OPEN FORUM OF YOUTH AND STUDENTS AT THE INFORMATIVE ROUND TABLE ON THE MANIPULATION OF THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN GENEVA AND THE LATEST REPORTS ON THE BOY KIDNAPPED IN THE UNITED STATES, ELIAN GONZALEZ. 21 April 2000.
(Stenographic versions – Council of State)
Carmen R. Báez.- Dear television viewers, the open forum of youth and students continues as a round-table, from the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television studios, in this anti-imperialist battle that we have been waging for almost five months for the release of our boy Elián González Brotons; an anti-imperialist battle for dignity and truth.
Allow me to introduce the panelists who will be here with us today.
We have the company of Reynaldo Taladrid, a Cuban Television journalist who has been sharing these round-tables with us, both as a panelist and by assisting us in interviewing personalities all over the world; Granma newspaper journalist Nidia Díaz; Trabajadores newspaper journalist Lázaro Barredo; Cuban Television journalist Eduardo Dimas; Juventud Rebelde newspaper journalist Marina Menéndez; next to her is Juventud Rebelde Director Rogelio Polanco; and also with us, joining this round-table, Granma newspaper journalist Pedro de la Hoz.
Before starting our round-table, I would like to apologize to our younger viewers, children and adolescents, on behalf of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television –and also to our panelists—because during this week our round-tables have been taking a little longer. The importance of these issues we have been addressing –regarding both Elián and the situation with the vote at the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva—affected children’s and teenager’s programmes.
The Cuban Institute of Radio and Television is taking pains, in order to reschedule those programmes during the weekend.
Nevertheless, we feel that the battle we are waging over a child that is a symbol, also, of every Cuban child, and the information that we are giving our public on what has happened at Geneva, is extremely important for our people.
That is why I would also suggest that we start by briefing you on what has been the impact, on the Czech Republic’s public, of the march carried out by our people, and our people’s indignation over the motion presented by the Czech Republic at the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
Let me read you some excerpts of an April 21st report from the news agency EFE. It reads:
"Czech Primer Minister, Social-Democrat Milos Zeman, ironically affirms that he appreciates Fidel Castro as much as he does Augusto Pinochet, on responding –in an interview published by the newspaper Pravo—to Cuban representatives’ criticisms against the Czech Republic.
"My view is that Mr. Castro is not an intellectual, and therefore, it is useless to comment on his expressions against an intellectual like (Czech President) Vaclav Havel –added Zeman on addressing the Cuban representatives’ statement that the Czech president is a professional counter-revolutionary and that the United States turned him into a legend so that he could take power.
"The Czech primer minister said that he would like to see bilateral relations improved but not at the cost of us serving as dictators, be it right-wing or left-wing.
"I feel that now that we are a free and democratic country, we are obligated to pay that debt also in regard to Cuba –concluded the Czech primer minister," and he is referring, of course, to a debt for having been a socialist country and having the system they had before.
"The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the Cuban accusations and by way of its spokesman, Ales Pospisil, said that Czech diplomats in Havana were not carrying out any anti-Cuban activity.
"It added that the Czech Republic takes pain to raise its delegation’s diplomatic status so that both countries have ambassadorial relations, not the present chargé-d’affaires relations."
Apparently, the Czech primer minister wants us to show him the photos and videos of all that was said at the previous round-table, but we really think there is no need to waste our time and energy.
That is why, if so far they have made such fools of themselves, it is not worthwhile paying much attention to them, and I certainly believe it is better to read out the message sent in –as a protest for the behavior of the Czech Republic’s government—by the Czech-Cuban Friendship Society.
It goes as follows:
"The Czech-Cuban Friendship Society protests against the decision by the government of the Czech Republic to present, this year also, at the UN Commission on Human Rights, the Resolution condemning the violation of human rights in Cuba. We deem the day when, under obvious pressure, it was adopted at Geneva, the Czech diplomacy’s day of shame. Like an obedient lackey, the Czech Republic took the power that had been rejected before by every State in the Western Hemisphere; that is, Cuba’s direct or close neighbors. Not even the United States –which can be considered the actual author of the Resolution—had the moral courage to request the condemnation of a nation against which it has been exercising the illegal blockade, that has become –over its 40 years—a crime of genocide.
"Our Society, in conformity with its statutes, promotes the enhancement of bonds of friendship between the peoples of the Czech Republic and the Republic of Cuba, in every aspect of the two countries’ societies. Taking into account the long tradition of economic, cultural, scientific, technological, and sports relations, we find it incomprehensible and unacceptable for the government of the Czech Republic to be doing everything possible to break those relations. That policy represents a blow, not only in the face of the proud Cuban patriots who, over dozens of years have been expressing their gratitude to our country and our nation for the selfless assistance given during the period of crisis, after the Revolution, but also to patriots in Latin America as a whole and patriots from countries all over the world who appreciate the heroism of the Cuban people and demand respect for their right to self-determination and true independence.
"We fully understand the Cuban people’s just indignation, expressed through the 100,000-strong demonstration in front of our Embassy in Havana. We are determined to continue to fight, even under these conditions, in every possible way, to restore the Cuban people’s trust in our country, and to show that betrayal is totally alien to the absolute majority of our nation."
I think this answers the opinion of the primer minister of the Czech Republic himself.
Over here we have the statement by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia regarding the shameful Resolution on the so-called human rights, presented by the Czech Republic and Poland at Geneva, on 18 April 2000.
"The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, together with the honest Czechoslovak citizens, strongly condemn and totally distance themselves from the anti-Cuban action (in the form of a Resolution on human rights in Cuba) which, promoted by the Czech diplomacy, constituted an act of abuse by the United Nations Organization in Geneva, on 18 April 2000. The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, aware of the painful experience endured by Czechoslovakia 10 years ago, caused by the West’s so-called honest effort in the field of human rights and social freedoms in Czechoslovakia, stresses that in the case of Cuba, the reactionary circles of capital, led by the U.S. administration, are not pursuing the well-being of the Cuban people, but its about a dirty trick, internationally coordinated, whose purpose is the destabilization, isolation of progressive regimes and their annihilation, even at the cost of war operations, all under the banner of globalization. It has not been possible to destroy Cuba by the economic embargo, not even in a situation where they have contributed to the elimination of socialism in Europe and in the Soviet Union, which continue to concern the reactionary circles of international capital.
"The Czechoslovak communists, friends of Cuba, fully support the actions by the Cuban leadership to ensure Cuba’s economic and social programs, which only pursue the prosperity of the majority and the exercise of the basic human right: the right to life.
"The fact that that unfriendly initiative against Cuba has arisen, precisely, of the Czech Republic is worthy of condemnation. It is more than clear that the Resolution does not pursue concrete issues but purely political goals. It also corroborates the well-known experience that the Czech Republic has become, in Europe, the key and most obvious puppet regime in the hands of the United States. As a consequence, that position damages also the social and economic rights of most citizens of the Czech Republic. Today, 10 years after the internationally prepared counterrevolution under the motto of human rights and democracy --the citizens of the Czech Republic now know it--, unemployment, the humiliation of man’s dignity, drugs, the economic collapse, social insufficiency and criminality, have been the result of the struggle for human rights led by the United States and its allies by way of those who were called dissidents ten years ago, and who are today the lackeys of those who poison the environment around Cuba. The real author of the Resolution is the United States.
"The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia is convinced that Cuba is well aware of what it is doing and why it is doing it. We are by the side of the Republic of Cuba, of the Cuban people, and support the actions of Cuba’s political and state leadership. The Resolution presented by Geneva does not reflect the opinion of the Czechoslovak people. It damages the prospects of the future world and the current efforts towards building international economic cooperation. It is harmful and unacceptable. We express our fullest solidarity with the Republic of Cuba.
General Secretary of the Central Committee
of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia."
Well, this is part of the impact of the march that took place in our country, and also of our people’s indignation –as I was saying at the outset—over the vote in the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
Also two days ago, there was a round-table where all these issues were addressed by a group of specialists in our country.
As I was saying, that condemnation has caused strong indignation amongst our people, and if you allow me to recall the previous round-table we were helped to examine, first, how this Commission works, to be able to enter into the topic we are here for today.
Second, we looked at the background of the Cuban issue in this Commission.
Third, I think it was very important to analyze who are the ones that dared to present a motion against Cuba in the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva and, specifically, the government of the Czech Republic and the United States, though it was also co-sponsored by the government of Poland.
Fourth, the speech there by our foreign minister was very important, as he explained our positions and how Cuba defends the Third World’s human rights –not only Cuban positions, but also the Third World’s—in this Commission, and how the United States manipulates this issue at Geneva.
Then, we saw how the vote had resulted, and for many Cubans it was very important to be able to look at which countries voted in favor of the Resolution, which abstained, and which voted against.
I propose that we start going into the theme of this round-table; but recapping a little on how that vote had gone on. I suggest Patricia --who will inform us now by means of images—help us to show our viewers how the vote was taken by regional frames.
I think it would be important to start with the Group of Western Europe and Eastern Europe, if possible, so as to fully examine the vote of those countries.
There we have the position of the Western Europe and Other States Group. We can see that Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States voted in favor.
As you can see, this group includes western European countries, and also the United States and Canada. Other countries in this group are New Zealand and Australia, but this year these countries did not form part of the Commission and, if traditionally they had voted against Cuba, this year they did not take part in the vote.
I believe it is important that you know that this group has been gradually changing the nature of the Commission, virtually turning it into an Inquisition court for the Third World. I think it is very important for our people to know this, and that this Commission –under the influence of this group—has virtually been turning into a forum for imposition, pressure and blackmail.
That is what we are talking about.
Let’s continue to look at what happened with the vote, and I suggest that we see how the Eastern European Group voted, among them are the former socialist countries. In this case, there were the Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland and Romania.
There you see it on the screen.
In favor of the Resolution presented by the Czech Republic were Latvia, Poland and Romania. Poland is one of the co-sponsors. Against was Russia.
I think it would also be important to see how Latin America voted. It is, even, one of the votes our viewers have been asking about and requesting most.
Among them, in favor of the Czech Republic’s Resolution were: Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Against, of course, Cuba, Peru, Venezuela; and abstentions: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico.
We would also like you to be able to know how the Asian countries voted.
I think it would be important for you to know that Japan and South Korea voted in favor of the Czech Republic’s Resolution. Against: Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan. Abstentions: Bangla Desh, Nepal, the Philippines, Qatar and Sri Lanka.
And one group that was extremely important for us; we finished the South Summit and there was a broad representation of all of them here in Cuba. How did the countries of Africa vote on this anti-Cuban Resolution presented by the Czech Republic in the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva?
Morocco voted in favor of this Resolution. Against: Burundi, the Congo, Liberia, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Tunisia, and Zambia. Abstentions: Botswana, Mauritius, Rwanda, Senegal and Swaziland.
Today, we would like to focus and analyze that vote a little on the inside.
I think it is fair to recognize that, if we are to begin with a regional group –and I would like it to be Western Europe, if possible, and Eastern Europe, in the same order that we have been presenting them--, that within this Commission not all countries act in the same manner, and while in this Western European group Spain, France, Italy and Portugal voted against us, I feel it is fair for us to acknowledge that these four countries do not carry out anti-Cuban activism in the Commission. They voted against us, which does not detract whatsoever from that action that we would also like to look at; but I think that it is good to know, too, that they did not co-sponsor any resolutions presented in the Commission against Cuba and that they do not, either, devote to pressuring or carrying out direct actions leading to other countries voting against Cuba.
Now, I think it is interesting to look at the example of the paradigm that –almost in a fundamentalist manner—these champions of human rights are trying to sell us. It is like the mirror being sold to the Indian, that they want him to see himself in it, but in their likeness.
I think the question of who are the ones that voted against Cuba is already becoming imperative, because at this round-table we have talked about double-standards, and I would like to ask our panelists to help us answer the question of whether it would be fair to accept that the cultured Europe –as we have repeated it lots of times, too, here in this studio--, which is always pointing at us and telling us-- should tell us: "Do as I say, not as I do."
I would like to begin with Dimas, who is used to helping us on television, with comments on international politics, if he could tell us if we are supposed to accept this from the Group of Western Europe.
Eduardo Dimas.- I think the answer is obviously no, for the simple reason that, if you look closely, first of all, at what the history of European nations has been and, second of all, at the most recent events; that is, last year’s events, they are clearly not countries or governments that really respect human rights.
Let’s think only of Yugoslavia. Who is directly responsible for what happened, for the 78-day bombardments of Serbia and Kosovo? Obviously, it is the direct responsibility of the European countries, the NATO members –including Canada and the United States—and it was precisely the United States that was in charge of leading those operations.
A pretext, a pretext that is very often resorted to and that is part of every pretext they use, is that of the alleged massive and flagrant violations of human rights of the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo. That was the pretext; with it they unleashed a huge propaganda campaign. The media devoted themselves to magnifying what was happening.
I’m not saying things did not happen; what I am saying is that it was not to such an extent or scope as to be described as genocide, to be described as massacre; and then turned the president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, into a villain; that is, the bad guy in the movie. They demonized him, just as they did in the past with Noriega, in Panama, to invade Panama; and just as they did, also, in Iraq.
Actually, the objectives of this bombing of Yugoslavia were something quite different. I would say that, first of all, it was to split the country; that is, to finish off splitting up Yugoslavia, which was now just made up of Serbia and Montenegro. Remember that it split in the early nineties. Second, to completely eliminate Russia’s continuing influence, whether small or large in the Balkans and, in instead, to increase the influence of the United States and NATO in the Balkans. That is one of the aspects.
If we look at how the negotiations unfolded; that is, how they were being manipulated, and how the negotiations were being carried out, it is self-evident that Europe tried to close every door to any negotiation that would allow for a settlement of the ethnic Albanians problem.
The Mediation Commission that was set up –a mediating commission that did everything possible to force Yugoslavia to not accepting those issues that were really the ones that would have been really fair--; and then there came the Rambouillet talks, that were characterized, above all, by Europe proposing Yugoslavia a number of issues that were unacceptable; among them, Kosovo’s autonomy.
Besides that, the United States and NATO supported the Kosovo Liberation Army –an army that until 1995 or 1996 was a force of smugglers and drug-dealers; armed, trained and financed by Albanian mafias, by the Montenegro Mafia that was devoted to drug trafficking, to the trade of white women; and it is suddenly turned into a liberation army. It is supported, helped, provided with money; and the Yugoslav government was forced, in fact, at the Rambouillet talks, to sit and discuss with the Kosovo Liberation Army.
The Kosovo Liberation Army, for obvious reasons, accepts everything it is told; that is, everything regarding the Rambouillet agreements, which have to be rejected by the Yugoslav government.
That is the point at which the March 23 bombardments broke out; bombardments whose alleged goal was to destroy the Yugoslav army, and force it to withdraw from Kosovo. In practice, they destroyed every factory, every railway junction, every food and fuel depot, the bridges over the Danube. That is, they practically destroyed the country’s whole infrastructure.
A very interesting thing happened during those bombings. You remember the dispatches given by the NATO Information Center. In those dispatches –later on, other comrades will talk about this—there was something very interesting: the civilian victims of the bombings were called "collateral damage".
Those bombings lasted 78 days and, I repeat, the whole economic infrastructure of Yugoslavia was virtually destroyed. More than 2,000 people were killed, more than 6,000 wounded, if memory serves me right.
Subsequently, when the Yugoslav government has no other choice but to accept-- If there had been a few more days’ delay, I think the problem could have been settled otherwise; but, well, after 78 days, with Russia’s mediation, the government accepted. The Yugoslav army withdrew from Kosovo and it had scarcely any casualties; that is, most victims were basically civilians, including cases like that famous train they bombed, or a convoy of tractors with trailers that they also bombarded.
Now, there is an aspect that I would like to stress. Let’s start from what was the pretext for undertaking the bombing of Serbia and Kosovo: the pretext was massive and flagrant violations of human rights in Kosovo.
Obviously, the first thing they did was they started to look for the dead, the huge amount of dead bodies. It is not that they didn’t find any dead bodies; they found ethnic Albanian’s bodies; but not in such an amount as to be able to mount a great international scandal. Therefore, the original pretext was not valid; that is, that initial pretext that ethnic Albanians ought to be saved from the evil of the Serbs. In all this, there always have to be the good guys and the bad guys; the good guys, in this case, were the ethnic Albanians, and the bad guys were the Serbs. Just as they did in Bosnia-Herzegovina, too, let’s remember that the Muslims and the Croats were the good guys, and the Serbs were the bad guys. That is, they always look for this situation.
They haven’t found that great amount of common graves; they haven’t found such a great number of bodies as to be able to create a scandal and justify their actions. Therefore, at least as far as I am aware, a sort of silence has been created. Nobody speaks about that; from time to time you hear the news that three bodies were found in a grave; that four bodies were found in a grave. What they should do is they should identify them, too, to see if they are Serbs murdered by the ethnic Albanians or ethnic Albanians murdered by the Serbs, because there were all kinds of things going on there.
Carmen R. Báez.- This means that when we are talking about "do as I do, not as I say", one would have to find out how they defend the rights of the "collateral damage".
Eduardo Dimas.- And, also, how they used the human rights pretext to carry out an action that was essentially political; that served a political objective, which was to finish splitting up Yugoslavia and to do away with the influence that Russia had in the Balkans, whether minor or important. Those were the basic goals.
Carmen R. Báez.- Nidia, you were asking me if you could speak on this topic. The problem is that you –Nidia and Dimas-- , during the war in Yugoslavia and this whole issue of Kosovo, were also writing some articles, and I think it is very important that we have you here and have your assistance, not only to re-cap on what happened, because our public knew all this, but for the interpretation we can give on what is happening and on what happened today at the Commission on Human Rights. To re-cap on that question, and excuse me if I remind you this: who they are, I think that is very important to be able to keep the thread of our round-table.
Nidia Díaz.- Yes, I believe after what Dimas said, one would have to just add that one of the fundamental causes of the war of aggression and the genocidal war against Yugoslavia was the United States’ need to not only put an end to the Russian influence in that area, but for the United States to already be inside Central Europe, which runs against the very sovereignty of the European countries that accompanied them in this genocidal war against Yugoslavia.
I would certainly like to say who these people are that so hypocritically speak of human rights in Cuba, of violations of human rights in Cuba.
The other day I saw a cable –one of those you wonder how come it was not a headline in the most important media in the world. The other day I was reading in an interview published in a Greek newspaper, that the German retired General Heinz Locke, said that the document invoked by NATO last year to bomb Yugoslavia turned out to be a fake document. Just like that; that man has affirmed it categorically.
He said: "The report according to which the Yugoslav authorities were preparing the annihilation of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo was prepared by the Secret Services of Bulgaria and lacked credibility, according to this German high-ranking officer, Locke, who now works in the European Security and Cooperation Organization."
ATHENS, 4 April (PL).- "The document invoked by NATO to bombard Yugoslavia last year was a fake, testified German retired General Heinz Locke, in an interview published today by a Greek newspaper. The report, according to which the Yugoslav authorities were preparing the annihilation of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, was presented by the Bulgarian secret services and lacked credibility, said the German former officer. Locke, who currently works in the European Security and Cooperation Organization, confirmed that that manipulation was used by NATO to undertake the bombings against the Yugoslav territory and obtain the approval of the European public opinion. All the persons involved in this move should take historical responsibility for this aggression, including the German Ministry of Defense, indicated the interviewee. In his statement, the German former officer said that no one ever stopped to check the truth of that report, perfidiously prepared for the deliberate purpose of justifying NATO’s bombings against Yugoslavia."
It doesn’t mean this was the only report; there are reports –even air reports, like those mentioned by Dimas—that, allegedly, there were common graves of ethnic Albanians. That is, there was a lot of false information around the Yugoslavia issue and around the Kosovo issue. However, the fact that the Bulgarian secret services took part in fabricating a perfidious report on this issue only goes to show once more –especially us Cubans right now—that just like the Czech Republic offered itself now to prepare a vote of censure against Cuba at the Commission on Human Rights, Bulgaria did so in favor on NATO and the United States at that moment against Yugoslavia. Obviously, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have sunk lower: from socialism, they have become, obviously, activists of imperialism.
It is also worth noting that the case of Kosovo --as Dimas has rightly said- is a case that was fabricated with those double-standards, with that hypocrisy with which these countries that make up the group of rich countries, the NATO group, the group that today –led by the United States—control or try to control the world.
I remember that back in those days there was a lot of talk about how this Kosovo situation was created; that is, there was talk –as Dimas said—that the ethnic Albanians were being repressed, were victims of an ethnic cleansing by the Serbs. However, a report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees revealed that 85% of the almost 860,000 people who migrated to Kosovo did not do it during the alleged ethnic cleansing, but did so precisely during the 79 days of bombing the country, and particularly that province, were subjected to.
It would be good for our viewers to know that the province of Kosovo was inhabited by 1.8 million ethnic Albanians and by more than 200,000 people of other nationalities, including Serbs. A year before, when all this issue of Kosovo, of the ethnic cleansing, of the genocide that was presumably being carried out in Yugoslavia is being prefabricated, the emigration of 170,000 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was promoted. However, now we see that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that in the war days, 860,000 people –the majority of which were ethnic Albanians—migrated from fear of the bombings and of the war itself.
In other words, the ethnic cleansing issue, the issue of the ethnic Albanians migration –that the ethnic Albanians could no longer live in Kosovo because of the repression they were victims of, is a hypocritical issue, a fake issue, an issue manufactured by those who certify in Latin America our countries’ good or bad behavior, those who try for Cuba to be this or that way.
Dimas has said that in Yugoslavia 2,000 people were killed and 6,000 wounded; but in Yugoslavia there were also close to 36,000 air strikes in those 79 days of aggression.
To show once more the hypocrisy of these countries, of Europe, and of the civilized United States, of the supposedly peace-loving United States and NATO, lovers of ethic values, religious values, who set themselves up as champions of that, I have to say that the war broke out on the 23rd and, however, the day when there was the greatest number of air strikes against that country until then was precisely on Maundy Thursday, April 2nd. On April 2nd they attacked an aqueduct, a factory; Belgrade, the capital, suffered the greatest air raids and there were two civilian deaths and six wounded, and –according to dispatches from that sacrosanct death alliance—they attacked "military installations".
They tell us that we violate human rights because allegedly in this country there is no freedom of worship, freedom of speech, etc; however, a holy day, a day of devotion, a day that for the Christian Europe and United States should be a day of peace and love, well, that was the day of the greatest massacre against civilian targets in Yugoslavia. I think that speaks for itself of who these people are and what the political goals are which they pursue against those who, for one reason or another, do not yield to their junctural or strategic interests.
Marina Menéndez.- I would like to briefly point out –summarizing what Dimas and Nidia have been relating-- the fallacy of those who accuse Cuba; in the case of Yugoslavia there was not only in the fact that they used their alleged defense of the human rights of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo as an argument, as an excuse, as justification, but in the fact that, presumably defending them –whether it was true or not that there had been occurrences of ethnic cleansing, as they claimed—they violated the human rights of thousands of people, not only ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, but even Albanians who –as Nidia and also Dimas recalled—were also damaged by their bombs.
I think there was manipulation in this respect, in everything; from the moment when the public opinion is prepared for this intervention and occupation that, after all, is what all that operation in Kosovo and Yugoslavia boiled down to: demonizing Slobodan Milosevic and even the Serbian people themselves, who, sure enough, were always the ones that ended up accused, both in the case of the Bosnia-Herzegovina war and now in Kosovo.
This has been manipulation from the way they employed the alleged resource of the so-called assistance, humanitarian intervention –that will later on be dealt with more in-depth— to the hypocritical and clearly lying move of using the so-called collateral damage to cover up what had actually been aggressions against the Serbian and Kosovar civilian population, and, definitely, against Yugoslavia’s economic infrastructure.
What Eduardo Galiano, always so illustrious, called in his article "Fe de errata" (Correction) –published in Cuba by Juventud Rebelde—that where it says "collateral damage", please read "collateral profits", and a whole series of terms they started to use. Also allegedly, it was errors that caused these damages to Yugoslavia’s civilian population and economic infrastructure, errors made by smart missiles that would obviously be very stupid then, as remarked by Galiano in this article.
Among those "errors," Nidia mentioned some; I would like to mention others: on 5 April, the 17 deaths reported in the city of Aleksinac, in the south of Serbia. Presumably the target was a military one. Also, on 12 April, there were 55 deaths when several missiles destroyed a train when it was passing under a bridge; there was an 11-month old child among the victims. There are many cases like this up untill 8 May, when even the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia was attacked, and this strike resulted in three journalists being killed and a score of wounded.
I believe that what was so effectively summarized by U.S. analyst and sociology professor –of political ethics, Dimas pointed out to me just now—James Petras, when he was speaking about the litany of lies, the myths that had been concocted precisely by the aggressors –the United States and this Europe that is accusing us today—to carry out the attack on Yugoslavia, allegedly under the cloak of "humanitarian assistance" to those supposedly or actually --I say just like Dimas, we won’t settle that now—affected by the ethnic cleansing.
He spoke about myth One: President Milosevic, who is a dictator, a Hitler, the demonization of Milosevic. "Myth Two: Milosevic refuses to negotiate, to reach a compromise, to accept an international peacekeeping force." --and Dimas was talking about the Rambouillet efforts. "Myth Three: Albania and Europe are helping the Kosovar refugees." "Myth Four: Milosevic has committed genocide." "Myth Five: the Kosovo Liberation Army represents the greatest Kosovar hope in their struggle for democracy and human rights."
All these myths are answered by him; I’m not going to take so long, but I would certainly like to read, with its answer, myth number six mentioned by James Petras: "The United States’ strategy consists of saving the Kosovars from the Serbian operation. Actually –says the author--: the United States’ bombing has forced hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians and Serbs to seek shelter. The NATO strikes in Kosovo have destroyed villages, stores, homes, ethnic Albanians industries; they have killed dozens of civilians and left hundreds wounded.
More than 90% of the refugees ran away after the bombing started. The destruction of its economy has turned Kosovo into an economic barren land that will be incapable of maintaining the population that returns. Washington’s false peace proposal, based on NATO’s occupation of Kosovo, has nothing to do with a humanitarian mission, but rather it is designed to show the U.S. military might and impose American peace in Europe.
I think it is fairly eloquent and also sheds a little more light and faith on the whole fallacy and the litany of falsehoods wielded to attack Yugoslavia, and, at the time, it was quite clearly seen as a danger and as a sign of what it could mean for the Third World countries, as they see the mote in their neighbor’s eye and not the beam in their own.
Carmen R. Báez.- Thank you very much, Marina. I’m actually very happy about this presentation you asked me to make at this table, because some days ago, actor José Antonio Rodríguez was telling me that if during the war in Yugoslavia there had been round-tables that clarified a little on what was going on, he felt it would have been very useful. Countries like ours have always said that justice will prevail, and clarifying things like these is also a way of having justice prevail, so that we can always be clear on how to interpret and how to see, from the critical viewpoint, the world which we have to live in.
The table has several journalists here, as I introduced them to you. All of them are doing this (raising their hands). We have to start to organize ourselves: one by one, little by little. Here I have Dimas, who is asking to speak; I have Lázaro over here, and I also have a guest in the audience –I will explain this later—who is also asking to participate at this point.
So let’s organize ourselves this way: Dimas first, and then I’ll give the floor to Nidia, who also wants to speak. Afterwards, we will continue to organize ourselves.
Eduardo Dimas.- I think it is impossible to forget what happened after the Yugoslav troops pulled out of Kosovo. There was an interim in which the troops pull out of Kosovo and Kosovo stays in the hands of the famous Liberation Army; which we already said who it really was. And then the NATO troops came in, basically under the cloak of the United Nations, as always, with a United Nations police corps that has never been completed. And during that interim, that is, from the moment the Yugoslav troops pulled out to date, the crimes –that have even had to be published by the media-- committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army in front of the eyes of the NATO forces of intervention: American, European, Italian forces, including Russian troops in a sector, have been enormous; and they have seized the Serbs’ properties, lands, homes; they have forced the exodus of more than 26,000 Serbs. We should remember that population was already terrorized by the bombings; that is, it had been forced to run away from the bombings. Then, what human rights are they talking about?
They bombarded Yugoslavia 78 days over alleged Serb’s violations of the human rights of the ethnic Albanians; and the ethnic Albanians violations of the human rights of the Serbs are not massive or flagrant human rights violations. Do you realize there is a double standard, a double-morality? And do you realize other things that I would rather not say because I’am going to say words that I should not?
Nidia Díaz.- I just wanted to delve into what Dimas is talking about.
There is already a more recent datum, precisely from this week, that raises the figure of Serbs who have had to leave Kosovo to 50,000; but also, in a violent manner, they are thrown off balconies; their houses are burned with them inside... That is, what is being done to the Serbs are atrocities, before the eyes of all these people, of these Europeans who represent the presumed peacekeeping forces that are there.
I also wanted to give a figure that I spoke about at the beginning. When the Yugoslavia case, the Kosovo case was fabricated, there was talk about 170,000 ethnic Albanians who left there because they were, allegedly, victims of an ethnic cleansing. Well, of these 170,000 ethnic Albanians that they urged and encouraged to leave Kosovo, to be able to shape up this future aggression against Yugoslavia, the United States has received 0.7% in its territory; that is, they are now scattered throughout that Europe that urged them, that encouraged them to go out of the country, so, based on their emigration, they can produce propaganda against that alleged ethnic cleansing, which, as Dimas has said, no one knows to what extent it occurred, but it has now been demonstrated that it was not as bad as they said at the time.
But, I just want to stress the fact that these are the same arguments that are used with other peoples. In other words, they encourage people to leave so they can fabricate cases that allow them to justify future interventions and then those people are let down. In other words, only 0.7% of the 170,000 ethnic Albanians that were encouraged to leave before the war have been accepted in U.S. territory. I think this says a lot about the hypocrisy involved in the fabrication of this case.
Carmen R. Báez.- I told you before that there was a guest here in the studio who we want to give the floor to. There are also student leaders, here in the studio who are representing all of those who have been participating in the open fora. We have even invited some of the speakers that were in the José Martí Anti-imperialist Open Forum yesterday.
Among those speakers was Fernando Rojas, president of the Hermanos Saíz Association.
When we were preparing this round table we decided to invite him, because during the war in Yugoslavia, Fernando was able to visit some European countries and meet with some intellectuals there.
I remember that during those days the young people, especially those involved in literature and art, spoke a lot about the war, wanting to know what was going on. We received the news here in Cuba and people reacted to it and wanted to know more and more, and they wanted to know the latest events and how the Europeans were reacting.
I think it would be interesting to hear the opinions that Fernando shared with us during those days.
Fernando Rojas.- More than anything; I would like to share my experiences as a newspaper reader and TV viewer on that occasion, with the aim of denouncing such a blatant violation of human rights as the manipulation of awareness that took place in that ever so cultivated Western Europe during the Yugoslavian war.
Well, I’ll start right there.
During that entire period, in newspaper headlines, in people’s conversation, on television, they called that war the Kosovo war, and that was the way all of the media referred to it.
Titles and names – those of us who have worked in the press should know – are very important in controlling the way the information is received. And from the very way they referred to what was happening over there, one realizes that they were trying to keep silent about what was going on outside that Yugoslavian province: bombs falling on Belgrade, and the headlines read The Kosovo War; planes taking off from countries of Western Europe to bomb Belgrade, and the headlines read The Kosovo War.
Out of there, what was simply happening was something we were already familiar with from the Gulf war, which is that idea of showing the war on TV, right? That the people have the opportunity – that macabre and also frivolous thing – of seeing the war on TV and "enjoying" the reports of the military authorities about what was happening in that war, which, of course, had to do with the success of NATO’s military operations against the army of that ogre Milosevic, against other military targets, and in a small corner of the newspaper, in a brief part of the report, in a brief TV announcement, that reference to the small collateral damages, as was mentioned here. And, of course, as everybody knows, the collateral damages are the civilian victims, the civilian targets destroyed. But no articles were written about this, no news reports were made. This simply appeared as part of that macabre idea – and this does not speak well of that cultivated Europe - of enabling people to enjoy the war.
With evil satisfaction, reports were written of anything done by any Serb in Kosovo. No matter what that might be, it was immediately magnified, exaggerated. I myself paid a lot of attention to the fact that the origins of that conflict were not explained, were not analyzed; a conflict – I’m referring to the conflict within that state – that is centuries old. We are talking about a region of Europe with a multinational and multiethnic composition, where coexistence under the domination systems by different ethnic groups, different nationalities, has produced a lot of conflicts throughout the centuries. And in order to understand why these conflicts take place, rigorous analyses must be made. The columnists, the journalists, the intellectuals should devote themselves to analyzing them rigorously in order to explain them. Well, that never happened.
The origins of the conflict, or the way these origins were explained was directly linked to achieving the objective of the manipulation, to what has been said here, in other words, to presenting Yugoslavia as an aggressor, as the empire of evil, to presenting Milosevic as a sort of modern Hitler, to manipulating the antifascist feelings of the Europeans – these feelings are, of course, well known – and I would also say, although perhaps to a lesser degree – but I found it in some texts, I found it in some programs –, to manipulating the anticommunist feelings of the citizens of those countries, which has to do with something that Dimas said, that is, the Russian influence in that region. In other words, the terrible aggressor they were confronting, could be identified either as a Hitler-like fascist or a macabre remnant of what was left of Eastern Europe’s terrible communism. And the media constantly followed this approach, without any interest in reasoning, without any type of analysis, and besides, comrades, something which was notable, with incredible unanimity.
The free press and the freedom of the press are nothing short of tall tales. Everybody, all the media, said the same things. They followed that approach I’ve been trying to explain. And there was also that attitude of not reasoning, of not analyzing, of not thinking, when the ethnic groups were mentioned, when the belligerent parties were mentioned – according to their view of the matter, of course. They were the saviors, right? The NATO members, the army, the troops, were the saviors, the ones that were resolving that conflict.
When they spoke about the parties in conflict, it was not hard to perceive a slight racist tone, be it when they spoke about the Serbs, the Albanians, the Bosnians or the Croats. Because these folks were the great saviors of these peoples, the ones who had come to solve their problem. That is why NATO’s intervention was always presented by the media as the fulfillment of a demand by the international community, as the fulfillment of a sort of need, a sort of request, as the representation of what the world really wanted, of what the international community really wanted. In other words, these were the good marines, the good soldiers who arrived there to solve the problems of some people who did not know how to live in peace and who were constantly killing one another.
I daresay that this way of presenting this issue in the press, on TV, is based on the idea, that in my opinion is very important – that will probably be analyzed at some point in time – which is the idea of beginning to conceive national sovereignty in a limited way. In other words, there is a sort of world crisis, because if the international community believes there is a flagrant violation of human rights at a given place, there is, therefore, the right to intervene in that place, although what is being violated is something as essential as the sovereignty of a state.
Concerning the topic of refugees, discussed a while ago, when it was mentioned that the refugees were not being received, or that it was said they were being received when they actually were not... well, how did the press and television deal with this? When the few people that were received in a camp were received, there was a great news coverage, TV hours, newspaper pages. Those that were not received, those that continued to suffer the plight of war, were simply ignored. And I repeat, with the same unanimity. Everybody dancing to the same tune, all the newspaper columnists, listen to this, not only the journalists, not only the reporters, all the news columnists, almost without exception followed this scheme, and among them – it must be said – there were outstanding figures of European intelligentsia writing their columns in the newspapers, rigorously following this scheme. Whole columns devoted to depicting the idea of this empire of evil that the "good" NATO soldiers were going to do away with. And I’m telling you, with very few exceptions, no other view was introduced, not even a position equidistant from the two extremes. No, no, those people had to be eliminated, Yugoslavia had to be razed to the ground.
I also remember something that happened during those days: Trying to look for something different, I spent some time going to libraries, revising newspapers, and I found a condemnation of what was happening outside Kosovo, that is, the bombing of Belgrade, what was happening in Yugoslavia, only in a newspaper of a small communist party and a newsletter of a local church; the rest of the press, contrary to what they themselves declare every day, were absolutely unanimous in the stance I have just described.
I think that helps us to reach the conclusion that these media, the media of these countries, whose governments are precisely those that voted in favor of the anti-Cuban Resolution, did nothing during this war but being organs at the service of the empire’s interest, being organs at the service of NATO, and what more flagrant violation of human rights could there be than becoming accomplices in the manipulation of awareness, of exercising it, than becoming accomplices in the idea of limiting the sovereignty of a state? And, nevertheless, we are speaking of the same people, as I said a while ago, that voted in favor of the anti-Cuban Resolution, of the same people, and this is another element that, in my opinion, must not be neglected when we think about this matter comprehensively – that during the Ibero-American Summit devoted themselves to praising those mercenaries who they call dissidents here in our country. These very same media.
I think it is important that these things be known, that we have the opportunity to denounce them, in order to know who these people are who are voting in favor of the anti-Cuban Resolution in the Human Rights Commission.
Carmen R. Báez.- Thank you very much, Fernando. Lázaro had also asked for the floor, in order to close this topic we have been discussing about civilized Europe.
Lázaro Barredo.- I think that, as that famous artist, that Cuban playwright, said, truth shall always prevail in the end, and little by little, people will find out what has really happened in all of these barbarous acts.
I have here an article published by an American magazine Cover Action, which is devoted to making in-depth analyses of topics concerning covert operations or dirty wars. They published a lengthy article: "A Very Suspicious Pretext", and I want to read just three short paragraphs so people can have an idea of how the United States and their European allies also use the mob, because there is a mob in Europe that can also be used, and this is proof of it.
According to this publication, Cover Action, "The cruel NATO bombings against Belgrade and Pristina go way beyond the violation of international law. While Milosevic is demonized and presented as a ruthless dictator, the Kosovo Liberation Army is presented as a respectable nationalist movement that struggles for the rights of ethnic Albanians.
"The truth of the matter", the publication states, "is that this liberation army is supported by organized crime with the tacit approval of the United States and its allies", and it goes on to say, "the multimillionaire drug traffic in the Balkans has played a decisive role in financing the Kosovo conflict in correspondence with the strategic economic and military objectives of the West.
Besides, something we have always said, it explains how the United States and its allies turn these people from terrorists into political partners. It is the same thing they did with the Cuban-American terrorists of the sixties and seventies, who later on in the eighties were transformed into the politicians of the Cuban-American National Foundation.
It states: "With the aim of having the Albanians accept the peace plan, Albright, the U.S. Secretary of State, offered an incentive to demonstrate that Washington is a friend of Kosovo. Officers of the Kosovo Liberation Army would be sent to the United States to be trained and turned from a guerrilla group into a police force or political force in accordance with the United States’ interest.
Finally, this publication openly affirms, "The pattern in Kosovo is similar to other CIA covert operations in Central America, where the ´-‘freedom fighters’ were financed by drugs money laundering.
"Since the onslaught of the cold war, U.S. intelligence agencies and their main European allies, have developed a complex relationship with illegal drug trafficking. Case after case, drugs money laundered in the international banking system has financed these covert operations."
I think this publication offers enough elements denouncing the barbarous deeds of these people who claim to be the defenders of human rights.
Eduardo Dimas.- I have something I want to say very briefly on this same topic. Ninety percent of the bombs, of the weapons used in Yugoslavia, were American; the other 10% were European. In other words, the United States saw to the destruction of Serbia and a large part of Kosovo, but it left its reconstruction to Europe.
Now Europe, with a cynicism that we can dub as habitual, has conditioned the reconstruction of Serbia, first, with the disappearance of Slobodan Milosevic – they don’t care if he’s killed, removed from office or arrested –, and, besides, they have even gone as far as to condition their aid to the stance held by the different rulers of the municipalities or at other levels. If the mayor belonged to a party that opposed Milosevic, they would give him aid; if he belonged to Milosevic’s party, they would deny him aid. In other words,; this is how far they did go.
Carmen R. Báez.- I thank you all very much for this aspect we have just addressed concerning the participation of all of these countries in the Yugoslavian war.
I give the floor now to Polanco, to continue developing this topic about what Western Europe really is, a Western Europe that is telling us: Do as I say, not as I do.
Rogelio Polanco.- I thought I could speak about the other topic that was being discussed, because many of the things that happened in Kosovo also happened some years ago, during the invasion to Iraq, and, besides, Iraq is a good example of the West’s hypocritical double standard policy in defense of human rights.
For a decade now, Iraq has been suffering a brutal economic blockade imposed by the United Nations by the Security Council. This blockade has no justification whatsoever and has received the repudiation of the international community. It prevents it from buying any kind of products, including food and medicines.
This cruel blockade has been used only to establish the United States’ hegemony in an area that is considered vital for the interests of the United States and its allies. For this purpose, numerous pretexts and justification have been used; but actually what is behind all this is the interest of these western nations, especially the United States and Great Britain, in controlling oil reserves which many economic rivals from Europe and Japan depend on. From the geopolitical point of view, the region offers the United States and Europe an operation base from which to project their power towards the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The figures of the effects of this blockade are, therefore, an accusatory finger pointing to the West, especially the United States and Great Britain, a country which tamely yields to the United States, to the American interests in this regard.
The blockade has substantially worsened the consequences of the devastation the Iraqi people suffered during the Gulf War. As a matter of fact, it was also a reality show, a televised war. And I was, in fact, remembering this when we were talking about Kosovo, where they also announced with great fanfare the New World Order that was being established on the planet after the collapse of the socialist camp.
I think it would be important to mention some of these figures. First, 140,000 tons of explosives were dropped on Iraq, with eight times the power of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Where is the statement of the Human Rights Commission condemning the countries that caused that genocide? A million of these missiles were launched by aircraft and were jacketed with depleted uranium.
According to data from the United States Defense Department itself, 40 tons of this radioactive material are still in the southern part of Iraq. This is a logical explanation of the fact that there are whole towns where children are born blind or with congenital malformations in their hearts and their lungs, and that the number of miscarriages in women in advanced stages of pregnancy has increased. Where is the declaration of the Human Rights Commission condemning the countries that have done this?
Iraq became the testing ground for material that had not been tested and that was unknown until that moment.
There are other figures, such as, for example, those of UNICEF, that show that the blockade has caused infant mortality in the Iraqi people to rise from 56 to 131 per every 1,000 live births in children under five years of age during the past 10 years; or that infant mortality in children under one has risen from 17 to more than 100 per every 1,000 live births, while making it impossible to buy medicine and food to change this situation.
There are other sources that provide the following data: deaths due to diarrheic diseases have gone from 106 to 1,811 per month – the first figures are from 10 years ago, and the second figures are current ones –; infant’s deaths due to pneumonia, from 93 to 1,507 per month; infant’s deaths due to malnutrition, from 73 to 2,051 per month. There’s been an increase of children born with diseases such as harelips, from one out of every 1,200 to 1 out of every 600. In other words, the number has doubled. Where is the declaration of the Human Rights Commission condemning the countries responsible for this genocide?
More than 1.2 million people have died because of this blockade, and more than 6,000 children die each month because of this blockade. In other words, I believe that the responsibility of these countries that today continue to advocate for maintaining this criminal blockade against the Iraqi people is obvious. And these countries have not been condemned in that Human Rights Commission. What human rights can those countries that are trying to accuse Cuba speak of?
Nidia Díaz.- I want to expand on the topic of Iraq, because, really, if there is a place where, like in Yugoslavia, this double standard is seen, this double way of dealing with human rights, that place is Iraq.
In the case of Iraq, it is not something bygone, it is happening right now. And what Rojas said is happening: The United States and Great Britain have been able to maintain silence about the systematic bombing that has been going on since December until now, against Iraqi territory. In other words, not a day has gone by without an air raid on that country.
But now, on top of this, is the fact that they have a blockade imposed on them that does not allow them to meet the food needs of that population. And, as Polanco said, for example, last July 10,000 Iraqis died, and of them 7,000 were children. And we wonder: What right have Great Britain and the United States to carry on these bombings, this economic aggression against that people? Well, the only answer is the arrogance of an empire that is simply at the head of world hegemonism, or the colonial conceit which the perfidious Albion, as Great Britain is also known, does not want to renounce to.
I ask myself why no measures are taken in the Security Council to put an end to this tragedy that Iraq is suffering, although the subject is being continuously raised.
Some days ago in the Security Council, in the face of so many children dead in Iraq due to lack of food and to disease, there were public personalities from the United Nations, senior officials, to whom it occured to say that perhaps vitamin-enriched crackers could be distributed to alleviate the plight of the children in Iraq. If this were not tragic, if this were not immoral, it would be really funny. Vitamin-enriched crackers for a population that loses 7,000 children and 3,000 adults from hunger every month!
But the fact is that, besides, precisely because of this situation, some days ago, they discussed the possibility of expanding the terms of that clause that exists in the Security Council whereby Iraq is allowed to sell part of its oil production, in order to use part of that money to pay its debt to Kuwait and others – as a result of the invasion, as we all know, that slip Iraq made –, and use the other part to buy food for the people; but, evidently, this food, on the one hand, is blockaded and not sold to them, and on the other, is not enough.
Then, when it all seemed to indicate that everybody agreed that that was the way it should be, that it had to be that way, let us remember that some weeks ago they brought up the subject of the oil price, and then it was not convenient to give Iraq a larger sales quota for its oil because that was going to cause a drop in the price of crude oil. In other words, it is an immoral standard, an immoral way to judge, that only benefit these powers, these countries which, besides, are responsible for the underdevelopment of our peoples, for not letting us develop, they are responsible for all of those ethnic situations that have been created in our countries. In other words, they are responsible for everything and on top of that they dare attack us. Why?
Well, Iraq is simply attacked and the main reason is, or must be, or I think it is, simply, because they haven’t managed – I mean the United States, and Great Britain, which as Polanco said, has followed the U.S. designs in this aggression war against Iraq – to create an internal resistance movement able to overthrow the current government; the current government which, besides, by nationalizing oil, affected the strategic-commercial interests of the United States in relation to the crude.
In addition, because Iraq is a military testing ground; Iraq is not only this country that is blockaded, it is today a testing ground where the United States can put a label on those weapons, which reads: Combat proven, in other words, all the weapons tested in battle, and that is the best quality seal that a weapon can have in the market. Therefore, the United States has that military testing ground in Iraq where their weapons are tested and made more competitive in the international weapons market, even to the detriment of their own allies.
What right do these people have to do this? Why, then, do they accuse others of violating human rights when they are the ones who do it? What violation of human rights takes place in our country? On the contrary, our country does guarantee children’s education, does guarantee food. We are a country that is even an example of cooperation with the Third World countries. In other words, that accusation against Cuba is immoral.
But, finally, I would like to read to you an IPS dispatch which shows how this immorality is expressed by those who led the voting against Cuba in the Human Rights Commission.
The IPS cable reads as follows:
"In April of last year a scandal broke out in Great Britain after it was revealed that the most prestigious universities, the most pious charity institutions and the major hospitals invest their employees’ retirement funds in the weapons industry. Those responsible for education, charity and health explained that they had put their money on the enterprises that yield the highest incomes."
A spokesperson of Glasgow university said it plainly, according to the IPS dispatch:
"We are not making any moral distinctions. Our concern is that the investments be profitable, not that they be ethical."
If I were Taladrid I would tell our audience to draw their own conclusions, but, since I’m not Taladrid, I say: This is immoral; this is simply immoral, there is no other way to call it.
Rogelio Polanco.- Carmen, to add to what Nidia was saying, I think it is important to stress something, and it is that Iraq’s sovereignty is being limited at present. Not only because of all that has been mentioned here, because of the blockade, but because those bombings come from air exclusion zones that have been unilaterally established by the United States, Great Britain and France, and from which they have bombed civilians, cities, certain areas of Iraq’s territory, and that country is not allowed to fully exercise its sovereignty over all of its territory. This is part of the new concepts that imperialism is now using to restrict sovereignty in Third World countries.
But I want to briefly refer to a Reuters cable, dated yesterday, which states that the war in Iraq continues; in other words, what Nidia was also saying, that the bombings continue.
"Iraq said on Thursday" – that is, yesterday – "that the West’s aircraft raids in their northern and southern region have left 295 dead and 860 wounded since mid December 1998." In other words, these bombings have become systematic.
"Last week" – this is not something that happened long ago, it was last week – "Iraqi officials reported 15 dead and 18 wounded when western aircraft attacked various targets in southern Iraq."
In other words, to the eyes of the world a flagrant human rights violation is being committed against the Iraqi people, and where is the resolution of the Human Rights Commission condemning the United States and Great Britain for the dead, for the wounded?
But, Carmen Rosa, these developed nations, these imperialist nations are not only violating the Iraqi people’s human rights, they are also violating the rights of their own citizens. Let us remember what is being said about the disease known as the Gulf Syndrome, that has been a great scandal and is considered a medical enigma, that affects at least 100,000 U.S. soldiers and a considerable, undetermined number of Canadian and British soldiers, from the very first moment of the withdrawal of these forces from the war against Iraq in 1991; this is something that has appeared in the media and it is clear that the U.S. citizens themselves, and citizens of other imperialistic and European nations were used as cannon fodder, and that this has not been sufficiently investigated.
Here I have a report from the Rand Corporation, an American research center, located in California. Financed by the Pentagon, this center produced a 385-page document, after two years of study, that it placed at the disposal of the U.S. Department of Defense, where it is stated that pyrodostygmine bromide, known by the initials Pb, could be the cause of the Gulf Syndrome, this disease that has caused a lot of suffering for the soldiers that participated in that war, from the loss of hair to neurological and digestive disorders.
"The New York Times, the influential New York daily, assured that between 250,000 and 300,000 U.S. soldiers received Pb" – that is, this substance – "as an antidote to nerve gases before the Gulf War. Washington deployed 700,000 troops there."
This document goes on to say: "Beatrice Golomb, a San Diego scholar, is the author of the Rand Corporation Report. She found similarities between the effects of the Gulf Syndrome and the side effects of this pyrodostygmine bromide. Added to her research, there is an Israeli study showing that this substance, that has been in use since the fifties, penetrates into the brain more easily when the individual that receives it is under stressful conditions. This drug also increases muscular activity, reflexes as well as digestive and respiratory functions."
"No one doubts that being in or going to a war is a highly stressful situation, therefore, it could be expected that the use of this substance would have immediate consequences." In other words, it was known that that substance was going to have that result on the soldiers from these countries’.
"The Pentagon supplied these tablets to the troops it sent to the Gulf and then additional injections and medicines were needed to guarantee its preventive effects. The troops had to take 30 milligram tablets 3 times a day while the treatment lasted.
"Concerning the Gulf Syndrome there are other mysteries that question the Pentagon’s action with its own men and women, for there were also females in the war zone.
"The U.S. Defense Department did not speed up research into this disease, for although the Gulf Syndrome appeared at the end of the war, it was not until 1994 that it allocated funding for research." In other words, this fact was not expeditiously seen to, which was also a flagrant violation of the human rights of U.S. citizens.
"Moreover, it took more than a year for them to admit that some 100,000 U.S. soldiers had also been exposed to minimum doses of nerve gases during the destruction of a deposit of substances of the Iraqi chemical industry.
"The Pentagon still denies that that explosion could have had consequences for the troops." In other words, they still do not acknowledge it, even today.
"It is only now that the research conducted by the Pentagon acknowledged the suspicions about a possible cause for that illness.
"It was also learned that during the Gulf War the soldiers were exposed to pesticides, repellents and other nerve agents, supplied by their own forces to protect them." Obviously, as one of the people that participated in the Gulf War, a Canadian woman, says: "We are like mushrooms kept in the dark, that is how our governments have treated us."
A resolution of the Human Rights Commission should have condemned these things done by these nations, done by those who are trying to condemn Cuba and those who, of course, have no moral right to denounce us and, on top of this, continue to violate the human rights of other peoples and of their own citizens.
Carmen R. Baéz.- Polanco, I was listening to you, and you were asking where was the resolution of the Human Rights Commission condemning all of this that has occurred in Iraq, and I remember that only a few days ago in the National Television Newsreel – I think it was two or three days ago – they were commenting on the denunciation made by Iraq about the bombings, and the bombings with depleted uranium, the consequences that they were having on the civilian population, and, surprisingly, in that same newsreel we were told that Iraq was the one that had been condemned by the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, because of the internal situation in that country.
This has to do with the hypocrisy we have been discussing here, and to a certain extent up until now, we have been analyzing some forms of intervention in other countries that have begun proliferating as a pretext in the latter years, and in many of those forms, at least in those we have been talking about, some countries have participated – I think it is worthwhile pointing out – countries like Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, which voted against Cuba in the Human Rights Commission, that are condemning us. And these countries that have participated to a certain extent, or have pronounced themselves in favor of, or have supported forms of intervention, are also involved with NATO. I think it would be good if we could analyze what NATO is internally, what is its background. I think that in this case, Arsenio, who has been dealing with this kind of topic in Granma daily, could help us a little by enlightening us concerning what NATO is, what its background is, what NATO thinks about all of this, what its pronouncements are these days.
Arsenio Rodríguez.- Certainly.
Before we begin, I think that when the decision of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva was learnt by our people, they were justified in feeling indignation, and now, with the information they are receiving via these informative round tables, I suppose this indignation will be greater, especially because it is evident that that decision responds to the intention of the United States and its acolytes to condemn Cuba, for an issue so sensitive that Cubans cannot accept for many convincing reasons.
I want to express some ideas about those who voted in favor of the resolution against our country.
As you were saying, there are the United States and Canada, there are some countries which are members of the European Union, and both the former and the latter form part of NATO. There is also the puppet, whose name I don’t think is necessary to mention, and two countries from Eastern Europe that want to be capitalist.
At first glance, when one sees the list of all the countries that voted against us, the first thing you see is the father of the child: the United States. Now – and with this I’m trying to answer some of the questions my colleagues were asking, such as why there is not a condemning resolution; why they do not speak of this in the United Nations; why the press in these countries which are supposed to be so well informed do not say anything –, this fact and others that have been mentioned here demonstrate once again the confusion existing in the world at the end of this century.
Here are some of the countries that say what must be done and how, and which are trying to impose rules for the new millennium that will govern the fate of humanity.
What role do these nations play in the international community and how can you explain this double standard whereby, no matter what they do, nothing ever happens? First of all, there are former metropolises among them – and Nidia spoke about this – which destroyed our cultures, colonized us, enslaved us, the leading actors in world wars and who knows how many aggressions and military interventions against sovereign nations. They are, moreover, the main arms manufacturers and exporters, the current creditors of most of humanity, and now, to top it off, they are the world champions in the defense of human rights. I am talking about the Western European countries, Canada and the United States, which appear on the list; the other three simply follow these first-order countries tamely.
Well now, I have said that they were NATO members, but besides being NATO members, they also hold privileged seats in the U.N. Security Council, and along with this they have the power of veto. They are likewise members of the Group of 7, preside over and predominate in the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, they own the main media and are also the theoreticians of neoliberal globalization – and I’m only mentioning part of the power they have on this planet.
In short, what image do they show the world? Aggressors that appear as defenders of peace; creditors that present themselves as charitable souls worried about the development of the Third World, which, by the way, constitute the majority of the 6 billion people that make up the world.
Now, as you have requested, I want to dwell a bit on NATO.
This military organization celebrated its 50th anniversary, not with fireworks, as we have seen here, but with a massive, indiscriminate launching of missiles and bombs against Yugoslavia, and no longer having the USSR and communism, which were its main enemies since its inception, it has simply and dangerously found new foes in order to demonstrate their destructive power.
NATO – and this is very easy to demonstrate, the press, the news dispatches reflect it daily – has the biggest arsenal in history, enough to blow up this planet many times over. This has been reported quite a number of times; however, it is NATO members – those which voted against us – who express enormous concern about the possible and modest weapons with which we, born or living in poor or underdeveloped countries, try to defend ourselves.
During one of the summits of this warlike organization – and I would now like to go into details – held in Madrid in July 1997, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, William Cohen defined his country’s military doctrine – and when I say his country, I mean NATO, because it is the United States that leads NATO – based on the fundamental principle of fast attack.
In those times, when the Sec. General of the Atlantic Alliance, or NATO, was the Spaniard Javier Solana, who according to the press of his very own country and of Europe, was transformed from a tame dove into a hawk – I say this because that man was also a pacifist and, all of a sudden, he turned into a hawk leading a war organization – and toward the end of 1999, Solana stated that the new task for him and the organization was to develop a new strategic concept for that organization; however nothing had been clearly determined until that moment.
After Yugoslavia he was replaced in his position by George Robertson, former Defense Minister of Great Britain, who is defined as an advocate of an identity of European defense, a long-standing aspiration, an old wish of Europeans, although when he was inaugurated in this new post, he firmly expressed that the key policy of that organization was to maintain the strong links that exist with the United States in the defense of Europe. In other words, on the one hand they want to have their own defense, and on the other, they inevitably continue depending on the power of the United States.
It has not been said here, or was only partly said, that during the aggression against Yugoslavia, the Americans were the ones who launched the missiles, gave the orders, and they were simply the troops who followed them.
Some analyst, a European to be exact, said that perhaps this gentleman – the new Secretary General – formated to this post as a reward for his belligerent attitude during the aggression on Yugoslavia. He is considered to be a pragmatic person not prone to political discussions.
Some additional information. Well, Queen Elizabeth herself gave him the title of Lord of Port Allen, -the name of the place where he was born, in the heart of a family of policemen.
We now know who the person is; let us see how he thinks.
What were the objectives posed by the aforesaid Lord?
He says it in one phrase: "My first priority is military capacity; the second and the third are military capacity, because the alliance’s credibility depends on the military capacity we may have.
This, Carmen Rosa, is the man in charge of implementing NATO ‘s new strategic concept.
Carmen R. Báez.- De la Hoz is asking for the floor, I suppose it will be to speak about an intellectual like Solana, right?
Pedro de la Hoz.- Yes, unfortunately, to speak about an intellectual such as the Spaniard Javier Solana.
Javier Solana, a Spaniard, was Secretary General of NATO precisely at a most terrible moment, and I would describe him as a very peculiar person, who is part of the top power echelon of these European States, which from NATO and under the protection of U.S. imperialism, are trying to become the world’s gendarmes. Because that is what they are trying to do, a global police force has been unleashed thanks to that organization.
These people intend, but very seriously and very dangerously, to impose uncivilized practices that belie the cultural tradition of that continent.
Solana’s transvestism – and I cannot classify it any other way – is very eloquent. At one point, this man tenaciously, and I think even sincerely, opposed Spain’s entry into NATO; nevertheless, he became its Secretary General, he became the head of the Atlantic Alliance. But his transformation was a lot more drastic than it may sound, for Solana was minister of culture, and everyone knows what holding that position means, the values that are defended from that position. And I clearly remember how Solana, at a given moment, opposed and spoke a lot about the dangers of the audiovisual invasion of Europe by American subculture, the subculture the Europeans were victims of.
However, there he was heading NATO, opening a terrible stage – as I was saying –, defending values that are thousands of light years away from any type of cultural value, turning into a battering ram of the Yankee hawks, being himself a hawk. And there he was in NATO also, inaugurating this stage with a genocidal trigger. This is the stage that Arsenio referred to in his presentation.
García Márquez, noting Solana’s transvestism, expressed stupor and a feeling of irony in a wonderfully written chronicle – that, by the way, was read around the world – when he realized how this man had changed in such an incredible way.
For me, it is simply a regrettable case which summarizes the inconsistency and the moral baseness of those who are in power in NATO. And that is the same inconsistency seen in the anti-Cuban Resolution approved by the HRC.
Carmen R. Baéz.- Arsenio, you spoke about NATO’s new strategic concept. I think we cannot leave it at that, but should delve a little deeper into it.
Arsenio Rodríguez.- I think that we must also delve deeper into this topic because it is a very important one not only for the countries that until very recently were under NATO’s influence, but, simply, because it is a new concept which affects everyone, in the Caribbean, in any part of the world. And I will explain why.
In essence, its about trying to make official their right to global intervention for various reasons. This doctrine was made known precisely after the unjustified genocide against Yugoslavia during the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of that organization.
Now, what is the basis of this doctrine and what are the pretexts the NATO people adduce for its implementation?
I took some notes and I want to be exact so that our people know this argument, because, I repeat, it affects us all.
The text of this doctrine reads: "With the aim of promoting peace and stability in Europe, and in a wider context, the European allies increase their capacity for action, including the increase of their military power."
Further on, they speak about NATO’s security, which, according to them, is subject to military and non military risks that it assumes" – and here is another citation from the guiding document – "...various directions and they are usually hard to predict. Among these risks are the uncertainty, the instability in the Euro-Atlantic region and its surroundings and the possibility of regional crises in the periphery of the Alliance."
They deal with other concepts such as: "The security interests of the Alliance may be affected by other risks of a broader nature.
"The combined military forces of the Alliance must be ready to contribute to the prevention of conflicts and carry out operations in response to unforeseen crises." In other words, it covers everything.
"The size, readiness, availability and deployment of the Alliance’s military forces will reflect its commitment to its collective defense and the development of operations to respond to the crises, sometimes at short notice, far from their headquarters, including operations far from the allies’ territories.
They then repeat that "NATO forces can be called on to act beyond its borders". I am not repeating the same paragraph; I am just showing that in every paragraph they insist, obsessively, on the fact that they can act anywhere.
And as a climax to this virtual declaration of war against everything that, according to NATO’s interpretation, may jeopardize its security, it assures – and this is another citation from the document – "It is more likely that the possible threats to the Alliance’s security arise from regional ethnic conflicts or other conflicts beyond its territory, and from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their vectors."
I think this is more than enough for intelligent listeners to understand.
Now, to state it clearly, what does NATO’s new policy consist of? NATO began in Yugoslavia – a country that was attacked without a prior declaration of war, a sovereign nation whose sovereignty was ignored – its new strategic concept that, according to Solana, the fellow Pedro described, "marks the transition of an alliance mainly concerned with its collective defense to one that will defend democratic values both within and without our borders".
NATO then becomes an offensive alliance that will act in what they call "the Euro-Atlantic periphery". This simply means in any part of the world, that is, in our countries of the Third World.
The new strategic concept describes how NATO will act in the face of so-called "global threats", which include the illegal possession of weapons of mass destruction, drug-trafficking, terrorism, large-scale and blatant violations of human rights, and internal conflicts within the States.
Quite simply, NATO has bestowed itself with the right to undertake so-called "humanitarian intervention", which is nothing less than the right to undertake intervention, on a global scale, in any Third World country, under humanitarian, or other sorts of pretexts. I believe that this sort of definition is very clear.
As I said, and I repeat, I believe that it is very easy to understand, we are at the mercy of the interpretation of those who can decide to attack at any given moment, using any excuse, afterwards justifying it as the UN Security Council, and perhaps economically helping to rebuild something that was destroyed at some meeting, whether the Group of 7, the IMF, or the World Bank, because, as I said before, they are all the same: they are the same ones who bomb, they are the same ones who impose the veto deciding whether or not to implement sanctions, they are the same ones who later give the money in order to help you, or not help you, with what they themselves destroyed, and, by the way, there is aid of this sort that never arrives – it is spoken of, it is agreed, but then it does not arrive.
Them, the group that makes up the warring elite of this planet, and in particular the United States, we already know that they decide everything. They do not just restrict themselves to vouching for the good behavior of the countries that help them in the fight against drugs, the little bit of paper that every year says whether it is good or bad, to whom some or other loan should be given, and finally, now they want to impose themselves as judges of the world, and furthermore, with the power of weapons, and with additional difficulty that there is no appealing against their sentences.
However, the cultured Europe that has joined them on these military adventures and that considers as backward people or people of a lower level not only the immigrants arriving in their countries from under-developed countries, but also Blacks, half breeds, Indians, gypsies, are also considered the Whites from Eastern Europe – which was socialist, and is now trying to be capitalist – as second class citizens.
I want to conclude by recalling the words of comrade Fidel, when he was talking about this issue during the first working session of the Summit of Heads of State and Government from Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union, held in Rio de Janeiro on June 28, 1999.
"There is a political matter of great importance that I must mention, regarding NATO’s new strategic concept. I quote four paragraphs.
"One: ‘With the aim of promoting peace and stability in Europe, and in a broader context, the European allies increase their capacity for action, including an increase in their military power.’
"Two: ‘The security of the Alliance continues to be subject to a wide range of military risks. These risks are in the uncertainty and instability in the Euro-Atlantic region and surrounding areas, and the possibility of regional crises in the periphery of the Alliance.’
"Three: ‘There will be a greater number of elements of force, in terms of appropriate preparation in order to undertake prolonged operations, whether within the territory of the Alliance, or elsewhere.’
"Four: ‘It is more likely that the possible threats to the security of the Alliance come from regional and ethnic conflicts, or other crises beyond the territory of the Alliance, as well as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their vectors.’
"I want to make three very brief comments and questions.
"One: We would like them to clarify, if possible, whether or not Latin American and Caribbean countries are included in the Euro-Atlantic periphery as defined by NATO.
"Two: The European Union, after much debate, has given its support to a declaration by this Summit, which says: ‘this strategic association is based on complete respect for international law and the proposals and principles contained in the United Nations Charter, the principles of non-intervention, respect for sovereignty, equality among States, and self-determination’. Does this mean that the United States is also committing itself to respecting the principles included in this agreement by its allies? What would Europe’s attitude be if the United States decided, by itself, to start dropping bombs and launching missiles, under whatever pretext, against any one of the Latin American and Caribbean countries gathered here?
"Three: The whole world knows that Israel, for example, has hundreds of nuclear weapons, built with western aid, regarding which they have maintained an exceptional, air-tight silence.
"Could this mean that any given day, NATO, on the basis of the aforementioned point number four, in virtue of a secret proliferation not only of weapons of mass destruction, but also mass production of those weapons, could go ahead and drop thousands of bombs on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Israeli and Palestinian cities, destroy electricity grids, industries, roads and all the essential means of these peoples, directly killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians, and threatening the existence of the rest of the population? Could this be the civilised solution to such problems? Could they guarantee that it would not lead to a nuclear war? Where would NATO’s new and unsustainable doctrine lead us?
"Having merely outlined my ideas regarding this delicate topic, I am sorry, but I have nothing more to say.
Having asked these questions during the first session of the Summit, the president of Brazil, Fernando E. Cardoso, who was presiding over the meeting, said that these questions were very important and that he hoped that they would be answered in the private meeting of the Heads of State and Government which was due to take place immediately afterwards. However, in that meeting, which, according to diplomatic sources, lasted about two hours, not one of the EU or NATO member representatives said a single word about the issue.
These are the comments I wanted to make, Carmen Rosa.
Carmen R. Báez .- I remember, just as you say, Arsenio, that this meeting was held in June 1999; I do not remember if the questions were answered. What is more, when you began to talk about this new strategic concept of NATO’s, when they were talking about the whole Euro-Atlantic area, you said: "In other words, us, the Third World countries". That is the answer that we ourselves gave, they did not reply.
Arsenio Rodríguez – No, no, and I would like to make that clear to you. All the authors involved in this new concept of NATO’s are the same ones who are now promoting and supporting these resolutions in Europe, as if it was a form of revenge or a way of responding, which is actually what politicians traditionally do in support of the United States. But it seemed to be in answer to the Commander in Chief’s speech, because, actually, as they do not have an answer, they come out with revenge, the rejection, the proposal to sanction something that will really hurt us.
Carmen R. Báez – I believe that they answer us almost every day, the thing is, we have to figure it out. They answer us in the Commission on Human Rights, they answer us with their actions against other countries, they answer us all the time looking at us over their shoulder, without realising that there are countries here with an incredible amount of dignity, and if they are not capable of responding, we will denounce them.
That is the battle that our diplomats are having today in the Commission on Human Rights, as our Chancellor told us a few days ago.
Well, I think that we have talked enough about aggression, violence and hypocrisy. And talking of hypocrisy, I think that Europe has other things as well in its daily life, which at times do not seem of any great magnitude, and since they are in the news almost every day, and they are accumulating, it seems as if some of the sufferings being experienced in Europe do not affect us.
I believe that there are comrades here who could help us out here, to discuss some of these issues.
You, Lazaro, do you wish to speak?
Lázaro Barredo – No, afterwards.
Carmen R.Báez – Is it to talk about Europe’s hypocrisy?
Lázaro Barredo – It is not so much about Europe, but about one of their strategic allies, who I do not want to overlook, which is a member of NATO, a neighbour, an extension of the United States to the North – Canada: I want to talk about Canada.
In actual fact, when the issue of the Alliance was discussed in the United Nations Security Council, the country which spoke out loudest during the discussion of this programme was, of course, the United States – the country with the greatest interest in dragging Europe along with it, and making them more subordinate by the day.
We are paying the cost of challenging them, and not giving ourselves up to that unipolarity, but even the Europeans give themselves over, and we could give many examples of that here.
I was saying that when this was discussed in the UN, one of the countries that gave most support to the United States’ stance was Canada, and I believe the Netherlands, if I am not mistaken, and right there, in the United Nations, they began to talk about how this policy could not be held back by concepts of sovereignty, that that was an obsolete concept, and that all the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter itself, should be revised. That is the level of audacity that they reached within the world government.
I believe that Canada’s stand – and I say it again - was fairly driven, with regard to this. That makes me ask three questions that I think it would be a good idea to raise at this round table, because I think they are interesting, and they are to do with this very situation that Canada is in.
Is Canada free from the internal conflict regarding the problems of secession that it is facing in Quebec, which are serious? What would happen if an intense war were to one day be unleashed between the French-speaking Canadians and the English-speaking Canadians, and the security of the United States and the strategic interests of the Alliance were put at risk? Would Canada accept NATO taking action on its territory?
What we have to consider is this - if this measure applies equally to the whole world, and since they do not speak , do not say, do not answer, do not clarify the questions which the Third World, and in particular, the small countries, have regarding these problems, it would be interesting to raise these questions here, and see if we come up with an explanation for this.
Carmen R. Báez – From the Canadians themselves and NATO.
Lázaro Barredo – Well, I suppose from NATO and the Canadians as well, if they want to. They form an active part of NATO, they are frontline allies with the United States and the Europeans in all concepts of the Alliance.
Carmen R. Báez – I said – and let us raise the questions, as Lázaro quite rightly said, to see if answers can be found - ,when Lázaro asked to speak, that here at this round table up till now, we have talked about hypocrisy, violence, wars of intervention; but there are many things going on in every day life, sufferings that are accumulating in Europe, and at times seem as if they are not affecting us, but they are affecting us a bit.
I would like Reynaldo Taladrid to help us to expand on some of these issues, like Europe’s hypocrisy, since he was saying that he had something regarding this that he wanted to discuss.
Reynaldo Taladrid – Look, I am going to suggest something: let’s use the same language as NATO, let’s move from the peripheral – which is the rest of the world – to the interior, let’s go into Europe. I want to talk about Europe on the inside, about western Europe, and specifically about the countries that voted in Geneva in favour of condemning the situation regarding human rights in Cuba.
History always plays a role in these things, and I think that some of these countries, of those governments are, to a certain extent, a product – to a greater or lesser extent – of their history.
If we are talking about history in Europe, I once read that Europe was the continent where, in the history of humanity, the State had killed the most people, in relation to the population. Think about it, in relation to the population – the number of people in Europe. And who does not remember, whilst we are on the subject, how many people were burned during the Spanish Inquisition. There are those who say that it is an Italian-Spanish co-production, because it had a very strong religious element; but, well, let’s just say, for argument’s sake the Spanish Inquisition.
However, at times, history – the statistics from that era are not the same as nowadays, they were not as exact, nor trustworthy – and with time, it has been discovered that in the same era as the Spanish Inquisition, for example, Henry VIII of England, killed – and I say killed, because the State executed them – more people than the Spanish Inquisition itself, including one of his eight wives. Those of you who know about history, know that Henny VIII decided to execute one of his wives in order to resolve a legal religions problem.
In Sweden – which at that time was not exactly Sweden – in what is the Scandinavian peninsula, more women were burned, accused of witchery, than in the whole of history, and the execution of women has always been a delicate matter. And what about the legal proceedings that took place at that time in France, and in the South, in the Mediterranean, which included various areas where, without any form of proof, people accused of robbery had their eyes gouged out.
That happened in that Europe which in actual fact – I repeat, the statistics prove it – is where the State has killed more people in relation to the population, in the entire history of humanity as we know it.
Now, let us return to the present day, what happens? There are many things and there are many indexes of human rights, and many forms of violation of human rights, and many violations of human rights; but I want to concentrate on one, and I used the word assassination. I want to talk now about the extra-judicial executions which the countries that voted against Cuba in Geneva have carried out, and carry out.
Extra-judicial execution is when a person is killed without having been convicted at a trial. I repeat, the State kills people who have not been convicted by any legal process. And we are going to start down in the South, with Spain and France, both of whom voted against Cuba.
Right, a little bit of history. Spain is a country made up of various nationalities, and has, what is more, three different languages – Catalonian, Basque and Castilian are spoken -, and this has been handled in very different ways during the history of Spain; but given, the rise and upsurge of certain politically motivated, extremist groups, the modern Spanish State – I am going to talk about the modern Spanish State, modern Spain, economically adapted to Europe, member of NATO, already leaving behind all that they classed as their backwardness – decided to deal with this problem. How did they deal with it? You know that the Basque region borders on France, and for this reason, is partly in France and partly in Spain. What did they do? In June 1984 – usually in these cases, money appears in the midst of the affair –something secret is signed, that they called the Castilian Pact, I believe it was signed in the Paseo de la Castellana, in Madrid, by the French police and the Spanish police. What did they commit themselves to? France committed itself to providing the logistics, and to co-operating in material terms, with all the activities against the Basques, and Spain, in return for this cooperation, promised to buy 130,000 million pesetas worth of weapons from France, and they fulfilled their promise, that is what happened.
At that time something called the GAL came into being. I am going to tell you what GAL stands for – this is an institution that the Spanish created -: Antiterrorist Liberation Group. I think that if the Greek sophists were to see how words are used nowadays, they would go green with envy. Listen to this: Antiterrorist Liberation Group.
What did the GAL do? I am going to tell you what the GAL did, in conjunction with the authorities and the French police, from 1984 onwards.
There are more than 100 known cases of torture.
They placed four bombs in establishments where there were Basque militants.
They kidnapped In Europe – not in Argentina or Chile, not under Pinochet or Videla –, 17 people, and currently there are almost ten – and I say almost ten because some of the cases are not clear, and I want to be exact – missing persons, without the mothers of the Plaza de Bilbao without any of that, because there was not much talk about that there, more than ten missing persons in the middle of Europe, and in total they have assassinated, or rather – I must not turn into a sophist like them – they have executed, extrajudicially, 41 people – all of them Basque.
Do you want an example of how this happened? I am going to tell you about just three of the cases – probably the best known ones. A commando of these GAL went into the Hendayis Bar and opened fire with a machine gun, to kill two Basque militants who were in there; but not only did it kill the two Basque militants, it also left ten others seriously wounded, with lasting injuries – innocent bystanders. That is to say, they walked into a bar and machined gunned them. It’s not like you shoot one person with a sniper; no, no, no, they opened fire with a machine gun in the bar. Now then, in 1985 – Spain is already a member of NATO, a modern, integrated country that has overcome all those complexes about whether Africa ended in the Pyrenees, and all those racist complexes that they had – they tortured to death, in a police station, in the middle of Madrid – that modernized city of Madrid, full of advertising, and very European things – a Basque militant. They tortured him, they did not know when to stop, maybe they could have learnt something from the Chilean or Argentinian military, who know plenty about that sort of thing, and they killed him in the police station; but the situation became complicated, and they could not cover it up. If anyone is in any doubt, even in Spain, the Basque was called Joxe Arregi, check it out if you want.
Finally, in 1989, even closer to the present day, there was a group of five Parliamentary representatives in a restaurant in Madrid – Parliamentary representatives – there were four Basques and another group of people with them; the GAL walked in and opened fire with a machine gun in the restaurant, they killed one of the representatives, and left two others, with their parliamentary immunity and all, seriously wounded.
These are the GAL in Spain and France.
Let us move on to another of the countries accusing Cuba: Germany.
In Germany as well, especially in the seventies – in my opinion, this is left over from the extreme unconformity of the young people in the sixties, in Europe who were anti the system, and I say anti the system, because it was not the government that bothered them; what they talked about in Europe in the sixties, was changing the system, and changing the system is much more complex than changing a party or a government – there were various demonstrations; by those who submitted to the system, those who became critical of the system, and even those who adopted an extremist stand. There were all kinds of groups, but in Germany there were several.
What did the German State do? Well, the German State, at that time was the FRG – even though legally it is still called the Federal Republic of Germany, but at that time there were two. The Federal Republic of Germany, then a member of NATO, part of free Europe, the free part, the good part, believed in a high security prison system. Well, these high security prisons had their typical characteristics.
Just listen to the name of this prison and see if before I finish someone can work out the association with a certain period of German history: one of these high security prisons was called Home of Stone. These prisons – it is a shame that neither Patricia nor Aurora are here, the two psychologists – they were painted all in white; that is to say, the prisoner saw nothing but white, and at times they could not talk to anybody for months, because food was given to them by means of a system whereby not even the jailer could speak.
Now, you have got to be really evil to do that. Listen to what the BND did, which is what the FRG secret police was called at that time. In one of these prisons – they had managed to win over a large group of these militants, but there were some people missing that were on the outside and they had not been able to find them – they themselves organised an escape, with some people that they had managed to bribe in there; they dug a hole themselves, set up an explosion, and several escaped so that they could then follow their tracks, and be lead to those they had not been able to locate.
I am going to tell you what happened, how not all of them were found; there were too many, but I am going to tell you about just two of those that were found.
In Baden station – a train station in Baden – they found one who they had not been able to capture; this secret commando arrived – these are State police, this is not something that is out of control, they are paid, check out who they are responsible to, who monitors them and all that – and they surrounded the man and shot him. But, what happened? There was a person in the station who was film amateur and had a camera with him – video films were not so widespread as they are now, we are talking about the end of the seventies – and when he heard the shots, he filmed, and the most amazing thing is that he filmed at the exact moment when, after shooting the man, who fell down, police in civilian clothes came in and deliver the coup the grâce; in other words, that is how they finished him off: right there in the station they fired the coup the grâce the coup de grace. This film was passed on to German television, so anyone who cannot remember the case, can look for the film.
Of course, this was not taken to Geneva this year, or to any Commission on Human Rights, nor was it sanctioned by the FRG, which at that time was the bastion of the fight against the evil empire, as Reagan called it.
So, what happened to those that they managed to capture, those who they did not finish off on the street, those that they did not kill? I am going to tell you what happened, and I want to be precise about this, so that there is no doubt, in case anyone has forgotten the history of Europe.
There were quite a few women in these groups. When they succeeded in capturing Margrit Shillen, they accused her of criminal association and possession of weapons. In other words, they could not charge her with anything serious. Criminal association means that she was part of a group, but does not prove anything serious; and the fact that she possessed illegal weapons, maybe she just did not have a licence for a weapon. Look at what they did to her in a German prison, this book says: "They put her in solitary confinement – let us assume that she had behaved badly - , they handcuffed her behind her back to take her out of the cell, handcuffed behind her back for one hour every day so that she could move about; there was light in the cell night and day, an empty cell, without any sort of furniture, prison clothing without any personal belongings, and forced to be naked during the evening", all this was done to a woman in prison.
Let me see if I can ask our colleagues at the Division of Multilateral Affairs of MINREX, if there is any report against or any condemnation of any of these European countries, at that time. I am sure that there is not, but let us be more precise.
Look, this was a famous case: Ulrike Meinhof, who was one of the leaders of one of the groups we described. They captured Ulrike Meinhof, she was one of those that they managed to capture afterwards by following the trail of the others, and suddenly – and this was not the only case, I am not going to tell you about all of them, just two others – she was found dead in her cell. "Supposedly, she hung herself with several towels that she managed to tie together ( the book states). The German authorities would not let anyone see the body, and argued that she had committed suicide due to tensions within her group."
I want to say two things to you: Think about this, she is held prisoner in solitary confinement, and they say that there were tensions within their group. I don’t know who she spoke to or how; but that is not the strangest thing about it, the strangest thing is that there was only one towel in the cell, which was this size (he demonstrates), in other words, she could not tie various towels together inside the cell.
In 1977 they, the BND, managed to capture three people: Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan Carl Raspe. Now then, Jan Carl Raspe and Baader were found dead in their cells. Listen to this: "They had been shot several times at close range. According to the authorities, Raspe had a pistol in his hands. However, Ensslin – the other one found dead in his cell –is said to have been found hanged in his cell by a radio lead" – none of these cells had radios. "All cases were officially declared to be suicide", and, of course, no investigation was held.
I have already talked about Germany. I would like to end up by talking about a country that has been very active in condemning Cuba; a country that exerted pressures, and whose speeches are the most militant. It is a country where the Greek sophists could also join in, given the multitude of names it has, and do not want to waste time on that, it could be the United Kingdom, it could be Great Britain, some call it England, and others call it the Treacherous Albion. So, someone asked me: Why Treacherous? Well, let us see why it is the Treacherous Albion.
It does not matter what name you give it, Great Britain has got a serious conflict on its hands in Northern Ireland. You know that there is a Catholic region in Ireland, England is Protestant, and they occupy Northern Ireland.
Now, I want you to have an idea about what Northern Ireland is like, because, even if you have seen films about it, sometimes you do not really have an idea.
I had the chance to speak to various people who have personally witnessed the things that I am going to relate here.
Northern Ireland is an occupied country. Listen, there are television cameras in the streets in each area, and the English have developed a system whereby they can instantly close off a neighbourhood with huge iron things, and all the people inside are held captive, in order to carry out police searches or rather, police raids, and do just as they want. Ah!, and they have helicopters that fly overhead. There are people who fought in the Vietnam war, and today compare Northern Ireland with what they experienced in Vietnam, with the helicopters, and all that environment.
Now then, what happens? Just so that you have an idea. I had a lot of papers about Ireland. Actually, out of consideration for you, and not to show excessive violence in the media, I did not bring all the information that I had. In 1998 – think about it, that was little more than a year ago – they carried out one of these raids and closed off the Garvahy Road – they are looking for IRA people, the Irish Republican Army – and they start machine gunning at close range, and amongst those that they killed, they killed a priest and several children in the middle of the street. What happened? No investigation was held, and nobody was accused, and there is a lawyer, called Rosemary Nelson, who started to try and make accusations and present evidence against those responsible for the slaughter.
Well, do you know what happened to Rosemary Nelson? One day – and this is so that you can see, there is no General Contreras there, nor any Miami counter-revolutionaries, nor Omega 7 – the lawyer, Rosemary Nelson, right there in England, or in the Treacherous Albion, whatever you want to call it, opened her car up one morning, turned on the engine, and a highly powerful bomb exploded, which killed her and destroyed everything around her, and up until today, no investigation has been held about the slaughter on the streets or who put the bomb in the lawyer’s car.
Now then, I want you to understand that this is not an isolated incident, nor are they isolated groups. I do not know if many people will remember something that happened in 1982.
In 1982, there was a group of prisoners from the Irish Republican Army who were being treated as ordinary prisoners. They demanded: we are political prisoners – and I am going to tell you a bit about English prisons, which is another issue that they talk about a lot in Geneva, about prisons, conditions in prisons, many of these things. They demanded to be recognised as political prisoners – what is more, they wanted to be recognised as prisoners of war, etc. Thatcher, who was in power at the time, refused to recognise them as such. They began a hunger strike – and for the younger people here, who may not remember – what happened? The English government of the United Kingdom, of Great Britain, or the Treacherous Albion, let the 10 prisoners die.
You can call this what you want; you can say: No, they voluntarily decided to go on hunger strike. Yes, but the fact is that anywhere in the world, when a person is on hunger strike, and reaches the point of losing consciousness, you feed them artificially, in order to prevent them from dying, and the English government let the 10 of them die in prison. Call it what you want.
Finally, look at this (He shows it), a little bit of data: " Between 1983 and 1991, the United Kingdom government has received more accusations than any other country in the European Convention on Human Rights. In 1971 the British authorities used sensory deprivation devices as a way of torturing 14 people under interrogation" – in other words, a device, which as I understand it renders the person senseless. Of course, England is the place that has invented most devices related to torture, they invented the plastic bullet; that is to say, it seems like they have the imagination – in any case, for this. In more than 14 cases it was proven that they had used devices that deprived the human body of its senses, and then they could do anything to you, and it seems that they were removing some nerves, I do not know how they managed it. It has got to be pretty twisted, I cannot even imagine it.
"Between 1971 and 1975, more than 2,000 people were imprisoned without trial in Northern Ireland." Two thousand people imprisoned without trial!
Now then, listen to this: "Between 1969 and 1994, 357 people were killed" – and the word used is ‘killed’, exactly that, it is not executed – "by the police and British soldiers, and 911 people have been killed by pro-British assassins." And I want to pause here.
Generally speaking – and this is about racism, I am sure of that – you say to someone: death squads, and due to years and years of information, they always think of Robert D’Aubuisson in El Salvador, and the Triple A in Argentina, etc.
Well, the English have developed death squads in Ireland, and I am going to talk to you very briefly about those death squads. They have another name , they have an English acronym, but so that our comrades, the people, can understand, let’s call them what they are, death squads. The English created death squads, and they are operating, and it appears that they are more efficient, because I do not remember it being said that the Triple A in Argentina had killed 911 people. I do not remember the exact data, but I do not think that the Triple A in Argentina, and all those groups, ever managed to kill 911 people, like the English have done.
Listen to this. In 1972, something happened, which is known as Bloody Sunday, these death squads killed 13 civilians in Derry – Derry is in Northern Ireland. Now, nobody, to this very day, has been charged with this massacre. These were not IRA militants, these were civilians that they killed; I do not know, maybe they made a mistake, or MI6 did not function properly, I do not know what happened. MI5 is what they call the internal security service, and MI6 the foreign one. No doubt the Soviets dealt hefty blows to both these security services, there are several famous cases.
In 1989 – listen to this – a woman was killed, shot in the back by a soldier from the English army – this is not a policeman, this is a soldier in the English army. This soldier was tried and fined, and after paying the fine he returned to the army, without any restriction of duties. This was in 1989, which is when the onslaught of Cuba, regarding human rights began, during that time, in Geneva.
Now, this is the best of the cases. It reads: Brian Nelson – that is his name; if anyone back there in England is in any doubt, check it out – is a British soldier, he became an active member of the death squad which goes by the acronym UDA, those are the initials in English used during the seventies. He was imprisoned for having kidnapped and tortured a Catholic man. Having completed his brief sentence, Nelson returned to the death squad, the UDA, and went to – listen to this – the British Counter-intelligence. In 1980 he began to work very closely with MI5; in other words, the English Counter-intelligence Security Service. He became an intelligence director of the death squads, and was responsible for selecting the targets for the death squads. He was the one who chose who was going to be assassinated.
From 1988 to 1994 alone, the pro-British death squads were responsible for killing more than 200 people in Northern Ireland.
So, thIs is what has been going on in the heart of Europe.
I think that it was Pedro who talked here about the Cultured Europe. Personally, I do not like that term very much, because I do not know if Europe, Pedro, I do not know if you think so, is any more cultured than in the sixties. I think that they watch more American television, I do not know if they are more cultured than in the sixties, that is why I am not sure about that term.
But, anyway, having seen this, I would like to ask him – since we have talked about a... right? – why do they call England the Treacherous Albion? Well, Albion is an historical term, both cultural and treacherous. No further comments.
Carmen R. Báez – I think that Pedro de la Hoz would also like to talk a bit about something that is related to this issue that Taladrid was talking about, or about Europe itself?
Pedro de la Hoz would also like to say something which relates to the issue that Taladrid was talking about.
Pedro de la Hoz – Yes, Carmen Rosa, this is such a broad issue that there is more to be said, following on from Taladrid. There are several connotations, all of them are truly perfidious, perverse, in the way human rights are manipulated by the countries that voted in favour of the anti-Cuban Resolution, and that have a pretty dirty record. They have absolutely no moral right to accuse others, when they need to resolve very serious problems within their own countries.
Taladrid put this problem within a historical perspective, and you have to see how violence and repression are elements of European history, and are firmly rooted in the social fate of these peoples of Western Europe.
It is no secret how the workers movements were repressed, how students have been repressed, how any sort of demonstration of social uprising has been repressed with tremendous brutality. And there are examples of previous and current police brutality that must be denounced, that sometimes appear in films, there is an abundance of documentation, and yet, there is no follow-up, and no condemnation of these situations. I think that this round table should make this quite clear.
Our people should be aware that many of these countries that voted against Cuba, have historically been repressive, brutal, and have imprisoned people at will.
The level of cynicism is so great that at times they hide the fact that in the case of Ulster, as Taladrid was pointing out, they have used methods of suppressing the people that are increasingly sophisticated, that the English industry is creating for this macabre speciality. One of them is the famous plastic bullet, which you mentioned. However, the ultimate cynicism of the governmental authorities and the British police authorities, can be seen in the fact that – according to a report that I have here at my disposal – in 1998 the number of people who suffered head and upper-body injuries from plastic bullets, was greater than in previous years.
Listen, this is a report from English sources – from those famous human rights organisations, which at times you do not know if they are dealing with human rights or "twistings" – that says that plastic bullets should be fired at below the waist, so as not to cause lasting injury to the victims.
Listen, a plastic bullet hurts wherever it hits, and what is more, the mere fact of inventing a plastic bullet is an act of criminal sophistication that is unacceptable.
Reinaldo Taladrid – Pedro, I have some data here. Plastic bullets are made of hard rock, with a synthetic substance called PVC. They are 3.5 inches long, and travel at a speed of 160 miles per hour. According to the United States Army, they can cause such severe harm, that the result may be permanent injuries and wounds, what is more they can split the liver if they hit you in the back. Seventeen people have been killed and thousands wounded. Not a single member of the English security forces has been charged for any of these offenses.
Pedro de la Hoz – But, what is more, if they hit the kneecap they can quite easily shatter it; and if they hit the groin, well you can imagine what happens, and the groin is below the waist. This is how cynical they can be. We have a lot of things to say about this situation of police brutality which takes place in Great Britain, in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Reinaldo Taladrid – Or the Treacherous Albion.
Pedro de la Hoz – Or the Treacherous Albion, yes. And they are perfectly well reported and documented, and hardly ever spoken about in Geneva.
To be fair, it is spoken about in the UN, in a UN organisation: in the Committees of the General Assembly. But since the General Assembly does not have follow-up mechanisms for these problems, they are left unsettlled, they are not treated seriously, and they end up coming out clean in the eyes of the public. I am going to refer to two cases, so that you can see how the British manipulate the law and repression:
In 1997, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers concluded that the Northern Irish police had carried out activities that constituted intimidation, obstruction and harrassment of the lawyers who defend the cause of the Irish nationals.
The Special Rapporteur recommended that on this occasion, these practices be investigated, and a judicial investigation be held into the murder of the lawyer who was killed in 1989, in suspicious circumstances – just like the lawyer that you were talking about Taladrid. They appointed officials to investigate these claims, but afterwards the thing went quiet, the case was protracted , and there was no full conclusion.
However, the State Attorney General for Great Britain decided at the same time not to press charges against any of the seven policemen who were accused of forging the evidence that had given rise to a judicial error in the case against one of these famous cases of violence in the battle by the extremist groups. In other words, their behavior is hypocritical, and there is a double standard in these cases, which is unacceptable.
And there is one important element, which I do not want to leave out: what a UN Committee said against torture in 1998, when it stated its concern about the number of deaths under police custody in Great Britain, and regarding the fact that the State did not appear to have established efficient mechanisms for investigating the claims of abuse by police officers and prison officers. This was also left unsettled, and there has been no effective response to this case.
As regards prisons, there are cases of overcrowding, there are cases of torture, in most of those European countries who want to condemn us by means of this Resolution in Geneva.
There is one country, and that is Portugal, which as it is currently presiding over the European Union, proposed the vote which it justified to the European Union at the session in Geneva. Even though there is no doubt that this country does not support the Resolution, if it voted against Cuba, it is just because, as leader of the European Union, it had to be a little bit cautious regarding the issue of human rights, because their own president, Jorge Sampaio, only a year ago described the situation regarding Portuguese prisons – and I quote – as "a true national scandal".
The situation in Oporto prison, which some of the Portuguese mass media has documented, is a situation which is talked about and they say they are going to improve the conditions in that prison, and yet, there is still overcrowding, corruption and mistreatment.
I believe that you have to tread carefully, when you support a resolution which attempts to question the human conditions in Cuban prisons, when the whole world knows only too well that visitors of various beliefs and philosophical tendencies have been allowed access, they have come to Cuba and have been able to see the prisons, and the situation in these prisons is completely opposed to what is claimed in those cases. There is well documented evidence of this, and there are reports and video material that we have in our possession and in our video libraries.
Finally, I would like to compare all this police brutality, and the situation in the prisons, and the way in which many people and social groups are repressed in those countries, to what really happens in our country.
As opposed to the shameful history that has been dug up at this round table, I want to recall the events of August 5, 1994, when a group of vandals, supporters of imperialism, anti-Cuban campaigns and the Miami mafia, tried to put on a show in order to destabilize the Revolution. We did not need police on horseback, tear gas, plastic bullets, shootings or tanks in the streets to avert the situation. Fidel, who was in his offices, on hearing the news, gave the order that no police or military force should be employed, and went straight to the location of the disturbances with the head of his office, Felipe Perez Roque, and seven men in accompaniment, whom he categorically forbade the use of arms. Comrade Carlos Lage joined them along the way. Upon arriving, Fidel got out of the vehicle and immediately all the people around came together, and the disturbances came to an end. Not a single shot was fired nor blow dealt. An enthusiastic crowd of people followed him to La Punta plaza, at the entrance to the Havana Harbour. Since then, there has not been another single disturbance. The people’s morale, and a respected and serious leader is all that is needed.
In the face of a situation like that, in Europe the police have come out on the streets, and beaten people up. I will never forget the images of repression on May 1968 in Paris, and the events with the students, also in 1968, in various European countries. Those are images that I cannot erase from my memory, just like the images of August 5, 1994. I believe that we cannot forget.
Carmen R.Báez – Talking about not forgetting, you do not have to go back very far in time, because we have Polanco right here at the table, and I remember that in 1993 a group of left-wing organisations...I do not know if Polanco remembers, he was in Prague representing us at the International Students’ Union, and there was a group of Cuban students touring Europe – it was May 1993 – and there were demonstrations in Germany against the Immigration Law that they wanted to approve, which blamed the immigrants, of course, foreigners arriving in Germany, for the economic problems that were arising. An important group of student and youth organisations – I remember – in solidarity with Nicaragua, in solidarity with Cuba, social organisations, mobilised themselves to blockade parliament in the day that they were due to discuss the law, protesting against it and trying to stop the members of parliament reaching the seat of government where they were going to discuss this law.
I remember that police on horseback started to arrive very early in the morning – I remember that we were joking about them because they looked like elephants – dogs, helicopters, and police that looked like extra-terrestrials. That gathering began at 6:00 in the morning, and at about 5:00 in the afternoon, when the delegation managed to leave Parliament – because they allowed the Cuban delegation into Parliament, since there was going to be a meeting to discuss the problems of the blockade; at that time we were affected by the epidemic of neuropathy, and we were conducting an entire campaign in Europe to denounce the problem of the blockade, and also look for solidarity with Cuba- and the group made its way towards the headquarters of our Embassy –– the young people there were being beaten senseless.In the time it took to get from Parliament to the headquarters of the Embassy, when we went to see the pictures on the television, they were being badly beaten up, and that night we discovered that many students and young people that we knew had been beaten up, and their comrades had been suppressed and imprisoned. It was a peaceful
demonstration, where they were trying to protest against a law which was anti-immigrant, a racist and xenophobic law, which is one of the many things that we also need to talk about, regarding this so-called European culture.
Nidia Díaz – You are referring to three years ago in Prague, right?; but no less than a year ago, the world witnessed the police brutality of the American police in Seattle, against the demonstrators at that ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation.
We personally witnessed how the police ripped apart the demonstrators’ faces with sticks and plastic batons, and that was less than a year ago.
Marina Menéndez – And if we move closer to the present day with information on this issue, four or five days ago in Washington, during the meeting of the World Bank and the IMF, the same repressive attitude was displayed; but what is more, to top it all, the Czech Republic announced that they had studied the way in which these demonstrations had been dealt with, because the next meeting of the Fund and the Bank was going to be in Prague.
Well, we need say no more.
Nidia Díaz – In Washington the demonstrators covered themselves with plastic tubes to protect themselves, because they knew from experience, because demonstrators learn from experience as well
Marina Menéndez – The Fund and the Bank are certainly going to be topics of conversation as well, the reason behind these demonstrations and the fairness of them; because it is claimed that they want to prevent the meeting, and I have always thought that that is not precisely the objective, the idea is to draw attention so that – as an official at this meeting acknowledged – the fact that the Fund and the Bank does not go unnoticed, do not continue without changing, without the people denouncing their policies.
Carmen R.Báez – Well, I will suggest the following: Taladrid had said that he wanted to discuss the internal aspects of Europe, and talked all about extra-judicial executions. Pedro de la Hoz was talking about police brutality. And now we have moved on to the United States and dealt with many things that Cubans know happen there on a daily basis.
But I suggest that we return to the subject of Europe, but not the internal workings of Europe, rather the outward hypocrisy of Europe. In order to do that I would like to refer briefly – bearing in mind the time, but I do not think that we can let this go by, because this analysis that we are attempting would be incomplete – you could say – of those who voted against us.
Dimas, I have often heard you talking about Indonesia, I do not know if you could help us to expand upon this subject. I mention Indonesia as an example, because it is somewhere that is much talked about in Europe.
Eduardo Dimas – Well, Let us talk firstly about more than a million people dying during the interval of 48 or 72 hours.
Carmen R. Báez – So you are talking about human rights.
Eduardo Dimas – I am talking about human rights.
We know that in 1956 General Sukarno signed the Bandung Agreements, which gave rise to the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.
Evidently, General Sukarno was a prestigious figure within the Asian world, a figure who was supported by a large part of the Indonesian people.
In 1962, 1963, it became known that the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other Intelligence Organisations in Europe were trying to bring Sukarno down, and in1965 the coup d’etat by General Suharto took place, which cost the lives of one million people. They murdered more than a million communist militants.
It has to be said that the Indonesian Communist Party was the most powerful party, the party with the most members at that time in Asia, and they killed more than a million communist militants. What is more, there is a story that says that the drainage system of a dam near the capital was clogged up as a result of the huge number of heads of the murdered people, and the relatives of the militants – this sounds grotesque, it sounds terrible, but it was true – they were called up and had to report to the barracks on a weekly basis.
General Suharto’s regime was immediatly supported by the entire western world, by the American government, loans from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank. It was a very corrupt regime, and a regime that lasted until 1999, when the crash, to be precise, the economic crisis in Asia, and all the demonstrations took place in Indonesia.
So, part of this problem in Indonesia, is East Timor.
As you will remember, in 1975, after the revolution of the Carnations, the Portuguese government, which arose out of this revolution, decides to do away with the colonies that it had, and one of these colonies was Eastern Timor, or East Timor.
This was looked upon favourably by the western governments, by the United States, by the NATO countries, because there was a liberation front there, called FRETLIN, the Timor Liberation Front, which had links with the left wing, it had links with the communist parties, it had links with organisations which were not approved of by those countries, and they were even in favour of the invasion of Indonesia.
I have here a report by the General Assembly , from December 2, 1975, on the case of East Timor.
The conclusion of the meeting, at which various motions were presented, was that "the Resolution expresses deep concern regarding the critical situation resulting from the military intervention by Indonesian Armed Forces in Portuguese East Timor.
In other words, this is a United Nations resolution condemning the action.
This Resolution was approved, according to the results of the vote, with 69 votes in favour, 11 against and 38 abstentions.
Cuba was, of course, one of the countries that voted in favour of this Resolution condemning the actions. The United States, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland were among the countries that abstained. I mean that this is irrefutable proof of how, in this case, in 1975 they thought the best thing for that country – and it is not that they thought it, it is that it suited them – was that it be in the hands of Indonesia rather than obtaining its independence, because there was an organisation there, the FRETLIN, which was a left-wing organisation, a revolutionary organisation, like the ones in the Portuguese colonies of Guinea, Cape Verde and Angola.
If you want, I can tell you about everything that has taken place up until now, but I think that the most significant thing – because there have been large-scale massacres in East Timor as well – that is to say, in 1999, last year, there was a referendum, held by the United Nations, when 78% of the population of East Timor expressed their desire for independence from Indonesia.
The pro-Indonesian groups, and the Indonesian army itself mobilised themselves to repress this, trying by whatever means possible to maintain Indonesia’s control of East Timor, until the United Nations decided to create an intervention force. It is interesting that Australia is the principal supporter of the intervention force, claiming to have a great interest in the region, and what is more, that the principal component of the forces that are currently in East Timor, forming part of the United Nations, are Portuguese troops, and we remember that Portugal was the previous metropolis of East Timor.
The fact is that up to the present day, East Timor still has not obtained its independence and all the signs indicate that there are attempts to cover up in the sense that those elements which are most likely to favour the interests of Europe and the United States are the ones that rule in East Timor.
Carmen R. Báez – I think that up till now we have been analysing the countries that voted against Cuba in the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, and I think that it would be very good if we could pause here, maybe bringing the analysis to a close.
We have not finished, we have many many more aspects that we could go on to discuss; but I think it is better not to overload you with too much unpleasant information, because all of this needs to be closely analysed, bit by bit, we need time to think about everything that we have listened to here, and each one of us, in the end, will have the right to draw his own conclusions.
When we were preparing part of this round table, and we were analysing who it was that voted against Cuba, what they have done, what their attitude towards events such as the ones we have talked about here, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Indonesia, the issues that Taladrid dealt with, I asked myself how it could be known that human rights have been violated by them, and in a list that we have here, we got up to 25 human rights, of those that are so strongly defended, and which we thought have been violated in all these cases that we have been discussing this afternoon.
If you allow me I will list a few of them:
I believe that all these rights that we are talking about might perhaps also motivate us to continue with another round table. And I suggest to our viewers that it could be held next Sunday, in order to carry on talking about these issues.
Allow us to also dedicate a few minutes to Elian, because I think it is very important. We have received news that we would like to share with you, and round up with something that is not unrelated to the theme that we started off with, we are talking about the rights of a father, the rights of a son, and I think that we are also talking about human rights, human rights which we have been talking about for five months.
Very much in line with this issue, and relating to someone who is accusing us, the principal character accusing us, I think it would be very good if we could see the video that Esther Barroso has prepared for us with a résumé of what has happened regarding the case of Elian in the past few hours.
Esther Barroso – Juan Miguel Gonzalez made an emotional appeal to the people of the United States, humbly, but adamantly to support him in his battle to be reunited with his little six year old. Juan Miguel’s statement was broadcast by the most important television channels in the United States.
Juan Miguel – I want to let you know that I have already been here in the United States for two weeks, and I travelled here, along with my wife and my other child of six months. I travelled here because they promised me that I would be reunited with my son, Elian – two weeks have passed and this has not happened.
I have always understood that the United States is a country governed by laws, something which has not been complied with in this case, because I still do not have my son with me.
Lázaro González.- Excited to see all these people here supporting Elian’s case; very happy.Journalist.- And are you optimistic about what is going to happen now? Janet Reno says she can come for the boy.Lázaro González.- Well, Janet Reno says one thing and God says another. Forget about it.
Nisnoska Pérez.- Despite the distortion of this story by some of the media, the fact of the matter is that this is a peaceful community that, as you have said, have been united in their prayers, advocating for this child to have his day in court.
Esther Barroso.- In an attempt to give an image of conciliators, the relatives’ attorneys have said again that Lázaro is ready for a family meeting with Juan Miguel, with the boy’s participation; but you can perceive defiant, offensive and absurd attitudes.
Esther Barroso.- The anti-Cuban ringleaders have almost camped out there, and though some of the press are reporting certain manifestations of violence and public disturbances, such unreliable persons as Nisnoska Pérez deny it.
Attorney.- The González family continues to request a family meeting. What’s more, I believe that today Lázaro is inviting Juan Miguel to come here this Sunday to celebrate Easter, to eat with his family and eat with his son.
_________.- There is no guarantee that if we go there, they will open the doors. Lázaro González has said that he will never give in, that he will never betray, that he will never surrender Elián González, under any circumstances, without a fight.
The view that taking him out of that environment is disturbing and putting him in contact with his father again, with whom he lived for six years, that view is ungrounded; the best for the boy is for him to be immediately returned to his father’s custody.
Esther Barroso.- The television networks have also reported on the content of the Atlanta three-judge panel’s decision. Analysts have considered that the panel is inclined to favor the relatives, to Elián having his hackneyed day in court and the application for political asylum.
_________.- To talk, yes, that will be acknowledged; but what weight is that going to have above what his father wants?
_________.- You have to show that he will probably be persecuted because of his political views if he is sent back to Cuba. What are the political views of a six-year-old boy? Children have neither the maturity nor the necessary life-experience to make such a decision about his life.
Esther Barroso.- Vice-president Albert Gore, who has almost served as spokesman for the Cuban-American Foundation, in opposition to his own administration and haggling for votes in Florida, is for separating father and son.
Albert Gore.- Normally, the father’s opinion is conclusive in these cases, but not always so. And if you evaluate what is best for the child, sometimes other factors come into play.
Esther Barroso.- Psychiatrist Jerry Wiener, one of the three professionals who intervened in the case on behalf of the U.S. government, destroys the criteria of both Albert Gore and the kidnappers.
Jerry Wiener.- I don’t think there’s any impending danger with respect to that, but it is real, real and continuing. The danger is that there is a tremendous psychological stress on this child, trapped in a battle that has more to do with political and ideological elements that with the best interests of the child. That’s why I think that the minor must return to the custody of his father, who has brought him up almost all his life, whom he has lived with, and with whom he has a very close bond. He must be returned to his father as soon as possible.
But I can’t imagine anyone who puts a 6-year-old boy on video and shows it on TV, like they did with Elián, I couldn’t imagine those individuals interested in the best for Elián and, at the same time, doing such a thing.
Carmen R. Báez.- For its part, our Interest Office in Washington issued its Report 165 that reads:
Reverend Joan Campbell appeared on ABC and reiterated her stance in favor of Elián’s return; and CBS showed García Pedrosa, an attorney for Lázaro González, who was vigorously questioned by Brian Gambed, the program’s presentor. The latter criticized the Miami kidnappers’ stance of not accepting or cooperating with the transfer of Elián’s custody, and undermined the credibility of Lázaro González proposals.
"As a reaction to yesterday’s statements, the kidnappers’ attorneys reiterated their proposal to put Juan Miguel, Elián and the kidnappers in a place in Florida for 30 days, unconditionally, whilst psychological evaluation of the boy is made.
"Miami sources say that the main ringleaders of the Cuban-American National Foundation, are behind this proposal and have been proposing it to Justice Department officials.
"At Cuba’s Interest Office in Washington we are still receiving, letters, phone calls, e-mails and faxes from all across the United States and Canada, with messages of solidarity and support for Juan Miguel. Today we were visited by neighbors of the Section who expressed their support for Juan Miguel.
Report 166 tells us also:
"CNN reported at 12:00 noon that there were no discrepancies between General Attorney Janet Reno and President Clinton as to the next steps to be taken as regards returning Elián to his father. It indicated that law-enforcement officials had travelled to Miami to study the situation on location .
"White House Spokesman Joe Lockhart made reference today to the government’s growing frustration about the kidnappers’ attitude.
"The Washington Post reports that General Attorney Janet Reno has decided to remove Elián from the kidnappers’ home and has issued instructions for federal officials to determine when is the most appropriate time to do it, and that various variables have been taken into account, from the traffic situation in Miami to weather conditions.
"It adds that Reno’s main concern is the safety of the boy and of those who carry out the rescue operation.
"The newspaper stresses that the attorney general’s alleged decision takes place after President Clinton’s statements yesterday and that, at the same time, the president’s statements came after Juan Miguel’s public appeal for support for his recovering his son.
"The article makes reference to a letter sent Wednesday to Reno by Juan Miguel’s lawyer, which reiterates that the kidnappers have resisted every effort to carry out a peaceful transfer of Elián to his father, and, therefore, there is no reason to expect any cooperation whatsoever from them or to waste time on such efforts".
Here, we also have –and we want to share it with you—the summary of a conversation between Juan Miguel and Elián on the evening of Thursday, April 20th. It reads:
The call took place around 7:00 p.m.. Juan Miguel inquired about Elián’s health, because the boy has a cold.
At the beginning, they can’t talk well because there are children talking around Elián and he couldn’t be heard. He tells them to keep quiet and they seem to go away.
During the conversation, reminiscing on things in Cuba, Juan Miguel tells him that he talked with Elián’s grandmothers, and that they said to tell him that the puppies were very big. Juan Miguel asks him if he remembered their names. He says no; but immediately says the names of the dogs.
Their conversation focusses on Hianny, whom Elián, several times and very affectionately, calls him "little brother Hianny".
To Juan Miguel’s question as to whether he wants to see him and his brother, he quickly answers yes.
Nersy, too, talked with Elián, and when she told him that Hianny was very restless and slept very little, Elián answered that he himself also wakes up early and sleeps little at night, sort of the same as Hianny.
When Juan Miguel asks if he would like to carry his little brother, his answer is yes, and voices can be heard interrupting, to which Elián repeatedly shouts: "Leave me alone now!".
Juan Miguel refers to anecdotes from the time they were together and he responds positively to the memories of them playing together. People can be heard shouting, and Juan Miguel asks him. Elián answers that it is people shouting outside.
When Juan Miguel asks what they are shouting about, Elián sensitively lowers his voice, as if not to be heard, and says: "That I’m not leaving". Juan Miguel tells him not to pay attention to them, and Elián, in a very low voice, hardly to be heard, refers to what he is told: "that he is not leaving".
Juan Miguel realizes there is someone near the child and, saying good-bye, tells him not to pay attention to that, that they will soon be together.
Here we have an AP wire that says: ‘Secretary of Justice Janet Reno met today with Elián González’s father, but refused to pledge some type of specific action or fix a timetable to get the boy out of his Miami relatives’ house.
The meeting, held in the Justice Department, ended when Juan Miguel González and his lawyer came out 15 minutes later without making any comments. But in a written statement, Reno said that she could not commit to adopting a specific course of action or fix a timetable.
"Reno said that the father, who wants to take his son with him to Cuba, said he was deeply concerned and requested a quick reunion with the boy, who has been here almost five months since surviving a ship-wreck near the coast of Florida, in which his mother died.
"I was deeply moved by Mr. González’s evident love for his son –said Reno. I assured him that I would continue to work to reunite him with his son.
"I am trying to arrange it, said Reno to the journalists. I am exploring every possibility for this to be solved in a peaceful, prompt and proper manner.
"When she was asked if she was preparing to order the police authorities to seize the boy from the Miami home, se responded: ‘If I were to do something like that, I would certainly not tell you’.
"At the White House, Spokesman Joe Lockhart said today that the delivery of the child to his father must be done in a expedite and orderly manner. He added that numerous calls have been received on the White House comment line, overwhelmingly in favor of reuniting the child with his father".
In its Report 167, our Interest Office says: "At 2:30 p.m., CNN’s correspondent at the Justice Department reported that a brief meeting between Attorney General Janet Reno and Juan Miguel González had just ended. He added that at the meeting, Elián’s father reiterated his wish for a prompt reunion with his son".
It relates to the wire I just read.
"Approximately between 2:15 and 2:35 p.m., a group of some 6 counter-revolutionary elements were on the sidewalk of Cuba’s Interest Section in Washington, with video cameras, filming and pointing to everyone going in or out, in particular officials, in an openly provocative attitude. The Secret Service was informed.
Members of Congress who favor Elián’s return have been calling Cuba’s Interest Section in Washington to let us know about the strong impact caused among their electors by Juan Miguel’s statement yesterday. They add that they have received numerous calls at their respective district offices.
"Senator Patrick Leahy stated that he is satisfied with President Clinton’s remarks that Elián must be returned to his father. He said that if a process is underway to achieve that aim, he is pleased, and if a decision regarding that has not yet been made, then he asks the attorney general to do it.
"El Nuevo Herald says today that in an action encouraged by the Atlanta Appels Court’s decision, the kidnappers’ lawyers have already contacted a likely mediator to help settle the Elián case, and that that person was already negotiating with representatives from the Dept. of Justice representatives. Experts on legal issues indicate –according to the Herald—that they had never heard of the participation of mediators in immigration matters.
"Miami sources issued the following reports:
"There is word that meetings are being held between federal marshals and city authorities to discuss details of a joint operation relating to the case of Elián, which include traffic control and riot neutralization, among other items. The Miami public attorney’s office is participating in the said meetings.
"Unconfirmed information indicates that the Miami Police has been searching the houses close to that of the kidnappers, looking for weapons and explosives that counter-revolutionary elements could be hiding with the aim of resisting any attempt to seize Elián.
"Leaders of the Cuban-American National Foundation are urgently making arrangements to rent a residence in the city suburbs, where, presumably, Juan Miguel, Elián and the kidnappers would install themselves, in a "peaceful and quiet" atmosphere that allows them to reach an agreement on the child’s future. It was not confirmed whether the nun O’Laughlin would participate in the process.
"Unconfirmed information indicates that there was a scandal recently, when Jorge Mas Santos’ wife learned of his affair with Marisleisys, and that after this, the counter-revolutionary ringleader got out of the scene temporarily. The source adds that the alleged affair of Lázaro’s daughter with one of Mas’ bodyguards was a smokescreen they launched to cover up the scandal.
"The counter-revolutionary radio station La Poderosa is urging the Community to make phone calls to the Atlanta Appeals Court in support of Elián staying in the United States. It is also convening for a ceremony at 4:00 p.m. near the kidnappers’ house.
"The Miami Herald says that Mayor Joe Carollo is being increasingly criticised in the Community, because of his notorious opportunism and anti-Cuban campaign, the objective of which is to get, at all costs, support from broad sectors in the area which had formerly backed his rival Xavier Suárez. Critics say that the attacks against Carollo are only the latest chapter of a long anti-Cuban demagoguery. According to the newspaper, Carollo complains that Cuban television has shown images of him and that it has criticized his recent campaign against our country".
You don’t know what it is they are going to criticize, or not going to criticize; if we put him, well, and if we don’t put him it’s also a problem.
Then, Report 168 from our Interest Office:
"According to the Sun Sentinel, several ex-members of the United States Armed Forces stated that they are staying close to the kidnappers’ house and they are ready to sacrifice their lives to prevent Elián’s return to Cuba, even if it means confronting federal agents if these are going to remove the boy from the house. The article adds that those people are now under surveillance because there have been reports that they have weapons hidden nearby.
"State Department Spokesman, James Rubin, said today that they would continue to examine visa applications for the support group that would participate in Elián’s re-adaptation process here "–meaning the United States—"once he is handed over to his father."
"He added that he would not speculate on what might happen in the next few days; that they would continue to review the matter, and that they would take into account any new factors that might arise.
An article in the Miami Herald says that according to family attorney Lynne Gold Bikin, at a recent meeting of the American Academy of Marital Dispute Lawyers, 98 of 100 lawyers were in favor of Elián being returned to his father.
"Members of the Alliance for a Responsible Cuban Policy consider Juan Miguel’s statement yesterday, asking for help to recover his son, to be very positive.
"White House Spokesman Joe Lockhart said that their office had received a considerable amount of phone calls demanding that Elián be returned to Juan Miguel.
"Also, at Cuba's Interest Section in Washington, we have received numerous phone calls expressing support for an eventual action by the Department of Justice to remove Elián from the house where he remains kidnapped and for him to be returned to his father. They feel that after the appeal for help made by Juan Miguel yesterday, the situation is more favorable than ever before, since more than 70% of the public opinion favors a reunion between father and son".
And I invite you all to listen to what Grisel Pérez has over there, the latest wire news.
Grisel Pérez.- Because there is no longer talk about an intermediary; now they talk about intermediaries and they are located in Miami. And an AP wire dated in Washington reads as follows:
"Secretary of Justice Janet Reno worked today with intermediaries in Miami to rearch a possible agreement that would enable an immediate transfer of Elián González’s custody from his Miami relatives to his father, said a Justice Department spokeswoman.
"The parties continue to work on the details of the agreement, said Spokeswoman Carole Florman. The plan has not yet been submitted to Juan Miguel González. Florman did not identify the intermediaries saying only that they were members of the Miami community. She said they were in contact with Elián’s great-uncle Lázaro González and his family, who have defied Reno’s order to hand over the child.
"But Florman did not say whether the Miami relatives had accepted to immediately transfer Elián to his father.
"Justice authorities were willing to accept a mediator if both parties accepted, even if only to discuss how, not if Elián would be handed over to his father."
In other words, there is already talk about intermediaries. It is not yet known exactly who they are, what Miami faction they belong to; though it is supposed to be just speculation, but it is possible they belong to Lázaro’s gang.
Meantime, the television channels, ABC was still reporting through its correspondents, apparently from Washington, that the intermediaries are from the Miami community; that they have been talking with the family and with Reno; that the Attorney-General’ demands that they immediately hand over custody to Juan Miguel, and that Reno gave little margin for negotiation. "They have only got a matter of hours" said Reno.
"Juan Miguel will probably not likely accept the agreement that is being negotiated and insist that the Justice Department send federal forces to get the boy out of the house.
"Regardless of how many people have said that it is not likely there will be any government action in the remaining days of Holy Week, the fact of the matter is that there are several White House officials working full-time on this plan.
And another ABC correspondent –this is Ron Claybor; the other was Linda Douglas—says that "Miami police forces told ABC that right now they have 25 police officers around the house, a reinforcement of 70 officers in the adjacent area, and a 500-strong reserve ready to go into action if necessary.
"The Miami police already set the security perimeters: the first one around the house, and the other one around the block. The family is requesting that at the point the marshals break in there be a television crew inside the house to film the federal agents’ behavior."
I also have another piece of information.
Polls have found that the television coverage of the Elián case has broken every publicity record, that it even beat those of Princess Diana and the death of JFK’s son. The three main networks: ABC, CBS and NBC alone, up till 13 April, dedicated 261 services; they had dedicated 200 sservices to Princess Diana and 161 to John Kennedy, Jr. The obsessive attention with which the case was followed –says the report-- was summarized by a drawing published in the New York Post, where it reads: ‘TVs that speak about Elián are dumped out the windows," when it is known that there are already 7,000 phone calls to the Justice Department and it is also said that two-thirds of the U.S. public are resolutely supporting Elián’s reunion with his father.
Carmen R. Báez.- And as they say in our living rooms: the table’s set again.
Over these five months, we have come a lot closer to the possibility of reuniting Juan Miguel with his son, and we are confident that it can be achieved and that they make the most of the conditions the United States has to make sure that wish comes true; not only the wish of a father, but one shared by a great many parents in the United States, in Cuba and a little beyond.
Dear viewers, for almost three hours and fifteen minutes –more or less—we have been sharing many news stories with you --which have become an everyday thing—on the upside-down Europe that it has been ours to know and that condemns us.
Today, we have focused on that Europe for the purpose of learning who has tried to give us mirror so that we can see our faces made up with the cosmetics of democracy, human rights, the new strategic concept—that they think are the most effective ones.
We have also tried to fulfill the objective of learning who those that condemn us are, because we want to look like ourselves; we don’t want to use those gift cosmetics they are trying to give us; we want to do things the way we consider most suitable for our country, and also the way the majority of people, represented by 100,000 Cubans that marched before the Czech Embassy some days ago, and that rallied yesterday, representing 11 million Cubans, in front of the USIS, at the "José Martí Anti-imperialist Open Forum".
Today we have wanted to stop and talk about human rights and we have also talked about the human right of a father to be reunited with his son.
The fight will continue. We can count on these panelists, but we know, too, that can count on an entire nation to go on with this fight that will see us meeting tomorrow at the Open Forum to be held at the Australia sugar-mill in the province of Matanzas, at 5:00 p.m. We also invite you to join us, as part of this battle, at next Sunday’s round-table, at 5:00 p.m..
Thank you very much for your attention.