October 17 2016
We Cubans have also been victims of this unequal distribution of condolence, just like that of wealth, much as we have been of terrorism, which has forced us to live with the death of 3,478 of our people and the maiming 2,099
On many occasions, Cuba has been alone in her mourning, such as that October of 1976, when a brutal act of terrorism saw a Cuban aircraft blown up mid-air. Photo: Jorge Oller
Just for “being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” men kill other men. And the natural balance of the world shudders. Whether for being Black or White, homosexual or Jewish, political or religious, men kill other men. This sin, contradictorily, occurs in the name of a God, or a “leader.” And the blessed balance is distorted.
The will to prevent and reject the horrors of terrorism, rather than a political doctrine, should emanate from our own human nature. Not even the most fanatical believers, the most loyal subordinates, or the most radical or extremist could justify the death of any one of the innocent people who inhabit our “global village.” But terror prefers the innocent.
“Any man’s death diminishes me,” wrote the English metaphysical poet John Donne. If his principle were applicable to all, there are certain characters, some renowned, who would already have been extinguished. But far from diminishing, death comforts them, and serves, unnaturally, as a mercenary or “religious,” or as I would put it, satanic, offering.
Not all dead are equal
And as distorted as it is, not all dead are equal, whether economically or mediatically speaking, despite having in common their innocence and the possibility of a whole life to live. In terms of death, credit cards, bank accounts and even latitude make a difference, as in these cases the effects of geography weigh in, almost as a curse.
The economic strength of the countries where the barbarism occurs, their weight in the international power balance and even their range of influential allies, act as either a global loudspeaker or silencer. The deaths that occur in “developed” nations change the course of history; those in Third World or “developing” countries barely make the headlines.
Poorer in death
One need not dig too deep to expose the clear examples. The world mourned for Paris and sympathized with Brussels, whereas the massacres of the South pass almost unnoticed and if anything, are only discussed among the victims. The poor are even poorer in death.
We Cubans have also been victims of this unequal distribution of condolence, just like that of wealth, much as we have been of terrorism, which has forced us to live with the death of 3,478 of our people and the maiming 2,099 others.
October 6 of 1976 – only a few shared our pain
On many occasions, Cuba has been alone in her mourning, such as that October 6 of 1976, when a brutal act of terrorism saw a Cuban aircraft blown up midair, killing all 73 passengers aboard: 57 Cubans, 11 Guyanese and five Koreans.
He had said so before, but in his speech commemorating the 25th anniversary of this barbaric act, Fidel was explicit, declaring that “No one, except a group of friendly personalities and institutions, shared our pain; there was no uproar in the world, no serious political crises, no meetings at the United Nations, no imminent threat of war.
“Few perhaps (…) understood the terrible significance of that event. (…) It was as commonplace. Thousands of Cubans had already been killed in La Coubre, the Escambray mountains, at Playa Girón and in hundreds of terrorist acts, pirate attacks or other similar events, had they not?”
Cuba has always condemned any act of terror
Despite this extreme cruelty, Cuba has always condemned any act of terror, against any country, even against that which has offered shelter and protection to the most unrelenting murderers.
Cuba has signed all 19 existing international conventions on this matter and is party to all, except the Protocol to Amend the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, 2014, as this has not this yet entered into force.
Cuba also strictly complies with the commitments emanating from United Nations Security Council resolutions, and has actively participated in discussions on the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee.
Respect for human rights
Our country also remains committed to the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, especially its four pillars, which in general refer to measures to prevent and combat terrorism, increase the capacity of states in this struggle and ensure respect for human rights.
The background to this position, however, is not confined to the revolutionary period. It dates back to 1937, when Cuba was suffering and her people were far from able to protect themselves and assert a clear position.
However, in politics, always contradictory, many things are not what they seem, and explanations almost always boil down to convenience. Thus it must have been convenient, back then, for Cuba to feature among the signatories of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism.
I say convenient, and even contradictory, as in 1937 the Cuban government served as a neo-colonial puppet providing ongoing indignities.
For those who pulled the strings, the signing likely acted as a facade; for Cubans, however, it laid the foundations for a much more important commitment, which became definitive after 1959. Such that, beyond the differences, our authorities have repeatedly communicated to the U.S. government the willingness to cooperate in the fight against terrorism.
The list is extensive. Taken at random, we could note the year 1984, when Cuba warned of a plan to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, which led to the neutralization of those involved by the U.S. authorities. In 1998, Cuba informed the Bill Clinton administration regarding the intention to detonate bombs on Cuban planes, or those from third countries carrying U.S. passengers.
Anti-terrorism program rejected by the US government
In 1997, 1998, 2005, 2006 and 2010, the island officially submitted thousands of documents containing data on terrorists based in the United States and other nations to representatives of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Not to be overlooked is the fact that in 2001 and 2002, Cuba presented a draft program for cooperation to combat terrorism to U.S. authorities. A proposal that was expressly rejected by the George W. Bush administration.
These refusals did not stop the island trying, and in 2009, 2010 and 2011 Cuba reiterated its willingness to cooperate in this area to the United States government. In 2012, the island submitted in writing a proposal to establish a bilateral program that would ensure effective prevention or eradication of any terrorist activity.
Moving forward with our wounds
The current process toward the normalization of relations has not been exempt from such attempts. In March 2015, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the interest in signing agreements on issues of law enforcement, mainly related to areas in the fight against terrorism. Later that year, the first bilateral dialogue on this matter was held and since then several technical meetings have taken place.
Recently, in June 2016, such an encounter between Cuban and U.S. authorities responsible for preventing and fighting terrorism was held in Havana, who agreed on the importance of cooperation and to continue such meetings in the future.
The results, in practice, are yet to be seen; but this has not weakened the country’s will to move forward, even when we Cubans are still healing from our wounds.