Round Table Meeting: Who are the real terrorists? held in the studios of Cuban Television, May 22nd, 2002, "Year of the Heroes Imprisoned by the Empire".
(Stenographic Version – Council of State)
Randy Alonso. - Good evening viewers and listeners.
Yesterday the North American administration, with the habitual arrogance of the "world’s policeman", published the so-called list of nations who sponsor terrorism in which Cuba has been included without the slightest shred of evidence to support the claim.
In this evening’s round table meeting: ‘Who are the real terrorists?’, I am joined on the panel by Comrade Juan Mendoza, vice-Dean of the Law Faculty of the University of Havana; Lázaro Barredo, journalist on the Trabajadores newspaper; Manuel Hevia, Director of the Center for Historical Research on State Security; Rogelio Polanco, Editor of the Juventud Rebelde newspaper; Juan Carlos Rodríguez, researcher and Director of the "Capitán San Luis" publishing house: and Reinaldo Taladrid, journalist of Cuban Television News.
Accompanying us in the audience are members of the Special Troops of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, of the Youth Work Army and of the National Committee of the Union of Young Communists.
(brief images on the theme are shown)
Randy Alonso. - Today, Granma newspaper has published the editorial "Battle of Ideas" with which I would like to start tonight’s round table meeting:
As was to be expected, on May 20 Mr. Bush leveled a vitriolic verbal assault against Cuba from Washington and Miami. On the same date, the broadcasts of their subversive television station was moved in schedule to make it coincide with our Round Tables. Likewise, they announced more spending, resources and technology to sow poison in our country.
Some days before, on May 6, through an undersecretary of state, they had already tossed out the heinous slander that a biological weapons program was being developed in Cuba.
Yesterday, on May 21 at around midday, the State Department Annual Report was released where, as in many other issues, they judge and decide which countries sponsor terrorism, support drug trafficking, violate human rights, etceteras, etceteras, etceteras.
As usual, they sportingly included our country on a list of countries that support terrorism. However, this is not just any year nor just any sport.
Only a few months ago, the American people were the victim of a brutal terrorist crime. If one also takes into account that Cuba is repeatedly and arbitrarily included on such a list to cause Americans to fear and dislike our country, one can appreciate just how cynical and reckless is the behavior of the ignorant and sinister mob that carries most leverage with the U.S. President’s inner circle.
The slander about biological weapons was so blatantly untrue and feeble that some senior government officials had the good sense to distance themselves discretely from the stupid fabrication. A dangerous political Nazi-style blitzkrieg was unleashed against Cuba; the idiots thought that they could take us by surprise and plant confusion.
There was Mr. Bush on Miami TV screens with his angry expression, his bad-guy pose and his strange grimaces. He looked like a man who wanted to kill someone, who knows whom. He started talking and then he stopped; he wanted to say something else and then hesitated. He used threatening words, hoping maybe to scare those he knows only too well —or should know— will always remain unmoved when faced with an outrageous insult, the rabid fury or murderous weapons of a trigger-happy powerful emperor. All that was missing on the television image was Mr. Bush foaming at the mouth.
The hysterical audience made up of yesterday’s and today’s traitors, mercenaries, and racketeers —and especially the terrorists who have sown mourning and death in our people over more than 40 years— who wildly applauded any threatening words against our country and the promise to be tough on Cuba and to tighten the economic blockade, caused repugnance and disgust in our heroic people, who are more united and prepared to fight than ever.
Mr. Bush’s arguments, deceit, tricks, demagogy, lies and slander will be demolished one by one.
It does not matter how long this difficult combat in our long struggle goes on. We are deeply involved in a great battle of ideas, an unprecedented struggle between truths and lies, ignorance and political and historic knowledge; between education and barbarism, ethics and a total lack of moral values and principles, honesty and hypocrisy; between oppression and liberation, justice and injustice, equality and inequality, the nightmares of the past and the dreams of the future, the destruction and preservation of nature, the extinction and survival of our species.
On May 19, the day he fell in battle, a permanent watch was posted at Martí’s tomb. And it will be there forever.
There does not exist, and never will, a force in the world that can make us turn away from, abandon, or betray our noble causes!
And nothing will make us stray from our path, as we continue to be the steady friends and allies of the American people and of any other country in the world in the fight against terrorism.
(Published in Granma, May 22, 2002)
So reads the editorial "Battle of Ideas" published today in Granma newspaper and reproduced in the official organ of the Cuban youth, Juventud Rebelde.
This editorial proclaims the battle of ideas waged by our people against the new lies and fallacies of the North American administration that began with the so-called bio-terrorist threat and continued with President Bush’s speeches from the White House and Miami, where he was amongst his friends, the terrorist mafia, and with yesterday’s publication of the so-called list of countries sponsoring terrorism, which we could really call the terrorist list of the United States. This list doesn’t have much to say that’s new, but perhaps Taladrid could help us to understand what exactly is novel about this United States terrorist list.
Reinaldo Taladrid. - It would be my pleasure, Randy.
First of all, I would like to say that this annual report on terrorism, that the State Department is duty bound to present by congressional decision, is just one of the many reports made by the government of the empire to judge the rest of the world: you have behaved well in the drugs trade, you haven’t behaved well; you have behaved well in terms of terrorism, you haven’t, etc., etc. It judges, and measures the rest of the world, threatening all those who "have not behaved well", but its outstanding characteristic is that it judges the rest of planet Earth without ever judging the United States itself.
This is just one more list, one more example of this practice.
So, what does this year’s report say? In the introduction, for example, it states that more people have died this year because of terrorism than ever before, and it offers a series of statistics. Obviously, these statistics don’t include all those people who have died from other forms of terrorism call them what you will, those that have died of starvation or of curable diseases are not on this list. The list obviously focuses on eight North Americans that have died this year, and also refers to the tragedy of the World Trade Center and all that happened there.
What is strange is that those eight North Americans died in places such as Ecuador, the Philippines, Jerusalem, Saudi Arabia and others where absolutely nor relation exists nor is there a link of any kind with Cuba and our reality.
Which are the seven countries or governments mentioned in this report that sponsor terrorism? Cuba is top of the list, followed by Iran, Iraq, Lybia, the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Korea, Syria and the Sudan. According to them, these are the seven governments that sponsor terrorism.
What can happen to those seven sanctioned by the empire, those seven mentioned in the empire’s report? Well, there are many punishments, I will read out a few:
It says that the United States government may immediately impose the following sanctions against the countries included in this list:
"1. A ban on arms-related exports and sales." Well, in the case of Cuba, as you know, this does not make sense.
"2. Control over exports of dual use items requiring 30-day congressional notification.
Randy Alonso. - That’s right Taladrid. As if what has been stolen wasn’t enough, now one of the biggest terrorists of the lot, José Basulto, has filed a claim for $40 million for "emotional damages".
Reinaldo Taladrid. - Yes, relatives of people who worked in and belonged to that group had already received money, the wives had received money. He is the boss of that little branch of the mafia and now he is demanding $40 million, correct?
Randy Alonso. - Forty million.
Reinaldo Taladrid. - José Basulto is demanding $40 million of Cuba’s money, in an attempt to seize it for himself.
As you can see these sanctions do not affect Cuba because Cuba is possibly the country most sanctioned by the United States on the face of the Earth. They go on to say:
"Denying companies and individuals tax credits for income earned in terrorist list countries." Well, they actually pursue people who trade with Cuba, they punish them, throw them in prison, etc.
Lázaro Barredo. - They ask that they be given 200 years.
Reinaldo Taladrid. - Yes, that’s right, so it doesn’t really frighten anyone here.
It says: " Authority to prohibit any US person from engaging in a financial transaction with terrorism list government without a Treasury Department license." Well, that’s an old story for Cuba.
And "Prohibition of Defense Department contracts above $100 000 with companies controlled by terrorist list states."
As you can see, these are the measures, these are the implications, according to the North American government, the punishment for being on that list. In Cuba’s case, on top of the slander and infamy of being included on the list, these measures are well known to us, because they have been applied against us under other pretexts for quite some time.
Finally, I would like to briefly comment on three small things:
Firstly: in what context is all this occurring? Cuba is included on this list in some context. Aside from what is said in the editorial, I would also like to add that in recent days an enormous series of new and deadly threats against the North American public has started to come to light. I say deadly threats because as yet none have been carried out: that whole apartment blocks will be blown up; that the water will be contaminated; that the Brooklyn Bridge will be destroyed. A small packet fell and I believe that the whole of Brooklyn Bridge was closed, and the packet turned out to be harmless.
Randy Alonso. - That was this morning.
Reinaldo Taladrid. - Therefore, if you repeat these things to the North American public every day, if the highest government officials are saying these things and then all of a sudden this list appears, the public presumes that these governments are behind any one of these threats, that may or may not occur; sadly they could occur, or not; but it within this context that the list appears.
Secondly: the United States’ policy towards Cuba is being more fervently questioned at this moment within the United States itself than ever before in the last 42 years, amongst public opinion, in civil society, by politicians and businesspeople. Their policy had never been so profoundly questioned and all opinion polls or surveys in specific sectors report that this policy does not work from any perspective. This list is just another attempt, one more effort to justify this policy that includes the blockade, as we all know.
Third and finally, see how many lies in barely one month, to be exact, in less than a month really: biological weapons, airplanes in Venezuela and now Cuba is a sponsor of terrorism, etc. How many lies in such a short time!
We cannot ignore, cannot leave out of the equation, the presence of Otto Reich at the head of US foreign policy towards Latin America – the great misinformer, or the biggest lier that the United States’ foreign policy towards Latin American has ever seen. Therefore, all these lies coincide with the presence of the "great misinformer".
These, Randy, are some of the comments I would make on this "Report on Terrorism" presented by the State Department.
Randy Alonso. - A report in which, as you said, the measures proposed are not new to Cuba, as they have been codified and are government’s an integral part of the blockade against our country, but which nevertheless has great significance in the political sphere – as the editorial pointed out – in that after September 11th Cuba is being branded a terrorist country and that, for the State Department and the government of the United States, Cuba even heads the list. As you were saying, we aren’t just talking about the arguments presented there, which are really non-existent, but also that Otto Reich not only says that the list is so, but also that he can state that Cuba is a bio-terrorist and that the five Cuban patriots incarcerated in North American jails were planning to spread terrorism in the United States. Mr. Reich said this yesterday in the commission which was discussing the issue of trade with Cuba. This man, apart form leading the American Office of the State Department, also manages the Department of Misinformation it seems, and therefore went over the head of his boss, Colin Powell, who presented this report.
What is certain is that the presentation of this list provoked serious questions yesterday from the North American press over the arguments to support the inclusion of Cuba in this report on terrorism. The answers to these questions clearly show what fallacy is per se, and Rogelio Polanco can tell us more.
Rogelio Polanco. - Yes, Ambassador Taylor- who, together with Powell, presented this list of countries that sponsor terrorism, something that the United States has systematically done for all these years- had to face the journalist’s questions, and he was certainly put into a tight spot.
One journalist asked: "Does the State Department have any evidence that can show us any successful or unsuccessful terrorist plans in which Cuba could have been involved or is this merely a political denunciation?" It was clear that people knew what was behind all this. Ambassador Taylor then said:
"With respect to Cuba, its history of terrorism, well, to be honest, is somewhat ambivalent. President Castro condemned the September 11th attacks but he has not renounced terrorism as a political tool of legitimate Revolution." Can you believe this slander? The journalist was naturally not satisfied: "As you have not mentioned either plot or direct suspicions, may we infer that the State Department has nothing that links Cuba with terrorist attacks?" Ambassador Taylor responded: "We do not have any de-classified material to which we can publicly refer to at this time." Suffice to say therefore that they have once more been left swinging in the wind with regards to this theme.
We must remember that a smoke screen has been thrown down in the last 15 days ever since Mr. Bolton, the Undersecretary of State, emitted the slanderous claim on May 6th that Cuba was a biological weapon-producing State that traded these with other countries. This was obviously utterly denied by Cuba and by many United States’ officials.
Talking of a list of countries that sponsor terrorism, there is a list of several North American officials who have been unable to produce any proof in the last 15 days that this gentleman was correct. On the contrary, they have been left looking totally ridiculous. We should also remember ex-President Carter himself who, during his visit to the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center, denied that accusation and clearly stated that he had met with officials from the White House, the State Department and the intelligence services before his visit who had insistently responded to his questions by saying that no evidence existed.
Secretary of State Powell, one week later on May 13th, corrected Bolton, his subordinate, and said that no evidence actually existed He totally contradicted Bolton and said that what he had said was nonsense; he obviously didn’t say it like that but this is what can be understood from his declarations.
Randy Alonso. - Mr. Powell said that there was no evidence that Cuba was producing these weapons but that she did have the capacity to produce them in her facilities, etc., etc., but that there was no concrete evidence that this was taking place.
Rogelio Polanco. - Such a capacity, of course, applies to those who have the capacity to do many things. However, the issue is how the technological capacities of countries are used.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld clearly stated that he did not know of any State Department reports on this issue. The National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice also hesitated when questioned on this theme. This was on the 20th, the day of the President’s speeches, when a journalist asked her: "So, does the Administration consider Cuba to be part of this Axis of Evil?" and she responded: "Well, you see, the Cubans do not belong to any group in the hemisphere, they are outside the group wherever you try to put them" or something like that; neither was she able to offer any kind of justification. And President Bush in his speeches from Washington and Miami was absolutely unable to link the word terrorism with Cuba and much less bio-terrorism. It is therefore something that is beyond all doubt, something that lacks any proof.
What is more, there is some degree of recognition in the report itself that Cuba was one of the first countries to sign all 12 international agreements in the fight against terrorism. Let us remember: first, that Cuba did not vacillate, as is claimed in the report when talking about Cuba: "Since September 11th Fidel Castro has vacillated over the war on terrorism." No. Cuba did not vacillate. Cuba was the first country to denounce and condemn the brutal terrorist acts of September 11th and, what is more, the first to express its desire to cooperate with the United States, even offering the possibility of opening its airports to North American planes. Cuba, a victim of terrorism for more than 40 years, was the first country to bravely state that the problem could not be tackled with war but only through international cooperation, holding a national debate on the anti-terrorist law in our Parliament, expressing, as today’s Granma editorial affirms, that Cuba remains the North American people’s ally in the fight against terrorism.
It is evident Randy, that it has been a process of deceit that has become linked in recent weeks to the slander about bio-terrorism that is unfounded in the list, the report and in the lies of some officials.
Randy Alonso. - Without a doubt the North American government officials and the State Department have had to stretch their imagination to be able to include Cuba in a list of terrorist states. It was not by chance that the journalist asked: "Beyond political motivations, what are the arguments?" because everyone there was very clear that the inclusion of Cuba on the list was nothing more than the political argument that the Administration needed to continue with its aggressive plan against our country; to substantiate the speech President Bush made in Miami before the inflamed mass of terrorists and child-kidnapers that were congregated there. It means that the United States once more persists in its policy of aggression against our country. All of those lies and tricks, deceit and slander, as the Granma editorial says, expressed by the North American President and by his Administration over the last few days are nothing more than a pretext by which to uphold the permanently aggressive policy against the Cuban Revolution, and against the Cuban people that obliges us to be true to history, to defend the truth and recall here today who the real terrorists are.
(Historical images of terrorist acts against Cuba are shown).
Randy Alonso. - Various plans to impede the triumph of the Rebel Army and what the North Americans called in their documents "Castro’s victory" began to be hatched before 1959. De-classified documents reveal that President Eisenhower’s Administration plotted alternatives to thwart the Revolution’s triumph and intended to merely change the faces without touching the roots of the neo-colonial system that existed in our country at that time.
On December 23rd, 1958 the Director of the CIA, Allen Dulles affirmed: "We should avoid a Castro victory." But as they could not avoid it, as on the First of January 1959 the Revolution triumphed bringing liberty to our people, they began, from the very outset, a dirty terrorist war against our Revolution and against our people. The Cuban people have never forgotten this part of history that was revived in the Demand made to the United States Government. At a moment such as this, when attempts are made to brand Cuba a terrorist, our people can remind President Bush and his Administration, who are the real terrorists and who have been the victims of more than 40 years of terrorism carried out from United States’ territory.
What started as early as 1959 will remind us who has encouraged terrorism throughout the world and particularly against our people; 1959 is a landmark in our history, and I would like to ask Lázaro Barredo to refer to this topic.
Lázaro Barredo. - Thank you, Randy.
Really, like you were saying just now when you were talking about imagination, I think that the person that wrote President Bush’s speech of May 20th – I’m talking of the speech he made from the White House – should be awarded at least an Oscar for best script, because what he said is truly full of fiction. What is most outrageous is to hear President Bush declaring that "The United States has no intention of interfering in Cuba’s sovereignty, that is not part of our strategy nor our vision, in fact the United States has constantly and strongly supported the liberty of the Cuban people."
That is a tremendous mockery of what has really taken place, because in the very root of our national history, at the core of our national problems we find the need to confront North American hegemony and voracity to block the independence of our country. And on exactly the First of January 1959 the policy of North American aggression savagely begins in the midst of our national struggle. The first act against our nation, against our country was to welcome the torturers and thugs into their country. All those people that had filled the Cuban nation with terror, that had terrorized Cuban families, Cuban youth, were welcomed with open arms and complete impunity for the premeditated crimes they had committed against our country: nearly 20 000 young people murdered; the theft of public funds- the dictator took 300 million and his leading collaborators had bankrupted the country taking billions of dollars to North American territory - and the first thing that Eisenhower’s government did, as part of its policy of aggression against our country, was to receive those people that had fled illegally and without documents towards the United States. This is the precedent for what would later be known as the Cuban Adjustment Act; the law of adjustment that was then applied, as we have mentioned in other round table meetings, to those who stole airplanes and boats and slipped away in the early hours of the first of January and were received and accepted by the United States thereby breaking – despite all their crimes and all the evidence produced - the extradition treaty it had signed with Cuba in 1904. Moreover, this policy of aggression even accelerated in response to the pro-independence thought of the generation that took power on the First of January 1959.
I want to draw our people’s attention - because there truly are things which demonstrate the unshakable principles of the Revolution and of Cuban revolutionary thought - to a speech made by Comrade Fidel on January 13th, 1959. Fidel entered Havana on January 8th and made a speech five days later when he said:
"The Platt Amendment that was unjustly imposed on a generation that had fought for independence is dead. That law took away precisely that, their independence. There is no military regime anymore, there are no soldiers that can betray the Revolution and seize power as happened in 1933. For the first time there are worthy men at the head of the country who will not be bought, who will not give in, who will not flinch in the face of threats, men who are prepared to act serenely without excesses of any kind, determined to never use force; however, let them not confuse one thing with the other.
"I believe that this people has the right to govern itself and decide its own destiny, just like other peoples, using their own free will, doing things better and more democratically than those who talked of democracy while they sent Sherman tanks to Batista."
This was the speech made on January 13th, 1959 in response to the campaigns that were already underway in the United States because of the measures adopted at the demands of the people in our country to punish the murderers, torturers and thieves of Batista’s regime who were forced to face justice. There were claims against the terrorists that had escaped to the United States receiving not only the complete benevolence of the North American authorities but also their support to undertake terrorist activities against our country.
To give you an idea, on January 15th, two days after this speech by Comrade Fidel, a group of North American congressmen demanded United States intervention in Cuba. Representative Wayne Hays – perhaps a relative of Dennis Hays, the current Vice President of the Foundation – recommended that the sending of troops to Cuba be considered as well as the application of economic sanctions, such as the reduction of the sugar quota and a trade embargo. This was on January 15th.
On March 10th, 1959, the United States National Security Council - the consultancy body of President Eisenhower, met in secret to discuss ways to set up a different government in Cuba. So, by this time the government of the United States was institutionally plotting to overthrow the triumphant Revolution of January First, 1959, by whatever means possible.
On March 30th General Maxwell Taylor, head of the Chief-of-Staff of the United States Army declared before Congress – and I quote, "The Cuban Revolution could be the beginning of a series of disturbances in Latin America that could allow the communists to gain ground".
In April of the same year, Times magazine expressed North American conservative thought when it stated that Fidel Castro’s neutrality was a challenge to the United States; in their interventionist eyes our country could not even be neutral. This was when the Commander made his first visit to the United States and when the secret memorandum was written by then Vice President Nixon in which he recorded his impressions after meeting Comrade Fidel, stating that Fidel was a communist and implicitly suggesting that thought be given to the overthrow of revolutionary power in Cuba.
In July of that year, a Senate sub-committee on internal security held an hearing with notorious war criminals and murderers of Batista’s toppled regime like Manuel Ugalde Carrillo, ex-head of the Military Intelligence Service; Francisco Tabernilla Dolz, ex-head of the army; Francisco Tabernilla Palermo, Cilito; ex-head of the tyranny’s armored divisions; Merob Sosa, ex-army official and notorious killer; Andres Rivero Agüero, ex-president elect in the farcical elections of 1958; Rafael Díaz-Balart, ex-Minister of the Interior; Aurelio Arsenio Silva González, Minister of Labor and other officials from Batista’s dictatorship and leading Batistianos.
A special hearing was held in this same month with the traitor Pedro Luis Díaz-Lanz who would later come to Havana and bombed our country. It was on October 21st, 1959, that Pedro Luis Díaz-Lanz made the famous terrorist attack that killed two people and injured 47, to later live with impunity in the United States where he carried out his terrorism from Miami.
From North American soil and with the consent of the North American authorities, the Batistianos formed a terrorist organization, La Rosa Blanca (The White Rose), that was the first to attack our country. It was organized by the father of Lincoln Díaz-Balart, the man that President Bush greeted and embraced both in Washington and Miami. The gang boss Rafael Díaz Balart, who was the Minister of the Interior, in Batista’s government, formed this terrorist organization that included Pilar García and his son Irenaldo, Merob Sosa, and other officials from Batista’s dictatorship, well and truly implicated in all the horrors committed during that period.
This same organization, with the complicity of the United States, joined with Fulgencio Batista and the Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo to organize the Trujillista conspiracy that was eventually uncovered and permanently liquidated by the revolutionary forces in August 1959.
It was this clan that launched the first counter-revolutionary attacks in our country. In January and April the first uprising was organized by the dictatorship´s henchmen such as Corporal Lara and ‘Pretty face’ in Pinar del Rio and Graciliano Santamaría Rodríguez in Matanzas. The final three months of 1959 witnessed the uprising of Pedro Ramón Rodríguez Hernández in Las Villas and Olegario Charlot Pileta and Carlos Caraballo Guzmán in the former province of Oriente.
In the same year the bombardments of cities and sugar mills began; the burning of sugar cane fields, the terrorist sabotage against the economy of our country; arson and all types of acts in various sugar mills; the machine gunning of a train in Las Villas province: many terrorist activities that gave a clear image of the monstrous crime that was being perpetrated from United States territory with the complete consent, support and involvement of the North American authorities.
Randy Alonso.- A stark example of this, Lázaro, is that on October 21st, Pedro Luis Díaz Lanz, the terrorist traitor you mentioned, dropped counter-revolutionary propaganda on Havana from a plane coming from the United States and dropped bombs that killed two people and injured 47. On the same day another light aircraft from the United States bombed the "Violeta", now called the "Primero de Enero" sugar mill in Ciego de Avila and another plane, also from the United States, bombed the "Punta Alegre", now "Máximo Gómez" mill in the municipality of Chambas in Ciego de Avila. Three targets in the same day, all bombed by aircraft coming from the United States.
The next day another person was killed and one more was injured in a B-26 bombing raid on the same "Punta Alegre" mill in Chambas, Ciego de Avila. This is a demonstration of how these terrorist attacks against our country began, promoted by the North American Administration, using the Batistianos that had fled the country and those that betrayed the Revolution in those early days as their instruments, attempting to create chaos in the country, especially after the Agrarian Reform Law that dealt the most severe blow to North American interests in our country, giving the land to its true owners, the peasants.
Mr. Bush, who speaks so much about private property, should know that was the greatest distribution of property in Cuban history. This measure was one of the things that led to the intensification of the counter-revolutionary activity against the nascent process and the increase of United States actions against our country. Such was the case that by the beginning of 1960, the North American government had officially adopted a detailed plan of aggression against the Cuban Revolution about which Reinaldo Taladrid can offer us some more information.
Reinaldo Taladrid. - My pleasure, Randy.
The first idea I want to transmit is that we should note that the top officials in the North American administration, the politicians, are the ones who assess and order what must be done and they, of course, oblige all branches of the government to act.
On March 16th, 1960 these two plans are approved by the United States National Security Council.
I want to make something clear. The United States National Security Council is in the White House, at the heart of government in everything related to foreign policy, national security and international issues. The President of the United States himself participates, as does his Vice President and all the Presidential team. In other words it is the very nerve center of the Administration for those issues, many specialists from the different government agencies participate of course, but it is in that Council that decisions are taken.
What exactly was approved on March 16th, 1960 by the National Security Council? Two plans were approved:
The first is called the Covert Action Program against Castro’s regime. We must emphasize an important point here. This program includes four points, but the ultimate outcome of this plan, the execution of both plans, undoubtedly leads to the direct action of Bay of Pigs, just as experience shows that the failure of Bay of Pigs leads to the October Crisis. It is in the documents, it isn’t simply an idea of mine. The document reads:
"Everything possible will be done to execute it in such a way that the United State’s capacity for action is progressively increased" - the United States, not her pawns –"in a crisis situation." In other words, the need for the United States to become directly involved, or much more than was originally planned.
I said that this first plan, the Program of Covert Action against Castro’s regime, had four main points.
The first says: "Create a Cuban opposition" pay particular attention to that key word, the verb says it all: "create", "fabricate", how contemporary, what historical validity in that sentence – "that would necessarily be located outside of Cuba" – how revealing this for understanding history – "in the form of a council or junta, through the creation of three" - and notice the word – "acceptable opposition groups, with which the Central Intelligence Agency is already in contact." From the outset it is stated: to create an opposition acceptable to the United States government, this is the first of the four points.
The second: "So that the opposition" – and I’m quoting from the translation of the document, that is why I use this type of language, you are actually hearing what was approved by the United States National Security Council – "may have a voice, initiate a strong propaganda offensive in name of the opposition" – how interesting! Who will initiate it? The United States government in the name of the opposition. Once more we see that although the voice may be of a Cuban traitor, no matter whose the voice is, it is the government of the United States that is doing the talking, the document is quite plain: "in the name of the opposition" – "through the creation of a clandestine radiostation that will broadcast on long and short-wave probably form Swan island." This was Radio Swan that was nothing more than the precursor to what is today called Radio ‘Martí’ of the United States government, paid for by the United States government and talking "in the name" of that opposition that the United States government claims to have "created". Everybody knows this was the case, a tool of war, a psychological war of misinformation, the specialty of the current Undersecretary of State for Latin America. These are the precedents.
Point number three of the plan: "Creation of a secret intelligence and action organization within Cuba that will respond to the orders and instructions of the opposition in ‘exile’" – they themselves place ‘exile’ in single quotes – "whose role will be: one, to supply important intelligence information; two, to manage the infiltration and exfiltration of individuals, assist in the internal distribution of propaganda, plan dissidence" – the year 1960, March 1960 and "plan dissidence" is already being mentioned – "and organize groups as instructed." Once more everything is conceived and created by the United States government.
Point number four in this plan says: "Create a suitable paramilitary force outside of Cuba as well as the mechanisms for the necessary logistic support for covert military operations on the island." What are we dealing with? Exactly that: the creation "of a military force", and the military only come to shoot, to plant bombs, to throw grenades, they don’t come for any other reason, paid by the United States government to act covertly in the island. What on earth is this? What are we talking about here? A military group is being created to act in a third country. If this isn’t terrorism then what is it? What could we possibly call what the government of the United States approved?
I just want to mention one more element of this plan before passing onto the next. In a specific point this document says:
"Leadership. Every effort will be made to" - listen to this – "select a president, given the urgent need for a successor to Castro." Did you hear, "select a president", it’s in black and white, 1960. "As the possibility of overthrowing Fidel Castro becomes more imminent" – allow me to correct this, this was 1960, so the imminence is now 42 years old – "a leader with full US support should be selected."
How were they going to choose the future president of Cuba? The details are right here and as we’ve seen, 42 years have passed since the 1960 imminence.
The second plan approved in this meeting was the "Program of economic pressure on Castro", as it was called. I must note that this has not been de-classified, perhaps due to its contemporary relevance and because it is the blockade anticipated, as a form of terrorism; not as a political tool, or an instrument for change, as is claimed, but as terrorism.
What we do know about this plan, unlike the first, comes from the notes of people that were present in the meeting of the National Security Council that I mentioned that have been de-classified. For this reason our knowledge is a little patchy.
What does this second plan, "Program of economic pressure on Castro" say?
"One: sabotage Cuba’s negotiations", that still occurs.
"Two: Sabotage economic targets in the country." This means plant a bomb in a sugar mill, burn a cane field in Cuba with terrorist means and methods.
"Three: Cut Cuba’s oil supply, given its parallel, devastating effect over a period of one month to six weeks." They would cut Cuba’s oil supply, commit an act of genocide and, according to them, paralyze a country within one month to six weeks.
"Four: Suspend all relations between the two countries, annulling the trade agreements of 1903 and 1934." A good example of what free trade means; how the government decides with whom their entrepreneurs should or should not trade.
"Five: Exert influence on US businessmen so they pull out of Cuba and suspend new investment." Again, this is still in place.
"Six: Reduce US tourism" They still pursue this tactic, of course.
"Seven: Reduce the sugar quota." Another form of economic strangulation and genocide.
"Eight: Suspend the activity of the nickel plant in Nicaro, Oriente, as of September 29th."
And one comment: a slightly later report, called the Mallory Report, says: "The only likely way in which to alienate internal support" – referring to the Revolution – "is through disillusionment and disheartenment arising from dissatisfaction and economic hardship. All conceivable means should soon be used to weaken Cuban economic life."
And if we are left with any doubts, according to a de-classified document – we are talking about 1960 – President Eisenhower, the president of the United States, told one of his consultants that "if necessary a quarantine would be established around Cuba, because if the Cuban people" – the President of the United States said – "go hungry, Castro will fall." This is the true aim of what later became the blockade: suffocate Cuba so the people go hungry. All this wordmongering, that the blockade seeks democracy, freedom, etc, is stripped naked here: let the people starve, let them go without food, so that, according to them, they will overthrow Fidel Castro. This is a form of terrorism, approved by the White House and by the National Security Council, that exposes many of the lies expressed in the May 20th speeches.
Randy Alonso. - A reversion Mr. Eisenhower wanted to make to the Weyler Concentration, in which so many Cubans died during the Independence War.
But as you were saying, a central element of this document, that in itself is a veritable compendium of terrorist actions against our country, is the sabotage, the attempts on the lives of the Revolution’s leaders, to create a climate of terror in the country and provoke a change of government or the collapse of the Revolution.
There were many terrorist attacks in 1960 and 1961 and I would like to ask Rogelio Polanco to talk to us about some of the main actions prior to the mercenary invasion of Bay of Pigs.
Rogelio Polanco. - There was an escalation of terrorism in 1960 and 1961. When one looks back and studies history and sees what was done to our country and what the Revolution had to face, our triumphant Revolution, in those early years, there were genuine acts of aggression and terrorism. And there is a precedent, a macabre irony in the use of airplanes to spread terror amongst our people during all this time. There is a long list of illegal, aggressive and terrorist incursions into Cuban territory by aircraft from the United States that came quite simply, with complete impunity and tolerance, to bomb, machine gun and cause panic amongst our people.
There are statistics, for example, that show that between September and December 1960 alone – in just four months – Cuban airspace around Havana was violated more than 50 times, in other words, Cuban airspace was violated almost once every two days, and terrorist, counter-revolutionary propaganda was dropped on towns and cities.
A report of the inspector general of the CIA, Lyman Kirkpatrick, says that a total of 12 million pounds of flyers were dropped on Cuba in this period, urging people to commit sabotage and spread terror in the country’s installations.
Of course, the terrorist machine gunning and bombing of towns and cities in this period produced many victims and material damage. I have some examples here that could serve to keep our historical memory fresh: the dropping, in January 1960, of four 100 pound bombs on the towns of Regla and Cojímar, right here in the capital, endangering the civil population – in this incursion the pilots making the attack on our capital’s neighborhoods were North Americans, Bob Spining and Eduardo Whitehouse. The dropping of nothing less than live phosphorus on February 11th, 1960 on the El Cano area, also in the capital, and the machine gunning in October and December of the same year of the Río Cristal, Rancho Boyeros and Arroyo Arenas districts of the capital.
Sugar mills suffered truly vicious attacks. We have already heard about these attacks in 1959, but it was in 1960 and 1961 that dozens of sugar mills were attacked and millions of arrobas of cane were burnt; uncountable damage was caused and several people were killed. I only have one example here which was the attack on an economic target: the España sugar mill, that is now called España Republicana. On this occasion the Piper Comanche 250 light aircraft piloted by the North American, Ellis Frost who was accompanied by the ex-member of the dictatorship’s repressive forces, Onelio Santana Roque, exploded in mid-air. Amongst the documents the two crew members had on them, evidence was found of their participation in three previous raids and of the fact that they were due to receive $1500 for the fatal bombardment. The supply runs to the terrorist bands, also using planes, began in this period, as did the use of airplanes as a weapon of terror when they were hijacked and stolen to the United States by war criminals, firstly in 1959 by Batista’s killers, continuing for many years until it became a political boomerang for the US government.
I have some statistics from that era: on just one day, October 14th, they hijacked four agricultural planes in Matanzas province, in the city of Colón; there were also deaths; on October 29th, 1960 for example, on a DC-3 of Aerovías Q the military escort, Cástulo Acosta Hernández was killed and the pilot, Candelario Delgado Ruiz and a 14 year old passenger on the plane, Argelio Rodríguez Hernández, were injured. On December 8th, on a DC-3, flight number CUT 172 of Cubana de Aviación the pilot, Francisco Martínez Malo, was murdered in mid-flight.
The same happened, as I’m sure we all remember, with the boats. Terrorist sabotage was commonplace in 1960 and 1961: terrorist attacks on public buildings, from cinemas to theaters to schools and stores, every type of building was at risk, the aim being to spread panic and terror amongst the population.
Randy Alonso. - Even the means of communication were exposed to sabotage.
Rogelio Polanco. - Definitely, the Revolución newspaper and Bohemia magazine.
Randy Alonso. - La Calle newspaper.
Rogelio Polanco. - Here I have information on other economic installations that were sabotaged – the Cerro aqueduct, the Jovellanos refrigeration plant, the Tallapiedra power plant, the CMQ TV studios, the Belot refinery, now called Ñico López; all of these suffered sabotage and terrorism during that period.
We must also not forget two important criminal acts: the sabotage of the French boat La Coubre that at that time, March 4th 1960, was anchored in Havana harbour to unload – as we remember – the arms that our country was importing to defend itself against those same terrorist attacks and aggression that the United States government was already unleashing against our country. This sabotage provoked those explosions and caused the deaths of no less than 101 people, with over 200 injured and several missing. Those two explosions were cruel and criminal acts that killed many of those who had gone to help. It is an event that our people will not forget because it was in that moment that the historic slogan "Homeland or Death" was first proclaimed.
Randy Alonso. - An act in which six of the French sailors also lost their lives, showing the lengths of the terrorism implemented against Cuba by the United States that affected more than just Cuban citizens.
Rogelio Polanco. - Terrorism, of course, then as now, never considered its victims. This was certainly the case on April 13th, 1961, when the El Encanto department store was cruelly sabotaged right here in the capital causing the death of the worker and militiawoman, Fé del Valle. El Encanto was the largest store in the country and was utterly destroyed. Our people remember this event with great pain; an attack on the very eve of the Bay of Pigs invasion.
And in the same way, Randy, attacks were also made on many Cuban targets overseas, even on North American soil itself, as against the offices of Cubana de Aviación In New York and Miami. This is something that was immensely widespread in the 1970s and must not be left out of our analysis.
Many innocent people were also murdered, including children and adolescents. I see on the list I have here, that on April 7th, 1960, Commander Francisco Tamayo was murdered by the traitor Manuel Beatón Marínez; on October 10th, 1960, Reinaldo Muñiz-Bueno Machado, a mere boy, was murdered by a counter-revolutionary band.
Let us not forget that these bands, empowered and supported during that period by the United States, killed many people. This is obviously something that our people remember, as we also remember the infiltration groups that caused many deaths in different parts of the country, or those groups that carried out pirate attacks on our coastline. One of the most significant of these was the attack on March 13th, 1961, on the Hermanos "Díaz" oil refinery in Santiago de Cuba which led to the death of combatant René Rodríguez Hernández and the wounding of combatant Roberto Ramón Castro.
These are events that our people will never forget, events that demonstrate that the Revolution was genuinely anti-terrorist from the very beginning because she herself had to face the terror generated by the United States.
Lázaro Barredo.- Randy, I would like to show the facsimile of Revolución newspaper from December 30th, 1960 which tells of the raiding of a bomb factory and the detention of 17 terrorists that served and followed the orders of the United States Embassy in Cuba. Amongst these 17 terrorists, who had been placing tins of plastic explosives in stores, we find two of the spokespeople of today’s counter-revolution who are close friends of the rulers of the government of the United States and other countries: one is recently-turned journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner, who was not condemned at that time because he was still a minor and hid later in a Latin American embassy to flee the country; and the other is the star ambassador Armando Valladares, the so-called, "paralytic", "writer", etc., etc. In 1960 these two individuals – it is there in the press of that very day telling of their detention and the seizing of plastic explosives – planted bombs in stores, frequented by many people including women and children, and had no qualms about acting as notorious terrorists in our country.
Randy Alonso. - Yes, one of these store attacks was one of the most hideous – as Polanco was saying – of that whole period and we would like, on a day such as today, in which we are discussing the new fallacies and lies of the the United States government, to remind Mr. Bush and his administration of the actions of North American governments over the last 40 years against our people and remind them just who are the real terrorists.
The images of El Encanto are still in the eyes and minds of those who lived then and they also offer an important testimony to today’s young people.
(A video of images of the fire in El Encanto is shown)
Narrator. - While a peaceful people dedicate themselves to their labors, to the building of a new homeland, murderous hands plant Yankee-made fire bombs in the nationalized El Encanto, a work center were thousands of Cuban families earn their living.
In the very center of Havana, placing a number of Cuban homes at risk, they start a fire of terrible proportions. They do not care about the lives of children, women and old people; they don’t care about the lives of our workers.
The people mobilized to fight the fire. The Militias, the Rebel Army, the firemen were able to prevent the fire spreading to neighboring houses.
The imperialists don’t realize they will never vanquish our flag.
With these barbaric acts Yankee imperialism hopes to destroy our national wealth, paralyze production and promotes shortages. They have no further hope of confusing and treacherously mobilizing public opinion and so they throw themselves, full of hate, into murderous terrorism, violence and aggression.
Reynol González (CIA Agent). - Well, we burnt El Encanto, the Ten Cent stores, the wharf, one of the towers on the wharf, a cigar factory, the Puentes Grandes paper mill, a tobacco factory that is here in Havana and several others I don’t remember now.
So, what’s going on? Because something needs saying here and I think it’s good that it’s said and I am just the person to say it. The problem is this: The truth is that in some aspects the Americans have used us; used us to maintain a state of internal tension and anxiety, with sabotage, with this, that and the other, so they could carry out their plans. So, we provided them with cover, quite simply, and they went ahead and followed their own plans. This is the truth. And so the ones that are dying, the ones that are in prison are us Cubans.
Randy Alonso. - So this was their cover – as this CIA agent who participated in the El Encanto sabotage was saying -; but the real North American plan was to prolongue this period of terror in our country in the build-up to the mercenary invasion at Bay of Pigs. This is an event in the history of our Homeland that our entire nation remembers and that is undoubtedly one of the culminating moments in the defense of our Revolution against North American aggression. On this theme Juan Carlos Rodríguez, an expert in this field, academic and researcher of the events of the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Juan C. Rodríguez. - The invasion was a terrorist operation, there is no doubt about it, and it cannot be viewed in isolation from what my Comrades who spoke before me have already mentioned.
The sabotage in the cities, such as what we have just seen in the burning of El Encanto is part of the preparatory plan that would culminate in the landing; in other words, create a fertile climate for the landing.
This very action in El Encanto was carried out after training infiltration teams in the Trax base camps in Guatemala, where the 2506 Brigade was prepared. The store was reduced to ashes with two incendiary devices containing a material only produced in the North American military industry; it was not a home-made substance, it was brought over by a member of an infiltration team to which, for example, José Basulto with whom we are all familiar, belonged.
This was also the case in the uprisings. These were pre-planned operations that would culminate in the invasion. And within this tactic we can also include the attempt to assassinate the leader of the Cuban Revolution using poison, synthetic botulin, that was specially produced for this purpose months before the invasion in United States government laboratories. They spared no efforts in this terrorist act because they were talking of assassinating a Prime Minister no less; they did not shy away from using the mafia to smuggle the synthetic botulin into the country and attempt to carry out the assassination weeks or even days before the invasion, believing in that way they could create some kind of disheartenment amongst the revolutionary forces, amongst the militia, that would help to ensure a successful invasion.
Without a doubt the invasion was an act of terrorism, and State terrorism at that. If not, then how are we to understand what has already been explained, how to explain that the North Americana government’s leading specialists worked on this operation; we are not talking of any other kind of action, we are talking about the North American government and its leading specialists.
They were responsible for the recruitment of the future mercenaries in Miami and New York, in specially equipped houses, for the medical check-up, the transfer to the Trax bases. With this they followed Eisenhower’s plan to use territory outside of the United States in an attempt to cover themselves. Also, an entire battalion - known as Operation Mars and trained in Lake Pontchartrain, in New Orleans-, set off from the Mississippi river and circled the perimeter of the island, with the mission to land at Imías in Oriente in order to draw attention and make the revolution’s leaders believe that that was the target of the invasion.
This battalion was trained in the United States; the tank brigades in Georgia; the frogmen in Vieques; the Commander in Chief of 2506 Brigade was a Coronel in the United States Marines, Jack Hawkins. And this was not only in the preparatory phase, but also in the actual combat, when they had their headquarters at Quarter Eyes, as they call it, that was within the Pentagon barracks. Many important United States military chiefs and others involved stayed there during the entire operation and gave their orders to San Román, yes, in those days San Román was a pawn of the North Americans.
Very few documents telling what happened during those three days in Quarter Eyes have been de-classified, because they involve the army, the Navy and the Airforce of the United States.
The tactical airforce of the brigade was commanded by General George (Reid) Doster, a North American general from the Alabama National Guard. This force, 16 B-26 bombers disguised with the insignia of the Revolutionary Air Force in one more violation of international war conventions, attacked three Cuban airports without any prior warning, without declaring war, which makes it a terrorist attack. The following day, during the funeral of the victims of these bombardments, Fidel said: "If the people of the United States considered the attack on Pearl Harbour to be a crime, a cowardly and treacherous act, then our people have the right to consider yesterday’s imperialist attack to be twice as criminal, twice as deceitful, twice as treacherous."
The transfer from Nicaragua to the southern coast was the exclusive operation of the Navy. Very few documents on this movement have been de-classified, but we know from the statements of the invaders themselves, who saw the forces in the water, that submarines, destroyers and aircraft carriers participated, and that it was completely directed by the US Navy. What is more, the landing of the armored units was carried out by the United States transporter San Marcos (LSD) that practically came up to the coast, there releasing the launches containing the tanks and armored cars. In other words, this was an operation of the Navy, completely military.
The Cuban pilots were trained by North American pilots, and six of these even participated in the bombardment of the final day and in the napalm attack on one of the militia brigades, this being prohibited in war by international conventions.
One of these pilots, Leo Francis Baker, was shot down, but in order not to admit the North American participation in the invasion, the United States government had him frozen for almost 20 years, until he was officially reclaimed during the Carter administration, an eloquent testimony of North American involvement.
There is more. The first man to land, the first man to reach the shore in the Bay of Pigs was the commander of the frogmen, Grayston Lynch, a North American agent. He even fired the first shots, wounding a brigadista that was patrolling the area in a jeep. Even the first shot was fired by a North American.
So that no doubt remains of the terrorist nature of this operation and its total control by the North American government, a fact they have always tried to hide, in a conference held in Musgrove, Georgia in 1996, a North American academic, Piero Gleijeses, professor of the School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, listening to some Cubans living in the United States attempting to make North American academics believe that the invasion was some kind of association between the so-called anti-Castro resistance and the North American government; a kind of cooperation plan between the two, interrupted and said: "I hope we do not lose sight of what really happened. The Bay of Pigs operation was not a cooperation agreement between the United States and the Cuban resistance; the Cubans that participated in Bay of Pigs were the trump card of the United States, what they thought was not even relevant. The plans were drawn up by the United States, the leaders were chosen by the United States, so when we talk about Bay of Pigs we are talking about an act of United States aggression against Cuba."
Who came in the invasion? I would like to refer to this because of its contemporary relevance. Amongst those invaders, amongst that trump card to which Piero Gleijeses referred, 100 possessed huge tracts of land, latifundistas that had seen their property expropriated and handed over to those that really worked the land; another 67 possessed thousands of houses for rent that the Revolution had given to their tenants; 214 belonged to the rich families that had controlled trade, the banks and industry; 194 belonged to the armed forces that had supported and sustained the dictator, Fulgencio Batista and a further 112 had worked in businesses eradicated by the Revolution, such as prostitution, gambling and drugs.
It’s worth noting that amongst these mercenaries there were some notorious members of Batista’s dictatorship, such as Ramón Calviño Inzua, for example, author of murders, torture, rapes and castrations, a man well known to the Cuban people. He came in the invasion, was tried with a wealth of evidence, the testimonies of the families of people who had seen him murder their relatives was broadcast on television, and 20 years later, in the Brigade’s magazine, Revista Girón, the organ of 2506 Brigade, published in Miami, in its first edition, on October, 1984, I read the following:
"Last September saw the 23rd anniversary of the death by firing squad of several imprisoned brigadistas: Ramón Calviño, Jorge King and Rafael Emilio Soler Puig. They are always remembered by those who remain in the fight for Cuba’s freedom." In other words, those same people that fondly remember those torturers and murderers of Batista’s tyranny were posing for photos with the North American President a few days ago. Terrorists, of course, must be related to those thugs of the dictatorship.
What damage did those terrorist actions cause? I will refer to just two events amongst the many that occurred in the Zapata Swamp. This is an area lacking in all benefits before the triumph of the Revolution; total isolation, misery, an incredibly high death rate, an area that did not even control itself; the Revolution was a truly transcendental event in these peoples’ lives for the things it brought them, that were of course interrupted during the invasion.
I will refer to two events. At one point during the landings, attempts were made to evacuate the charcoal makers’ families, and this is the testimony of one of those families:
"At dawn they were taking us out in a truck, Aunt Amparo Ortiz was there with her husband and her sister, María Ortiz, and her husband; Cira María García and her family; Dulce María, my sister, and me.
Suddenly, near the INRA sign they opened fire the truck ran off the road. Dulce María fell at my feet and there was blood coming out of her mouth and nose. I looked back screaming and I saw Cira María García stretched out on the causeway, with her husband next to her. A little further on María Ortíz was screaming because of the burns. ‘Look what you’ve done to my sister!’ I screamed at the mercenaries as they tried to put me in a truck, ‘Bring me my sister’. One of them told me ‘I’m sorry, she is dead, we are at war.’ I started to cry then. I loved my sister very much; she was nearly 15, a young rebel, in sixth grade. One of the mercenaries that was in the truck tried to give me 10 pesos when he saw me crying, I don’t know why. ‘I don’t want your money, I want my sister’ This is the testimony of that young woman.
A photograph that has been seen around the world shows two women lying face down on the causeway, with a man slightly behind them. That girl in front is Dulce María, the sister of the girl who gave her testimony, Nora Martín. She was only 14 years old. Nora, her sister, suffered from high blood pressure for the rest of her life; she lives in Jagüey Grande and she still suffers from high blood pressure. The girl´s mother testified in the Demand, she showed the photo of her daughter.
The other event is the case of Nemesia Rodríguez, which we all know as the story of the little white shoes, and she also has another story to tell. She was also being evacuated in a truck when a mercenary B-26 headed towards the causeway and pursued them until they were right in its sights. She tells: "My dad then told my mum: ‘Bang hard and tell the driver to stop’ he then pushed my brother and shouted, ‘get on the floor, that plane is going to land on the road’. I was sitting on a wooden box full of cans of condensed milk, my six-month-old nephew on my lap. Then the plane opened fire. My mother fell, she had been hit in the stomach and in the arm; a bullet hit my granny in the spine and she was left an invalid; my brother was hit in the arm and the leg. I crouched down and my mother opened her eyes. I asked her if she was hurt, she reached out her hand and wanted to touch me but she fainted. Then my dad lifted me down from the truck. ‘If you don’t get mum down I’m not coming, she’s still alive." My dad had covered her with a sheet and you couldn’t see the wounds in her belly and I thought she was alive. Then the wind lifted the sheet and I saw the wound, everything had come out."
Later, when they took her to Jagüey, she recounts: "They had already taken my mum to Jagüey, I wanted to see her and they took me to the funeral parlous, I couldn’t forget when the wind had lifted the sheet and I saw that wound, I saw my mother’s insides."
She told me this 30 years later, crying, because the people of the Zapata Swamp that suffered those terrorist acts remember them like they happened only yesterday. It has traumatized them for the rest of their lives. These are acts that, if we had to include a country in a terrorist list the United States would be heading the list.
We must ask ourselves what these invaders were coming for, who exactly were they going to liberate? I think that the Zapata Swamp itself is indicative. Everything the Revolution had achieved there in just a year and a half: roads, medical services, the first pharmacies were opened, three causeways built across the water to end the isolation – this was one of the reasons why so many women died at childbirth, the problem was there was no way of getting them out – the credit cooperatives and services. The charcoal makers no longer had to earn their crust taking a plank or cutting a tree trunk to buy something to eat. Credit stores were opened, people started to buy clothes and shoes, and to eat. Their economic income rose from one peso to ten pesos; work became human - the weight of the sacks of charcoal was reduced from 13 to 10 arrobas. Well, endless things that I think sum up what the Revolution meant, as much for those living in the Zapata Swam as for the Cuban people as a whole. One thing perhaps not many people remember today: Fidel decided to pass Christmas Eve of the first year of the triumph of the Revolution, 1959, in a very poor part of Cuba: the Zapata Swamp. He went to a peasant’s house; he had to go by helicopter as there was no other way of getting to that man’s poor ranch, his shack.
This is the brief testimony of his daughter, her father also told me the story but this is the girl’s, who is now a grown woman. She tells of how the Prime Minister of a country went to spend Christmas Eve in a very poor place, something the world had never seen. It says: "A charcoal maker’s youngest daughter remembers that Christmas Eve with Fidel: "I was only a girl, but I remember everything well. I sat next to Fidel and drank Maltina and soda. Núñez Jiménez’ wife gave me a pair of white socks. After dinner, a peasant from around there came and played the guitar. I can still remember the song he sang for Fidel that night.
"We now have roads/thanks to God and Fidel/no more women die/giving birth wherever/ With your courage without compare/thank you Fidel, Commander/you saved us/from that infernal torment."
Randy Alonso.- This was the aim of that mercenary invasion, financed and organized by the United States government: to crush the Revolution that had given those people their rights back; bathe a revolutionary people in blood: 150 dead and 350 injured, approximately, in less than 72 hours is what that mercenary invasion left in our country, where, if it had succeeded, there were already plans in place to selectively execute revolutionary people after the mercenary Bay of Pigs invasion. The fascist tactic of painting the Cuban flag on the enemy’s planes was used on that April 15th, the day that Eduardo García Delgado was murdered, writing Fidel’s name on the wall with his own blood; those 17th, 18th and 19th of April when they attacked the people of the Zapata Swamp.
It was an invasion that attempted to drown a Revolution in blood, wipe it off the face of the Earth, destroy an unprecedented process in our hemisphere and a unique process in today’s world, the thorn in the side of the United States in this continent. Since that moment they have tried to drown us in blood, regardless of how many people have to die, regardless of how many are murdered, or how many disappear because of the terrorist actions of the government of the United States against our country.
For this reason, I would like to offer you the testimony given by a mother, who lost her beloved daughter to the bullets of this invasion organized and financed by the United States, to the Demand our people made against the government of the United States.
Hectolidia Angulo.- I have been injured by imperialism’s aggression because they were the ones who gave the weapons to and trained the mercenaries that came to Playa Girón, those that destroyed part of my family.
My daughters, Dulce María Martín and Nora were in Caletón that day, in their aunt’s house, aunt Amparo, their great-aunt. María Ortíz, Amparo’s sister was also there because a week before, on April 9th, Amparo had lost her son in an asthma attack and my family was there with her until she recovered, because she was alone with her husband now.
Then on April 17th the landings came and in the morning, the neighbors got together and agreed to evacuate the women and children of the area
- the defenseless ones- to Jagüey Grande, so that they wouldn’t get caught in that situation, thinking that there would be no one on the road and they could escape.
When they left Caletón and were going to take the road to Jagüey Grande, at the junction of Playa Larga and Jagüey Grande, the mercenaries that were in a trench there came out and machine-gunned the truck, an open truck in which you could see that the people were civilians, children and women and an old man that was there too...
I want to show you the picture of my family lying dead on the road. This girl you can see here is my daughter, this is her aunt, and this here is the husband of the other aunt, Ramón. This is the image of my family, torn apart by the imperialist government of the United States. So I have come here to make my testimony with all my strength and to tell Fidel that we are here for whatever he needs.
Randy Alonso.- Before Girón they were the base for the preparations of the mercenary invasion. After Girón they continued to sow terror amongst the Cuban peasants causing terrible mourning amongst our people. The counter-revolutionary bands spread death amongst the Cuban children in the mountains in many parts of the island.
On this theme I would like to invite Dr. Mendoza - who was a lawyer during the Demand and heard the moving testimonies of many mothers, brothers and fathers of the victims of that banditry - to talk about this period of North American terrorism against our country.
Juan Mendoza.- The first thing I must say is that this is not an invitation to an academic or historical exercise; we are duty bound to analyze these events to be able to give an answer to the question posed by today’s meeting on who are the real terrorists.
Banditry is one of the most important chapters in the history of US terrorism against Cuba, and I believe we should define this term for the sake of our foreign audience. It is necessary to clarify that our people labeled these people as bandits because of the felonies they had committed, or the actions that characterized them; but banditry itself, in short, is also terrorism, and state terrorism at that, because its organization and funding came from a foreign state.
As you were saying in your introduction, there were two stages to this banditry: the first began 15 months after the triumph of the Revolution and lasted until just before the Bay of Pigs invasion. After the defeat of this invasion, banditry acquired a new dimension, a new boost.
The phenomenon of banditry – as our people are historically aware – lasted for a period of 5 years until it was finally eliminated in 1965.
We must not forget that this terrorist movement affected almost every corner of the country; 20 bands were reported in Pinar del Rio, with 255 members; 10 were to be found in Havana; 43 in Matanzas, with 605 members; in Las Villas, mainly in the Escambray area – which was the bandit’s stronghold in our country - 141 bands were reported with over 2000 members; Camagüey had 14 bands and there were 51 in Oriente.
This makes a rough total of 300 bands with 4000 members operating throughout Cuban territory.
Now we must ask ourselves: Who were the victims of this terrorist activity: Our people were.
These events were the subject of a legal process in which we were obliged to provide documentary evidence for every single victim for whom we were seeking justice. At that time we were able to document the existence of 549 Cubans killed as a result of this terrorist activity; as well as a great number of injured. There is historical research that points to many more deaths because of this activity, but we limited ourselves to the documented cases.
It is difficult in this brief synthesis to capture all that passed before our eyes during the 21 days of the Demand undertaken by our people in which an important part of our history was revealed to all; but because of their exceptional drama I always remember the murders on January 5th, 1961, of the teacher, Conrado Benítez and the peasant Eliodoro Rodríguez; the murder of the teacher Delfín Sen Cedré in October 1961; the murder of Manuel Ascunce Domenech and the peasant Pedro Lantigua on November 26th, 1961 that – as you said – were an attack on the two fundamental values of the Revolution: the first was the Literacy Campaign, the movement to spread education to everyone; the second, those peasants who had benefited from that important reform that had given them their land and made them its rightful owners.
I can still remember the testimony of Manuel Ascunce Domenech’s mother – who is dead now – because of its emotion and importance.
There are many other events that could be mentioned that, because of the victims, provoke the indignation in our people, such as the murder of a group of children and young people. During the Demand we were able to document 17 injured Cuban children, eight of whom died. I especially remember the murders of the Bolondrón children, Yolanda and Fermín, 11 and 13 years old, and the murder of Reinaldo Muñiz, 22 months old.
The list of criminal activities that occurred in our country as a result of that terrorist activity is endless.
Why are we talking about banditry now? Why do mention it now that we are attempting to identify who are the real terrorists. The reason is that there is a verified historical link between these people that operated within our country and the government of the United States, a link that was documentarily demonstrated during the Demand.
There are certain indisputable facts: Lyman Kirkpatrick’s, Inspector General of the CIA’s, famous October 1961 report that was de-classified in the 1990s, a report made by 125 CIA officials designed to untangle the causes of the failure of the Bay of Pigs mercenary invasion. This report, linked to terrorism, makes clear reference – and we need have no doubts, considering its authors – to covert financing of these activities that began soon after the triumph of the Revolution.
This report refers to a famous covert operation known as Operation Silence in which the CIA, on the orders of the United States government, carried out 12 arms, munitions and bomb drops to the armed bands operating in our country. This is called State terrorism.
There is something else which confirms this link, this indispensable bond between the government of the United States, its centers of power and the armed bands: the meeting of the National Security Council on March 17th, 1960, in which the Program of covert action against Castro’s regime was approved.
We are talking about a meeting in which the Vice President, Richard Nixon, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Assistant Defense Secretary, the Undersecretary of State, the Assistant Secretary of State, an admiral from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of the CIA at that time, Allen Dulles, and a general, Goodpaster, all participated and in which the plan to authorize, amongst other things, the creation of a secret intelligence and action organization within Cuba was approved with the necessary funds being allocated to the CIA for this purpose.
There is a note of the general that participated in the meeting, which has been de-classified, and it always makes me think when I read it.
Goodpaster says, and I quote: "The President said" – he is referring to Eisenhower – " that he did not know of a better plan to control the situation. The big problems are leaks and the lack of security. Everyone must be prepared to swear that he" – the President – "didn’t know anything about it. He said, "Our prints can’t turn up on anything that’s done."
I told you that every time I read this note it make me think, because it gives me the idea, reminds me - and I have already mentioned the people that were present - of a meeting of mafiosos. The order that nothing must be revealed, that hands must be kept clean of what was going on, this is an example of State terrorism.
There may be hostility between states, there may be hatred between states, but this is evidence of a complete lack of political ethics that clearly shows the behavior of the US government. So now, when the US government decides with utter arrogance who is good and who is evil, it proves its absolute historical amnesia, amongst other things; and an obvious conclusion can be drawn from all this is: that they are the real terrorists, and terrorists with a pedigree at that, because of their long experience, demonstrated by everything that has been said this evening.
Randy Alonso.- In this long history of murders and North American terrorist actions against our country, banditry occupies a very important position. More than 500 of our people dead is obviously something that neither the younger generation nor, of course, the Cubans that witnessed those terrible events, will ever forget. I would like to offer you the testimonies of two women, wife and mother, who suffered from the terror of banditry: María Cristina Fuentes and Evelia Domenech.
" María C. Fuentes.- The damage I suffered from the aggressors and the bands sent by the United States was that when my husband went out in the early morning to get the milk, the food for his children, they took him, tortured him, beat him and then they came and hung him in the door of our house, on the porch, leaving me with six defenseless little children, five between 0 and 6 years of age and one 15 year old, an adolescent still.
Cross-examiner. - What was your husband’s name, witness?
María C. Fuentes.- My husband was called Bernardo Jiménez Núñez. Imagine how I felt, with that terrible aggression that left my children defenseless, without a father, without food, without money, without a house, nothing.
Comrade, it was horrendous. It was terrible, they didn’t even leave us with anywhere to stay nor anywhere to live, because there was nothing left. Thanks to some of the neighbors there, who collected a few pesos for me, I was able to go to my father’s house, he had a shack and my sister was already there, in the most terrible conditions, just like me, because they had killed her husband as well.
My old and sick father only earned 60 pesos and then I turn up there with six, seven including myself. Sleeping on the floor, in terrible conditions, because they murdered the children’s father, the only support I had in my life.
Evelia Domenech. - I have been injured in the worst way a mother can be injured.
The aggressive policy of the United States against our country through the counter-revolutionary bands, which all the world knows are financed, supported and armed by the CIA, in the Escambray in the 1960s. This was where my son, Manuel Ascunce Domenech, was murdered by the counter-revolutionary bands on November 26th, 1961.
He was there in the mountains doing one of the most beautiful and most human jobs: teaching. In this case he was teaching the peasants to read and write, destroying the widespread illiteracy that existed in our country as a result of Yankee imperialism and the violation of our country. He was murdered by one of these bands, they cruelly showed no mercy on his young body, he was only 16 years old. And even though human life is priceless for us, Yankee imperialism is inexcusable, and I think they should pay for all the pain they have caused us and continue to cause us, because I am not alone, there are thousands of mothers in this country who have felt the criminal clutches into their flesh.
I completely agree with all the demands made here, so that they are made to pay for what they have done here.
Randy Alonso. - This is the image of death, is the slaughtered youth of Manuel Ascunce; it is knowledge criminally extinguished in the figure of this young man, as it was in Conrado Benítez’, as it was in every one of the murdered literacy campaigners and every one of the peasants who, through their young teachers, tried to reach the bright light of learning, a light that was denied them by the terrorist hands of these bands financed and armed by the United States; this is the testimony of the mothers that lost their children, of the wives that lost their companions in life and in combat; it is the testimony of a people that has suffered 43 years of aggression, of terror and threats from the United States and the bands it has financed, organizations it has created and fifth columns it has attempted to set up in our country; it is the result of more than 43 years of terrorist aggression that still plays a part in the US Administrations relations with the Cuban Revolution.
There is much still to be said. Tomorrow, Comrade Hevia will talk to us about how the failure of the Bay of Pigs led to the new plans of aggression against our people in the famous Operation Mongoose. Many more testimonies can still be offered to our viewers and listeners.
The testimonies, the images, the recounting of the United States’ terrorist crimes against our people show the world who the real terrorists are.
I would link to thank the panelists and our guests in the studio that have accompanied me this evening, and I would like to remind our people of the closing remarks of today’s editorial in Granma:
"Mr. Bush’s arguments, deceit, tricks, demagogy, lies and slander will be demolished one by one.
It does not matter how long this difficult combat in our long struggle goes on. We are deeply involved in a great battle of ideas, an unprecedented struggle between truths and lies, ignorance and political and historic knowledge; between education and barbarism, ethics and a total lack of moral values and principles, honesty and hypocrisy; between oppression and liberation, justice and injustice, equality and inequality, the nightmares of the past and the dreams of the future, the destruction and preservation of nature, the extinction and survival of our species.
On May 19, the day he fell in battle, a permanent watch was posted at Martí’s tomb. And it will be there forever.
There does not exist, and never will, a force in the world that can make us turn away from, abandon, or betray our noble causes!
And nothing will make us stray from our path, as we continue to be the steady friends and allies of the American people and of any other country in the world in the fight against terrorism."
The fight will go on.