Posted by Jeff from d53-152-230.try.wideopenwest.com (184.108.40.206) on Saturday, April 26, 2003 at 9:34PM :
In Reply to: SPECIAL PRESENTATION BY DR. FIDEL CASTRO RUZ, posted by Jeff from d53-152-230.try.wideopenwest.com (220.127.116.11) on Saturday, April 26, 2003 at 9:32PM :
“How can they possibly explain that while over 500 people die every year on the U.S.-Mexico border as a result of the attempts to stop these poor and desperate people from crossing into the United States, where their salaries will be 10 or 15 times higher, or some who have been living there illegally for years have to cross back and forth to see their families and die by the hundreds, even before the events of September 11.
“They are announcing that there are now who knows how many new devices and who knows what kind of extraordinary equipment, the most sophisticated in the world, to prevent Mexican immigrants from crossing the border and to discourage all attempts to enter the United States there, where so many lives are lost; how is it possible then that they are now going to keep the airplane that was hijacked and use this as a pretext to grant privileges to a number of adults –at least, seven– who acted like accessories in this hijacking and not even investigate them?
“They could send them back and we would give all guarantees. And we do something like that because we know how to honor our commitments. They could at least send these people back instead of setting a precedent that airplanes can be hijacked and the accessories can stay there, and everyone traveling on the plane, without exception, has been offered the possibility of staying in the United States. Where is their honor? Where is their integrity? Where is the morality of those who enforce such a policy? This is what we call an incentive for hijacking airplanes.
“We know only too well the tricks and traps they have used before. And now the terrorist mob is stirring up a big scandal in support of the hijackers.
March 24, 2003
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department issued new regulations reinforcing the U.S. blockade against Cuba and adapting it to the subversive goals of the anti-Cuban policy developed by the Bush administration.
Another counterrevolutionary was arrested for mercenary activities in the service of a foreign power.
March 25, 2003
One more counterrevolutionary was arrested for the same reason.
March 26, 2003
USAID announced that it would grant one million dollars to the University of Miami’s Cuba Transition Project.
March 31, 2003
The State Department published a report on human rights in the world. The report contains a section devoted to Cuba, which emphasizes the false accusations against our country and expresses clear support for internal counterrevolution. The State Department’s anti-Cuban diatribe is similar to that of previous years.
That same day marked the beginning of the foreseeable consequences that I had denounced in the special television program of March 22, the result of the way the hijackers of the DC-3 were treated and the privileges granted to the crime accessories, who were granted residence in the United States.
“10:10 p.m. The President of the Civil Aviation informs that the Captain of an AN-24 aircraft, flying from the Isle of Youth to Havana with 46 passengers, has reported problems on board. He said that he did not have enough fuel to continue the flight and had thus landed in “Jose Marti” airport. He was in the midst of the runway. The hijacker, holding a grenade in his hand, threatened to blow up the plane if he was not supplied fuel to fly to the United States.
“10:45 p.m. I give instructions to senior officers in the Ministry of the Interior and the Civil Aviation Institute:
“Be very patient. Take no decisions without analyzing carefully or consulting directly with us. This is a responsibility that lies with the government. So, as soon as possible we will contact you, because we also have some steps to take through diplomatic channels and we have to see how we can do it, since it is late at night.
“A man with a grenade is a problem that demands serious thought. We must talk with him, if that’s possible.
“Try to communicate with him to get more information: if there’s one person, if there are several. We must have that information, because we have been told there are six children on the plane.
“We are thinking of ways to solve the problem that do not involve using force.”
I spoke with them extensively and in detail about what should be done.
“11:14 p.m. On my instructions, Carlos Valenciaga phones the Head of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and passes this message on to him:
“Dagoberto, you must try to call Whitaker, the head of the Cuba Desk, immediately, and give him the following information: that a AN-24 plane with 46 people on board, including six children, was hijacked when it was on its way from the Isle of Youth to the Rancho Boyeros airport, by an individual who, according to the pilot, was carrying a hand grenade and demanding that he be taken to the United States.
“That the pilot, since he didn’t have enough fuel, had no alternative but to land on the runway at Rancho Boyeros, where the hijacker is demanding fuel to be on his way.
“That the hijacker is currently at the back of the plane holding what appear to be two hand grenades.
“That there is no doubt that this is a consequence of the way the U.S. authorities behaved towards the plane hijacked on the 19th and also of the announcement extensively reported in the press that the hijackers would be released on bail.
“The orders given to the Cuban authorities at the airport are, in the first place, to not use force, to talk to him and try to persuade him to give up. They will use the argument that the news about the previous hijackers being released on bail is not true. Tell him that they are in jail and charged with piracy, which is a serious crime.
“That we first of all wanted to let him know what was happening, the line we will pursue, and we suggest that they think about whether there is any possible way of letting him know —that is, the hijacker— what the United States’ position is on this kind of action and what penalties they carry. In short: some kind of cooperation to solve this problem, and not only because of the danger involved in making the flight under these conditions, with one or two grenades in his hands, and we don’t even know if the safety catch is on.
“Secondly, because we think that it would be harmful for the U.S. government if this second plane lands there 12 days after the first hijacking.
“And thirdly, that there is no doubt that these precedents could trigger a wave of this kind of things, and it is in the interests of both the United States and Cuba that this not happen, because they jeopardize the safety of air passenger transport. Such actions tend to be imitated by irresponsible or deranged people. We beg them to also give careful thought to the possibility that an official from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana communicate directly with the hijacker. That would be something really constructive and useful.
“11:57 p.m. (Cuban time) Dagoberto speaks to Whitaker and passes on the entire message. Whitaker asks for some details. He says that he will start to make phone calls and that he will call him back in a few minutes.
April 1, 2003
“12:55 (Cuban time) [11:55 Washington time]. Whitaker, head of the Cuba Desk at the State Department, calls Dagoberto, head of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, to tell him that he had spoken with his boss and with Cason in Havana, who were willing to cooperate and to pass on messages through the appropriate channels, adding that this is a very serious crime and if they reach the United States, they will be arrested and prosecuted with the full force of the law.”
We agreed to deal with the case jointly and by coordinating our efforts.
Cason went to the airport. For the first time, he and Dausá, director of the Foreign Ministry’s North America Division, were allies for two hours in the futile attempt to talk the hijacker out of this situation.
After 4:00 in the morning, everything was left up to the Cuban authorities, which kept the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba continuously informed of the way things were developing. We managed to have 22 hostages freed in exchange for loading enough fuel onto the plane for it to land in Alabama, and not in the extremist fiefdom of Florida.
At first it seemed impossible because of the amount of fuel that a plane full of passengers could carry. Then it could be done when 22 of the hostages were allowed to get off. This was informed to the U.S. Interests Section. Supplying the AN-24 with fuel was not a problem if the U.S. authorities acted with the seriousness they promised and allowed the plane, the crew and the rest of the passengers to return to Cuba.
Seemingly, the issue was discussed at very high levels.
On Monday morning, we waited five hours for Cason’s reply, and he in turn was waiting for the government’s decision. The deal we had made with the man carrying the grenade after the 22 people got off was that the plane would be refueled and would take off at 11:00 a.m. The Head of the USIS asked for 40 more minutes. He was waiting for a response. Of course, it was already known there that the plane had enough fuel to land in another State. We managed to postpone take-off for 55 minutes, until almost noon. There was still no reply. When the reply came, the plane was already in the air. The absurd, stupid decision made was that the AN-24 should land in Key West. There, it was the same old story: brutal mistreatment and humiliation of the passengers, privileges for the hijacker’s accomplices, the kid glove treatment for the hijacker, the plane seized, the crew detained. It was disgusting!
Otto Reich and the Florida mob got their way. I do not blame either Whittaker or Otto Reich’s subordinate for that. Cason behaved properly and sensibly, for 24 hours at least.
The news that the hijacked plane had been refueled so it could continue its journey had the disastrous effect we had wanted to avoid: a wave of violent hijackings of passenger boats and planes.
April 2, 2003
Hardly 24 hours had passed since the preceding incident when, at 1:40 in the morning, the Ministry of the Interior reported that its Command Center had just learned that the ferry Baraguá was leaving the harbor, that it had passengers aboard, no details on how many, and that all indications were that it had been hijacked.
The Ministry of the Interior said that it was tracking the ferry with the Border Patrol boat 040 and that a speedboat was also joining in.
The hijacked craft was sailing north at six knots per hour.
At 3:00 a.m. the hijackers made radio contact and said that they had 50 people on board, including six or eight children and five or six foreigners, and demanded that they be given a boat so they could continue their journey to the United States, otherwise they would begin to toss hostages overboard.
It was the first time that such a demand was made. After that it could have been a hijacked bus, that they put a knife on somebody’s throat and asked a bus driver to take them to Boyeros airport and demand a plane to go to the United States. It is perfectly clear that that is simply unthinkable.
At 11:45 a.m., the ferry Baraguá, designed to sail in inside waters, ran out of fuel and was adrift 30 miles from the coast in a force 4 gale and in serious danger of capsizing and causing the death of the 40 people there actually were on board, 29 of them hostages, including women and children.
At 2:32 p.m., the Border Patrol managed to attach a rope to the ferry’s bow, thus saving it from the danger of sinking, and towed it towards the port of Mariel. The hijackers, who did not oppose the rescue operation, continued to show a highly aggressive attitude, threatening to kill the hostages if they were not given fuel when they reached port. They held their knives to the throats of several women every time they demanded something. Only 40 hours into the hijacking, with the cooperation of the hostages themselves who jumped overboard, all were rescued unharmed. It was not necessary to board the vessel, which would have been done as a last resort.
A few days later, on April 10, it was learned through the MININT Command Center in the Isle of Youth that between 5:30 and 6:00 in the evening, five individuals had unexpectedly and violently wrested an AK-M rifle from a draftee soldier who was on guard duty at a Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) reserve arms deposit. They had fled in a car.
Eight people were involved in the plan. Their intention was to gather in the waiting room a few moments before the plane arrived, wait until six or 10 people had disembarked, --obviously, because they were eight, so they had to wait for a number of people to get off the plane, otherwise they wouldn’t have space-- then break the glass wall facing the runway using weights, force their way on to the plane and take the rest of the passengers hostage. They were estimated to be around 30.
That same day NOTIMEX reported that a U.S. federal judge had upheld the decision of a Florida judge to grant bail to the six Cubans charged with hijacking and diverting a Cuban DC-3 with 31 people on board in March.
In a period of barely two weeks, two planes full of passengers had been hijacked in midair, as had a vessel with capacity for 100 passengers, that was luckily carrying only 40 although they had said 50. Also, a soldier had been attacked and his automatic rifle wrestled from him so as to use the rifle and three knives to forcibly seize another plane that was about to land at an airport.
The news reported by the press that a Florida judge had granted bail to the six DC-3 hijackers led to an immediate upsurge in the activities of potential emigrants who, because of their criminal record and antisocial behavior are prone to try to leave the country illegally, using these methods.
From March 19 on, when the first DC-3 was hijacked, we have had proof of 29 plans and ideas to forcibly hijack aircrafts and vessels, something that had not happened in many years.
Forty-eight hours after the AN-24 was hijacked and given fuel to continue its journey, two new plans were investigated on the same day. On April 3, two were investigated; on April 5, four; three on April 7; three more on April 9; and two on April 10. We had to radically cut off this wave of hijackings, which was shown to be in full development by the events that took place after the hijacking of the DC-3 on March 19, and the information offered about the first days of April. We could definitely not hesitate in applying the sentences handed down by the courts and upheld by the Council of State in the case of the hijackers of the Baraguá ferry.
The measure would not be complete, though, if I do not clearly state here that no hijacked Cuban plane or boat will ever again be given fuel to continue on its journey to the United States or any other country, and the hijackers should know that they will be submitted to summary proceedings in the appropriate courts and that they should not expect clemency from the Council of State. Now they know what they should know. This is also a very hard measure, but it is unavoidable, as we need to definitely put and end to these actions.
Experience shows that when the perpetrators know that they have no alternative, they abstain from committing such crimes. This was shown irrefutably in September of 1980, when two individuals, in this case unfortunately of Cuban origin, hijacked a U.S. passenger plane and commandeered it to Cuba in spite of the timely warnings issued in that respect. They were immediately sent back to the United States. No U.S. plane has ever again been hijacked to Cuba in 22 years because even those who are unbalanced or deranged know that they would be returned. That is how the government of that country should behave, and not continue to offer support and impunity in their country to the perpetrators of such actions, which are so dangerous and which are bedfellows of the murderous Cuban Adjustment Act that has cost our people so many lives.
We know that those who try to go to the United States illegally are not the people who apply for and receive visas through the Migratory Agreement quota, who on the whole are peaceful people, who have no criminal record, and at least a ninth-grade education. Many are graduates of technical schools and there are also many teachers, professors, doctors and professionals that the USIS wants to recruit with or without the lottery. Those who travel illegally are people who would never get a visa because of their low-level of education or skills and their criminal record or bad social behavior. They give most careful consideration to the people they give visas to, based on a long list they once worked out, and which they wanted to update every year but we refused. They wanted to have more people from where to chose their recruits. They wanted to rob the country of the most talented, to deprive it of technicians that the economy needs. Then those who leave illegally are the ones who do not receive a visa and these are the most violent and dangerous. They have the potential to unleash a wave of attacks with knives or firearms, of taking hostages and threatening our people’s peace and safety.
The worst part of the anti-Cuban conspiracy of the Miami mob group and the people they have positioned in Bush’s inner circles, the sworn enemies of the Migratory Agreements and the half-hearted opening of food sales to our country after four decades of a cruel blockade, the worst of it is the aim of breaking the Migratory Agreements and provoking a massive migration. Their main instrument is the absurd and murderous Cuban Adjustment Act, and the potential immigrants are former common criminals and the worst antisocial elements who still exist in our society and who will only disappear with the social and educational programs, unprecedented in the world, that are underway in Cuba today.
Their evil idea is to bring about an armed conflict between Cuba and the United States. They place their hopes of destroying the Revolution in that, forgetting Maceo’s warning, which is more relevant today than ever: “Whosoever tries to take over Cuba will gather up the dust of its blood-soaked soil, if they don’t perish in the struggle.”
More than 40 years of repeated failure should persuade any U.S. administration that the most sophisticated weapons cannot crush our people’s steadfast resistance as they know beforehand what tactics to use and what forms of struggles to employ to reduce to zero the attacker’s technological superiority.
A country cannot be conquered with armored divisions, thousands of tanks, helicopters, fighter planes and bombers, dozens of aircraft carriers and cruise missiles, tens of thousands of missiles. Once the cities and the whole country are occupied, --and this must be considered a basic principle-- millions of people in the cities and countryside have to be governed. If they think that the Miami mercenary groups will be of any use in Cuba, they will last about as long as a snowball in hell. Once our top leaders are dead, none of who would ever wave the white flag, tens of thousands of fighters will take the place of the leaders who die, and the people of Cuba will fight on, generation after generation, against the forces of occupation. That is, the war would not end with the occupation of the country, it would rather begin then.
Never in any era, no army anywhere in the world has fought against the men and women of a people made up of hundreds of thousands of revolutionary professionals and millions of people with a high and thorough education, culture and consciousness, who know that there is no parallel in history for their work of justice and humanity created in decades of struggle under blockade, hostility and aggression by the most powerful country that could possibly exist.
The U.S. government, for example, has embarked on an adventure in the Middle East to conquer a country of 24 million people, surrounded by hundreds of millions of people who share the same race, the same religious beliefs and the same culture, one of whose distinguishing characteristics is indifference to physical death, all of which makes them an awesome community whose potential for resistance and struggle should be enough to keep the superpower’s current political strategists awake, since they stand at the threshold of what could be for them a tragedy many times worse than that of Vietnam.
The Shiites in Iraq are already demanding that the invaders pull out, that their oil is returned to them and an Islamic state be proclaimed.
We must not forget that a movement of the Iranian Shiite Muslims, wave after wave of unarmed masses, who didn’t care how many lives were lost, got rid of the Shah of Iran, who was the United States’ most powerful and most heavily armed gendarme in that part of the world. The Sunni Muslims will not remain far behind. They have never had more reasons to unite.
Continuing with the report on what has been happening in our country, I should note that there were 11 people in the group that attacked the Baraguá passenger ferry. They took 29 passengers hostage, including four young female tourists, two French and two Scandinavians whom they threatened to kill first, aware of how much harm such an action would bring on the country’s economy. Actually, their actions were not politically motivated but they did know where they could cause the most damage, therefore, they threatened to kill the tourists first in order to achieve their goal. They had a handgun, with the safe removed, pressed on the head of one of them.
The vile propaganda of imperialism and its allies has insisted that those who were executed were so-called “dissidents”, that is, those who were arrested, tried and sentenced for treason to their country, for acting as mercenaries in the service of a foreign power which for more than 40 years has blockaded their country and threatened to destroy the Revolution, to do to Cuba what they have just done to Iraq. Not one of them was even sentenced to life imprisonment, which is what the Miami courts did to the five Cuban heroes imprisoned by the empire for fighting against the terrorist acts with which the United States has inundated our country.
All of those who took part in the three hijackings I have described and in the attempt to hijack a third passenger plane, almost without exception, have a record of common crimes.
Of the three sentenced to death, --and I will avoid mentioning their names out of respect for their families-- the main leader of those who hijacked the passenger ferry had been involved in 15 criminal proceedings for or investigations into common crimes; he was sent to prison several times; he was given an official warning about harassing tourists 28 times and on 119 occasions he was taken to the police station for a variety of reasons.
The second one stood trial five times for common crimes and was found guilty and sentenced on four of those occasions.
The third one was involved in seven criminal proceedings, including one for an attack with a sharp instrument on a construction worker –a foreman in a construction brigade-- who died from the wounds.
Only one of the other five, who were given long sentences, did not have a criminal record.
Spokespersons for the U.S. government express their concern about a massive exodus of illegal emigrants. Such concern could not be more hypocritical when, deliberately and coldly and for vile purposes, the Miami terrorist mob and its most important allies in high power circles, such as Otto Reich and Roger Noriega, encourage large-scale hijacking of Cuban planes and boats by ex-convicts and common criminals, who take passengers and other innocent people hostage in order to go to the United States. What they are really after is an inevitable massive exodus —as it happened on August 4, 1994— which will serve as a pretext for a military aggression against Cuba.
The Revolutionary leaders in Cuba are fully aware of the political cost of the measures they felt obliged to take. Nobody should think that this was not thoroughly analyzed, from every angle. We suffered beforehand as we realized that many of our friends would hurt as well as a large number of people in the world whose religious, humanist or philosophical sensitivity over the death penalty we are very familiar with and in many ways we ourselves share.
A few weeks ago a famous writer wanted to interview me and one of the many subjects he brought up was that of the death penalty. I will take the liberty of using some excerpts from that interview, although I will not reveal the name.
The Writer.- Comandante, in many countries in the world the death penalty is being abolished. All the countries in the European Union have abolished it and many people wonder why in Cuba, where so much progress has been made in the social field, the death penalty has not yet been abolished.
Fidel Castro.- I think that is an interesting question. Did we have doubts about the death penalty when we became revolutionaries, when we were fighting or when the Revolution triumphed? Did we have doubts about it in all those years of invasions, dirty war, assassination attempts and all the rest of it? No, we certainly did not question de death penalty then. What we thought a lot about was the different ways, the procedures and the legal aspects of the subject. What has happened?
Political movements have had to defend themselves, both revolutions and counterrevolutions have defended themselves through procedures of one sort or another. For us the most important thing was to defend ourselves with rules, legal procedures, to avoid injustices and above all to avoid anything that was not legal and that was not judicial which we avoid and have avoided at all costs.
Not that we were happy to apply the death penalty. We looked at it as a matter of life or death. On the whole, those who are involved in these struggles start out from the principle that it is a life or death struggle. If revolutionaries do not defend themselves, their cause is defeated, and they pay with their lives. In this case we could say the lives of millions of people in this country would die, either fighting or murdered later on. For us that was very clear. And in the process of our Revolution we saw that and we learned that. Many of those who are involved in terrorist activities don’t think they will defeat the Revolution. All of them live with the conviction that the United States and its military might will defeat the Revolution. Counterrevolutionaries are convinced that their cause will triumph for one reason or another, and in this very special case because our struggle was against the United States. For them it was a matter of gaining a few Brownie points; being in jail did not worry them much nor did it dishearten them.
They were waiting for a U.S. intervention to overthrow the Revolution. How can we stop them? There is a lot of mercenary behavior among counterrevolutionaries; they defend interests, not ideas. Fortunately, we did not have to fight against fanatics of ideas or causes. We had the privilege of fighting against people who were mostly motivated by material, economic and social ambitions. Remember that gentleman who sworn as President of Venezuela after the coup d’etat on April 11, and he was almost captured by Chavez’s own bodyguards who were still there, in their barracks, but these people thought they were toy soldiers, not human beings. We would not have been able to free ourselves from fanatics; I would not have escaped with my life from the hundreds of assassination plots that were hatched against me. Once, when I visited Chile in 1971, they had me in front of a camera like that one, which was filming us, closer than that, and it had a machine gun inside, during a press conference. They were definitely going to die if they fired that gun. But when their lives are in danger they don’t shoot.
Those who thought that by committing terrorist acts and killing people, murdering teachers, sacrificing the lives of peasants and the lives of soldiers who are our strength, they had the hope of gaining some reward afterwards, those people feared death. This is why the most serious crimes were punished by the death penalty. That was the prevailing way of thinking. That battle was waged and won, and in fact, the death penalty has not been used for counterrevolutionary crimes for many years now. The last assassination plot was to be executed at that meeting in Panama; it was organized and directed by Posada Carriles, the man behind the blasting of the Cuban plane off the coast of Barbados.
The Writer.- At the Ibero-American Summit meeting?
Fidel Castro.- Yes, and he was caught. We uncovered him by infiltration methods, seeking out information and even by technological methods. We also have the ability to know where a person is when speaking on a cell phone, for example. Now there is a struggle because they want to release him. All of that was financed from the United States.
Another kind of crime came into being: they sent young people from Central America and paid them five thousand dollars to plant bombs: Guatemalans, Salvadorans and others. They didn’t come themselves, I mean, the big shots, the main ringleaders, they used mercenaries for that. None of those who were given the death penalty has been executed.
The Writer. - They were given the death penalty?
Fidel Castro. - They were sentenced to death but they have not been executed.
This does not imply that we have relinquished the use of this penalty, I mean, the use of that law. The law still exists, the law that established it. For you never know what barbarous thing they might use against Cuba. If they blow up a plane full of passengers, our people would not accept either a reprieve or a pardon for those responsible.
On the whole the people’s position on this matter tends to be hard line, although a government does not always have to do what the people ask. De facto, the death penalty has not been used in the last few years, but we have not relinquished it, that is, the death penalty for crimes of one type or the other. I don’t think the world we live in allows for that.
If terrorism is used against a country, if they commit crimes and kill children in a school, I can guarantee that it would be very difficult in those circumstances not to use the strictest laws, because I don’t know what it is, if not terrorism, and what one could call putting bombs in a school in the interests of a foreign power or government.
The Europeans are not under a blockade, nor are bombs being set off every day. I don’t know what they did when they had those groups like the Red Brigades. I have also heard of people being executed abroad, such as the Basques for example.
The Writer.- Are you referring to the GAL, for example? Because there is no death penalty in Spain.
Fidel Castro. – There is no death penalty, but now something has happened that we have never done, in Europe dozens of people have been executed without trials.
The Writer.- Without legal proceedings.
Fidel Castro.- Let them write the history of the members of the Red Brigade executed without trials or let them write the real history of the ETA members executed without trials when there is no death penalty. We have the death penalty here, but there are no executions without adequate legal proceedings, there is not a single case.
So you can see the truth about appearances and the real differences, where the truth might lie and where there might be some demagogic and hypocritical theories. There is some of everything.
We guarantee that there will never be an execution here that is preceded by the corresponding legal proceedings and that there will never be torture. You can ask those who planted the bombs if they said anything because they were tortured or if they were beaten. Of course, they are not fanatics, they are mercenaries, they talk straightaway, and all you have to do is show irrefutable proof. They explained how they brought in the explosive in a small television set, the plastic explosive of such and such a color and manufactured so the dogs would not be able to detect it, a special type of explosive; where the fuses were hidden in some cables; the digital watch that they brought with them to add to the device and make it explode five minutes later, if they wanted, or after 99 hours. Very sophisticated.
That mercenary wanted to set an Olympic record with five bombs exploding almost simultaneously. In Miami, meanwhile, the Foundation said that it was people from Military intelligence and State Security who were discontent, a slander that for them was proper and legitimate. There are a pile of publications about this.
The Salvadoran cooperated a lot, quite calmly, in helping to discover the methods and techniques that Posada Carriles used to carry out terrorist acts against the hotels, which caused the distressing death of a young man, that helped us to unmask the people really behind them and to put an end to such act until now.
I should say that thee was really an extraordinary cooperation. There are comrades here who could better explain how cooperative he was from the very beginning. He even received phone calls, he placed calls himself, and he did everything he was asked to do, and he did so without pressure. His family came for the trial, they visited him in jail. A number of circumstances concurred so that even those who worked with that young man in the investigations for many months, deeply disliked the idea of applying the death penalty for the crime committed. This is the whole truth, and I think they are right. There are still some who ask, but Why? But I tell you that that man paid an important service and helped to seize others because he had lots of information , which he gave us. Yes, I should explain here what happened with that case. Practically everybody who learned of his cooperation reacted in the same way.
There are potentially thousands of young men like him in Central America who could be used in the same way. There are some people, from the Miami terrorist mob, who offer up to two thousand dollars per bomb, plus airfare and living expenses. They take advantage of how easy it is for tourists to come here.
The death penalty was in use for common crimes up to May of 2000.
The Writer.- And it has not been used since then?
Fidel Castro.- It was not used once. (This conversation took place a few weeks before these events with he hijackers.)
The writer.- For three years?
Fidel Castro.- Yes. It is a sort of moratorium. But I do want to clarify that it has not been abolished. There are two very serious cases of murder awaiting trial. One of them is a case where a group of four family members were murdered (two grandparents resident in Miami, a grandchild, the daughter of the former, and the driver of the car, residents of Villa Clara, who had gone to meet the grandparents at the airport and were on their way home along the highway). There are two very serious cases like that which create a very serious public opinion problem and are awaiting a solution. There is no commitment to a definitive moratorium. I think this is clear enough.
In fact, the death penalty was not applied, but we have not relinquished it. I am explaining this because I don’t want to mislead anyone.
We are now studying crime and the things that cause it. We are carrying out all kinds of studies. There are cases of such horrible crimes that they seem to be the work of mentally disturbed people. Anyone who has studied law knows that there is a principle in law that says that a mentally disturbed person is unfit to plead.
Much research has been done in the world on the psychological reasons, which could well have a genetic or accidental origin, that cause people problems and make them violent. What are the genetic or accidental agents that affect the way the human mind works, which more or less turns these people into monsters? We are studying those factors.
I think that we are moving towards a future in our country when we might be able to abolish the death penalty, not simply on philosophical grounds, but out of profound feelings of justice and humanism.”
In fact, nowhere have really deep studies been conducted of the human mind and the factors leading to crime. I believe that Cuba is the first country to conduct such a research, and we are working very quietly. By the 30 of this month, every handicapped person, particularly those suffering from any degree of mental retardation, will have been visited by graduates in Genetics. We are discovering many things, because until now nobody has made such studies, or cared to have them made. But we, the human rights violators, are doing it, because we have our people, and the human capital, and all the doctors we need, and the resources and the will to struggle to improve people’s health --and that from day one of the Revolution--, and the will to struggle for every human being.
I have already mentioned the number of lives saved in this country just by reducing infant mortality, which is the lowest in this hemisphere and one of the lowest in the world, even lower than that of the United States of America, despite its enormous resources. And we are also saving many more lives every day with the 3-thousand doctors who are working for free in comprehensive healthcare programs in a number of other countries.
An there is more: no program can be implemented today in Africa, no serious program to fight AIDS, without the participation of this country “that violates human rights”.
As you can see there is much hypocrisy in all that, that is why we should continue debating and arguing to once and for all do away with so much slander.
I feel that when you think carefully about all that I have said, you will reach the conclusion that there will always be people who have to be isolated strictly because it is necessary, and not as punishment.
Felipe González, who has attacked us so much recently, was the head of the Spanish government when dozens of ETA members were executed without trials.
It was Aznar, the current head of the Spanish government and an ally of the superpower in the massacre of the Iraqi people, who in a meeting with the President of the United States on April 13, 1999, at a time when the war against Yugoslavia was getting bogged down, gave him this advice, and I quote: “If we are involved in a war, let’s be totally involved, to win, and not just a little bit involved. If we need to go on for a month, three months, let’s do it. I don’t understand why we still haven’t bombed Serbian radio and television stations.” Hours later NATO ordered the beginning of Phase 2, and the bombings were stepped up, as were the number and diversity of the targets to be destroyed.
On April 14 a convoy of Albanian refugees in Kosovo was the target of an air attack in which 85 people died, and that’s not counting those who were wounded. Two refineries and a residential neighborhood in Belgrade were destroyed in Serbia; 300 more planes were added to NATO’s forces.
On April 16, the bomb attacks on television transmitters and bridges were increased. That same day, the most intense general attack in two weeks took place.
Between the afternoon of Saturday, April 17 and the morning of Sunday, April 18, NATO planes carried out 500 sorties, bombing refineries, bridges, factories and dozens of other civilian targets, in what NATO itself called the most active 24 hours of the war.
On April 18, oil refineries and chemical plants were attacked and destroyed in Belgrade and Novi Sad and the highway linking Belgrade with Podgorica, the Montenegrin capital, was rendered impassable.
It is known that two days earlier the attackers had begun to use GBU-27 bombs, known as “seismic”, which penetrate reinforced concrete and cause an intense tremor which makes the building crumble and affects many other nearby buildings.
On April 19, civilian buildings in Belgrade and Novi Sad and the villages of Paracin, Kraligevo, and Sremska Mitrovica were attacked. NATO admits that this could have been mistakes.
On April 21, NATO attacked the Yugoslavian president’s private residence, the Socialist Party building, three television stations and 20 shops in the Usche shopping center.
On April 22, two NATO missiles destroyed the last bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad, cutting off highway and train traffic, and eight broadcasting stations.
It was learned at the time that hospitals were only receiving emergency cases and dozens of children and young people aged between 2 and 19 in Belgrade were at death’s door because of a lack of the resources needed for dialysis.
At 2:30 in the morning on April 23, Serbian television headquarters in the center of Belgrade was totally destroyed; 16 people died in the attack, another 19 were wounded, including many journalists, and another 20 were trapped in the rubble.
NATO announced that it was focusing its attacks on communications, radio and television.
In a 53-page report, Amnesty International, --and you know what this organization is about-- considered this attack on Serbian radio and television as a war crime since it was a direct bomb attack on a civilian target.
Only ten days had passed since Mr. Aznar had given his advice in his meeting with the U.S. president.
I ask Mr. Aznar to say if this is true or not. I have an important document here. It is rather long, with more than 15 pages.
Applying the death penalty to the hijackers in Cuba was met with a far greater lack of understanding internationally than the arrest of the mercenaries on the U.S. government payroll, for obvious reasons I have already explained, plus the deluge of lies and disinformation unleashed by the media of the empire and its allies. Unfortunately, personalities whom our people hold in high esteem jumped in and gave their opinions and judgments without full knowledge of the facts and realities that should have been taken into account. We had also calculated and foreseen these risks. We do not expect them to share our points of view.
There are also many honest revolutionaries in our country who are opposed to the death penalty, but who nevertheless understand the sacred duty to struggle to prevent millions of Cubans being executed by those who are trying to impose a global Nazi-fascist tyranny on all the nations in the world. When I speak of fascism, I am not referring to the internal political system of the United States. They can take away or limit many of the rights of the American people but nobody could install a fascist regime there. I am talking about a fascist world order imposed by the government of the United States, through its immense military power. I would not even use this word to describe the U.S. armed forces, which are educated in the tradition of strictly fulfilling the orders they are given, like the ancient Roman legions.
If there was a holocaust of the Jewish people scarcely 60 years ago, today it is necessary to prevent a holocaust of dozens of peoples who are threatened with aggression and even extermination since, according to what is being announced, all weapons can be used to launch a pre-emptive attack on any dark corner of the planet.
What is known as the Christian Western world should become aware of this fact before it is too late, as they appear to be doing with regard to the gigantic holocaust caused by poverty, hunger, underdevelopment, a lack of education and healthcare, neoliberal globalization and the current economic and social order imposed on humanity, which kills tens of millions of people every year in Third World countries.
The Cuban nation is proud of its intellectuals, artists, scientists and all of its university educated professionals who have almost unanimously supported the declaration of the National Council of the Cuban Artists and Writers Union calling for the creation of a worldwide anti-fascist front.
Our people are also especially proud of the outstanding group of internationally famous intellectuals and artists who issued the “Message from Havana to Faraway Friends.”
Countless intellectuals, artists, scientists and university-educated professionals have expressed their earnest desire to sign this now historic and exemplary Message. They want to place their commitment on record for present and future generations. Hundreds of thousands will put their signature to these words denouncing the fact that our small country is today under more threats than ever before from the superpower that is seeking to impose a fascist tyranny worldwide.
Our supportive and deeply revolutionary people are equally proud of the five Heroes Imprisoned by the Empire who show the courage of a fighting and heroic nation which the masters of the world should not ignore, nor Hans Hertell, the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic, nor the honorable brother of the President of the United States from Florida, who send us warnings that the barbarous war against Iraq carries a message for Cuba. It is, as a matter of fact, a message not only for Cuba but also a fascist message for the world.
Neither should it be ignored by the so-called “dissidents”, who today make their living from cooperating with the plans of the government of the superpower that wants to destroy Cuba, and wishes to impose a fascist tyranny on her as the “Message to Faraway Friends” reads.
Cuba is fighting today the Giant with the Seven League Boots, whom Martí was the first to discover and whose footsteps not only extend over the lands of our America but over all regions of the world.
Thanks to all those friends of Cuba who have defended her in this glorious moment! We shall continue to be upright and consistent, as we have been since 1959 until today. They will never have a reason to be ashamed of their noble support!
Ever onward to victory!
Victory shall be with the peoples!
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