On March 5, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana said that the presence of Allied troops in Kosovo was necessary so that the political agreement on that Yugoslav province "does not become a dead letter".
On March 14, he said that the resumption of peace talks in Paris on Kosovo were "the last opportunity" for the Serbs if they wanted to avoid the NATO air strikes.
On March 16, he stated that "we are at a very critical moment" and that negotiations were progressing "with great difficulty". He warned that "NATO will do whatever it needs to in case this situation evolves in the wrong direction" and added that "the [Paris] talks are not going to last forever".
On March 18, the U.S. Defense Department stated that the NATO aircraft and the warships equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles were "in place and ready" to attack Serb positions were such a decision taken.
Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said that "those troops are in place and ready" to go into action. He added that "this is a significant force and, if they receive the order to take action from the NATO Secretary General [Javier Solana], they could do so very quickly."
On March 22, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said, on the situation in Kosovo: "It is never too late to settle disputes or conflicts through diplomatic channels."
After so many and such overwhelming and undiplomatic ultimatums, the NATO Secretary General stated on March 23: "The last diplomatic effort has failed." He further added: "There is no other alternative but military action."
On that same day, he announced very clearly and in an unusually belligerent tone for a European former Minister of Culture, his only experience as an expert in matters of war: "I have just given the order to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, United States General Wesley Clark, to begin air operations against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."
Since the Secretary General issued that order, NATO attacks have not stopped, not even for a single day. On that first night, 371 planes took part in the assaults, taking off from ground bases. Warships in the Adriatic launched cruise missiles. Significant and painful events immediately followed throughout 70 days until today.
We shall limit ourselves to pointing out those incidents that are essential to show how, and against whom, this war is being waged and the perils that it could entail.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin called the military action an open aggression and recalled his military envoy in NATO. Russia suspended its co-operation with NATO.
Solana stated: "The operation will last for several more days."
Six warships and 400 planes launched missiles and bombs on Yugoslavia.
Five days after the bombing began, 15,000 Albanian Kosovars had crossed the border. A mass exodus had begun.
NATO planes destroyed a bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad, blocking the main freight route to the Black Sea.
The Yugoslav capital, Belgrade, was attacked for the first time. The Interior Ministries of Serbia and Yugoslavia were destroyed, and houses and all their surroundings severely damaged. The emergency ward of a mother-and-child hospital, where 74 children had been born that day, suffered the consequences of a direct impact and was put out of service.
The United Nations estimated that 310,885 refugees and displaced persons had entered Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Turkey. The mass exodus was already full steam ahead.
Fuel stores, highways and bridges were attacked throughout Yugoslavia. A missile made a direct impact on the town of Aleksinac, causing dozens of civilian deaths and injuries.
By that date, 190 buildings devoted to education had been destroyed. The majority of these were primary and secondary schools but they also included universities and student residences. The natural parks of Fruška Gora, Kopaonik and Tara were also destroyed.
The United Nations reported that over 600,000 people had abandoned Kosovo since the beginning of the NATO attacks.
The United States sent 82 warplanes to Europe, thereby raising to almost 500 the number of its combat aircraft, to guarantee increased attacks.
A civilian passenger train crossing a bridge south of Belgrade was hit by two missiles which caused 55 dead and dozens of wounded.
Solana reiterated that NATO is the organization that should lead the international military presence in Kosovo, when the situation so allows. He said that "NATO military actions" against Serb targets "will continue until Milosevic agrees to the demands of the international community."
It is clear that, for Solana, the international community and NATO are the same thing.
NATO ordered the beginning of the second phase. The bombings were intensified and the number and type of targets to be destroyed increased.
A convoy of Albanian refugees in Kosovo was the target of an air strike. Eighty-five refugees were killed, not to mention the wounded. Two refineries and a residential suburb in Belgrade were destroyed in Serbia. An extra 300 planes were added to NATO forces.
Solana claimed that "NATO is ready for a long war."
A dozen television transmitters had been destroyed by this date.
The bombing of bridges and television transmitters was increased. NATO acknowledged having bombed a civilian vehicle in southern Kosovo 48 hours before. The strongest general attack in two weeks took place.
The Yugoslav authorities reported that 500 civilians had already died and 4,000 had been wounded.
The United Nations estimated that the exodus of Albanian Kosovars had already reached the figure of 671,000.
Between the afternoon of Saturday, April 17 and the morning of Sunday, April 18, NATO warplanes carried out 500 air strikes. They bombed oil refineries, bridges, factories and dozens of civilian targets in what NATO itself described as the most active 24 hours of the war.
Oil refineries and chemical plants were attacked and destroyed in Belgrade and Novi Sad. The road linking Belgrade to Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, was rendered useless.
It is known that two days before, the attackers had started using GBU-27 bombs, known as "seismic bombs", which break into reinforced concrete causing a strong trembling that makes the hit building collapse and damages many others in the surroundings.
Civilian buildings in Belgrade and Novi Sad and the towns of Paracin, Kraligevo and Sremska Mitrovica were attacked. NATO admitted that this may have been due to mistakes on its part.
NATO attacked the private home of the president of Yugoslavia, the headquarters of the Socialist Party, three television stations and 20 firms in the Usche shopping mall.
Two NATO missiles destroyed the last bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad, cutting road and train traffic. Eight television stations were also destroyed.
It is known that, at that moment, the hospitals were only treating emergency cases and dozens of children and youngsters between two and 19 years old in Belgrade were on the point of dying due to the lack of resources for dialysis treatment.
Solana said that he had authorized the military to review their plans to include a possible intervention with ground troops.
The Serbian television station in central Belgrade was completely destroyed. In the attack, 16 people were killed and another 19 wounded, including many journalists. A further 20 people were trapped in the rubble.
NATO announced that it was focusing its attacks on communications, radio and television.
On April 23 and 24, in this sinister fashion and with ostentatious luxury and a festive spirit, NATO celebrated in Washington the 50th anniversary of its inception and, in a new strategic concept, it euphorically proclaimed its intention to intervene anywhere in the world that it deemed fit, of its own accord and regardless of the United Nations and international law.
On April 23, the "illustrious" NATO Secretary General, Javier Solana, said that the document was a "chart that will help us sail through the challenges awaiting us in the next century."
"It also marks the transition from an Alliance mainly concerned over collective defense to one that will guarantee European security and defend the democratic values, both within and without our borders."
In defense of these "democratic values", between April 24 and 30, NATO continued to intensify its attacks on civilian facilities. Air sorties increased by the day, reaching a total of 600 on April 30.
Previously, on April 26, 27, 28 and 29, the Serbian central television station was assaulted for the second time and also a factory in Lucani; another television transmitter was destroyed in the Yugoslav capital; sixteen people died in a peasant village in southern Serbia and no fewer than 20 people lost their lives in a residential area of Surdulica. This is to mention just a few cases that were absolutely unrelated to military targets.
The Danube’s waters are already contaminated with an oil spill 15 kilometers long, while acid rain has started falling on the Balkans.
Forty-seven civilians died north of Pristina when two missiles hit the bus where they traveled. An AFP correspondent who visited the town after the attack said that he had seen the torn bodies of men, women and children, burnt and maimed by the impact. Another one of those constantly repeated "mistakes" admitted by NATO, which also announced attacks of record intensity since the bombings began.
The attackers started using new graphite bombs short-circuiting Yugoslavia’s power lines which were thus rendered useless.
NATO aircraft reached the accumulated figure of 14,000 air sorties, including reconnaissance flights and other missions in support of the air strikes. The main hydroelectric plant was attacked, leaving Belgrade and other parts of Serbia without electric power. Another bus in Montenegro was bombed, killing 17 people and wounding 40.
A hospital in the residential area of the city of Baljevo was hit by four rockets which caused serious damage in three operating rooms and in the rest of the building.
The news agency EFE reported from Novi Sad that the town’s 400,000 were surviving without bridges, with an almost complete absence of electricity, water and even bread. On the same day, between Pristina and Vlac, a Greek convoy of the organization Doctors of the World was hit by a rocket while it was carrying aid for displaced Kosovars. The neurosurgeon in charge of the convoy said on Greek television: "The Allied planes attacked us deliberately. They knew where we were and they bombed us. There was nobody else around. We were their target." The Greek army headquarters stated that NATO had been informed of the convoy.
With obsessive stubbornness, Solana insisted on the need for a military force and for NATO to be "at its core."
The Chinese embassy, situated in a residential area Belgrade, was bombed by NATO planes. Three journalists died and at least 20 people were wounded. This serious incident lacking a credible explanation served to worsen the crisis. The following days, eighteen diplomatic missions were also damaged by NATO smart bombs.
Cluster bombs hit a hospital complex and the main market in Nis, the third most populated city in Yugoslavia, killing 15 people and wounding 70. A deadly variety of internationally banned bomb with particularly cruel effects had thus began to be used.
NATO bombs killed 87 Albanian Kosovar civilians in the town of Korisa, while Solana maintained that the Kosovo crisis was "coming to an end", although "we will have to remain as tenacious as possible."
A Reuter’s news agency reporter who went there described the torn bodies scattered on the ground, many of them burnt and still smoldering. The EFE news agency correspondent reported that almost all of the wounded had been diagnosed as having Blast Syndrome (severe burns and broken bones or spine).
A new NATO record: 679 combat missions were reported. Graphite bombs launched on Serbia’s power lines left Belgrade, Nis and Novi Sad without electrical power. On the same day, it was reported that civilian losses had risen to 1,200 dead and more than 5,000 wounded.
The United Nations estimated the number of refugees since the start of the bombings in 781,000 people.
Solana declared that the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia would continue until the objectives had been achieved.
Solana justified the NATO actions as "a moral campaign".
The Yugoslav authorities accused NATO of using not only cluster bombs but also missiles containing non-enriched uranium, equally banned internationally for their radioactive effects.
In addition to the high number of civilian casualties, the economic losses rose to more than 100 billion dollars.
Acid rain reached Romania.
Another hospital was severely damaged during the heaviest NATO assault on the Belgrade area in two weeks. Three neurology patients died and several pregnant women in the mother-and-child ward were wounded.
The diplomatic missions of Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, Angola, Peru and Cuba were hit.
Istok prison in Kosovo was bombed. Eighty-four inmates died.
The number of bombs used came to 14,000, ten thousand of them smart bombs and missiles. Twenty-five thousand air sorties had hit over two thousand targets, including hundreds of the main civilian targets making up the basic structure of the economy and the life of the Yugoslav people.
Air strikes left 70 per cent of Serbia without electricity. The water reserve dropped to just 8 per cent, leaving 30 per cent of the people in Belgrade without any supplies.
NATO declared that it had destroyed most of the main highways in Kosovo and the main railways over the Danube.
Solana claimed that the attacks by Allied aircraft against Serb power stations were due to the stations’ "crystal-clear military nature".
It is reported from Yugoslavia that the mortality rate among premature babies had increased by 8 per cent. Also, that due to the lack of electric power 100 cancer patients were waiting for emergency surgery, 200 patients for magnetic resonance, 500 for CAT-scans, 600 for radiotherapy, 12,000 for X-rays and 30,000 for laboratory tests.
Furthermore, the Serbian Health minister reported that, if the power failure and lack of water supply continued in the country, the lives of 9,500 people being treated in the intensive-care units would be in imminent danger.
Seven hundred and eighty-three U.S. warplanes and 281 from other NATO member countries were already taking part in the attacks. Up until this date, 27,110 air sorties had been flown.
A new record is broken: 792 combat missions in a single day.
NATO warplanes destroyed the Varvari bridge, 150 km south of Belgrade: eleven civilians died and over 10 were wounded. A large number of civilians were on the bridge at the time of the attack.
On the same day, a sanatorium, an elders’ home and a refugee shelter were attacked in Serdulica: twenty deaths had already been reported and the search still continued for more victims under the debris.
By then, the number of combat missions since the operations began on March 24, amounted to 29,979.
Thousands of innocent people had been killed or wounded. Millions of people were now living without electricity, communications or water. Medicines and food were scarce. Hospitals could neither guarantee treatment nor the very lives of tens of thousands of human beings because their systems and equipment are no longer operational. Bridges, houses, churches and diplomatic missions had been destroyed or damaged.
An entire people, including the elderly, pregnant women and children, are living terrorized by the bombs, waiting every minute for the sound of the sirens to run to the shelters with a baby in their arms or helping a disabled person.
Millions of children will never be able to erase from their memories the hell of these 70 days of war. They will be traumatized for life.
The victims are people of different nationalities and religious beliefs.
The drama of the Kosovo people has been endlessly multiplied by the effects of that irresponsible, unilateral and adventurous war. More than 90 per cent of the Kosovar refugees, forced to leave their country, have done so after March 24. When they can return to their homeland, they will find their houses and properties destroyed, ruin and desolation everywhere.
The destruction of oil refineries and chemical plants as well as the non-enriched uranium contained in many of the missiles used by the attackers have already caused ecological damage of incalculable proportions.
The air in the Balkans is poisoned with sulfur dioxide and ammonia. The soil is saturated with the progressive death of animals, plants and human beings. The Danube, other rivers and the sea are full of toxic products.
This war has been characterized by a wasteful display of technology.
Yugoslavia has become a military testing ground. Planes taking off from the United States drop their deadly load on the Serb people, refuel in midair and return to their bases non-stop. Missiles are air-launched at a distance off the range of anti-aircraft. Unmanned aircraft are bombing hospitals with patients inside, houses with people inside, bridges full of pedestrians and buses with passengers.
In the third month of a bloody war against the life, work and culture of an entire people, far from moving toward a negotiated political solution that would bring back stability to the Balkans, the option taken is the intensification of the bombings. Javier Solana, baffled by his triumphal predictions of attaining victory in three or four days, is even advocating an invasion with ground troops which would risk spreading the conflict beyond the present Yugoslav borders and fighting a bloody war against the people that resisted the attack of 40 Nazi divisions during World War II.
The third phase of the air strikes program has already begun.
After killing thousands of civilians, destroying a country’s economic and social means of subsistence and polluting the environment, it is terrifying to think that the plan drawn up envisages even more destruction and greater crimes.
The present and future life of the Yugoslav people will be filled with traumas and psychological and spiritual damage that no statistics could show.
Europe will forever be marked by this crime against Humanity, of which it has been both, an accomplice and a victim.
Not even Hitler’s air force assaults against the villages, towns and cities of Poland in the first weeks of World War II were as brutal and extensive as those that NATO is carrying out against the present Yugoslavia. Such attacks will never lead to a just and lasting solution for the rights of all nationalities, ethnic groups, religions and cultures of what is left of the Yugoslavia created by Tito, one that despite ethnic, cultural and religious differences and centuries-old animosities was able to live in peace for over 40 years, after the big war that concluded in Europe on May 9, 1945.
The government of Cuba:
Strongly condemns the monstrous crime against the Serb people, while supporting the right of the Albanian Kosovars to be fully guaranteed their national, cultural and religious identity and to enjoy the widest possible autonomy and even independence if, after peace is achieved through a just and peaceful political solution, ethnic Serb and Albanian Yugoslavs in the present Yugoslavia would one day come to that decision. But, such decision can never be imposed through a cruel and merciless war that can only multiply by hundreds of years the hatred unleashed.
Draws attention to the very serious precedent of disregard and contempt for principles of international law, such as the sovereign equality and territorial integrity of a multinational State, which was largely dismantled.
Observes with indignation that the United Nations is also being politically bombarded and the Security Council completely ignored. The most basic standards of civilization and coexistence have been disregarded. It is as if an attempt was made to impose the law of the jungle on the international community.
Acknowledges the admirable and heroic resistance of the Serb people and their ability to fight in defense of their identity as a nation and their patriotic traditions.
Confirms its readiness --as notified to the Religious Community of St. Egidius on April 5, just 12 days after the beginning of the air strikes and the mass exodus from Kosovo-- to co-operate by sending a thousand Cuban doctors, absolutely free of charge, to care for the hundreds of thousands of Kosovar refugees, both today when they are living in overcrowded make-shift camps and also tomorrow when they are able to return to their homeland, as well as to care for all ethnic Serbs and people of other nationalities living in Kosovo.
Demands that the international community --particularly the immensely rich and industrialized group of NATO countries that unleashed this destructive war and directly participate in it-- contribute the resources that Yugoslavia will require for its reconstruction.
Declares that the war against Yugoslavia already constitutes a true genocide and that, if a sense of justice is to prevail in the world, genocide must be accorded an exemplary punishment.
Considers that Javier Solana, who as NATO Secretary General has assumed responsibility for ordering the NATO attack on March 24, 1999 and who for 70 days has sustained, encouraged and justified this genocide, should be tried by an international court of law as a war criminal representing all of the guilty and urges the international community to demand such procedure.
Stop the bombing! Stop the genocide! Stop the war! Find a political
solution at all costs! Let peace prevail!
Havana, June 1, 1999.