Which Side Are You On?

FBI officials received a huge amount of concrete, detailed information about anti-Cuban terrorist groups, including their exact locations, with addresses and phone numbers, photographs and tape recordings describing sinister plans in their own voices and many other data.  At no time did they protest or express concern regarding Cuba’s ability or methods used to obtain such precise evidence.

They just thanked us and asked for some time, arguing that they got more evidence, far much more, than what they could have expected.

When Gabriel García Márquez met President Clinton’s closest advisors at the White House on May 6, 1998, nobody asked how Cuba had unveiled those terrible plots. One of the American gentlemen just said, “We have common enemies.”

It was exactly the same on every other occasion when we met in Havana, Washington or elsewhere to discuss with American officials the information we had on terrorist attempts. They never complained in any manner, directly or indirectly–not even in a whisper.

US officials never objected to our investigative efforts for some very obvious reasons. The history of violence and terror against Cuba is quite long – has lasted so far half a century – and is very well documented in an extensive bibliography partially registered in the US Congressional Record and also available in declassified, or not yet so, official papers with which our American counterparts, we should assume, are well familiar.

With such a background Cuba has the right (even the inexcusable obligation) to protect itself and its people and to discover what may be in the making among those who try to cause material damage and human suffering. This is the universally recognized principle of self defense.

The Americans were very well aware of that. As they surely remembered, when we learned about an assassination attempt against President Reagan we promptly shared the information with them, the Great Communicator’s antipathy towards Cuba notwithstanding. Washington did not complain then,  but expressed thankfulness.

They also knew that Cuba is just a small island in the Caribbean, with a population a little above 11 million people. Cuba does not have satellites getting data from outer space, neither has it any of the extremely sophisticated devices that are in common use by the American and other Big Powers intelligence services.

Cuba only has human intelligence. Something that is admitted now as indispensable in the United States, something that would have saved many American lives if it had been aptly used by the US before the terrible events that shook America in 2001.

And ours is not paid human intelligence. We have never spent money, as others do by many billions, to buy information or contract with expensive agents around the world. We depend on the generous heroic sacrifice of youngsters like Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René.

Long before the heinous attacks of 9/11, Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo said these simple truths to an American Court that regrettably was unwilling to listen:

“Cuba has the right to defend itself from the terrorist acts that are prepared in Florida with total impunity, despite the fact that they have been consistently denounced by the Cuban authorities. This is the same right that the United States has to try to neutralize the plans of terrorist Osama Bin Laden’s organization, which has caused so much damage to this country and threatens to continue doing so. I am certain that the sons and daughters of this country who are carrying out this mission are considered patriots, and their objective is not that of threatening the national security of any of the countries where these people are being sheltered.”

When Gerardo wrote those words many of the individuals, who would later use civilian aircrafts as lethal weapons against Americans, were finalizing their training right there in Miami. But the local FBI did nothing to frustrate their horrendous project. They didn’t have time for that. Their time was devoted exclusively to protecting their own terrorists by persecuting and punishing Gerardo and his comrades.

The FBI, at least in Miami, was not fighting terrorism. Neither was it preventing criminal attacks against Americans or Cuba. It was on the other side of the fence.

RICARDO ALARCÓN de QUESADA is president of the Cuban National Assembly.

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada has served as Cuba’s UN ambassador, Foreign Minister and president of the National Assembly.