Tonight CNBC will broadcast Escape from Havana: A Secret Flight to Freedom, an original documentary on Operation Pedro Pan, which I wrote about earlier. Under Pedro Pan, between 1960-1962, a little over 14,000 children, were airlifted out of Cuba and sent to the US to “save” them from communism. The Secret Escape to Freedom covers the stories of six Pedro Pan evacuees .
I admit I’m not impressed with the show’s description:
It was at the height of the Cold War when Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba. It was supposed to be a democratic revolution, but Castro soon turned to communism and dictatorship. Rumors began to spread among the elites and middle class that Castro would take their children away. Throughout the island, parents panicked. Then, the U.S. offered a way out: it would conduct a secret airlift of Cuban children and bring them to America – without their parents. It was an unbearable choice between raising their children in the oppression of Castro’s Cuba, or setting them free to live in the land of freedom, never knowing if they would reunite.
which fails to mention that Pedro Pan was a component of Operation Mongoose, a covert CIA operation designed by the JFK administration to undermine the Castro government. It included using refugees, particularly children as propaganda objectives. In this case, CIA operatives in Cuba created forged documents clandestine radio broadcasts, rumours to spread fear amongst anti-Castro Cubans that the government planned to terminate their parental rights and send their children to Soviet work camps. Ostensibly run by the Miami Diocese, the Pedro Pan childlift was, in fact, a joint effort of the Catholic Church and US government to purposefully break-up thousands of Cuban families to undermine Cuban culture in a PSYOP against communism. That’s the real story.
The inclusion of Maria de Los Angeles Torres, childifted by Pedro Pan at age 6, suggests we’ll get some of that real story. de los Angeles Torres, a political scientist and director of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program at the University of Illinois, Chicago is the author of The Lost Apple: Operation Pedro Pan, Cuban Children in the US, and the Promise of a Better Future. She has been in a prolonged legal fight with the CIA over release of documents and is highly critical of the Pedro Pan evacuation.
A Secret Flight to Freedom will air tonight at 10:00 pm edst.