April 2014        

US terrorism condemned

The offices of the Law Society in Chancery Lane, London, were the venue for the International Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five; but the British government sought to scupper the event before it even began.
      A few days before the commission opened, the home secretary, Theresa May, denied René González a visa to enter Britain and give evidence to the commission. González is one of five Cuban security agents who were imprisoned by the United States in 1998. He has served his full fifteen-year sentence and is now back in Cuba, along with his comrade Fernando González. The other three men remain incarcerated; and for one of them, Gerardo Hernández, sentenced to two life sentences plus fifteen years, freedom will never be achieved as things stand.
      Terrorism against Cuba has been a fact of life since the very beginning of the Revolution in 1959. While Castro’s victory at Playa Girón and the infamous missile crisis of 1963 have been written and reported on voluminously, the small country’s fight against continuing terrorism is a lonely and often silent one. And while it would be wrong to blame the United States as a whole for this terrorism, the fact remains that the terrorists live, fund-raise and plan their acts from Florida, and have done so for more than fifty years.
      It was these terrorists who blew a passenger jet out of the sky in October 1976, killing all seventy-six people on board. This was the worst terrorist attack in all of the Americas until September 2001. The seventy-three passengers, mostly Cuban athletes en route to the Pan-American Games, were massacred by Cuban-American terrorists based in Miami, who continue to live freely in South Florida.
      If you didn’t know about that atrocity, you almost certainly haven’t heard about Fabio di Celmo. This was a young Italian killed on 4 September 1997 when a bomb planted by the same terrorist groups in the Copacabana Hotel in Havana hurled a piece of shrapnel into his neck, severing his jugular vein. This was one of dozens of bombs planted in tourist hotels by terrorists to try to kill Cuba’s fledgling tourist industry in the mid-1990s.
      These incidents and many others are why Cuba needs, and has, one of the most sophisticated intelligence agencies in the world. René González and his four comrades are a part of this agency. But, despite their efforts, it is a little-known fact that 3,278 Cubans have been killed by terrorism since Fidel Castro took power in 1959.
      In 1996 Cuba shot down two planes as they headed towards Havana on propaganda missions for these exile groups. The response of Castro’s enemies in South Florida was vicious; and, in the same sort of atmosphere that saw the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and Maguire Seven wrongly imprisoned, the US authorities took the easy option and rounded up the five Cuban agents.
      The international commission heard details of the most farcical trial and unjust appeals process, including evidence from an International array of lawyers, diplomats and experts in all relevant fields. Primary among them was the former US deputy attorney-general Ramsay Clarke, who described the five as “patriots who left their families to prevent crimes, prevent terrorism, before it began. If that is a crime, then the law is an ass.” He believes that President Obama “should send the five home in Air Force 1 with apologies from America.”
      The commission’s report will document all this evidence in what is nothing less than an international travesty of justice.

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