Of Terrorism, Cuba, and Yemen

Who gets a visa to enter the United States? Nigerian citizen Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab did, even though his father had notified the U.S. embassy there of his son’s worrisome terrorist associations, known also to the M15 British intelligence service. As the whole world knows now, Abdulmutallab, on board a U.S. plane approaching Detroit airport, was apparently preparing to blow it up.

Cuban citizens Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez do not, because they allegedly represent security risks. They only want to visit husbands Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez in US jails.  

Olga has not seen Rene for over ten years. Adriana has not been allowed to visit Gerardo since his arrest on September 12, 1998 with four other Cuban Five prisoners. In Florida they had been defending Cuba against terrorism. 

Who gets on board a plane flying over the United States? Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab did, but Hernando Calvo Ospina did not. The Air France plane carrying the Colombian journalist non-stop from Paris to Mexico City was forced by the CIA to detour away from U.S. airspace in April, 2008. It refueled in Martinique. In books and articles, Calvo Ospina has long reported on Latin American people’s movements focusing particularly on U.S. counter-revolutionary plotting.

Who gets to bomb an airliner, kill 73 people on board, and thereafter live peaceful lives in Miami? That would be ex- CIA employee Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, who in 1976 superintended the downing of a Cubana airliner. 

After the incident in Detroit, air passengers entering the United States from what countries are newly saddled with tightened security inspections?  They would be Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, all with large Muslim populations, and one more: Non Islamic Cuba, victim of terrorism, never a perpetrator.  

What’s going on here? How account for exaggerated U.S. anti-terrorist rigor directed at Cuba while lapses in the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab set the stage for a donnybrook in Detroit? Is this contrast random or scripted? 

One doesn’t know. Yet varying outcome ramifications could shed light. On the one hand, U.S. actions regarding visa restrictions, Cuba’s terrorist label, and impunity for Posada and Bosch advertise resolute anti-communism and curry favor with politically important Cuban Americans – useful postures, each one, for generations of Washington powerbrokers. On the other hand, the advertising of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as symbol of Yemen as an emerging hazard helps out with building support for future U.S. military expansion there. The Nigerian studied and allegedly honed his terrorist tools in Yemen.  

Speculation about intention must, however, give way to dealing with effects of Washington misadventures. In the one instance, rancid obstructionism has left a harvest of suffering all around, and a blindness to Cuba’s light of human solidarity and survival. In the case of the threatened airliner, lax border protection when it counted may contribute to opening up the woefully poor, strife riven and divided people of Yemen to U.S. manipulation, and further suffering.


W. T. Whitney Jr.
W. T. Whitney Jr.

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.