Speech at the Annual Kingston Waterfront Rally in Solidarity with Cuba
October 22 2016
by Russell Bell
The brutal bombing of the Cubana Flight 455 which caused the deaths of all 73 innocent passengers, (57 Cubans, 11 Guyanese and five Koreans) on October 6, 1976, is known only to a small section of humanity – mainly Cubans and a relatively few others from the international Cuban Solidarity Movement.
Equally well unknown, is the fact that, after the triumph of the Cuban revolution in January 1959, the Cuban people were victims of constant terrorism which led to the death of over 3000 of its citizens and the maiming of more than 2000 others.
On the other hand, people from every corner of the globe know of 9/11 and recently the world mourned for Paris after bombs took the lives of some of its citizens.
The reality is that the deaths from terrorist acts that occur in the lands of the past colonial powers and the present American Empire are packaged to attract huge international attention and in some cases have precipitated a change in the course of history; while similar acts in the ex-colonies barely make the headlines.
The fact is that the unequal distribution of wealth and power in the globalised capitalist economy is mirrored throughout society expressing itself also as an unequal distribution of condolence as the poor are even poorer and more marginalized in death.
On many occasions, Cuba has been alone in her mourning, such as on that tragic day, October 6 1976.
Fidel had said so before, but in his speech commemorating the 25th anniversary of this barbaric act, he 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.”
Despite this and other terrorist acts against Cuba, however, the Cuban government has always taken the high moral ground, condemning 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 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.
In addition, despite the differences, Cuban authorities have repeatedly communicated to the U.S. government the willingness to cooperate in the fight against terrorism.
In fact, in the midst of incessant terrorism coming from the shores of the US, and facing a criminal blockade by this country, in 1984 Cuba warned of a plan to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, which led to the neutralization of those involved by the U.S. authorities.
Again 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.
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, while still being on the US list of countries that sponsor state terrorism, 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.
Undaunted by these refusals, 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.
The current process toward the normalization of relations has not been exempt from such attempts. In March 2015, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced its 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; both parties agreed on the importance of cooperation and the need to continue such meetings in the future.
The results, in practice, are yet to be seen; but this has not weakened Cuba’s will to move forward, even though they are still healing from their wounds and still faced with an uncompassionate and illegal economic blockade.
And so, we, Jamaicans in solidarity with the people and government of Cuba, again send our condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in the barbaric bombing of the Cubana Flight 455.
As idealists, we will continue, like the government and people of Cuba, to fight in our humble way for a better world, a world built on cooperation, a world free of terrorism, a world that jointly adopts a foreign policy that practices the acceptance of loving thy neighbour as thyself and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Obama – do the right thing
In concluding, we call on President Obama and the government of the US to do the right thing; to bring to justice those known to be guilty of this crime, rather than having them roam the streets of Miami freely while innocent people like Mumia are held behind bars.