Satellite Images Reveal Possible Bases In Cuba

Recent satellite images have unveiled the expansion of Cuba’s electronic eavesdropping stations, which are believed to be linked to China. These developments, including new construction at a previously unreported site near the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, highlight the growing concerns over Chinese influence in the Caribbean.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think tank, conducted a study that builds on last year’s reports by The Wall Street Journal. These reports indicated that China and Cuba were negotiating closer defense and intelligence ties, including the establishment of a new joint military training facility and an eavesdropping station on the island. U.S. officials confirmed that China and Cuba were already jointly operating such stations but did not disclose their locations.

Former officials and analysts warn that China is leveraging Cuba’s proximity to the southeastern U.S. to intercept sensitive electronic communications from American military bases, space-launch facilities, and maritime operations. Leland Lazarus, an expert on China-Latin America relations at Florida International University, emphasized that these facilities could also enhance China’s ability to spy on U.S. citizens through telecommunications networks.

The CSIS report identified and analyzed four key sites: Bejucal, El Salao, Wajay, and Calabazar. While some of these, like Bejucal, have been recognized as listening posts, the satellite imagery provides new insights into their capabilities, growth, and likely connections with China. Matthew Funaiole, the report’s chief author, noted that these are active sites with evolving missions.

This report emerges amidst escalating concerns about geopolitical competition in the Caribbean and Latin America. China is constructing a megaport on Peru’s Pacific coast, and Russia recently deployed a nuclear-powered submarine and a frigate to Havana harbor. In February, the U.S. intelligence community publicly acknowledged for the first time that China is pursuing military facilities in Cuba.

Chinese officials have countered these claims by highlighting the extensive global network of U.S. military bases and listening posts. Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for China’s embassy in Washington, accused the U.S. of hypocrisy and of hyping up China’s surveillance activities in Cuba.

The CSIS report details that two sites near Havana, Bejucal and Calabazar, have large dish antennas designed to monitor and communicate with satellites. While Cuba itself does not possess satellites, these antennas are highly beneficial for China’s substantial space program. New dish antennas and other infrastructure upgrades have been installed at these sites over the past decade.

A previously unreported site at El Salao, near Santiago de Cuba, began construction in 2021. This site is designed to host a large formation of antennas known as a circularly disposed antenna array, which can intercept electronic signals. This location’s proximity to the Guantanamo Bay naval base suggests it could potentially monitor communications from the base.

Historically, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union operated its largest overseas electronic spying site at Lourdes, near Havana. This site, which hosted hundreds of intelligence officers, closed after 2001, and its current status remains unclear. In recent years, China has taken a more active role on the island, reportedly upgrading its intelligence collection facilities in Cuba in 2019.


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