The Caribbean: The challenges of integration on the empire’s frontier

Source:  Granma
December 7 2017

by: Sergio Alejandro Gómez | internet@granma.cu

 

cuba sent humanitarian aid.jpg

Cuba sent as much humanitarian aid as it could to the islands most severely affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Photo: Sergio Alejandro Gómez

Former President of Dominica Juan Bosch described the Caribbean as an “imperial frontier,” and point of conflict between the economic and political interests of global powers, a reality which hasn’t changed since the time of Christopher Columbus.

A long history of exploitation, underdevelopment, and power struggles

Behind the façade of beautiful beaches and multi-colored neighborhoods which cover the front page of magazines all over the world, the region has a long history of exploitation, underdevelopment, and power struggles.

It seems therefore that despite language and cultural differences, integration among the peoples of the Caribbean is the only possible way to wipe away the vast debts of its colonial past, which some countries, like the United States, are trying to reimpose today.

December 8 1972 – a turning point

December 8, marks the 45th anniversary of a gesture which transformed Cuba’s relationship with other Caribbean nations. On that date in 1972, the heads of state of Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, and Guyana, which had recently gained their independence, decided to establish diplomatic relations with the revolutionary government led by Fidel Castro.

The decision set off alarms in Washington, which was using all the political means at its disposal to isolate Cuba, whose economy was growing rapidly despite U.S. attempts to sabotage it.

“Probably, the leaders of these countries, also considered the founding fathers of the independence of their nations and of Caribbean integration, – Errol Barrow from Barbados, Forbes Burnham from Guyana, Michael Manley from Jamaica, and Eric Williams from Trinidad and Tobago – realized that their decision to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba was paving the way for the future foreign policy of the Caribbean Community, which to this day stands on three major pillars: independence, courage, and concerted action,” stated Fidel on the 30th anniversary of the seminal event.

Over 5000 Caribbean youth

One would be hard pressed to find a single corner of the Caribbean where Cuba has not left its mark. Tens of thousands of collaborators from different sectors, including healthcare, education, engineering, and construction, have helped to transform the reality of some of the region’s most impoverished communities, the ones that don’t appear on tourist posters.

Likewise, according to official sources, over 5,000 youth from the Caribbean have been trained in Cuba over recent decades, and are now serving their communities in their native countries.

6th Caricom-Cuba Summit

The 6th Caricom-Cuba Summit, which took place on December 8 in Antigua and Barbuda, provided a new opportunity to review the work of the mechanism since its founding 15 years ago, in Havana, 2002.

There currently exists broad cooperation across various strategic sectors such as health, sports, education, culture, and construction. But, as has been noted in previous encounters, there remains much more potential to be exploited.

Trade between Caricom nations and Cuba

According to information presented in March of this year by Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, trade between Caricom nations and Cuba exceeded 120 million USD in 2016, almost double that of the previous year. However, this figure still falls below its real potential.  The event in Antigua and Barbuda enabled delegations from commercial and business sectors to sit down and evaluate new opportunities in this area.

Regional solidarity

This year the powerful hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated several Caribbean nations, proving the vulnerability of small island nations of the region to increasingly severe natural disasters which affect the area.

The force of the winds, and the scale of the disaster, put Caribbean institutions and international solidarity to the test, however it must be noted that neighboring countries were the first to send aid to the most affected zones.

In Dominica, where almost 90% of homes were damaged, the most critical victims were transported by air to neighboring islands to receive urgent medical treatment.
Likewise, search and rescue teams from Cuba and Venezuela were among the first to arrive in the country to save those trapped by mudslides and floods.

Regional organizations such as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) mobilized vital resources and the Regional Security System, in partnership with Caricom, helped to impose order at the most crucial moments.

Although Irma caused a fair amount of damage across a good part of the island, Cuba offered help to the most severely affected countries, including Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda.

The island also sent a shipment of hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid, including food, construction materials, and brigades of linemen, as well as forestry and construction workers, to support recovery efforts on the ground.

Alongside the local people, Cuban healthcare professionals stationed in both countries weathered the impact of the hurricanes, but continued to offer their services throughout.

Meanwhile, a special brigade from the Henry Reeve Contingent was deployed in Dominica for a month, in case epidemics broke out.
Irma and Maria showed that increasingly severe weather events are just one of many other challenges facing the region, above all attempts by the U.S. to re-exert its dominance in the area.

Cuban national hero, José Martí, believed that if Cuba and Puerto Rico secured independence it would prevent the United States from extending its control over the rest of Latin America.

In this regard, the position taken by Caribbean nations this year in the Organization of American States (OAS) is proof of the region’s strategic role in blocking maneuvers by the U.S., such as in the case of Venezuela, whose government has come under attack from Washington for attempting to implement profound changes to benefit the population in a country with the largest proven oil reserves in the world.

Furthermore, the Caribbean’s longstanding rejection of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. on Cuba, show that the fundamental principles of justice, even when defended by small and vulnerable island nations, prevail over pressure and coercionl by a global power.

“We face similar challenges that can only be met through close unity and efficient cooperation,” stated Army General Raúl Castro during the inauguration of the 5th Caricom-Cuba Summit, held in Havana.

Caribbean and Latin American integration, concluded the Cuban President, is “crucial to our survival.”

Growing insecurity in the United States: 93 people die from gun violence every day

Source:  Granma
November 13 2017

by: Abel González Santamaría | internet@granma.cu

The world’s leading economic power is experiencing a complex social situation, with insecurity levels rising year after year. Kindergartens, schools, universities, churches, shopping centers, offices and recreational sites have been the scene of bloody  events.

us gun violence.jpgThe NRA, the largest organization defending firearms possession in the United States, was founded in 1871. Photo: AP

The world’s leading economic power is experiencing a complex social situation, with insecurity levels rising year after year. Kindergartens, schools, universities, churches, shopping centers, offices and recreational sites have been the scene of bloody events.

It is estimated that every day in the United States 93 people die from gun violence, while another 222 are shot and survive, equivalent to 33,880 deaths per year. For every ten inhabitants there are nine firearms, the highest proportion in the world.

These statistics are carefully recorded by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, named after James Brady, who served as White House press secretary under President Ronald Reagan. In 1981, both were shot and wounded during an assassination attempt on Reagan in Washington DC. Reagan recovered but Brady was left in a wheelchair. For the next three decades, he became a leading activist for gun control in the United States.

Just a month ago, one of the bloodiest shooting in the modern history of the United States occurred. On October 1, a U.S. retiree killed 58 people and wounded 500 others during a country music concert in Las Vegas. Then on November 5, another massacre occurred. A former member of the U.S. Air Force killed 26 people, including several children, and wounded 20 others during mass at a Texas Baptist church.

Despite this grim reality, the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, approved in 1791, which states that the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” continues to be used to justify the lack of gun control in the country, with the massive support of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

NRA and other associated special interest groups

Just as there is no shortage of violent acts or massacres, public opinion is not lacking to promote a real change to the unsustainable gun control regime in the U.S. However, the deliberate action of the NRA and other associated special interest groups continues to hold more sway, which “work” by providing generous contributions and threats of reprisals against any decision-making official on the issue within the government or Congress.

The largest organization defending firearms possession in the United States, founded in 1871, is one of the most faithful donors of congress members and presidential hopefuls, especially of the Republican Party. During the 2016 election campaign, this lobby group allocated more than 30 million dollars to help elect Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Once in office, on April 28, 2017, Donald Trump participated in the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting. He was the first U.S. President to participate in this event since Ronald Reagan, and expressed his gratitude for the NRA’s contributions, noting: “You have a true friend in the White House.”

Oscar Lopez: Puerto Rico – a product of 119 years of US colonialism

Source:  Granma
November 13, 2017

by: Arlin Alberty Loforte | informacion@granma.cu

Oscar López Rivera arrives in Cuba: “I feel at home”

The Puerto Rican independence fighter was greeted at José Martí International Airport by Fernando González, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with Peoples.

oscar lopez y fernandoPhoto: Ismael Batista

Puerto Rican independence fighter, Oscar López Rivera, was greeted at José Martí International Airport by Fernando González, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with Peoples (ICAP).

Upon his arrival in Havana during the dawn hours today, November 13, the Puerto Rican patriot expressed his gratitude and affection for the Cuban people and government.

“I feel at home, this is a dream come true; for many, many years, I have wanted to come to Cuba and today for the first time I have arrived,” he said after receiving a warm embrace from decorated Hero of the Republic Fernando González, with whom he shared a cell for several years, when they were both unjustly incarcerated in the United States.

Imprisoned for almost 36 years

López, who was imprisoned for almost 36 years, convicted of “seditious conspiracy,” before being released May 17 this year, said he wished Cubans much strength, adding that the Puerto Rican people will always stand with Cuba.

“I am very encouraged to be able to enjoy some time with the Cuban people. I’m alive and kicking; at my age I believe I can work 14 or 15 hours a day. I feel good.”

Puerto Rico after 119 years of colonialism

Commenting on the extremely difficult situation in Puerto Rico, he said, “No Puerto Rican can say we govern in Puerto Rico, it is Washington and Wall Street who give orders.”

He added that the U.S. government and Donald Trump have shown they have no respect, or consideration for the suffering people.

“After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was left devastated and is now showing the world the poverty that existed and was hidden; the world is being shown what colonialism is, because it is perhaps the best example of what becomes of a country that has been colonized for 119 years by the U.S. government, and how the U.S. government has behaved toward Puerto Rico for these 119 years. If there is a huge debt, it is the one the U.S. owes Puerto Rico,” he emphasized.

López Rivera commented that there are more Puerto Ricans living abroad than on the island, and that many more have left since Maria struck, September 20.

US does not allow aid for Puerto Rico from Cuba

He noted that the U.S. did not allow aid from countries like Venezuela, Panama, Cuba, or México to enter Puerto Rico.

During this first visit, López Rivera will be awarded the Solidarity Order by the Council of State; visit the Che Guevara Memorial in Santa Clara; as well as Santiago de Cuba, where the remains of national hero José Martí and Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz rest.

Also present to greet the Puerto Rican patriot were Silvia Matute, from the Party Central Committee’s International Relations Department; Yolanda Ferrer, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power International Relations Committee; and Edwin González, from the Puerto Rican mission in Cuba.

The Jamaican Who Helped Form The October Revolution’s Policy on Racism in the US

Jamaican Claude McKay: Report on the Negro Question – Speech to the 4th Congress of the Comintern, Nov. 1922

by Claude McKay

claude McKay 1922 2.jpgJamaican Claude McKay at the Fourth Congress of the Third International speaking in the throne room at the Kremlin, 1922.

Source:  marxisthistory.org

Comrades, I feel that I would rather face a lynching stake in civilized America than try to make a speech before the most intellectual and critical audience in the world. I belong to a race of creators but my public speaking has been so bad that I have been told by my own people that I should never try to make speeches, but stick to writing, and laughing. However, when I heard the Negro question was going to be brought up on the floor of the Congress, I felt it would be an eternal shame if I did not say something on behalf of the members of my race.

Especially would I be a disgrace to the American Negroes because, since I published a notorious poem in 1919 [“If We Must Die”], I have been pushed forward as one of the spokesmen of Negro radicalism in America to the detriment of my poetical temperament. I feel that my race is honored by this invitation to one of its members to speak at this Fourth Congress of the Third International. My race on this occasion is honored, not because it is different from the white race and the yellow race, but [because it] is especially a race of toilers, hewers of wood and drawers of water, that belongs to the most oppressed, exploited, and suppressed section of the working class of the world. The Third International stands for the emancipation of all the workers of the world, regardless of race or color, and this stand of the Third International is not merely on paper like the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. It is a real thing.

Related:  Black Liberation and the Communist International

The Negro race in the economic life of the world today occupies a very peculiar position. In every country where the Whites and Blacks must work together the capitalists have set the one against the other. It would seem at the present day that the international bourgeoisie would use the Negro race as their trump card in their fight against the world revolution. Great Britain has her Negro regiments in the colonies and she has demonstrated what she can do with her Negro soldiers by the use that she made of them during the late War. The revolution in England is very far away because of the highly organized exploitation of the subject peoples of the British Empire.

In Europe, we find that France had a Negro army of over 300,000 and that to carry out their policy of imperial domination in Europe the French are going to use their Negro minions. In America we have the same situation. The Northern bourgeoisie knows how well the Negro soldiers fought for their own emancipation, although illiterate and untrained, during the Civil War. They also remember how well the Negro soldiers fought in the Spanish-American War under Theodore Roosevelt. They know that in the last war over 400,000 Negroes who were mobilized gave a very good account of themselves, and that, besides fighting for the capitalists, they also put up a very good fight for themselves on returning to America when they fought the white mobs in Chicago, St. Louis and Washington. But more than the fact that the American capitalists are using Negro soldiers in their fight against the interests of labor is the fact that the American capitalists are setting out to mobilize the entire black race of America for the purpose of fighting organized labor.

The need to face the Negro question in the US

The situation in America today is terrible and fraught with grave dangers. It is much uglier and more terrible than was the condition of the peasants and Jews of Russia under the Tsar. It is so ugly and terrible that very few people in America are willing to face it. The reformist bourgeoisie have been carrying on the battle against discrimination and racial prejudice in America. The Socialists and Communists have fought very shy of it because there is a great element of prejudice among the Socialists and Communists of America. They are not willing to face the Negro question. In associating with the comrades of America I have found demonstrations of prejudice on the various occasions when the White and Black comrades had to get together: and this is the greatest difficulty that the Communists of America have got to overcome-the fact that they first have got to emancipate themselves from the ideas they entertain towards the Negroes before they can be able to reach the Negroes with any kind of radical propaganda.

However, regarding the Negroes themselves, I feel that as the subject races of other nations have come to Moscow to learn how to fight against their exploiters, the Negroes will also come to Moscow. In 1918 when the Third International published its Manifesto and included the part referring to the exploited colonies, there were several groups of Negro radicals in America that sent this propaganda out among their people. When in 1920 the American government started to investigate and to suppress radical propaganda among the Negroes, the small radical groups in America retaliated by publishing the fact that the Socialists stood for the emancipation of the Negroes, and that reformist America could do nothing for them.

Karl Marx’s interest in the emancipation of the American Negro

Then, I think, for the first time in American history, the American Negroes found that Karl Marx had been interested in their emancipation and had fought valiantly for it. I shall just read this extract that was taken from Karl Marx’s writing at the time of the Civil War:

When an oligarchy of 300,000 slave holders for the first time in the annals of the world, dared to inscribe “Slavery” on the banner of armed revolt, on the very spot where hardly a century ago, the idea of one great democratic republic had first sprung up, whence the first declaration of the Rights of Man was issued, and the first impulse given to the European revolution of the eighteenth- century, when on that spot the counter-revolution cynically proclaimed property in man to be “the cornerstone of the new edifice” — then the working class of Europe understood at once that the slaveholders’ rebellion was to sound the tocsin for a general holy war of property against labor, and that (its) hopes of the future, even its past conquests were at stake in that tremendous conflict on the other side of the Atlantic.

Karl Marx who drafted the above resolution is generally known as the father of Scientific Socialism and also of the epoch-making volume popularly known as the socialist bible, Capital. During the Civil War he was correspondent of the New York Tribune. In the company of Richard Cobden, Charles Bradlaugh, the atheist, and John Bright, he toured England making speeches and so roused up the sentiment of the workers of that country against the Confederacy that Lord Palmerston, [the] Prime Minister, who was about to recognize the South, had to desist.

Fighting wage slavery

As Marx fought against chattel slavery in 1861, so are present-day socialists, his intellectual descendants, fighting wage slavery. If the Workers Party in America were really a Workers Party that included Negroes it would, for instance, in the South, have to be illegal, and I would inform the American Comrades that there is a branch of the Workers Party in the South, in Richmond, Virginia, that is illegal — illegal because it includes colored members. There we have a very small group of white and colored comrades working together, and the fact that they have laws in Virginia and most of the Southern states discriminating against whites and blacks assembling together means that the Workers Party in the South must be illegal.

To get round these laws of Virginia, the comrades have to meet separately, according to color, and about once a month they assemble behind closed doors. This is just an indication of the work that will have to be done in the South. The work among the Negroes of the South will have to be carried on by some legal propaganda organized in the North, because we find at the present time in America that the situation in the Southern States (where nine million out of ten million of the Negro population live), is that even the liberal bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie among the Negroes cannot get their own papers of a reformist propaganda type into the South on account of the laws that there discriminate against them.

The fact is that it is really only in the Southern States that there is any real suppression of opinion. No suppression of opinion exists in the Northern states in the way it exists in the South. In the Northern states special laws are made for special occasions as those against Communists and Socialists during the War — but in the South we find laws that have existed for fifty years, under which the Negroes cannot meet to talk about their grievances. The white people who are interested in their cause cannot go and speak to them. If we send white comrades into the South they are generally ordered out by the Southern oligarchy and if they do not leave they are generally whipped, tarred and feathered; and if we send black comrades into the South they generally won’t be able to get out again — they will be lynched and burned at the stake.

I hope that as a symbol that the Negroes of the world will not be used by the international bourgeoisie in the final conflicts against the World Revolution, that as a challenge to the international bourgeoisie, who have an understanding of the Negro question, we shall soon see a few Negro soldiers in the finest, bravest, and cleanest fighting forces in the world — the Red Army and Navy of Russia — fighting not only for their own emancipation, but also for the emancipation of all the working class of the whole world.

From Niger to Somalia, U.S. Military Expansion in Africa Helps Terror Groups Recruit

Source: Democracy Now

From Niger to Somalia, U.S. Military Expansion in Africa Helps Terror Groups Recruit

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Related: 

“The U.S. Will Invade West Africa in 2023 After an Attack in New York—According to Pentagon War Game” (The Intercept)

“The US is waging a massive shadow war in Africa” (Vice)

Transcript 

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, to talk more about U.S. operations on the African continent, we’re joined by reporter Nick Turse. He’s a fellow at The Nation Institute, a contributing writer at The Intercept, where his latest stories are headlined “It’s Not Just Niger—U.S. Military Activity is a ‘Recruiting Tool’ for Terror Groups Across West Africa,” also his piece “The U.S. Will Invade West Africa in 2023 After an Attack in New York—According to Pentagon War Game,” and at Vice, his latest piece, “The U.S. is waging a massive shadow war in Africa.” He’s the author of the book Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa and his latest book, Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan.

Nick, welcome back to Democracy Now!

NICK TURSE: Thanks for having me on.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s begin in South Sudan. Why did Nikki Haley go there? Talk about the protest that occurred there.

NICK TURSE: Sure. Nikki Haley was dispatched there basically as a result of a speech last month that President Trump gave to African leaders at the United Nations. It was a very tone-deaf speech, where he, in fact, lauded the achievements of an African country that doesn’t exist—Nambia. But in the speech, he also mentioned that there were conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and especially South Sudan that needed tending to, that he was dispatching Haley to do something about it. What it was was never exactly clear. She was on something of a fact-finding mission.

She met with South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia. And then, as you mentioned, she went to one of these protection of civilian sites in South Sudan, where there have been, you know, internal—internally displaced people basically stranded there for years, since the civil war broke out in 2013. And things got heated, and she was escorted out of the camp.

AMY GOODMAN: So, explain the situation in South Sudan.

NICK TURSE: Sure. In December of 2013, the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, launched a ethnic cleansing campaign in the capital city, Juba.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s one of the newest countries in the world.

NICK TURSE: Yes, it’s the youngest nation on Earth. And this was, in many ways, a U.S. nation-building project. The United States spent somewhere around $11 billion bringing South Sudan into nationhood. The South Sudanese fought for and died for their independence, but the United States was really the backer of this project. And it all fell apart in 2013. The country has been in a state of civil war since then. And the government has been carrying out ethnic cleansing campaigns across the nation.

AMY GOODMAN: Against who?

NICK TURSE: It started out as campaigns against the Nuer, which is the largest of the ethnic minorities. This is carried out by, as I said, President Salva Kiir, who’s a member of the Dinka, who are the largest ethnic group in the country. Since then, the civil war has spread. And most recently, it’s been affecting the deep south of South Sudan, the Equatoria region, where there are somewhere around 10 to 20 ethnic minorities. They’ve been targeted, and they’ve been leaving the country in droves, mostly to Uganda, about a million refugees across the border since the late summer of 2016.

Now, Nikki Haley, when she was in South Sudan, said that President Kiir could not claim that his soldiers weren’t committing these atrocities. But, in fact, that’s what Kiir has been doing for months now. He’s been claiming that fake news and social media drove these people across the border. But I was there earlier this year. I talked to refugees who had left the country. I spoke to people who were displaced in the country. I saw the burned villages. These people ran because of a government-run ethnic cleansing campaign, massacres, murder, village burnings. All this was going on then and goes on today.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the U.S. interest now?

NICK TURSE: Well, yeah, the United States, I think, especially—it was a bipartisan effort, so there are a lot of people in Congress that believe that the United States has an ongoing role to play in South Sudan. What the White House thinks should be done there is very unclear. Before Ambassador Haley left, she was talking tough about cutting off U.S. aid as a way to leverage U.S. power against the government of South Sudan. But since she arrived there, saw the refugees, she said that she now understands that cutting off U.S. aid would hurt the most vulnerable South Sudanese. It’s really an intractable situation, and it’s difficult to figure out exactly what the United States can do and what Nikki Haley’s mandate is.

AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, visited Gambela in western Ethiopia, where nearly 350,000 refugees flooded across the border from South Sudan amidst the country’s civil war.

NIKKI HALEY: This is an international crisis. This is not just Ethiopia’s problem. This is an international crisis. And when you look at the thousands of people here and you see that they’re supposed to have one health clinic for 10,000 people, and there’s 86,000 people in one clinic, it’s wrong. I mean, they’re trying to make ends meet by, you know, working off of food shortages, but at some point you have to look and say, “No one deserves to live like this.”

AMY GOODMAN: Haley said the United States is considering how to pressure South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, into peace, but said withdrawing aid may not work. Nick Turse?

NICK TURSE: Yes. You know, this is the quandary the United States has been in. At one time, they were giving South Sudan millions and millions of dollars for their military, to train politicians there, technocrats. Now it’s been reduced basically to aid. And, you know, that’s the leverage the United States has. But cutting that off means that so many people in need will be without.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Nick Turse, who is the author of several books on Africa, Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa and his latest book, Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. We’ll talk about the United States presence throughout Africa—6,000 U.S. troops, it’s believed—and what the U.S. was doing in Niger, where the U.S. special ops forces and as well as five Nigerien troops were killed. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “Africa Dream Again” by Youssou N’Dour. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we talk about the U.S. presence in Africa. I want to turn to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He spoke to reporters last week after a meeting with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who said the military is shifting its counterterrorism strategy to focus more on Africa.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: The counterterrorism rules under President Obama, I thought, were overly restrictive. They denied us the ability to basically engage the enemy effectively and aggressively. The war is morphing. You’re going to see more actions in Africa, not less. You’re going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less. You’re going to have decisions being made not in the White House, but out in the field. And I support that entire construct.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we continue our conversation with Nick Turse. He’s the author of Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa; his latest book, Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. Respond to what Lindsey Graham has said. Talk about what the U.S. is doing in Africa.

NICK TURSE: Well, the U.S. is doing a lot in Africa. He talked about restrictions during the Obama era, but this was an era of major expansion, which, this past year, has, I have to say, jumped to another level. U.S. troops are now conducting, according to the commander of U.S. Africa Command, 3,500 exercises, programs and engagements per year. So that’s nearly 10 missions per day on the African continent, something that I think that most Americans are completely unaware of. I think Lindsey Graham states that he was unaware of the extent of this activity. So it’s a massive increase of late. When AFRICOM began, it was running about 172 exercises and missions per year. So this is almost a 2,000 percent rise in U.S. military activity on the Africa continent.

And this runs counter to what AFRICOM was originally sold as to the American people and to the world at large, that it would be something like the Peace Corps in camouflage, that there would be humanitarian operations, building of orphanages and digging of wells, that sort of thing. But it’s a fully militarized U.S. geographic combatant command, where you have troops running missions that, you know, are often sold as training and advisory, and done in a training and advisory capacity, but really are indistinguishable from combat.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, the discussion this week on Capitol Hill, we keep hearing many senators talking about giving more money to the U.S. military, that the death of the four Special Forces soldiers in Niger means the U.S. needs more money and that Africa is the place where, you know, the U.S. military action will be focused. Now, your story, one of them that you wrote, “It’s Not Just Niger—U.S. Military Activity is a ‘Recruiting Tool’ for Terror Groups Across West Africa,” explain.

NICK TURSE: Yes. This is something that a number of experts told me, that, you know, the United States has been pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into counterterror programs since just after 9/11 in West Africa—Niger, Mali, Mauritania, this entire region. The idea was to make this region a bulwark against terrorism. The thinking just after 9/11 was that weak states, fragile governments, ungoverned spaces, these were places that terror groups could proliferate.

But at the time, the United States didn’t recognize any transnational terror groups in the region. After all this U.S. activity, after running one special ops mission after another, year after year, now there are a proliferation of terror groups all across that region—depending on how you count them, maybe six to 10, including the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, which is the group that reportedly conducted this ambush that killed the four American Green Berets.

AMY GOODMAN: Not all of them were Green Berets, but they were Special Forces. On that issue of these Special Forces, 800 soldiers in Niger? What is the drone base? Why was it being built there?

NICK TURSE: Well, in 2013, the United States began drone operations there, a hundred U.S. personnel dispatched to Niamey, the capital of Niger. And the base was designed for providing what they call ISR—intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance—over the Niger and the greater West Africa region. Since then, the United States struck a deal with Niger to build a much larger base in the town of Agadez. U.S. Africa Command says that this is—they call it something like a temporary contingency location, which sounds like an airstrip with a couple tents around it. But declassified secret documents that I obtained show that this is a $100 million drone base that they’re building.

They chose Niger, these documents say, because the government there was open to them bringing in MQ-9 Reaper drones, which are the larger, newer variant of the Predator drone, a potentially much more lethal drone package. Originally, these were supposed to be carrying out, again, ISR missions, reconnaissance, surveillance. But now, in the wake of this attack, there’s a major push on to arm these drones and have them fly over the region. And this was something else that I also saw in the documents. Niger was the only country in the region that was open to having armed drones based there.

AMY GOODMAN: And both the U.S. and France are active there.

NICK TURSE: Yes. This is because of the collapse of Niger’s neighbor, one of its neighbors, Mali. In fact, a U.S.-trained officer, one of these—one of the officers trained in the U.S. counterterror programs after 9/11, overthrew the government of Mali, because there was an insurgency in northern Mali that this officer didn’t think that the government was taking on in the correct way. He proved incompetent at taking on the insurgency, as well. Islamists pushed his army back towards the capital. And there was a real fear that Mali would be overtaken by Islamist rebels. So France intervened, with the backing of the United States. And now France has been stuck in a counterinsurgency there, that seems that it’s also interminable and that the French cannot find a way to extricate themselves from.

AMY GOODMAN: Where else does the U.S. have drone bases across Africa?

NICK TURSE: Well, there are drone bases that pop up all across the continent, and the U.S. builds them and shuts them down depending on need. In the past, they’ve had drone bases in Ethiopia, in Chad, also in Kenya. I think the drone base that—of recent vintage, that’s been most important to the U.S., is in the tiny, sun-baked nation of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. There’s a major U.S. base there called Camp Lemonnier, but the drone base is a satellite facility. It’s called Chabelley Airfield. And the United States has run missions there that target the African continent. Also they run drone missions that fly to Yemen. And then it was used for engagements against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as well. It’s a very important, centrally located drone base.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you have 6,000 U.S. troops. Do you think that’s the correct number?

NICK TURSE: I think, on any given day, there’s somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 U.S. troops on the continent, depending on the missions that are going on at the time, because troops cycle in and out. But 6,000 is a reasonable number.

AMY GOODMAN: In some, what, 50 countries in Africa.

NICK TURSE: Yeah. The United States is in somewhere around 49 or so African countries, at least over the last couple years. They’re conducting training missions, exercises and, in some cases, you know, commando raids and drone strikes.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Professor Horace Campbell, currently spending a year in West Africa as the Kwame Nkrumah chair at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, a peace and justice scholar and professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University. He spoke on Democracy Now! earlier this week about forces—about U.S. forces in Africa.

HORACE CAMPBELL: So what we must be clear about to the progressive forces in the United States of America, that neither France nor the United States can have any political legitimacy in Africa, when on the streets of the United States of America fascists are walking around with Nazi flags and police are killing black people. I want to go back to the point that we made at the beginning. United States has no legitimacy for fighting terrorism in Africa, because you cannot fight to defend black lives in Africa when black lives are not important in the United States of America.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Professor Horace Campbell. Your response to what he says, Nick Turse?

NICK TURSE: Well, he makes a strong point there. And, you know, I might add that—and this is something in my recent pieces—that the United States’s counterterror activities in Africa have seemed to have the opposite effect, in many ways, that, you know, the U.S. was supposed to be building up counterterror capabilities, but we’ve just seen a proliferation of terror groups all across the continent. So, you know, the legitimacy is lacking, and then also the execution of this. It’s really gone counter to what the United States’ aims have been.

AMY GOODMAN: In your piece in The Intercept, the headline is “The U.S. Will Invade West Africa in 2023 After an Attack in New York—According to Pentagon War Game.” What is this war game?

NICK TURSE: It was a war game that was carried out over several weeks last year. The acronym of it was JLASS-SP. And this was conducted by students at the U.S. military’s war colleges. These aren’t, I should say, West Point cadets or something like this. These are generally colonels in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, some of the best up-and-coming strategic thinkers in the U.S. military, people that will be generals running the wars in the coming years. They ran a very intricate war game, and this was one part of it—but a pivotal part.

The war game posits that there will be a terror attack in New York targeting the Lincoln Tunnel. It will be the largest terror attack since 9/11, the most casualties since then. And it will be carried out by a West African terror group, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, one of these groups that’s cropped up in the region since 9/11. Because of this attack, the United States decides to invade West Africa, starting in Mauritania. And, you know—and it won’t be a surprise to anyone that’s watched U.S. wars since 9/11 that this quickly becomes a quagmire, that the United States goes in thinking that it’s going to be a short campaign, that we can eliminate the terrorists there and withdraw quickly, but it soon turns into an intractable conflict where the United States has to surge in forces just to maintain its occupation, and there seems to be no way to get out of it.

AMY GOODMAN: And what’s the significance of a Pentagon war game?

NICK TURSE: Well, I mean, this is—it’s not an intelligence estimate, but this is something that shows what the United States is thinking about, where it sees threats coming from, what it sees as the “reasonable,” quote-unquote, U.S. response to it. And this generally is the U.S. response. I could certainly see something like this happening. And the results are chilling, especially given what we’re seeing now—talk coming out of Congress about, you know, increasing U.S. military operations in Africa. It’s a sobering account of what this might mean for all of us, here in America and especially in Africa.

AMY GOODMAN: What about Somalia? So the timeline was what? October 4th, that was the time of the Niger killings, of the ambush of the U.S. and Nigerien forces. Ten days later, October 14, though a lot of people learned about what happened in Niger, and Trump did not reveal what happened in Niger until after Somalia, but 10 days later, this double bombing in the capital, what they’re calling the Mogadishu massacre, over 350 people killed, 400 people wounded. And The Guardian reports that the suspected bomber is from the specific community targeted by a U.S. raid last August in a village near Mogadishu that killed some 10 people, among them children. Can you talk about what’s happening in Somalia and the U.S. presence there?

NICK TURSE: Well, the U.S. has had a long-standing presence in Somalia. This has been one of the places where U.S. counterterror efforts have been at their largest in Africa. You know, it’s cited by some in the government as a success story. Al-Shabab has, in many ways, been pushed back. But, you know, there’s a continuing terror campaign from al-Shabab that doesn’t seem to be able to be solved through military means. But this is—this is the way the United States has chosen to deal with it and chosen to deal with what it considers threats all over the continent, that it’s a sort of a counterterror whack-a-mole exercise.

AMY GOODMAN: What does it mean that Trump called it a so-called zone of active hostilities?

NICK TURSE: Yeah, this allowed for a loosening of bonds on U.S. military activity there. It allows the U.S. to pursue a more vigorous military campaign. And because of that, there’s a much greater chance of civilian casualties and a chance of just continuing the cycle. This is something that experts have told me again and again, that U.S. operations on the continent are, in many ways, fueling terrorism, that these U.S. military operations are causing discontent, and by killing, you know, innocent civilians, that you’re just breeding more terrorists, country after country.

AMY GOODMAN: During a news conference last month, President Trump congratulated African leaders for helping make his friends rich.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Africa has tremendous business potential. I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you. They’re spending a lot of money.

AMY GOODMAN: “They’re spending a lot of money,” President Trump said. Nick Turse, as we begin to wrap up?

NICK TURSE: Yeah, I think Trump has viewed Africa maybe in two ways, that it’s some sort of transactional economic zone, where the United States can extract and make money, and then, you know, as a theater of war. And, you know, that speech was exceptionally tone-deaf. And it was the first time he had really addressed what his Africa strategy might be. And as you might expect, after those words, it became more and more muddled. It’s very difficult to understand exactly what the Trump administration sees for the future of Africa, and they really haven’t even staffed up with experts on it within the administration, at the State Department. So, it seems to be an ad hoc policy. I think you’ll see a lot more military engagement, especially after Niger. And, you know, I’m not sure about the economic empowerment that Trump’s talking about.

AMY GOODMAN: You talk about the shadow war in Africa. What do you mean?

NICK TURSE: Well, I mean, these campaigns have been going on in Africa for years, but it’s largely unknown to the American people. And when you ask AFRICOM, as I have, about what’s happening on the continent, they’re always talking about training missions, about advisory missions. Well, this is exactly what the mission in Niger was billed as. This was working with local forces in an advisory capacity. But we see that, you know, an advisory or training mission can quickly become combat. And I think that the more U.S. engagement you see, the greater the chance that we’ll have more and more catastrophes like this.

AMY GOODMAN: Is there anything else you want to add that you think people in the United States—certainly, the corporate media hardly focuses on Africa. I mean, when you have, for example, the attack, what they call the Mogadishu massacre, of 358 people dead, almost no attention. Of course, right away, there is a mention of it. But in the aftermath, the devastation, the loss of life. What should people understand across Africa right now and be looking for?

NICK TURSE: Well, you know, I think it’s important to keep an eye on places like South Sudan, which we talked of earlier, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic. These are places where the United States had a more robust diplomatic effort before, but has—the United States has pulled back, in many ways. And these are places where the United States—the United Nations has warned of potential genocide, of ethnic cleansing campaigns. I think these are stories that are completely under-, and sometimes un-, covered in the United States, but I think they’re places that will be making the news in the future, for all the wrong reasons.

AMY GOODMAN: As President Trump expresses, to say the least, a tremendous bellicose intent in various areas, are you concerned what that will mean as he focuses on Africa?

NICK TURSE: I am. You know, I think that this is the primary U.S. bent on the continent, that, you know, while a country like China has promoted economic engagement, the United States has really seen Africa as a counterterrorism problem. And the way to deal with that, in U.S. thinking, is to deploy more military forces, build more bases, deploy more troops.

AMY GOODMAN: And last question, and this goes to a piece you wrote just a few months ago, looking at what’s happened in Cameroon, “Cameroonian Troops Tortured and Killed Prisoners at Base Used for U.S. Drone [Surveillance].” And this was a report that came out by Amnesty International.

NICK TURSE: Yes, I worked with The Intercept, Amnesty International and a group called Forensic Architecture. And what we found was that there’s a small—one of several small U.S. bases in Cameroon, or a Cameroonian base where the United States has an intermittent military presence and U.S. contractors are flying drones. On the same base, Cameroonian forces were torturing and sometimes even killing prisoners, people that were suspected of supporting Boko Haram but, in most cases, were completely innocent and had no ties to the group. This is—you know, one, it’s illegal. Two, it’s building discontent in Cameroon. And it’s just—

AMY GOODMAN: This is at a U.S. base for drone surveillance—I said “strikes” before, but surveillance?

NICK TURSE: Surveillance. It was a—there are U.S. contractors who are flying drones out of this base, and then U.S. special operations forces that cycle in and out to work with—as this is another training mission for U.S. troops. But, you know, our allies are committing gross atrocities on a large scale. And this doesn’t go unnoticed by people in Cameroon. People in the United States don’t know about it, but we might know about the backlash to it in the coming years.

AMY GOODMAN: And this just happened today: Three U.N. peacekeepers from Chad were killed, and two others injured, when their logistics convoy was attacked in northern Mali, this according to the United Nations. The U.N. Security Council condemned the attack on the road. The 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali has become the most dangerous in the world, as Islamic militants routinely attack U.N. convoys across the north. Mali, of course, a neighbor of Niger.

NICK TURSE: Yes. You know, this is what I was talking about. After the U.S.-trained officer, Captain Sanogo, overthrew the government in Mali, it really destabilized the entire country. And because of that, in the north and even in the central part of the country, there have been militant groups operating ever since. They’ve really carved out strongholds. So, you have French and African forces, backed by the United States, conducting counterterror campaigns. But this is an ongoing insurgency, and it shows no sign of slowing.

AMY GOODMAN: Nick Turse, I want to thank you for being with us. We’re going to link to all of your pieces with different news organizations. Nick Turse is fellow at The Nation Institute, author of Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa. His latest book, Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. Nick Turse is also a contributing writer at The Intercept.

This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute with Carl Hart. We’ll talk about the national health emergency that President Trump has declared around opioids. Stay with us.

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US must end all military involvement in Africa

Source:  Presstv.com
October 11 2017

The US military must end its growing involvement in Africa and allow the nations of that continent to solve their own problems, otherwise the American people will pay dearly for these misguided actions, an African American journalist in Detroit says.

usa in Africa 2.jpgUS military outposts, port facilities, and other areas of access in Africa 2002-2015.  Source:  The US Military’s Best Kept Secret

“We cannot accept the explanation of the US government at its face value. The US should end these military missions in Africa, the drone stations, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) stations; all military involvement in the African continent should end,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, editor at the Pan-African News Wire.

“Africa must solve its own problems, through its own regional and continental organizations and mass organizations. Otherwise the Unites States and the people inside the United States will pay dearly for these misguided and of course unfortunate military actions,” Azikiwe said in a phone interview with Press TV on Wednesday.

PressTV-New US Army unit coming after Niger fiasco

The United States Army’s top officer says it is likely to “increase” its train, advise and assist (TAA) missions after the death of four soldiers in Niger by developing a new unit, he describes as “similar to special forces,” but “not special Forces.”

The US Army’s top officer said Monday it is likely to “increase” its train, advise and assist (TAA) missions after the death of four soldiers in Niger by developing a new unit.

General Mark Milley made the comments at the Association of the army’s annual meeting in Washington, not long after four special operations commandos were ambushed to death by militants in the Western African country of Niger.

The army’s chief of staff did not mention who was responsible for the attack although he asserted that the US military does know the group.

Two other Green Berets were injured on the October 4 ambush near the Nigerien capital Niamey by militants said to be linked with the Daesh Takfiri group in Iraq and Syria.

This represents yet another escalation by the US military in Africa,” Azikiwe said. “They are claiming that they are there just on a training mission.”

“Even though the US claims to be against these extremist organizations, they have worked with these groups in various geo-political regions including Libya, including Iraq, as well as Syria and Yemen,” he added.

The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) was established in 2008 under former US President George W. Bush and strengthened and enhanced the following year during the presidency of Barack Obama.

The force has been operating in at least 35 countries across the African continent.

New revelations concerning the 1976 Bombing of Cubana Flight 455

Source:  Granma
October 6 2017

By  José Luis Méndez | informacion@granma.cu

New revelations concerning the 1976 Barbados attack

New information continues to come to light regarding this horrendous crime, which occurred 41 years ago this 2017, while the authors of the attack live out their lives in the United States, free and under the protection of the country’s government.

new revelations 1.jpgCuba will forever remember its martyrs and demand justice. Pictured: Cubans march to the Revolutionary Armed Forces Pantheon, in Havana’s Colón Cemetery, in tribute to the victims of the Barbados attack. Photo: Jose M. Correa

In June of 1976 a group of terrorists of Cuban origin, representatives of extremist organizations based in the United States, met in Bonao, the Dominican Republic.
The encounter was headed by the criminal Orlando Bosch Ávila, at that time a fugitive from U.S. justice, wanted for parole violation after being convicted of various crimes, including using terrorist tactics to extort Cuban émigrés.
The meeting was called to organize future attacks on Cuban entities, staff, and interests of countries which, despite pressure from the U.S., continued to maintain relations with the Cuban government.

Two meetings were held, the first to found the terrorist alliance known as the Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (COR), and the second to plan more than 20 terrorist attacks.

new revelations 2

Pictured: flight engineer Ernesto Machín Guzmán (with a mustache), victim of the Barbados attack, with his Canadian trainer in the Cubana de Aviación plane that was bombed. Photo: Alberto Borrego

All those present agreed to participate, except members of the fascist Cuban Nationalist Movement (MNC), who claimed they were already planning another attack organized by Chile’s National Intelligence Bureau (DINA), later revealed to be none other than the assassination of former Chilean Ambassador in Washington, Orlando Letelier del Solar, on September 21, 1976.

In his ruling regarding Orlando Bosch-Avila’s application for admission to the United States, dated January 23, 1989, Associate Attorney General Joe D. Whitley noted that: “Bosch, while outside the United States, founded and let Coordinacion de Organizaciones Revolucionarias Unidas (CORU), an anti-Castro terrorist organization which has claimed responsibility for numerous bombings in Miami, New York, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Argentina, and elsewhere. (1)

“In October, 1976, Bosch was arrested in Venezuela in connection with the October 6, 1976 in-flight bombing of a civilian Cuban airliner, which resulted in the deaths of 73 men, women, and children. Though detained in Venezuela for eleven years on charges arising from this incident, he was finally acquitted. At his trial, evidence was presented that the two men convicted of homicide in connection with the bombing were in contact with Bosch both before and after the bombing.”

Whitley went on to state, “Upon release from criminal incarceration on May 17, 1988, Bosch was taken into custody by the INS (Immigration Service). At that time, the INS District Director in Miami served Bosch with a notice of temporary exclusion, alleging that he was excludable from the United States because:There is reason to believe he would seek to enter the United States solely, principally, or incidentally to engage in activities prejudicial to the public interest.

new revelations 3

Manuel Espinosa, copilot of the Cubana de Aviación plane downed mid-flight over Barbados. Photo: Courtesy of Haymel

What is more the ruling also notes “That he is or has been an alien who advocates or teaches or has been a member of an organization that advocates or teaches the duty, necessity, or propriety of assaulting or killing officers of any organized government…the unlawful damage, injury or destruction of property… and advocates or teaches sabotage.
“That there are reasonable grounds to believe that he probably would, after entry, engage in activities which would be prohibited by the laws of the United States relating to espionage, sabotage, public disorder, or in other activity subversive to the national interest,” going on to note that “Bosch also is excludable on the grounds that he has been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.”

So, what happened next? Going against the Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s ruling the criminal was pardoned by then President George H. W. Bush who, it is important to note, was also director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) when the Cubana de Aviación plane was blown-up mid-flight on October 6, 1976. (2)

After years of investigations, Cuban-born international terrorist Pablo Gustavo Castillo Díaz (3), known as “El Cojo,” was revealed to be one of the material authors of the murder of Cuban technician Artaigñán Díaz Díaz, in July 1976, in Mexico.
Castillo then escaped to Venezuela, where he studied Cubana de Aviación’s flight routes across the Caribbean and chose the aircraft that would later be bombed.

It has also been proven that Orlando Bosch and Castillo were together when the former was arrested on October 11, 1976, in Caracas. Castillo was responsible for making the bombs – that would later be placed in the Cuban plane by Venezuelan mercenaries Freddy Lugo and Hernán Ricardo Lozano – using explosives and detonators supplied by an explosives expert from Venezuela’s national intelligence service at that time, DISIP, in exchange for a parachute which belonged to anti-Cuban terrorist Rolando Otero Hernández, who called himself “Cóndor” and worked for Luis Posada Carriles during Operation Condor, led by Chile’s National Intelligence Bureau.

Meanwhile, the complicity of the CIA, ever-present when it comes to assassination conspiracies or attacks, is exposed in its very own documents, which prove that it had prior knowledge of plans to blow-up the Cuban plane, but did nothing to prevent it, failing even to issue a simple and timely warning to Cuban authorities.
A declassified CIA report dated October 14, 1976, identified the informant –Posada – to be “a former Venezuelan government official” who “is usually a reliable reporter.”
The cable also notes that Bosch was overheard stating: “Now that our organization has come out of the Letelier job looking good, we are going to try something else.” Several days later Posada was reported to have stated, We are going to hit a Cuban airplane” and “Orlando has the details.”

After the bombing, Luis Posada Carriles thought it wise Orlando Bosch leave Venezuela, crossing over into Colombia on October 9.
More proof that the CIA also had prior knowledge of plans to bomb Cuban aircraft, is found in a secret report involving “sensitive intelligence sources and methods…not releasable to foreign nations,” or “contractors or contractor consultants” dated and issued June 22, 1976, which quotes an informant, a “Businessman with close ties to the Cuban exile community” and “a usually reliable” source, reported, “A Cuban exile group of which Orlando Bosch is a leader, plans to place a bomb on Cubana airline flight traveling between Panama and Havana. Original plans for this operation called for two bombs being placed on the June 21, 1976 Cubana flight number 467, which was scheduled to leave Panama at 11:15am local Panama time.” (4)

Copies of the report were sent to the U.S. State Department, Military Intelligence Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, FBI and CIA. This information however – which was not only known to the CIA four months prior to the October 6 attack which cost 73 people their lives, including 57 Cubans; but also detailed plans of the attack and identified the criminal Orlando Bosch as the author of the crime, was never sent to the Cuban government.

Everyone knows that sooner or later the truth comes out. New information continues to come to light regarding this horrendous crime, which occurred 41 years ago this 2017, while the authors of the attack live out their lives in the United States, free and under the protection of the country’s government. •

* Investigator at the State Security Historic Search Center

(1) File no. A28 851 622 of the Office of the Associate Attorney General

(2) The criminal Orlando Bosch Ávila died in the U.S. city of Miami without having ever been tried for his involvement in the terrorist attack.

(3) The terrorist was never punished for his crimes and died in Miami.

(4) For more information about the plan see the author’s book Cielo Amenazado.