Day in the Five: CANF leader dies

On November 23, 1997, Jorge Mas Canosa, the most powerful anti-Castro exile leader in America, died.

jorge mas canosa y clinton thumb
Mas Canosa with Bill Clinton

Though he didn’t accomplish his ambition of returning to Havana in triumph as its new American-backed, post-Castro leader, Mas Canosa’s public creation—the Cuban American National Foundation—did become one of the most effective lobbying machines in Washington and helped influence the anti-Cuba policies of every American administration since Ronald Reagan.

Just as important, Mas Canosa’s CANF spawned a secret paramilitary wing in 1992 that set out to undermine Cuba’s fledgling tourist economy by bombing tourist hotels and resorts… one of the reasons Cuba dispatched intelligence agents—including the members of the Cuban Five—to Miami to infiltrate the organization in the early 1990s.

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