SPEECH DELIVERED BY ARMY GENERAL RAÚL CASTRO RUZ, PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCILS OF STATE AND OF MINISTERS AT THE CEREMONY COMMEMORATING THE VICTIMS OF STATE TERRORISM DAY AT THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMED FORCES “UNIVERSAL” THEATER ON OCTOBER 6, 2010.
Relatives of the victims of State Terrorism against Cuba,
As set out in the Council of State Decree-Law published today, beginning this year, October 6 will be commemorated as “Victims of State Terrorism Day.”
Exactly 34 years ago, 73 innocent people were assassinated: 11 Guyanese, 5 citizens of the Democratic Popular Republic of Korea and 57 Cubans. They were killed in midair when a bomb exploded aboard a Cubana de Aviación passenger plane that had just taken off from Barbados. Among them were 24 young Cubans from the national youth fencing team who had just swept all the gold medals at the Fourth Central-American and Caribbean Championships held in Venezuela.
For the Cuban people, who have been the target of state terrorism since the very triumph of the Cuban Revolution, the painful losses suffered that day were added to the numerous other victims for whom we are still seeking justice today.
The phenomenon dates back to 1959 when the newly-formed Revolution passed the first of a series of measures to benefit the people.
As early as March 1960, President Eisenhower approved a program of covert actions against Cuba that were declassified a few years ago. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) took over the lead role in planning, logistics, and the recruiting and training of mercenaries to carry out terrorist actions under the protection of the U.S. Government.
Fires, bombings and all sorts of acts of sabotage were carried out; airplanes and boats were hijacked; Cuban citizens were kidnapped; there were attacks against our embassies and assassinations of diplomats; dozens of our facilities were machine-gunned; multiple assassination attempts were carried out against the main leaders of the Revolution; and in particular, hundreds of assassination plans and attempts were carried out against the life of the Commander in Chief.
This year we are commemorating five decades since the brutal sabotage against the French steamship La Coubre in the port of Havana. The attack was planned to set off a double detonation of explosive charges that would greatly increase the number of victims. This crime caused the death of 101 people and left hundreds injured, including members of the French crew.
Every new aggression strengthened the Revolution across all sectors and levels. The consolidation of the revolutionary process forced the CIA terrorists and their bosses -who with their actions intended to provoke panic and demoralize the Cuban people- to draw up a plan to invade Cuba and create, in Florida, the largest intelligence center outside of their main headquarters in Langley.
The attack against Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) caused the death of 176 compatriots and left 50 others permanently disabled. The sacrifice of these citizens helped our impassioned combatants defeat the invasion in less than 72 hours, preventing the arrival of a puppet government that was being safeguarded by the CIA in a military base in Florida. After arriving in Cuba, their plan was to request the intervention of the United States with the complicity of the OAS.
The recently elected President Kennedy inherited the invasion plan from the previous government and approved its implementation. However, he refused to accept responsibility for its resounding failure and instead decided to carry out Operation Mongoose that consisted of 33 projects that included plans to assassinate leaders of the Revolution, terrorist actions against socioeconomic objectives, and the introduction of arms and agents to Cuba to be used in espionage and subversive activities.
From the approval of the Operation Mongoose until January 1963, some 5,780 terrorist actions against Cuba have been carried out: 716 of which were full-scale sabotages against industrial facilities.
In this context, US-based terrorist organizations that were financed and protected by the CIA were the precursors to the use of airplane hijackings and civilian aircraft for military actions against Cuba.
Such actions soon turned against them, leading to a world pandemic of airplane hijackings which encouraged international terrorists to employ these methods. The situation was only resolved once the Cuban government unilaterally decided to return the hijackers.
Following the assassination of Kennedy, the new US president, Lyndon Johnson, continued with terrorist plans against the island. Between 1959 and 1965, the CIA organized, financed and supplied, from US territory, an estimated 229 armed counter-revolutionary groups, and some 3,995 mercenaries. These terrorists killed 549 Cuban combatants, farmers and teachers working in the national literacy campaign; and left thousands wounded and hundreds permanently disabled.
Shortly after, terrorist actions against Cuban embassies, offices and diplomatic officials abroad increased drastically causing the deaths of several brave comrades and many material losses.
On September 11, 1980, the Cuban representative at the UN, Félix García Rodríguez, was murdered by Cuban-born terrorist Eduardo Arocena, a member of the terrorist group “Omega 7.”
On May 5 that year 570 children and 156 workers were trapped by a fire set by terrorists at the Le Van Tan daycare center. These peoples lives were saved thanks to the quick and heroic actions by specialized forces and the solidarity of the Cuban people.
At the same time, another form of State Terrorism employed against Cuba is biological warfare developed by successive U.S. administrations. These methods included introducing diseases into Cuba that significantly affected the health of the Cuban people. In 1981, agents under the service of the U.S. government disseminated the hemorragic dengue epidemic that killed 156 people, including 101 children.
Several plagues were also introduced into Cuban territory to destroy the agriculture and livestock sector, causing incalculable losses in food stocks destined for the population and significant losses of export commodities.
The U.S. intelligence services, particularly the CIA, were directly or indirectly involved in the majority of these actions, in large part under the umbrella of Cuban counterrevolutionary organizations. It would be impossible to mention the endless chain of terrorist plans, actions and attacks committed against our country in just one address.
However, the list of perpetrators is quite short, because they are always the same.
Today we are here to pay tribute to the 3,478 Cubans who have died and the 2,099 that have become permanently disabled due to terrorist acts carried out against our homeland during half a century that add up 5,577 victims. The Barbados martyrs are part of the long list of fallen comrades who we have not forgotten nor ever will forget.
Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, the authors of the Barbados crime and countless others against Cuba have lived and still live with impunity in Miami. Bosch, thanks to an executive pardon given by Bush Sr. the CIA director when Bosch´s agents committed sabotage against the Cuban plane; and Posada Carriles, thanks to the support of Bush Jr., walks freely while he awaits a trial for minor offences and not for the multiple charges of international terrorism that correspond to him.
Until very recently, these groups publicly proclaimed their crimes and cynically announced new acts of terror.
Had impunity not prevailed, 68 acts of terrorism against Cuba would have been prevented in the 1990s and we would not be regretting the death in Havana of Fabio di Celmo, a young Italian, who perished during the wave of terrorists attacks against tourism facilities in Havana in 1997.
The revealing declarations by self-confessed terrorist Chávez Abarca -broadcasted on Cuban television September 27 and 28– who was arrested by Venezuelan authorities as he planned to attack and undermine the stability of that brother country and other Latin American nations, confirm the existence of new methods of international terror and provide irrefutable proof about the guilt of Posada Carriles and his sponsors in the United States.
Despite all these crimes, Cuba has always been an example in the fight against terrorism and has ratified the condemnation of all such acts, in all its forms and manifestations.
Our country has signed all 13 existing international conventions on this issue and strictly abides by the commitments and obligations of the UN General Assembly resolutions and those of the Security Council. It does not possess nor intends to possess any type of weapons of mass destruction, and fully complies with its obligations under existing international instruments on nuclear, chemical , and biological weapons.
The Cuban territory has never been and never will be used to organize, finance or carry out terrorist acts against any other country, including the United States.
On several occasions the Cuban government has informed the U.S. Government about its willingness to exchange information regarding assassination plans and terrorist acts against objectives in both countries.
We have also provided ample information to the U.S. Government on terrorist acts against Cuba, particularly between 1997 and 1998 when we provided the FBI with abundant evidence on the bombings of several Cuban tourists resorts, and even gave them access to the perpetrators of these crimes, under arrest here, as well as to several witnesses.
In response, the FBI in Miami, closely linked to the Cuban-American extreme right that openly sponsors terrorism against Cuba, concentrated all of its efforts on chasing and prosecuting our fellow citizens Antonio, Fernando, Gerardo, Ramón, and Rene whom the US Government should have never arrested and imprisoned.
Today, thanks to international solidarity, the entire world knows about the unjust and inhumane treatment applied to the Five Cuban Heroes who fought in order to protect the Cuban people and even the American people from terrorism.
For how long will President Obama ignore international demands and allow injustice to prevail, something that is in his hands to eliminate? Until when will our Five Cuban Heroes remain in jail?
The current government of the United States of America, by their recent ratification of the arbitrary inclusion of our country in the State Department‘s annual list of “States Sponsors of Terrorism,” in addition to this infamous measure, has ignored once again the exemplary records of Cuba in this respect.
The United States of America also has disregarded the cooperation received from Cuba. In three occasions (November and December 2001, and March 2002) our representatives proposed to the U.S. authorities a draft project for bilateral cooperation to fight against terrorism, and in July 2009 reiterated their willingness to cooperate in this area without ever receiving a response.
The Cuban Government urges President Obama to abide with his commitment to fight terrorism and to act with determination and without double standards against those who from U.S. territory have perpetrated and continue to perpetrate terrorist acts against Cuba. This would be an honorable response to the open letter published today and sent by the Committee of Relatives of the Victims of the Cubana airplane that was blown up midair over the coast of Barbados.
Not for a moment can we forget that, as a result of State terrorism, the toll of dead and missing people we have suffered is higher than those who died during the attempt against the Twin Towers and the Oklahoma bombing combined.
I would like to conclude our tribute by recalling the unforgettable memorial service given to the victims of the Barbado`s crime on October 15, 1976, when we all swore to remember and condemn with unrelenting outrage the vile assassination.
Let us repeat Comrade Fidel`s statement on that occasion:
When an energetic and forceful people cry, injustice trembles!
We shall always remain loyal to those who have fallen in battle!
Glory to our heroes and martyrs!