Declaration by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Cuba has nothing to hide, and nothing to be ashamed of

Last Wednesday, April 30 [2003], the Government of the United States released its annual report entitled "Patterns of Global Terrorism". This year's report once again includes Cuba on a list of states that supposedly sponsor international terrorism.

The government of Cuba strongly rejects, once again, the outrageous inclusion of our country on this unilateral and spurious list. The Bush administration is lying yet again to the U.S. and international public, in an effort to justify, with false accusations, the cruel and inhuman policy of the blockade and the relentless hostility and aggression against Cuba.

In doing this, the U.S. government loses even more credibility in its campaign against international terrorism, by resorting to political manipulation and flagrant lies against Cuba in its obsession to destroy the Revolution.

The U.S. government arbitrarily includes Cuba on the list of countries that supposedly sponsor terrorism around the world, at the same time that it continues to reject, through empty, irrational and completely unfounded arguments, Cuba's proposal to implement a bilateral program to fight terrorism. This proposal was first made to the U.S. government on November 29, 2001, and repeated on December 3, 2001, March 12, 2002, and December 17, 2002, during the 19th round of immigration talks between the two countries.

Petty electoral motivations in Florida, where the terrorist mob that has organized hundreds of terrorist attacks against Cuba operates with impunity, and a visceral hatred for the example and alternative that the Cuban Revolution represents for the countries of the Third World, lead the U.S. government to deprive its campaign against international terrorism of any possible political rationality, by including Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Cuba knows, perhaps more than any other country in the world, what terrorism means. Since 1959, we have been the victims of the most cruel and merciless terrorism imaginable, very frequently sponsored, protected, funded and organized by the U.S. government itself, and resulting in the deaths of thousands of Cuban citizens.

The Cuban Revolution's policy with regard to terrorism leaves no room for questioning or doubts whatsoever, and much less so from Washington.

Cuba condemns all terrorist acts, methods and practices, in all of their forms and manifestations, wherever they are committed, whoever commits them, whomever they are committed against, and whatever the reasons behind them may be. It further condemns any actions aimed at encouraging, supporting, financing or concealing any terrorist acts, methods or practices.

Cuba was one of the first countries to strongly condemn, without hesitation, the crimes of September 11, 2001. It expressed our people's condolences to the people of the United States, and our willingness to provide medical and humanitarian assistance to the victims. It immediately offered to open its airspace and its airports to receive any passenger planes that were in the air and were headed, at that difficult moment, for the United States.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba denounces before the people of Cuba and international public opinion the fallacies and lies with which the U.S. government is attempting to deceive the world and its people and thereby defend its aggressive and hostile policy towards our country.

FACED WITH THE REPETITION OF THESE FALSE ACCUSATIONS, WE FIND OURSELVES OBLIGED, ONCE AGAIN, TO PRESENT THE TRUTH

As part of its policy of global hegemony, the U.S. government has been issuing its lists of "state sponsors of terrorism" since December of 1979.

It applies a wide variety of sanctions against these states, including economic sanctions, blockades, the freezing of assets in U.S. banks, political isolation measures, etc.

There are currently seven countries on the list: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Cuba. A mere glance reveals the obvious political objectives behind the list.

In addition, since 1981, the U.S. State Department has issued a report entitled "Patterns of Global Terrorism", through which it informs the U.S. Congress about the international terrorism situation during the previous year, based solely on its own unilateral opinion, with no legal grounds or international approval whatsoever.

Cuba was added to the list in March of 1982. That same year, the annual State Department report on "Patterns of Global Terrorism" mentioned Cuba for the first time. Since then, and for 21 years now, the U.S. government has persisted in its slanderous and outrageous accusations against Cuba with regard to terrorism.

Throughout all these years, the pretexts used to include Cuba on the list have varied, but what has remained constant is the clear lack of veracity and objectivity of these accusations, and the inability of our accusers to back them up. The U.S. government has never succeeded, and never could, in proving that Cuba has participated in any terrorist act whatsoever. Their false accusations have become so thoroughly worn out over the course of time that some U.S. government officials have even come to admit that the inclusion of Cuba is simply a political tool against our country.

Since the mid-1990s, their false pretexts have become even more untenable, and because they have been unable to come up with any new ones, they have been forced to keep repeating practically the same lies in all their recent reports.

What are the fallacious claims used by the U.S. government to include Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism?

1.      The presence in Cuba of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) members.
2.      Cuba's provision of safe haven and support to members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
3.      The presence in Cuba of U.S. fugitives.
4.      The fact that an Irish Republican Army (IRA) "weapons expert" and longtime resident of Havana was arrested in Colombia for allegedly training FARC members in the use of explosives.
5.      Cuba's "opposition" to the U.S.-led "coalition" prosecuting the war on global terrorism and its criticisms of many associated U.S. policies and actions. The sending of agents to U.S. missions around the world to provide false leads designed to subvert investigations.

1.  On the presence of ETA members in our country

The presence in Cuba of members of the Basque organization ETA originally resulted from a request from the governments of Spain and Panama, for the purpose of helping to resolve a situation in the latter country that was threatening to become extremely complex. Based on this request, an agreement was reached in 1984 with the Spanish government, led at the time by President Felipe González, and the government of Panama. In accordance with that agreement, a group of ETA members traveled to Cuba.

The ETA members residing in Cuba have never used our territory for activities on the part of that organization against Spain or any other country. Cuba has scrupulously complied with the spirit of that agreement. The issue of the presence of ETA members in Cuba is a bilateral matter, subject to discussions with the government of Spain. The government of the United States has neither the right nor the authority to interfere in these affairs, which do not involve it in any way whatsoever, much less affect its national security, or the security of any other state, for that matter.

2.  On the so-called safe haven and support for members of the FARC and ELN

The organizations that the United States classifies as terrorist groups, assuming a "right" that does not correspond to it, include the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), also Colombian.

Talks between the government and the guerrillas are currently suspended, but, as is known, both the Colombian government and these guerrilla forces agreed at one point on requesting Cuba's participation in the peace process, and they continue to maintain this position.

Cuba supports a negotiated political solution to achieve peace in Colombia. We are part of the Group of Facilitating Countries for dialogue between the FARC and the Colombian government, together with other countries in the Americas and Europe, and also part of the Group of Friendly Countries for peace talks between the ELN and the Colombian government, in this case, together with France, Spain, Switzerland and Norway.

Numerous rounds of negotiations between the guerrilla movements and the Colombian government have been held in our country. The Cuban government's transparent stance and contributions to the peace process in Colombia have been widely recognized, not only by the FARC and ELN, but also by the UN and the Colombian government itself, which has publicly declared it.

The irrationality of this argument is epitomized in the State Department report itself, which recognizes that "Bogota was aware of the arrangement and apparently acquiesced; it has publicly indicated that it seeks Cuba's continued mediation with ELN agents in Cuba."

3.  On the presence in Cuba of U.S. fugitives

With regard to the supposed presence in Cuba of fugitives from U.S. justice, it should be recalled that it is the government of the United States that has taken in, throughout all these years, and precisely as part of its policy of aggression against Cuba, any and all Cuban terrorists or criminals who have reached U.S. territory, by whatever means.

From the very first moments after the triumph of the Revolution, the United States took in hundreds of dictator Fulgencio Batista's henchmen, torturers and murderers fleeing from revolutionary justice. In the more than four decades that have since passed, it has maintained the policy of protecting and sheltering any criminals who arrive in U.S. territory after committing crimes against Cuba and its people.

Confessed murderers, terrorists, hijackers of boats and planes and criminals of all kinds have been welcomed by the U.S. government, which has never so much as attempted to send back any of these individuals sought by Cuban justice.

Two extradition agreements have been signed between Cuba and the United States, one in 1904 and the other in 1926. It was not Cuba that ceased to honor these agreements. As early as January 7, 1959, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba sent the U.S. State Department a diplomatic note requesting the extradition of a number of fugitives from Cuban justice, Batista henchmen who had fled to the United States.

Since then, scores of diplomatic notes have followed, demanding the return of individuals who have committed crimes in our country and subsequently traveled to the United States. There has never been a positive response from the U.S. government to any of these notes. The United States has never sent back a single fugitive from Cuban justice.

Recognized terrorists and murderers like Luis Posada Carriles, Orlando Bosch, Gaspar Jiménez Escobedo, Pedro Remón, Guillermo Novo Sampol, Leonel Macías, Nazario Sargent, Francisco José Hernández Calvo, José Basulto, Rubén Darío López Castro, Roberto Martín Pérez, Silverio Rodríguez Pérez, Rodolfo Frómeta, Ramón Leocadio Bonachea, William Chávez and others who would make the list endless, have freely walked the streets of Miami for years, without anyone bothering them, with total impunity and privileges.

Cuba was one of the first victims of the terrorist practice of airplane hijacking. Between 1959 and 2001, a total of 51 Cuban planes were hijacked and the vast majority were taken to the United States. Many of those planes remained and continue to remain in the United States, shamelessly stolen by the Miami mob. A good number of pilots, guards and other individuals have been murdered or wounded during these hijackings. The U.S. government has never punished a single one of these hijackers.

On the other hand, between 1968 and 1984, a total of 71 airplanes were hijacked in the United States and diverted to Cuba. A total of 69 of the participants in these acts were charged and served sentences in Cuba. The vast majority of them left the country after completing their sentences.

On September 18, 1980, after warning that it would implement this measure in the event of any new cases, the Cuban government returned two airplane hijackers to the United States, turning them over to the U.S. justice system. In so doing, Cuba successfully eradicated the hijacking of airplanes to Cuban territory.

The recent anti-Cuban manipulation around the hijackings of the DC-3, AN-24 and other Cuban aircraft and boats, of which our people have been amply informed, clearly demonstrates that the same irresponsibility with which the U.S. authorities have acted in the past continues to be the pattern guiding them in the present.

Other individuals have been returned to the United States in more recent years. As will be recalled, the Foreign Ministry Note of March 17, 2002 reported that on January 12 of that year, U.S. citizen Jesse James Bell, charged with numerous drug-related offenses in the United States, was turned over to the U.S. government.

Our country, moreover, has always demonstrated full cooperation in sharing information with the U.S. authorities. U.S. prosecutors and investigators involved in cases of drug trafficking, illegal emigration, hijacking, etc., have freely entered Cuba, and Cuban officials have testified in numerous trials in the United States when the U.S. authorities have requested cooperation.

4.  On the presence in Cuba of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) "weapons expert"

This year's State Department report recycles, yet again, the lie that first appeared in the 2001 report. This issue has already been clarified publicly and in detail.

The supposed IRA "weapons expert", Mr. Niall Conolly, was arrested in August of 2000 in Bogota, Colombia, where the Colombian authorities initiated legal proceedings against him that have yet to be concluded.

Niall Conolly lived in Cuba from 1996 to 2000; throughout that period, he was in our country as a representative of Sinn Fein, a legal Irish political party with members in the British parliament.

His activities in Cuba were always of a strictly political nature, in the framework of relations with the Communist Party of Cuba and other political parties in Latin America.

5.  On Cuba's so-called "opposition" to the U.S.-led coalition against global terrorism, criticisms of U.S. policies and actions, Cuba's supposed attempts to "subvert" the post-September 11 investigation, and the supplying of "false leads" on terrorists

This is, without doubt, the most outrageous of the pretexts used by the government of the United States to include Cuba on the list of so-called state sponsors of terrorism.

The government of the United States, in making these accusations, strives to cover up and minimize everything that Cuba has done to fight international terrorism.

With this fallacious argument, the U.S. government hopes to confuse public opinion, by disregarding all of the gestures and actions of the Cuban government since September 11, 2001.

In addition to the declarations made by the Revolution's leaders regarding the September 11 attacks, our initial actions, and the steps undertaken internationally, of which our people are fully aware, it is also important to recall:

ˇ       On September 21, 2001, the Cuban Foreign Ministry (MINREX) issued Diplomatic Note 1613, which contained the reply to a request for information made by the United States Interests Section (USIS) concerning a list of 25 individuals who might have entered Cuba as tourists and were considered to be terrorists by the U.S. authorities.

ˇ       On September 25, 2001, MINREX sent the USIS Diplomatic Note 1621, with information on nine foreign citizens who were in our country at the time and about whom they had requested information from us.

ˇ       On October 26, 2001, MINREX sent the USIS a Diplomatic Note which contained an offer to sell the United States drugs to combat anthrax, at cost. The offer was for up to 100 million tablets of Ciprofloxacin.

ˇ       On October 27, 2001, MINREX sent the USIS, as a donation, 100 tablets of Ciprofloxacin, which the U.S. diplomatic mission had requested for the individuals who had handled diplomatic pouches suspected of being contaminated with anthrax.

ˇ       On November 12, 2001, MINREX informed the USIS of our country's willingness to provide, immediately, one or two high-technology devices developed by the Cuban Neuroscience Center that could help the U.S. medical authorities identify anthrax strains. It was further indicated that we were in a position to manufacture a number of the devices to provide to the U.S. authorities, with no interest in profiting from them.

We offered the U.S. authorities the information and resources at our disposal. We offered them responsibly and seriously.

The government of the United States has not even had the political courage to publicly acknowledge Cuba's cooperation; on the contrary, it has shamelessly lied, once again.

Our country has firmly and steadfastly opposed the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq and the new Nazi-fascist doctrine that the United States is attempting to impose on the world, and we will continue our opposition. We have more than enough arguments and principles to back it up.

On September 17, 2002, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Mr. Dan Fisk, erstwhile aide to former senator Jesse Helms and one of the authors of the Helms-Burton Act, launched similar accusations against our country.

On that occasion, Mr. Fisk accused Cuba of subverting his country's investigation of the September 11 attacks by supplying false, meaningless and out-of-date information and using human and electronic resources to obstruct the United States' anti-terrorist efforts.

Mr. Fisk's intent at the time was to use these lies to neutralize the impact that would result from the so-called "National Summit on Cuba", an initiative successfully undertaken by numerous organizations in the United States that oppose the current U.S. policy towards Cuba, particularly the blockade, and advocate a change in this policy.

That September 17, Mr. Fisk went so far as to say that Cuba had sent "at least one 'walk-in' a month since September 11 purporting to offer information about pending terrorist attacks against the United States or other Western interests."

As will be recalled, Mr. Fisk's slanderous claims were immediately and forcefully rejected by Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Felipe Pérez Roque, who challenged Mr. Fisk to present a single piece of evidence that would back up his accusations.

More than seven months have passed since Mr. Fisk made these statements, and so far not a single official from the U.S. administration nor a single report issued by the U.S. government has been able to respond to Cuba's challenge.

In spite of this, the State Department has decided to resort once again to this outrageous and fallacious claim as a way of reviving the unsustainable terrorist file against Cuba. It has decided to do so at a moment of great imperial euphoria, when the United States has succeeded in occupying Iraq, and when the representatives of the Miami terrorist mob are demanding that the White House repay their services by punishing Cuba as harshly and cruelly as possible, while desperately trying to orchestrate new provocations to lead the way for military aggression against Cuba.

We call on the U.S. government, once again, to present proof of this purported sending of agents to U.S. missions around the world to supply false leads aimed at subverting anti-terrorism investigations.

Cuba has been the victim of terrorism organized, funded and executed from the United States

It is precisely the government of the United States that has historically backed the principal terrorist and repressive regimes around the world. The U.S. government was the main support for the bloody governments of Pinochet, Somoza, Duvalier, Batista and Stroessner, the military dictatorships in Guatemala, El Salvador and Argentina, and the apartheid regime in South Africa. Today, the government of the United States is the principal ally of the genocidal and terrorist government of Israel, which is massacring the Palestinian people with full impunity.

On January 1, 1959, Cuba was freed of the terrorists, murderers and torturers of the Batista dictatorship, who left our country to head for a genuine safe haven: the United States of America.

Unlike the United States, Cuba is not home to the headquarters of a single terrorist organization, like the ones that operate with impunity in Miami. In our country's banks, there are not and have never been any funds linked to terrorist activities, although such claims been reported to the United Nations and the UN Security Council on more than one occasion.

It is the government of the United States that is responsible for the application of a terrorist and genocidal policy against Cuba, designed to force the Cuban people into surrender through hunger and disease, destroy our Revolution, and reassert U.S. neocolonial domination.

Cuba rejects the unilateral definitions of terrorism imposed by the government of the United States, which completely lacks the moral authority to classify Cuba, before the world, as a terrorist state.

Presenting itself as the leader in the fight against international terrorism while protecting, encouraging and supporting the terrorist organizations that have acted against Cuba for decades is just one example of the hypocrisy and inconsistency of U.S. policy.

The government of the United States, which accuses Cuba of terrorism, was the government that supported the bloody Batista dictatorship, which caused more than 20,000 deaths in Cuba. After the dictatorship's defeat, the U.S. government funded, trained and supported the armed bands and terrorist groups responsible for countless crimes against our population.

The government that is now accusing us of being terrorists is the same one that has tolerated and even participated in hundreds of assassination plots against our Commander in Chief and other leaders of the Revolution. It is the government responsible for the sabotage of the French ship La Coubre, and the fire that destroyed the department store El Encanto. It organized and backed with its armed forces the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. It is responsible for numerous pirate attacks from the air and sea against defenseless Cuban settlements and civilian facilities. It has supported the burning of sugar cane fields, machine gun attacks on Cuban territory, attacks against humble Cuban fishermen, and the murder of members of our National Revolutionary Police and Border Patrol Troops.

The government of the United States shares in the responsibility for the terrorist acts committed with bombs and explosives against Cuban diplomatic missions in Portugal, the UN, and in other countries, killing and seriously wounding Cuban diplomatic officials. It is responsible for the disappearance of Cuban diplomats in Argentina, and the murder of a Cuban diplomat in the city of New York itself.

The U.S. government is responsible for the most monstrous and repugnant terrorist act of all against Cuba: the blowing up in mid-flight of a Cubana Airlines passenger plane, in which 73 people were killed.

The government of the United States shares in the responsibility for the terrorist acts perpetrated against Cuban hotels in 1997, which resulted in the death of an Italian tourist. These acts, as has been widely recognized, were organized by Cuban-born terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, trained and employed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

It is more than obvious that the U.S. administration is desperate to find any pretext, no matter how wild their accusations may be, to try to justify to the U.S. and international public their aggression against our country, their hostile policy, and the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade.

Since the very moment of the triumph of the Revolution, successive U.S. administrations have tried to portray Cuba as a threat to the national security of the United States, thus complying, in addition, with the interests of the most reactionary sectors of the Miami mob.

In spite of all this, in the last few years, there have been numerous statements made by Department of Defense officials, as well as by members of the U.S. military, both in active duty and retired, attesting to the fact that Cuba does not pose a threat to the national security of the United States. These statements by U.S. armed forces members and government officials clearly refute the false accusations made by the U.S. government.

U.S. government support for terrorist acts against Cuba has caused the death of 3478 Cuban citizens and physical injuries to 2099 others, as is amply described in "The People of Cuba v. The Government of the United States for Human Losses and Damages," a lawsuit filed on May 31, 1999, to which the U.S. government has never responded. Cuba reiterates once again its denunciation that the government of the United States is directly responsible for these atrocities and must answer for them to the Cuban people.

It is the government of the United States that is implementing a genocidal policy against the Cuban people, reflected in the inhuman and irrational blockade it has maintained against our country for more than 40 years.

International terrorism did not suddenly emerge on September 11, 2001. Both before and after that date, Cuba has sincerely and responsibly cooperated with the government of the United States. We have done this conscientiously, convinced of the need to unite all possible forces in fighting this international scourge, and following our traditional policy in this regard.

If the United States truly wants to demonstrate its commitment to the fight against terrorism, it now has the opportunity to take firm action, with no double standards, against the different terrorist organizations that have been attacking Cuba from U.S. territory throughout all these years.

The government of the United States must set free, without delay, the Heroes of the Republic of Cuba: René González Sehwerert, Ramón Labańino Salazar, Fernando González Llort, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Gerardo Hernández Nordelo. These men are unjustly imprisoned in U.S. jails when their only crime was to defend the Cuban and American people from the terrorist activities that continue to be organized from Florida today.

Despite the grossly unfair trial held against our five heroes in Miami, the struggle they waged against anti-Cuban terrorism based in the United States was brought to light. They were punished solely and exclusively for having fought against the terrorist groups that operate freely in Miami, risking their own lives in the process.

The eminently illegal legal process in the case of our five heroes has constituted a scandalous endorsement of the anti-Cuban terrorist groups that operate there.

It is truly disgraceful that while our five heroes are unjustly imprisoned and subjected to draconian sentences and punishment, with their human rights brutally violated, the terrorists who have hijacked Cuban boats and planes are granted easy bail or sometimes even completely set free in the United States. This proves, once again, that the U.S. government does not punish terrorism when it is perpetrated against countries that refuse to bow down before its imperialist policies.

The government of the United States must repeal the murderous Cuban Adjustment Act, responsible for the deaths of numerous Cuban citizens attempting to reach U.S. territory, spurred by the privileges granted by this law.

The government of the United States must repeal the Helms-Burton and Torricelli Acts, terrorist instruments that that violate international law and cause suffering for the Cuban people.

Cuba can hold its head high and proudly declare that:

ˇ       It has never participated in a single terrorist act against any country.

ˇ       We have modern anti-terrorism legislation adopted by the National Assembly of People's Power on December 20, 2001.

ˇ       Cuba has signed and ratified the 12 international conventions on terrorism adopted in the framework of the United Nations system, responding to the call from the Secretary-General of this organization.

ˇ       We have reiterated our willingness to increase legal cooperation with all countries, without exception, in order to fight this scourge.

ˇ       We have maintained ongoing cooperation with the Committee on Terrorism of the United Nations Security Council.

ˇ       We are a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, despite the fact that the only nuclear power in the Americas maintains a policy of hostility towards Cuba that does not exclude the use of force.

ˇ       We have ratified the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which our country signed in 1995.

We will continue to advocate international cooperation, based on respect for the principles of international law in the framework of the United Nations, and particularly the UN General Assembly, as the only effective means to prevent and combat terrorism.

With the inclusion of Cuba on the list of "state sponsors of terrorism", the government of the United States has demonstrated once again that what motivates it is not a genuine desire to fight international terrorism, but rather an irrational thirst for revenge against the Cuban Revolution.

The multilateral fight against terrorism cannot be conceived solely as a means to serve the national interests and foreign policy objectives of the world power that currently enjoys unipolar hegemony.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates, clearly and firmly, that the inclusion of Cuba on the illegal list of state sponsors of terrorism and in the State Department's report on "Patterns of Global Terrorism", an action that creates the ideal conditions for a possible military attack against Cuba, does not intimidate us in the slightest. If that was the goal of the people in the Bush Administration, they are wasting their time.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba condemns and rejects with all its force this new attack by the United States on Cuba's impeccable record in the fight against terrorism. It calls on the government of the United States to put an end to its criminal policy of hostility and the double standard of its so-called anti-terrorist crusade, which would signify taking action against the terrorist groups that openly operate in Miami, planning, organizing and executing terrorist acts against Cuba.

May 2, 2003

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