This Cuban farm village once was the site of a secret military base where Soviet nuclear missiles stood capable of striking the United States. Today in the hamlet of Bejucal, the working nukes are gone; in their place is a communist Chinese spy station, barely 100 miles off the coast of Florida. A Miami-based Spanish language news station, AméricaTeVé, has produced a first look, below, at where to spot the spy facility.
The spy station first was reported in early June, when the Wall Street Journal revealed that China struck a deal to pay Cuba billions of dollars to build a major intelligence station on the island.
READ MORE in Soldier of Fortune about the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The report quickly was dismissed by National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
“I’ve seen that press report,” Kirby said. “It’s not accurate.”
Kirby’s denials were echoed by the U.S. Department of Defense.
“I can tell you, based on the information that we have, that that is not accurate, that we are not aware of China and Cuba developing any type of spy stations,” said Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder.
Kirby later switched his stance, saying that the WSJ was mostly correct, except for the parts about timing. The base was not being planned; it already was built, and fully operational.
Kirby explained his previous comments by hinting at things he couldn’t reveal.
“I can tell you that we were as forthcoming as we should have been at the time the first stories appeared,” Kirby told reporters.
How, then, should American citizens evaluate what they are being told?
Journalists at the Spanish-language America TeVe in Miami produced an in-depth report that offers a first look at the Chinese spy base in Bejucal. Crucial to the broadcast is that U.S. officials knew about the intelligence gathering effort at least as of 2018.
Some observers have downplayed the threat of a Chinese spy base on Cuba.
Fulton Armstrong, a former senior CIA analyst on Cuba, told Reuters that Beijing has plenty of access to advanced methods to spy on the United States.
“A listening post would be of marginal value [to China] in today’s technology,” Armstrong said.
The Federal Communications Commission says otherwise.
“(China’s Communist Party) maintains physical presences at Soviet-era intelligence facilities at Bejucal in what appears to be a signals intelligence collection operation,” the FCC found, citing a 2018 report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
Those concerns were enough to deny an application to connect Cuba to the United States through the ARCOS-1 undersea telecoms cable, according to the report.
The parallels are strong between the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the situation today in Bejucal. During that long-ago Cold War showdown, the people of Cuba sent word via contacts in Miami that Soviet missiles were being trundled through the island’s back-country, aboard oversized transport trucks. The warnings for a long time were ignored. More recently, reports about the Chinese spy station also were dismissed.
Local villagers reminded AméricaTeVé that eyes on the ground remain vital to knowing the truth.
“Cubans don’t miss anything,” one man said. “That’s how it is.”