Drills to guard against `aggression'
BY PAUL HAVEN
HAVANA -- Cuba's armed forces launched three days of intense military
exercises across the island Thursday, a mobilization that
state-controlled media says is designed to guard against an American
Americans focused on a U.S. military assault more likely are thinking
about how President Barack Obama will pursue war in Afghanistan -- not Cuba.
But the siege mentality of the Cold War hasn't faded on the island,
where the communist government continues to warn about imperialist
aggression and the menace from the north.
The exercises, which run through Saturday, are the first since President
Raúl Castro took over from his brother Fidel in February 2008 -- and
since relations between Havana and Washington began to thaw somewhat
The U.S. leader has loosened financial and travel restrictions on Cuba.
The two countries have begun negotiations on restarting direct mail
service, and there is talk of future cooperation on counter-narcotics
and disaster relief, among other things.
More than the specifics, officials on both sides speak of a new tone
between Havana and Washington that has made further progress a possibility.
But the rhetoric connected with Thursday's mobilization -- dubbed
``Bastion 2009'' -- displayed none of that new warmth.
Radio Rebelde said the attack was aimed at ``confronting a possible
aggression by North American imperialism.'' The state-run newspaper
Granma called the mobilization the largest and most important in more
than five years.
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