which is] constantly threatened by the manifest hostility of nine Administrations of the United States of America, which have planned, promoted, encouraged, supported, and carried out a vast number of aggressive and subversive actions against the Cuban people and Government.[1]

Cuba noted in the statement that “on several occasions, the Cuban Government has publicly expressed that it understands and shares the humanitarian concerns caused by the indiscriminate and irresponsible use of antipersonnel landmines” and it described it’s “full support to the humanitarian efforts made by the international community to prevent or mitigate the effects of the indiscriminate use of this kind of weapons.”[2]

Cuba was one of twenty countries that abstained in the December 1999 vote on UN General Assembly Resolution 54/54B in support of the Mine Ban Treaty. It previously abstained on pro-ban UNGA resolutions in 1996, 1997, and 1998. In explaining the vote, Cuba’s representative stated that while his country was against the use of mines in internal conflicts, and against any use of mines that could affect civilians, the final objective of negotiations should be to ensure maximum security to civilians, and not to limit States’ right to preserve their territorial integrity. He said, “Cuba would thus abstain on the vote, because for four decades it had been subject to a policy of aggression and could not afford to renounce the use of that weapon. It was determined to create a necessary balance between humanitarian and security issues and do all possible to protect civilians from the danger of those weapons.”[3]

Cuba’s Ambassador to Mozambique, S.E. Sr. Evelio Dorta, participated as an observer in the First Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Maputo in May 1999. Cuba was one of 12 non-signatories at the meeting but did not make a statement to the plenary.

Cuba has participated in some of the intersessional meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty in Geneva. In May 2000, Cuba’s Geneva UN Mission representative attended the Standing Committee of Experts (SCE) on the General Status and Operation of the Convention and the SCE on Technologies for Mine Action.

Cuba is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its original Protocol II on landmines but has not yet ratified Amended Protocol II. Cuba participated as an observer in the December 1999 First Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II, but did not make a statement to the plenary. In the past, Cuba has said it considers Amended Protocol II as “potentially the most effective legal instrument the international community could use to resolve the humanitarian problems caused by the indiscriminate use of antipersonnel landmines.”[4] In June 2000, Cuba told Landmine Monitor that it is currently considering the possibility of ratifying amended Protocol II.”[5]

Cuba is a member of the Conference on Disarmament (CD). In 1997, Cuba expressed concern that negotiations on AP mines in that forum could detract from what should be the CD’s priority, nuclear disarmament.[6]


According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Cuba has produced at least five different kinds of landmines, including three AP mines.[7] It is believed, in the absence of any denial or clarification from the Cuban government, that Cuba's state-owned Union of Military Industries (Unión de las Industrias Militares, UIM) continues to produce AP mines.


Cuban AP mines have been found in Nicaragua and Angola.[8] However, Cuba has at least since 1996 maintained that it does not and has never exported antipersonnel mines.[9] This was reiterated in the statement provided to Landmine Monitor in June 2000, which also stated Cuba’s “readiness to participate actively in international negotiations for the implementation of a regime for the comprehensive ban on exports of all kinds of mines.” It also noted, “There is not a retail network in Cuba for weapons sale, including antipersonnel landmines, to legal or natural persons.”[10] While Cuba has declared no current or past export, it has not announced a formal moratorium or ban on the export of AP mines.

Based on information in the military trade press, it appears that Cuba has imported antipersonnel landmines from the former Soviet Union including the OZM-4, POMZ-2, and POMZ-2M.[11]


The size and composition of the Cuban AP mine stockpile is not known.


The U.S. and Cuba have laid landmines around the U.S. Guantánamo Naval Base occupying Cuba’s southeast corner. An estimated 735 acres of land were seeded with approximately 70,000 AP and AT mines at the beginning of 1961.[12] Cuba states that it laid mines after the U.S. had done so.[13]

The bulk of Cuba’s June 2000 statement to Landmine Monitor is devoted to a description of “the real reasons compelling Cuba to lay and maintain” the AP mines in the perimeter surrounding the Guantánamo Naval Base.[14] Cuba describes these mines as having “an exclusively defensive nature.... They are intended to prevent violations and acts of provocation, as well as to guarantee peace and safety in the areas adjacent to the Base. These mines also serve the military purpose of preventing U.S. troops from expanding with impunity the perimeter they occupy illegally and from launching offensive actions into the Cuban territory.” [15] Cuba says it will not remove its mines “until the Americans leave the base.”[16]

Cuban authorities state that the Cuban minefields are duly “marked, fenced and guarded” to ensure the protection of civilians, as stipulated by the CCW’s Amended Protocol II.[17]

Outside of the country, Cuba is known to have used mines in Angola and to have trained Angolan forces in mine warfare. A Cuban manual was the standard text for mine warfare for Angolan troops.[18]

U.S. Mines in Cuba

In May 1996, the U.S. through a presidential policy statement announced that it would remove the “more than 50,000 mines...deployed on the U.S. side of the buffer zone....”[19] Clearance began in September 1996 and was completed in 1999.[20] The U.S. Department of Defense has declared that twenty-one minefields were cleared. All AP and AT mines were removed from Guantánamo. A private company, Ronco Consulting, was contracted by the Department of Defense to conduct a minefield verification/quality assurance plan to determine the presence of any undetected landmines at Guantánamo Bay. Dogs and specially designed blast-proof tractors verified that none were missed. The U.S. military saw the clearing of the mines as “a military operation, not a humanitarian operation.”[21]

Cuba described the “alleged” removal of U.S. landmines from Guantánamo as “a measure of relative importance” since “that country has the necessary troops and means to quickly restore the deactivated minefields if it so wishes or deems it appropriate.”[22]

Even though all emplaced mines have now been removed, it is not known whether the U.S. maintains a stockpile of mines at Guantánamo.

Mine Action

In 1997 Cuba informed the UN of its willingness to participate in international humanitarian mine clearing operations and to assist landmine victims.[23] To date Cuba has not contributed to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Mine Clearance and is not known to be involved in any mine clearance activities. Cuba maintains that it is contributing to mine action through the hundreds of Cuban volunteer doctors who provide medical assistance and treatment in various parts of the world. At present, thousands of Cuban medical doctors are serving in 14 countries in regions including Central America, the Caribbean and Africa as part of its Comprehensive Healthcare Delivery Program.[24]

Landmine Casualties

At least 23 people have been killed in Guantánamo’s minefields since 1961, including 18 U.S. servicemen and 5 Cuban asylum seekers.[25] There are no known casualties in 1999 or 2000. It is possible that Cuban soldiers participating in conflicts overseas have been killed or maimed by AP mines but no information is available. While there is no specific program to deal with Cuban landmine survivors, Cuba has a free and universal healthcare system described in detail in the June 2000 statement to Landmine Monitor.


[1] Statement of the Directorate of Multilateral Affairs of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Landmine Monitor researcher, sent by email, 19 June 2000.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Statement during the debate in First Committee of the UN General Assembly, 9 November 1999.
[4] The UN Disarmament Yearbook, 1998, (Geneva: United Nations, 1999), p. 123.
[5] Statement of the Directorate of Multilateral Affairs of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 June 2000.
[6] The UN Disarmament Yearbook, 1997, (Geneva: United Nations, 1998), p. 109.
[7] PMFC-1 AP fragmentation mine, PMFH-1 AP fragmentation mine, PMM-1 AP wooden box mine. U.S. Department of Defense, ORDATA II CD-ROM. For details, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 316.
[8] Jane’s Mines and Mine Clearance, on-line update, 18 November 1999.
[9] Report of the UN Secretary-General, “Moratorium on the Export of Antipersonnel Landmines,” (A/51/313), 28 August 1996.
[10] Statement of the Directorate of Multilateral Affairs of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 June 2000.
[11] Jane’s Mines and Mine Clearance, on-line update, 18 November 1999.
[12] Roger Ricardo, Guantanamo, the Bay of Discord: The Story of the U.S. military base in Cuba (Melbourne: Ocean Press, 1994), p. 4.
[13] Statement of the Directorate of Multilateral Affairs of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 June 2000.
[14] In its statement to Landmine Monitor, Cuba inserted information from “Evidence Report submitted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces to the Civil and Administrative Court of Law, Provincial People’s Court, in The People of Cuba vs. The Government of the United States of America for Human Damages,” Ediciones Verde Olivo, Havana, Cuba, 1999.
[15] Statement of the Directorate of Multilateral Affairs of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 June 2000.
[16] “Guantanamo Mine-Clearing Nearly Complete,” Caribbean Update, 29 July 1999.
[17] Statement of the Directorate of Multilateral Affairs of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 June 2000.
[18] Alex Vines, Still Killing: Landmines in Southern Africa (New York: Human Rights Watch, May 1997), p. 37.
[19] Captain Mike Doubleday, DoD News Briefing, 20 January 1998.
[20] DoD News Briefing, 29 June 1999. Responding to a report that all mines had been removed, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon confirmed it, noting “they’ve been gone for probably four to six months.”
[21] “State Guidance on U.S. Demining 2010 Initiative,” 12 December 1997, http://www.usia.gov/current/news/latest/97121201.plt.html?/products/washfile/newsitem.shtml
[22] Statement of the Directorate of Multilateral Affairs of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 June 2000.
[23] Maria de los Angeles Florez, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cuba, Address to the Ottawa Conference on Antipersonnel Land Mines, Ottawa, December 2-4, 1997.
[24] Statement of the Directorate of Multilateral Affairs of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 June 2000.
[25] A. Oppenheimer, "U.S. removing Guantanamo mines," Miami Herald, 16 January 1998; Angus Mc Swain, “US Marines Clear Mines from Cuba Base,” Reuters, Miami, 10 December 1997.