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Location: Ciudad Habana, Cuba

"The cuban people reclaim those men,and we will not remain calmed untill there're back"

Thursday, July 20, 2006

‘War against terror’ conceals record of deceit, corruption, incompetence

When governments wage “wars” against nouns, like drugs and war, rather than against nations, they confront an obvious problem. Neither drugs nor terrorism will surrender. How then will the Bush Administration convince the public that it is “winning” these “wars”?
Creative script writing? Instead of hiring top lawyers to prosecute criminals, the Justice Department may have contracted spin-meisters to scare the public – or at least engage a sector of it in sardonic laughter. In other words, the 9/11 (tragedy) has evolved into a preposterous undercover operation (farce).
Last week, the White House accused the New York Times of committing journalistic treason by publishing the story on how the Bush Administration secretly tracked U.S. bank accounts, as if cunning terrorists wouldn’t have thought of this possibility. Even more bizarre, the Justice Department staged a Miami sting, designed to show that Homeland Security stands between us and fanatical terrorists operating under our noses, and to frighten the TV watching masses.
Attorney General Alberto “Tap ‘em and torture ‘em” Gonzalez announced that his raid nailed seven black men -- five U.S. citizens, one legal Haitian and one Haitian apparently illegally in the United States. They face life in prison if convicted of plotting to blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower and committing other violent acts against the United States – even though an agent provocateur provided the ideas and offered the weapons to the group.
To suck the gullible into a preposterous melodrama, the Justice Department used the eager media, which serve as the equivalent of the 19th Century shills who helped convince rubes to buy miracle cures for snake bite and syphilis from traveling hucksters. Indeed, modern advertising continues to lure suckers into buying products to stop the aging process, if not death itself.
Gonzalez, ringmaster for the new act in the terrorism circus, announced this publicity center piece in Bush’s terrorism war. The newly arrested septet does, however, provide the public with a clearer notion of the “t” word – at least in Bush’s dictionary: “terrorist equals inarticulate and gullible black Muslim or Christian.”
A lawyer would charge “entrapment” and point to an FBI provocateur luring seven vulnerable men into a trap. He convinced the group to swear an oath to Al Qaeda -- on camera. Imagine people who would believe an Al Qaeda rep doing a talent search in an Afro American neighborhood in Miami! What’s in it for the FBI?
Well, Bureau officials still carry their poor pre 9/11 performance burden. They failed to heed Agents’ memos that might have stopped the actual airplane hijackers before they struck. Instead of protecting the public, they targeted, for publicity’s sake, men who possessed neither money nor explosives -- nor ability to use them.
Even deputy FBI director John Pistole admitted the “plans to attack the Sears Tower were aspirational rather than operational.” Hey, like thousands of other men, I “aspired” for decades to become a major league shortstop! Like the arrested men, I lacked a few needed components for success.
Albeit in the “aspiration stage,” Pistole insisted the seven illustrated “the threat posed by small groups without connections to international terror networks.” He warned that “these are members of a homegrown terrorist cell. Their goal was simple: to accomplish attacks against America.” Yes, Pistole admitted, the group had no real connection to Al Qaeda, but the FBI sting man convinced them to take a televised oath -- although none of them knew to whom they were pledging “eternal loyalty.”
The FBI plant convinced the leader of these “aspirational” Jihadists, Narseal Batiste, that he represented Al Qaeda and could provide Batiste with “boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios and vehicles.” The gullible Batiste even asked for bulletproof vests and $50,000.
To plant explosives in the Sears Tower why would he need most of these items? The FBI claimed that the seven had even given their boot sizes to the Bureau operative. When the synchronized raids took place at a Miami warehouse and at other places where the men resided, the raiders found no weapons, bombs – or material to make them.
Yet, Gonzalez insisted the Bureau had saved the country, it had “identified and disrupted a terrorist plot before any damage could be done.” He claimed that “these individuals wished to wage a full ground war against the United States.” One suspect supposedly told the FBI infiltrator that he wanted to “kill all the devils we can.”
Handcuffed and shackled, the men who appeared in court on June 25, did not coincide with the “danger” portrait. Not Arabs, Muslims, nor men with serious prison records! The mother of one arrested man, a construction worker, said she got his weekly paycheck and that he knew nothing of Islam and bore no grudge against his country. A sister of one man said he couldn’t spell “Al Qaeda.”
Why, one would ask, did the media give such prominence to such a poorly scripted police comedy? Or does the Homeland Security gang feel so insecure that they must manufacture a U.S. version of “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight?”
Since the Bureau over-orchestrated the media publicity on the danger of the men whom they had “stung,” Gonzales later contradicted his preliminary assessment of the “homegrown terrorism cell” by saying they posed “no immediate threat.”
Having shown their alertness at finding the non-plotters, the Homeland Security police studiously ignore real conspirators. In Miami, anti-Castro activists, even as senior citizens, pursue their youthful projects: to assassinate Fidel Castro and launch an invasion of Cuba. Since 1959, the U.S. government has aided and encouraged them to collect piles of guns and bombs. Over three decades, the CIA has also provided Castro’s violent enemies with sophisticated technology, like poison in his cigars and wetsuits in the 1960s and a pistol in a TV camera designed to shoot the Cuban leader at a press conference in Chile in 1971.
When Jimmy Carter briefly withdrew support for such efforts, some Castro-haters blew up a post office and attacked other U.S. government installations. Reagan however, resumed encouragement of the violent anti-Castro groups. They have continued to conspire and occasionally boast about plotting assassination and bombings of Cuba. Luis Posada Carriles, for example, boasted to New York Times reporters Anne Bardach and Larry Rohter that he had plotted the bombing of a Cuban hotel, by describing them “as acts of war intended to cripple a totalitarian regime by depriving it of foreign tourism and investment.” One tourist died. “Posada described the Italian tourist’s death as a freak accident, but he declared that he had a clear conscience, saying, ‘I sleep like a baby.’”
In 1976, an FBI cable identified Posada as responsible for successfully plotting to blow up a Cuban commercial airliner over Barbados. Seventy-three passengers and crew members died. Posada, now 77 and in prison for violating immigration rules, has yet to be charged with terrorism. More recently, other geriatric anti-Fidelistas claimed that the U.S. government encouraged them to proceed with violent plots.
In April, outside of Los Angeles, Robert Ferro got busted by local authorities for possessing some 1,500 weapons, including explosives and rocket launchers. Ferro claimed the government knew about the weapons and had encouraged him to use them to train an army to invade Cuba. Authorities had arrested Ferro in 1992 in Pomona, California, where he claimed to be training a group of Mexicans to invade Cuba and again in 1995 in Miami, with a large load of weapons. Inexplicably, Ferro faced no major charges and even got his weapons back.
In Miami, Jose Antonio Llama stated that serious assassination plotting had taken place with U.S. government knowledge. Authorities had arrested Llama and four other anti-Castro exiles in Puerto Rico in 1997 on charges of conspiracy to assassinate Castro, who was preparing to attend an Ibero-American Summit on Margarita Island, Venezuela. The men told a U.S. Customs officer that U.S. officials had given them the go ahead to kill Castro.
“We were impatient with the survival of Castro’s regime after the fall of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp,” said Llama. He claimed to have put his own money into a plot in the early 1990s. “We wanted to accelerate the democratization of Cuba using any possible means to achieve it.” A jury acquitted them after a federal judge threw out one of the defendants’ self-incriminating statements. Indeed, Miami juries have consistently refused to convict violent anti-Castro plotters.
Serious terrorism merits public concern and dialogue. Thousands of Cubans died as a result of U.S.-backed terrorist attacks from the early 1960s on. Similarly, hundreds of real assassination plots against Castro took place – none successful of course. In the Middle East and other places, lots of actual plots are underway. Indeed, each day in Iraq, bombs explode and people die.
When the Department of Justice stages stings that no self respecting Hollywood producer would ever use in a film, it indicates a level of desperation inside the government. How long can the Bush Administration use the “war against terror” to conceal a record of deceit, corruption and incompetence?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Truth is Ours

Fernando Gonzalez Llort, one of the Cuban Five anti-terrorists held in US prisons shares his views with Granma.
Five years ago, in June 2001, five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters were the victims of a rigged trial in a US Court in Miami which sentenced them to long prison terms.

Five years have gone by since the message sent by "The Five" to the people of the United States was heard in Miami. As a reprisal they were put back into solitary confinement without any of their personal belongings, neither letters, photos, poems, nor even the smallest piece of a pencil with which to write.

Five years have elapsed since former US Attorney General John Ashcroft visited the ultra right wing conservatives in Miami to celebrate our five brothers having been found guilty.

Coincidentally, it was in June 1998, on the 16th and 17th of that month, when Cuban state Security authorities hand delivered –during an exchange with FBI representatives- 230 pages of documents containing a detailed record of terrorist activities against Cuba organized from the US.

The mass of material included five videocassettes of TV programs broadcast by US-based television networks containing talks between participants, and news reports dealing with criminal actions against Cuba. The Cuban authorities also handed over to the FBI eight audio cassettes with two hours and forty minutes of recordings of telephone calls by Central American terrorists detained in Cuba who were speaking with their mentors in Miami.

The FBI admitted being impressed by the quality of the evidence and told their Cuban counterparts that they would provide an answer about everything in two weeks.

Nevertheless, as it is well known, the only response given by the US was the arrest on the 12th of September 12, 2001 of the possible messengers.

These are the reasons why today Granma offers this analysis of the issues raised by Fernando Gonzalez Llort. In doing so, we had the invaluable cooperation of his wife, Rosa Aurora Freijanes Coca, who passed on our questions, and was a faithful interpreter during this exchange of information.

Five years have elapsed since the message you addressed to the people of the United States was made public. What mention does this deserve and has what you stated in that text changed in any respect?

It is true that five years have gone by since we addressed to the American people. In that message we told them that we are five innocent men. We said that due to our love for our homeland and humankind we undertook the mission of confronting the enemy on the
front line by infiltrating terrorist organizations. These groups had been protected and granted impunity by successive US administrations to execute their murderous plans against our nation from South Florida.

The saddest thing is that the situation which we told the American people about five years ago is exactly the same as today. In the first place, today Americans still know nothing of the nature of our struggle. As a matter of fact, they know nothing about who we are, because a mantle of silence has been woven around our case. This is something done with great effectiveness by the mass media, which by doing so responds to the US government's interests. In second place,
it clearly demonstrates that what we said at that time about terrorism against Cuba was not history, as a matter of fact continues in the present.

Over the past several months we have seen events which confirm what we have just mentioned. Many people will be astonished, but we –who have been deep inside the terrorist rings and knew about their plans and their sick aspiration to defeat the Cuban Revolution - know very well what they are capable of doing.

In California, Robert Ferro was arrested and later stated that he was a member of Alpha 66. US authorities captured him with the largest ever weapons cache ever found in the possession of an individual. He affirmed those arms were to be used to launch actions against Cuba, something that apparently relieves terrorists from having to face justice.

But also, at the end of 2005, Santiago Alvarez, the same person who helped Luis Posada Carriles enter the United States illegally from Mexico, was captured with a load of weapons. Another of his partners, Osvaldo Mitat, was also arrested for the same reason and both are awaiting trial for those crimes.

At this very moment information is being published saying that terrorist activities are being carried out in Miami, possibly to distract the public's attention from other matters. But they rarely discuss Cuban-American or Cuban-born terrorists from the Cuban American National Foundation, Alpha 66, F4 Commandos, Brothers to the Rescue and so many other organizations. These individuals are simply referred to as "anti-Castro militants."

In my statement to the court, when I was unjustly sentenced to 19 years in prison in December of 2001, I stated that there is no "good terrorism" or "bad terrorism;" there is just terrorism, and it has to be fought. However, when it comes to Cuba things are different, and that is why individuals like Orlando Bosch, Rodolfo Frometa, Jose A. Llama enjoy total impunity.

Related to this topic, Llama, known in the Miami Mafia's small world as Tonin, has created a scandal because he was swindled by the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF). Just for the record, CANF denies being a terrorist organization, though Llama's accusation demonstrates that in Miami there are people devoted to the planning of criminal actions against our nation. All this reinforces the need for our people to defend themselves from those macabre schemes.

As we have seen, they are trying to receive a pardon from President George W. Bush for Luis Posada Carriles. Former president George H. Bush granted a pardon to terrorist Orlando Bosch, even though US authorities had described him as extremely dangerous. Posada Carriles is just as dangerous. Posada's case is shameful. And they are doing everything in complicity with this country's authorities.

US intelligence agencies are well aware of most of the Cuban-American terrorists who are currently undertaking terrorist acts against Cuba; in fact, they were part of those agencies. From them they learned methods of operation and how to use equipment. This is what I said in my statement to the court, and I maintain it.

For a long time Cuba has been denouncing what is going on today in Miami.

If that were not enough, all the questions The Five posed in our message to the American people have been answered through the scandal in which Tonin was involved.

Why do Cubans have to fulfill the honorable duty of defending their country far from their families and beloved ones? Why do they have to put off enjoying life with their people in order to do their duty?

Why are US authorities so tolerant in allowing terrorist acts against our country? Why don't they investigate terrorist plans protested against by Cuba and take actions to stop them? I wonder why they don't try to prevent the numerous plots to assassinate our leaders.

Why are the self-confessed masterminds of these and others terrorist acts walking around South Florida, as it was proved in our trial?

Who trained them? Who granted them immunity?

Who are the ones who really put US security at risk?

The best service anyone could render to the American people would be to save them from the influence of the extremists and terrorists who do so much damage to that country by plotting to violate its laws.

What special message on behalf of The Five would you send to those who read this interview?

A person who acts according to their principles comes to their own when faced with any difficulty. We are going through difficult moments, but we know that justice will win sooner than later. Truth is on our side. We say that we are innocent. We are just men who out of love for life, the human race and our nation, were able stop criminal plans.

My brothers Gerardo, Antonio, Rene and Ramon, and I were always aware of the danger of our mission. The American people -who have a great history - must know that by carrying out this mission, we were also protecting them.

My brothers and I are men educated by a revolution whose light reaches millions of people around this planet and gives them hope. We are the children of a revolution of which we are proud, as we are proud of our endless loyalty to our country and to our leader Fidel Castro, who five years ago said he was confident that we shall return. And we, The Five, are confident we shall return.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

History Justifies the Mission of the Cuban Five

Titled "Plan to Assassinate Castro Uncovered," the Miami-based Spanish language newspaper El Nuevo Herald provides details regarding a recent scandal involving leading members of terrorist Cuban-American organizations based in that US city. The explicit revelation was made by Jose Antonio Llama, the former board member of the Cuban American National Foundation, in which he acknowledges the creation of a paramilitary group with the objective of carrying out terrorists actions to destabilize Cuba and kill President Fidel Castro.

In his statements, the "regretful" Llama, alias Tonin, gave a detailed explanation of purchases of an arsenal which included "a cargo helicopter, 10 ultralight radio-controlled planes, seven vessels and abundant explosive materials."

According to the close colleague of former CANF Director Jorge Mas Canosa, the initiative was organized in the early 1990's, at the same time as the fall of the former Soviet Union and the disappearance of the socialist community in Eastern Europe. At that time the collapse of the Cuban Revolution was predicted to occur within weeks. The assassination plot failed after the Tonin's yacht, "Esperanza," was captured when it was on its way to the Venezuelan island of Margarita, the site of the Ibero-American Summit in which the Cuban leader was to participate. To the surprise of the US Coast Guard which intercepted the vessel on the high seas, rather that finding drugs on board, they discovered a powerful 50caliber rifle and other weapons to be used in the planed attack. It is worthwhile to recall that Tonin and his four fellow crewmembers were arrested and tried in 1997 by a federal court in Puerto Rico, accused of conspiracy to assassinate President Fidel Castro. However, in one of those unusual cases of the US justice system when it comes to Cuba, the accused were exonerated due to "lack of evidence."

One must ask why this horrifying tale --more suited to a crime novel has exploded after almost 10 years to only strengthen terrorist acts and the violation of US law. Simple. Everything becomes clear when we learn that Llama is in deep trouble due to the fact that this whole operation was financed by a personal loan he secured to the tune of $1.47 million. No one has been able to explain the proposed uses of the funds which were extended, and everything indicates that there is no intention to return the money.

El Nuevo Herald describes the scenes in which an outraged and ruined Llama was "surrounded by a number of boxes with files within which were meticulously organized documents, meeting notes and newspaper clippings." These proved the fraud which he had been subjected to by his former partners.

This episode provides evidence --from the mouth of one of the perpetrators-- of the terrorist and illegal character of these counter-revolutionary organizations, particularly the Cuban American National Foundation with its official front of a lobbying group. This also shows the moral shadiness of these fellows who have made the anti-Castro issue a million dollar industry, using the traditional Miami-Dade approach of "passing the buck" and accessing the money of the US taxpayers.

Finally, we should not forget, this raises two questions which we will leave for the readers:

Doesn't this story demonstrate Cuba's right and need to have infiltrated right wing Cuban-American terrorist organizations to learn about plans and protect the Cuban people?

Isn't it unjust that five anti-terrorist fighters have been imprisoned in the US for almost eight years, serving long prison terms for espionage and "constituting a danger" to US national security?

Monday, July 17, 2006

An Interview with Cuban VP Ricardo Alarcon

The US Tramples the Charters and Laws It Wrote

Landau: How do you compare Bush's discourse with that of past presidents? And how do you compare them with his deeds? Alarcon: Words are not his strongest quality. I think that there are discrepancies in his second inaugural address. He talked about carrying the fire of freedom throughout the world. Without sounding rude, I'd say this is, at the very least, an over-statement. He isn't going to carry anything much further. He's already having difficulty in maintaining this fire in Iraq. If he wants to do that around the world he will not succeed. Indeed, he's not succeeding in Iraq.
Cuba is one of the places mentioned, not by him but by [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice the day before. I advise them not to try. It will cost a lot of lives if the Americans would attack us, more than those dying in Iraq, because this is not a divided country or society that has been suffering under a dictatorial regime. The opposite is true. You will find here a free society, finally emancipated from half a century of oppression and corruption imposed by the US. We attainted our independence in 1959 -- from US domination. That is a fact of history. From an ethnic or cultural point of view we are a unified country, an island on which a common culture and common identity has evolved. We are prepared to make life impossible for an invader.But more important, what is the meaning of this policy? It is not just irrational, a product of arrogance or impulse, not just the product of a person that doesn't read many books. That explains only his strange selection of words.
Consider Bush's simplistic view of the world; or better, take the more analytical and conscious way the CIA views it. A CIA document published a couple months ago and another in December 2000, forecasts based on research and analysis, consider scenarios of war, peace, turmoil and catastrophes. But there is a common denominator expressed in one sentence: "US influence will continue to decline." By the way the CIA does not call for a change of policy, but simply states as a fact that US influence is less today than 20 or 40 years ago.
The US is not going to rise above the rest of the world. It is the sole superpower in cold war terms. But the US cannot exercise complete power over the rest of the world. Russia continues to have nuclear weapons. Economically, for example, China has emerged as a power. Recently the Chinese president toured Latin America and discussed granting Argentina a credit line of $20 billion. 40 years ago, at time of the Alliance for Progress, Kennedy offered the entire continent $20 billion -- over ten year period. Cuba criticized this modest offer at the time because it was too little.
Remember, at that time this little island had established relations with that big country China. The other countries in the Latin America followed the US line and refused to recognize the existence of China. Now, 40 years later, that once non-recognized country's head of state travels throughout the region and offers much more than the US could when it was at its peak. And the US must accept that China plays that role in the world. The Vice President of China was doing a similar same thing in Africa. Although the US remains the biggest military power, it has trouble controlling a rather small country like Iraq, which it almost destroyed by bombing and an economic embargo before the war. The reality is that US is only the most powerful entity in one area: information and communication.It was the only dominant force at end of the Second World War, the only nuclear power. Nagasaki and Hiroshima, by the way, are the only cases in which nuclear power has been used destructively. They were not employed by a terrorist state, but by the US democracy -- allegedly to defeat Japan. At that time and later, during the Marshall Plan, the US was at the top. Since then it has been declining. That does not mean it is a country in disarray, but it is going downward.To answer this downhill slide, in my opinion, came the neo-cons who believe that by using the United States' comparatively limited economic and large military resources, but especially by exploiting their advantage in terms of communication technology and near monopoly of information media, they can reverse the trend. That is impossible. The US cannot turn the world back to 1945 and reappear as the only power in the world. The US needs to learn to live in a diverse world with different players, different ideologies and interests and not to pretend to be the owner of the planet.Those times are gone forever. That is the way history moves. But the new conservative trend departs form traditional conservatism and tries to reverse the world's movement by being interventionist, by sending troops here and there. It is an irrational approach. It's obvious that they will not succeed but their missionary and mythological approach could lead to mistakes even more grave than Iraq.Landau: In 1945, the US wrote the Nuremburg laws prohibiting aggressive war and also drafted the UN and OAS charters that prohibit intervention. How do you explain US behavior, initiating those laws and then violating them?Alarcon: The US wrote all those important documents that became the foundation of the international order when it was the most important power in the world. Now that the world has been undergoing change those documents have become obstacles to US interests. At the same time, US officials try to manipulate these documents, like the Human Rights Covenants. If you listen to US officials, they are fulfilling a mission of spreading human rights throughout the world. The ideals of freedom and democracy are in the UN charter, but together with the principle of nonintervention, prohibition of war.
The only thing the UN Charter recognizes as a legitimate reason for war is self defense, a nation subjected to external aggression. Even in those circumstances you have to ask the UN to intervene. Nobody else can intervene. It's a peaceful ideal. The Charter lacks some important points. It doesn't mention colonialism, nor recognize the right of colonial people to self-determination and independence. But the UN was transformed because after WW II, no one could stop the emancipation of those countries. People became independent and then UN members. It was one of the factors that helped transform the world. How to explain how the US changed its mind after essentially drafting these documents?Those exercising power were not happy with what happened. The reality problem is a serious one. Psychiatrists help those who have trouble dealing with reality. If you do not acknowledge reality you may be suffering from a serious disturbance. I sometimes feel that some American politicians need professional help to remember that they conceived the UN and its structure. Some American politicians now refer to the UN as something to ignore or despise. Do they forget that it was a US creation? To weaken or break this organization, which is what Bush did, was a terrible thing. The UN does not exist any more because of what happened in Iraq. This is a very serious problem. It is not true that it will reconstruct itself on new bases. I don't want to sound rude, but that is exactly what Hitler did. He was angry with the League of Nations, with reality, after WWI. During the period between the two world wars, Germany became the European superpower, economically, technologically, militarily.When Hitler set the goal of conquering Europe in the mid 1930s, his dream matched the reality of Europe more than who Bush seeks to conquer the entire world with the current level of US power. Hitler's irrational dream was more rational than the discourse you hear now from American leaders. Hitler made a very big mistake, trying to conquer the USSR. Stalin committed many crimes. He was a dictator, but the Soviet people stopped Hitler. It was the same mistake that Napoleon made, to try to conquer the East. If he had remained the master of western and central Europe maybe he would have continued to hold power. But he overextended himself. But fascism was rejected by most people. And resistance to Nazism arose in many places. Our Yugoslav brothers and sisters offered heroic resistance in that period. The Nazis never conquered that country. Later on it was made to explode, not by the Nazis but by western democracies.Landau: You use history as a guide.Alarcon: History is important. Those who believe they can turn history back should remember the origin of previous wars. The Germans didn't accept Versailles and that was the origin of Fascism.Saul Landau teaches at Cal Poly Pomona University, where he is the director of Digital Media Programs and International Outreach, and is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. His new book is The Business of America.

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