By Tom Whitney
May 8, 2013
Bombs set off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15 killed three and wounded over 200 people. The metropolitan area became a virtual war zone. Officials at every level let loose with doomsday-style retaliatory proclamations. For many, however, the clamor served to resurrect memories of U.S. terrorism against Cuba and anti-terrorist verbiage that is full of contradictions.
Almost one year before the Marathon bombings, on April 27, 2012, the office of a tourist agency in Coral Gables, Florida that promotes charter flights and legal travel to Cuba was firebombed and destroyed. A local blogger said of owner Vivian Mannerud, “Too bad she was not inside the office.
Ms. Mannerud pointed out recently that, to this day, not one elected official and in particular, James Cason, mayor of Coral Gables has ever come out to denounce this act of terrorism. There are still no suspects and few signs of ongoing investigation. The Boston and Florida situations are very different, and perhaps the lack of deaths and injuries in the Florida case account for some of the muted response there. But in the past even when Cuba and supporters of Cuba are beset with chaos and calamity reminiscent of the Boston experience, impunity prevailed.
Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada engineered the murderous downing of a fully loaded Cuban airliner at sea in 1976. Posada alone arranged for hotel bombings in Cuba in 1997. They found safe haven in Florida.
The U.S. government itself is a purveyor of terrorism. Wars, drones, economic sanctions, puppet insurgencies, torture regimens, and prison abuses terrorize peoples throughout the world. The United States exports spies and informants and supports the militarized police forces and national armies of puppet governments. Terror fostered by the United States aggravates hostilities and swells enemy ranks. Vicious cycles ensue and conflicts expand. Openings multiply for the U.S. government to claim victimization and to rationalize its own terror attacks.
Cuba stands alone as remaining apart from this deadly interchange. Anti-Cuban terror flows in only one direction. Cuban sources indicate that U.S. – based terrorists have killed almost 3500 people over 50 years, either Cubans or friends of Cuba. By contrast, U.S. military and intelligence officials now and then reiterate that Cuba represents no military or economic threat to the United States.
Yet the U. S. government maintains Cuba on its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Apologists point to Basque separatists welcomed in Cuba and to sanctuary given leftist Colombian guerrillas. Spain, of course, asked that Cuba take in the Basques, and Colombia embraced Cubas offer to host government negotiations with the guerrillas. And political refuge provided for Assata Shakur has long been cited.
Having escaped from a U.S. prison, the black liberation combatant moved to Cuba. Conveniently enough, the United States was recently able simultaneously to announce that Cuba will remain on its list of terror sponsoring states and that Assata Shakur was being placed on the FBIs ten most wanted terrorist list, also that the bounty for her capture and return to the United States was re-set at $2 million. Many legal observers remain highly critical of the prosecution and trial in 1977 through which she was convicted of murdering a New Jersey policeman.
Why then, if Cuba is quite blameless as a sponsor of terrorism, have terror attacks against Cuba continued?
The assumption here is that the U.S. government, as minder of an empire, is serious about its duty to counter revolutionary and anti-imperialist movements from their earliest stirrings to their taking of power and beyond. U.S. governments have been dealing with Cuban revolutionaries for almost 150 years. In reaction to anti-annexationist, anti-racist independence struggles led by Jose Marti and Antonio Maceo, the United States ended up invading Cuba. U. S. troops helped beat down an Afro-Cuban uprising in 1912. In the early 1930s student and labor mobilizations, anti-imperialist in nature, were harbingers of a socialist revolution that took charge in 1959. Special treatment for Cuba may stem, in part, from an anti-imperialism that never quit.
Thats not all U.S. power brokers have to worry about. Despite bashings, Cuba poses the threat of a good example. The socialist state has ensured prolonged life expectancy, low infant mortality, ready access to high quality education and jobs, adequate nutrition and housing, and inculcation of ethical, communitarian, and culturally-inherited values. Cubans even weather natural disasters in exemplary fashion. Cubas adventures in international solidarity add insult to injury. Beleaguered Cuba contested apartheid in southern Africa, cares for the sick and injured throughout the world, and educates young people from all over.
And annoyingly Cuba defends itself against terror in targeted, non-violent ways not likely to provoke retaliation. Cuban volunteers moved to Florida to monitor U.S. based terrorists so that Cuba could prepare against attacks, maybe prevent them. For their pains, the Cuban Five, as they are known, were subjected to a biased trial and long, cruel sentences. A worldwide movement is demanding that U.S. President Obama release them.
Because the Five targeted violent private organizations operating from bases in Florida, their activities and their trial highlighted the general role of proxy warriors. Use of proxies frees central authorities from having publically to take responsibility for state – sponsored terror campaigns. In effect, the Five helped elucidate similarities among a variety of non-state perpetrators, specifically between Florida private paramilitary groups and terrorist individuals and autonomous groups elsewhere, even those at war with the United States. That bit of political education may have earned the Cuban Five a good part of their wildly excessive penalties.