President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will meet over the weekend. They will both be attending the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama. There have been rumors and suggestions that Obama will take this opportunity to remove Cuba from the U.S. List of Sponsors of Terrorism.
It’s pretty clear that this situation is not just a rumor or suggestion—it is absolutely a done deal! I’m sure it’s been discussed for many months—way before President Obama made his famous December 17th speech about wanting to normalize relations between our two countries.
By leaking these hints and rumors, this whole scene has been choreographed very professionally and dragged out over the past few weeks to create interest and maximize anticipation. It is part of the plan for both presidents and their staffs to move forward as quickly as possible without irritating too much the hardliners in Cuba or Obama’s opponents in the U.S. If an announcement is not made over the weekend, it will almost surely be made in the next few weeks.
It is important to keep in mind that removing Cuba from this list for economic reasons is much more significant than removing it for security reasons. It should provide a significant economic leap forward towards normalization of relations between our countries.
To provide some perspective—Libyan President Khadafy ordered the blowing up of an American passenger airliner—Pan Am Flight 103–just before Christmas in 1991. The subsequent crash in Scotland killed 243 passengers (mostly American), 16 crew members, and 11 people on the ground in the town of Lockerbie, Scotland. Khadafy eventually said he was sorry and paid compensation to the families of those killed. So in 2006, President Bush somehow felt justified ordering the removal of Libya from The List.
In an even worse decision, President Bush removed North Korea from The List in 2008, because the PRK leaders promised they would behave themselves. Gee—that plan really worked out well, didn’t it?
Other countries and the U.N. have their own lists of countries that support terrorism, but Cuba is not mentioned on any of them. America’s best allies—Canada, U.K., Australia, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and others—encourage tourism to Cuba, and send millions of their citizens to visit every year. The vast majority believe that this is the best policy to gradually improve conditions in Cuba for its eleven million residents.
As far as I know, Cuba does not have its own list of countries that sponsor terrorism. But if they did, I suspect that the U.S. would be at the top. Contrary to International Law, the U.S. sponsored an invasion of Cuba at the infamous Bay of Pigs in 1961. The invasion failed, due to a number of very predictable reasons. This was followed by plans for a full-scale, “D-Day” type of American military invasion. Before it could be carried out, the Soviet Union placed nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba to defend the country. The missile crisis was resolved when Kennedy promised not to invade Cuba. (If this sounds different than the “history” you learned in school, the details were not made public until the 1990’s. Military leaders, diplomats, and historians from Russia, Cuba, and the U.S. met to discuss from their perspectives those terrifying times 30 years earlier.)
Working under a pledge not to invade Cuba, the U.S. nevertheless continued to try to undermine the Castro Regime. There were numerous failed C.I.A. attempts to assassinate Castro. Biological agents were used to devastate crops. Cuban exiles in Miami were given a free reign to commit acts of sabotage. Cubana Airlines Flight 455 was blown out of the air, killing all 73 on board. It wasn’t a military aircraft—it was a passenger plane, and many of those killed were teenagers returning from a sporting event. The Cuban-American who planned this act of terrorism–Luis Posada Carriles—bragged about his involvement, and today lives in Miami and is a hero to the dwindling number of hard-core exiles. If full diplomatic relations between Cuba and America are restored, the U.S. will have to decide if Posada Carriles will be extradited to Cuba. Yet the U.S. media seem to be obsessed with American fugitives who escaped to Cuba—including reported cop-killers like JoAnne Chesimard. She is also known as Assata Shakur. I’ve heard several news reports that Raul Castro has ruled out returning these criminals to the U.S. But I’ll bet if we offered to trade the aircraft bombing terrorist Posada Carriles for all the cop-killing Americans exiled in Cuba, he would jump at the chance.
In the 90’s, the acts of terrorism continued, including the bombing of a hotel in 1997 that injured several tourists and killed an Italian visitor. After 9/11 in 2001, the U.S. must have decided that bombing airliners and blowing up hotels would now be deemed to be acts of terrorism. Since then, overt actions against Cuba apparently decreased, as far as we know.
After that, Cuba sent agents to the U.S. to uncover further plots of sabatoge by the exile community. They gathered much evidence, which they voluntarily turned over to the F.B.I. Rather than acting on this evidence, the Cuban agents were arrested, tried as “spies” in Miami (as if they could ever have received a fair trial in Miami), and were sentenced to prison from 15 years to double-life terms. Retired American military generals and admirals specializing in the Southern Command testified for the defense. Their consensus was that the Cuban agents had not spied on any American military facilities or on any non-Cuban-Americans. The results of this “trial” seemed to have been pre-determined—as if some very powerful individual or group simply ordered the outcome in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It was one of the saddest and most despicable miscarriages of justice in U.S. history, yet most Americans are unaware of the circumstances.
In the years since the trial, it has been determined that there was no evidence linking the Cuban agents to exile aircraft that were shot down over international waters after returning from dropping leaflets over Havana. They had been warned that is exactly what would happen if they did so. But the exile community needed martyrs, so the exile community sent them to almost-certain deaths.
So I guess after all that, it is probably time to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of nations sponsoring terrorism. Get ready for more whining by Republican presidential contenders Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, as well as Democratic Senator Robert Menendez (recently indicted for corruption). All three are Cuban-American, yet they have never been to Cuba. Their only knowledge apparently is what their parents told them about the Cuba they left over 50 years ago. Yet for some bizarre reason, the media continue to treat these senators like experts. Go figure!