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Country Reports
CUBA, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
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Mine Ban Policy

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Cuba and the USA remain the only countries in the Americas region that have not joined the Mine Ban Treaty. Cuba’s position on mines has not changed since its Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided Landmine Monitor with a detailed policy statement in June 2000.[267] In April 2001, President Fidel Castro said that he had rejected a request made by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in an April 1998 meeting for Cuba to join the treaty:

I said, landmines were a defensive weapon, and we would not make the mistake of giving them up; we do not have nuclear weapons, intelligent bombs and missiles, and the other highly sophisticated weapons that the United States has. A genuine threat hangs over our country, and this is why we do not intend to sign the treaty.[268]

Cuba participated in the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in September 2000 as an observer with a delegation that included its Ambassador to Switzerland and its Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva. Cuba did not make any statement or interventions. A representative from Cuba’s UN Mission attended intersessional Standing Committee meetings in December 2000 and May 2001.

In November 2000, Cuba abstained from voting on UN General Assembly Resolution 55/33V, calling for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty. During the UNGA debate on a separate resolution on assistance on mine action, Cuba joined in the consensus for the resolution, but stated that it would have preferred that the resolution explicitly reflect national security concerns vis-à-vis antipersonnel mines.[269]

In February 2001, Cuba issued a formal invitation to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) to visit Cuba in order to “allow for a mutual better acquaintance between the ICBL and the Republic of Cuba.”[270]

Cuba is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its original Protocol II on landmines. It is reportedly in the process of ratifying Amended Protocol II.[271] Cuba participated as an observer at the Second Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 2000 but did not make a statement.

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

In April 2001, Cuban Defense Minister Raul Castro stated, “We manufacture them [landmines] of all types, but we never export them, nor are we going to.”[272] It is believed that antipersonnel mines continue to be manufactured in the state-owned Unión de las Industrias Militares (UIM or Union of Military Industries).[273]

Since 1996 Cuba has maintained that it does not and has never exported antipersonnel mines. There is no formal export moratorium or ban in place.[274] In its June 2000 statement to Landmine Monitor, Cuba stated its support for negotiation of an export ban regime on all kinds of mines.[275] No official information is available on the size and composition of Cuba’s stockpile of antipersonnel mines.


Both Cuba and the US planted landmines around the US Naval Base at Guantánamo in the southeast of Cuba. Cuba’s statement to Landmine Monitor said that the antipersonnel mines it laid in the perimeter around Guantánamo Naval Base have “an exclusively defensive nature” as they are intended to “guarantee peace and safety in the areas adjacent to the Base” and to prevent US troops from expanding the perimeter and launching offensive actions into Cuban territory.[276] Cuba states that its minefields are “marked, fenced and guarded” to ensure the protection of civilians, as stipulated by the CCW’s Amended Protocol II.[277] Cuba has said it will not remove its mines “until the Americans leave the base.”[278]

Clearance of the US minefields around Guantánamo began in September 1996 and it was reported that clearance was completed in 1999.[279] Both antipersonnel and antitank mines were cleared during the operation. Three verification stages were then carried out, with the final one being completed in May 2000.[280] The Navy’s EOD Technology Division conducted the quality assurance of the clearance, with assistance and equipment provided by the Department of Defense including the use of ground-penetrating radar.[281]

Mine Action

In 1998 Canada proposed a joint mine clearance program in Angola and Mozambique, using Cuban expertise and Canadian funding, but the program was never initiated. Castro indicated a willingness to train personnel from these countries.[282] Cuba is not known to be involved in any mine clearance activities, but it contributes to victim assistance through 1,829 Cuban doctors who are working in sixteen countries including mine-affected Cambodia.[283]

Landmine Casualties

No casualties were recorded in 1999 or 2000, but two incidents were reported in 2001. On 16 April 2001, a youth reportedly stepped on a mine at Guantánamo in an attempt to reach the Naval Base and died of his injuries; his two colleagues survived.[284] On 5 June 2001, a youth from Santiago, reportedly in the Cuban military, lost both his legs when he stepped on a mine at Guantánamo.[285]

Between 1961 and 1990, at least 23 people were killed in Guantánamo Bay minefields, including 18 US servicemen and 5 Cuban asylum seekers.[286] It is possible that Cuban soldiers participating in past conflicts overseas have been killed or maimed by antipersonnel mines, but no information is available. There were no injuries or fatalities to US military personnel during the mine clearance operation.[287]

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 statement to Landmine Monitor. Cuban law prohibits discrimination based on disability.[288]

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[267] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 329. The clarification is available in full on the Landmine Monitor web site at www.icbl.org/lm/comments/.
[268] “Response by President Fidel Castro Ruz, to a Question Posed by the Moderator of a Round Table Discussion on a Statement Made by the Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien During the III Summit of the Americas,” EFE (Quebec City), 19 April 2001; Granma International, 26 April 2001; “We're not giving up landmines, Castro says,” The Miami Herald, 27 April 2001.
[269] UN General Assembly Press Release (GA/9843), p. 3.
[270] Letter to Landmine Monitor researcher Noel Stott from Juan Antonio Palacios, Director, Multilateral Affairs Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Havana, Cuba, 5 February 2001.
[271] Interview with Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo, Second Secretary of the Permanent Mission in Geneva, 12 December 2000.
[272] “Cuba won’t renounce use of landmines as defense weapons: Castro,” Agence France-Presse (Havana), 26 April 2001.
[273] Cuba has produced at least three antipersonnel mines: PMFC-1 AP fragmentation mine, PMFH-1 AP fragmentation mine, and the PMM-1 AP wooden box mine. See US Department of Defense, ORDATA II CD-ROM. For details, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 316. See also, Colin King (ed.) Jane's Mines and Mine Clearance Third Edition, 1998-99, (Surrey: Jane's Information Group, 1998).
[274] Report of the UN Secretary-General, “Moratorium on the Export of Antipersonnel Landmines,” (A/51/313), 28 August 1996.
[275] Statement of the Directorate of Multilateral Affairs of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Landmine Monitor, 19 June 2000.
[276] Ibid.
[277] Ibid.
[278] “Guantanamo Mine-Clearing Nearly Complete,” Caribbean Update, 29 July 1999.
[279] Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon confirmed that all mines had been removed, noting “they’ve been gone for probably four to six months,” see DoD News Briefing, 29 June 1999. For more details on the US clearance operation, see Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 332.
[280] Email to Landmine Monitor from JOC Walter T. Ham IV, Public Affairs Officer, US Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, dated 23 April 2001.
[281] Email to Landmine Monitor from LTC George H. Rhynedance, Press Officer, Directorate for Defense Information Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), to Landmine Monitor, 5 February 2001; Email to Landmine Monitor from JOC Walter T. Ham IV, US Naval Base, 23 April 2001.
[282] “Response by President Fidel Castro Ruz,” EFE , 19 April 2001; Granma International, 26 April 2001.
[283] Email to Landmine Monitor from the Division of Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cuba, 8 June 2001.
[284] “Cuban Escapee Dead by Cuban Mines at Guantanamo.” This is a posting on 23 April 2001 to a listserve on landmines, the MgM Demining Network (www.mgm.org).MgM Demining Network.
[285] Ferdinando Castro de Lardiller, “The Mined Border of US Guantanamo Base Continues to Claim Victims,” 7 June 2001. This is a posting on 11 June 2001 to a listserve on landmines, the Mgm Demining Network (www.mgm.org).
[286] A. Oppenheimer, “US Removing Guantanamo Mines,” Miami Herald, 16 January 1998; Angus McSwain, “US Marines Clear Mines from Cuba Base,” Reuters, Miami, 10 December 1997.
[287] Email to Landmine Monitor from LTC George H. Rhynedance, Directorate for Defense Information Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, 5 February 2001; E-mail to Landmine Monitor from JOC Walter T. Ham IV, US Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, 23 April 2001.
[288] See US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2000: Cuba, February 2001. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/.