Hypocrisy of U.S. “terrorism” accusations against Cuba

Last year, the United States once more confirmed Cuba’s presence on the State Department’s list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism.” This is one more indication of the utter hypocrisy and bankruptcy of U.S. Cuba policy.

The ostensible reasons for the continued listing of Cuba include that there are members of the Columbian Insurgent group FARC-EP (Armed Forces of the Colombian Revolution-People’s Army) and the Basque independence group ETA (Euzskadi ta Askatasuna) living there.

Both of these are slanders. The FARC-EP presence in Cuba is at the request of the Colombian government, which is engaged in peace negotiations with the rebels with Cuba and Norway as intermediaries, and Cuba as host. The ETA presence was initiated at the request of former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, and at any rate the ETA is in the process of dismantling its armed wing.

Another excuse for maintaining Cuba on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list is the fact that there are a number of people wanted by law enforcement in the United States who have been given political refuge in Cuba. Best known of these is African American radical activist Assata Shakur. Besides the mere presence of Ms. Shakur in Cuba, the United States complains that the Cuban government has provided her with medical care (which Cuba does for everybody on its shores) and a Cuban food ration book.

Ms. Shakur, now 65, is indeed accused of a serious crime. In May of 1973, she and others were involved in an incident in which a New Jersey state trooper was shot to death. Ms. Shakur denies responsibility for this extremely murky event, but New Jersey and U.S. authorities still want to imprison her. But to evaluate the charges against her, we must recall the historical context.

At the time, a state of near war existed between the various organizations of the Black freedom movement, on the one hand, and the FBI and state and local police forces on the other. Many of the African-American leaders and activists who came into the cross-hairs of the FBI had been outspoken, not only about racial injustices in the United States, but about freedom struggles worldwide, especially the fight to end the Vietnam War and the apartheid regime in South Africa.

The head of the FBI was J. Edgar Hoover, who had convinced himself that the Civil Rights Movement was controlled by foreign communists. In this spirit, he had no scruples against using any kind of deceit and treachery to destroy the African-American leadership. As the example of Dr. Martin Luther King shows, even non-violent protest was seen by Hoover as a violent threat, to be forcefully suppressed.

So, under the FBI’s COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program), the entire African American movement, as well as freedom movements of other oppressed minorities, was subjected to intense government attacks which included the deliberate provocation of violence and the framing of activists for violent crimes. Some African American leaders were murdered outright. Others, such as boxer Ruben “Hurricane” Carter and Black Panther activist Geronimo Pratt, were framed and made to serve long prison sentences. Communist Party USA activist Angela Davis was also in the cross-hairs. Others fled the country, in some cases to socialist Cuba. Some, including African-American activist Mumia abu-Jamal and Native American Activist Leonard Peltier, are still behind bars.

But COINTELPRO was discredited long ago (which, unfortunately, does not mean that such things don’t go on today). Pratt, Carter and others have been released from jail when courts recognized that the FBI and local police had engaged in massive malfeasance in their original trials. Campaigns to exonerate others, including Assata Shakur, continue.

It was in this context that Cuba decided to give asylum to Assata and others. Cuban authorities were disinclined to give credence to accusations by the likes of Hoover directed against African-American and Latino activists and leaders. On the other hand, Cuba has not allowed anybody living on its soil to abuse Cuba’s generosity by launching terrorist attacks against the United States and other nations. Were it not so, we surely would have heard about it from our own government and media!

So the accusation that Cuba is a “state sponsor of terrorism” is a vile slander. But it is also a piece of breathtaking hypocrisy.

Since the Cuban Revolution which triumphed on January 1, 1959, multiple agencies of the United States government, especially the CIA and the military, have been engaged in organizing and carrying out terrorist attacks against Cuba. These attacks have often been arranged with the cooperation of Cuban exile organizations and sometimes the Mafia.

A number of exiles involved with terrorism are still living unmolested in the United State. One of the best known is Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban exile who had become a citizen and police official of (pre-Chavez) Venezuela. Carriles is strongly suspected of a whole string of terrorist attacks, the worst being the bombing of a Cuban passenger aircraft in 1976 in which 78 innocent people died. He is also very credibly accused of a bombing plot against the University of Panama where Fidel Castro was scheduled to speak; hundreds of students could have been killed had not police detected the plot and stopped it in time.

Cuba and Venezuela have demanded that the United States extradite Posada. The United States itself could bring him to trial. But neither of these things have happened, and he is living out his old age in Miami, where he is lionized by some politicians.

The reason given for not extraditing him is that he would be tortured. No evidence has been presented to show that under present circumstances, Posada would be tortured by either Cuba or Venezuela; the determination was based on the flat statement of one witness who is a Posada crony.

The United States now has a new Secretary of State, so the possibility of removing Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism arises once more. Asked if that was in the offing, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland has said that it is not, as the situation of Cuba has not changed. But we must not accept that.

All lovers of justice should contact the State Department to demand that Cuba be taken off the list. For if Cuba, which has done nothing to deserve this listing is nevertheless listed, why is a certain other country right at the top of the list?

I mean, of course, the United States of America.

Photo: Flickr


Emile Schepers
Emile Schepers

Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Born in South Africa, he has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He writes from Northern Virginia.