| Press conference by Foreign Minister of
the Repúblic of Cuba, Felipe Pérez Roque on the mercenaries at the
service of the empire who stood trial on April 3,4,5 and 7, 2003.
Havana City, April 9, 2003 (1st
José L. Ponce (Presenter).- Good afternoon to all our colleagues. Welcome
to this special presentation by Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque.
There are here 82 journalists
from the international accredited press, representing 59 media from
22 countries, and the entire national press is represented as well.
Without further delay, I will
leave you with Minister Felipe Pérez Roque, who will make a special
presentation and then we will proceed to a round of questions and
F.M. Felipe Pérez.– Good
afternoon to all the foreign press correspondents accredited in our
country and the national press.
We have convened this meeting
to give you information on the trials of the last few days and their
background, as well as commenting on some other issues of interest.
In the first place, I should like
to make it clear that the government and people of Cuba have a very
clear understanding that they are currently waging a hard struggle
for their right to self-determination, for their right to independence.
The people and government of Cuba
have not lost sight for a minute of the fact that what is at stake
in Cuba is the future of our country as a nation and the full rights
of every citizen of our country.
After more than 40 years of an
ironclad economic, financial and commercial blockade, of aggressions,
terrorist acts, more than 600 assassination attempts on the life of
the Cuban President; after decades of incitement to subversion, illegal
emigration, sabotage, activities by armed groups whose acts of terrorism
against our country have been tolerated in the country where they
originate; after all that history, which our people know only too
well having suffered the loss of many lives and considerable material
losses –the blockade alone has cost Cuba more than $70 billion USD–
on top of all that, our people have had to contend with the obsession
of U.S. governments to fabricate an opposition in Cuba, to fabricate
an organized dissidence in Cuba, to foment in Cuba the emergence or
strengthening of groups responding to their interests, with an evidently
annexationist vision, those who would be responsible some day for
propitiating Cuba’s annexation to the United States, in the supposed
scenario of the defeat of the Cuban Revolution. That has been its
obsession and the purpose of the laws, the funding, the incitement and
the role of the special services.
One plan after another has foundered
against the unity of our people, against the moral authority of the
Cuban Revolution, against the unquestionable fact that the overwhelming
majority of the Cuban people support and defend the Revolution, against
the unquestionable historical moral leadership of the Cuban Revolution.
They have come up against all of that, but they have not overcome
that resistance, which has elicited international admiration.
I must give this background information,
because recent events in Cuba cannot be examined without taking into
account that there is still this historical dispute with Cuba over
its right to independence and the struggle of the Cuban people to
preserve that independence vis à vis a historical ambition and concrete
plans for Cuba’s annexation to the United States. It is that which
is at stake in Cuba today. Thus, in analyzing the Cuban reality and
what is occurring in Cuba today, that element should be kept in mind.
Cuba is well aware that international
law is on its side. The United Nations Charter recognizes the right
of Cuba to choose its own political system, it recognizes respect
for the principle of equality among states and it recognizes the right
of peoples to self-determination. Thus, the blockade, the aggressive
actions and pressures on Cuba are attempts at violating our people’s
right to exercise its self-determination, create its institutions,
and found its political and economic system of its own free will.
That is what is at stake in Cuba
today, that is, if a small country, in the vicinity of a great superpower,
can be an independent country, can be a country that follows its own
International covenants on human
rights approved by the United Nations and much referred to in these
days, state, and I quote: "That all peoples have the right to self-determination",
and as Cubans, we have given ourselves that right. We have approved
a constitution, we have amended it, we have laws, we have institutions,
we have more than 2,000 organizations whish are part of our civil
society --including non-governmental organizations and workers leagues–
and we have our own system, our institutions, and we have chosen our
own way and we demand that it is respected. That is what is at stake
here, that is, whether we can or cannot do things our own way and
exercise that right.
The Charter of the Organization
of American States (OAS), from which as it is known Cuba was expelled
due to pressure from the US government --an issue on which we have
repeatedly made our opinion clear-- the Charter of the OAS, to which
the United States does belong and in which it exercises its full might,
reads: "All states have the right to choose, without external interference,
their political, economic and social system, and to organize it in
the form that is most convenient for them, and have the duty not to
interfere in the affairs of other states."
That is laid down in the OAS Charter,
which is supposedly the cornerstone of the Organization of the Americas,
and thus we are fighting in Cuba for that right, against all the pressure
and against the intensified hostility of a new government in the United
States that, in the exercise of its unilateral power in the world,
has increased its rhetoric and hostility toward Cuba to unexpected
So, that is what is at stake in
Cuba today. We find it important that these elements are taken into
account as the backdrop of everything we are going to explain here
It is a fact that there have been
more than 40 years of blockade, of aggression, of armed invasions;
it is a fact that illegal emigration from Cuba has been incited; it
is a fact that a policy has been pursued by 10 successive U.S. administrations
that Cuba has had to confront and which it has had to survive. But
with the advent of the administration headed by President Bush, jr.
in the United States, hostility towards Cuba has dramatically increased.
In conjunction with the debt of
gratitude that President Bush owed the extremist groups in Miami that
backed his electoral campaign and played a key role in his election,
the presence of more than 20 Cubans from extremist groups in Miami
in key positions in the U.S. government and the decision to give central
responsibility for Latin American Affairs, and thus for Cuba, in the
State Department to Mr. Otto Reich, have open the way for a new stage
of growing hostilities towards Cuba.
I should clearly say that we do
not blame the American people for this situation. We have feelings
of friendship and respect for the people of the United States, and
we have given proof of that.
We do not blame the majority of
Cubans who live in the United States, either, the ones we do not call
"the mafia;" we refer to them as the Cuban community resident there,
whose right to relations with their families and to visit Cuba we
also respect and defend, we do not blame them. We do not blame wide
sectors of U.S. society, its academics, its business sector, who understand
the need for a change in policy towards Cuba and the normalization
of relations. We blame for this situation the extremist Miami groups,
which are a minority, and the sectors within the Administration that
have committed themselves to a policy of hostility towards Cuba.
We do not even blame the majority
of the House and the Senate, whose members have given proof in recent
years of their will, their decision, their aspiration for the normalization
of relations between the two countries, for the promotion of trade,
for the sale of food and medicines, for U.S. citizens’ right to travel
to Cuba, for the elimination of the anachronistic prohibitions currently
preventing them from traveling to Cuba.
Now, is that the road that the
majority of U.S. society, according to surveys, data, and publications
want it to be followed today? No. Another road in relation to Cuba
has been followed, a road that has led to a reinforcement of the blockade,
a strengthening of the blockade measures –later we shall see some
of those recent decisions– a road of greater incitement than ever
to illegal emigration, a greater tolerance of it.
I will simply say that in the
last seven months there have been seven hijackings of Cuban air and
sea crafts, encouraged by tolerance, by the indiscriminate application
of the Cuban Adjustment Act, by the practice of receiving people who
use terrorism and violence to get there, who use firearms, something
that is penalized in international conventions to which the United
States is a party; and the terrorist hijackers involved in four of
those cases remain at liberty, and there is no news of any legal proceedings
being taken against them –the first four of those seven cases, from
August of last year to date.
In four cases, the hijackers that
committed acts of terrorism are freely walking the streets; that is
what has happened. There are people living freely in Miami who murdered
to divert vessels or planes to the United States, and there has been
an increase in all of that. I will return to this point later.
The 1200 weekly hours of radio
broadcasts against Cuba are receiving more funds than ever. The U.S.
Interests Section in Havana has been instructed to practically set
up there the headquarters of internal subversion in Cuba, with the
highest profile of a head of this section in its 25 years of functioning,
in open violation of the laws governing diplomatic conduct, by openly
interfering in Cuba’s internal affairs, in a tone and behavior totally
inappropriate for a diplomat.
The U.S. Interests Section’s diplomatic
pouch is being increasingly used to bring funds and the means for
the exercise of counterrevolutionary acts in Cuba to groups created
and funded by the U.S. government. To sum up, we have a situation
where there has been an increase in subversive actions, disrespect
for Cuban laws, and open defiance of Cuba’s legal institutions, which
all diplomatic representations should respect in their work in our
To give you an example of how
Mr. James Cason anticipated his work in Cuba as head of the US Interests
Section in Havana, I will make available to you a brief excerpt of
an interview he gave to Miami television in December, so that you
can hear in his own words what we are talking about.
new position as head of the US Interests Section in Havana, now given
that your are moving about, you have met with ordinary Cubans and
with dissidents in Cuba. Have you already met with leaders of the
anti-Castro organizations in exile as well?
James Cason.- Yes, two
or three times. Every time I go to Miami, I want to meet and have
met with all the groups, the Cuban-American National Foundation, the
Council for the Freedom of Cuba, independent groups and all the groups
here, because I want to explain what I have seen in Cuba, what is
happening and to hear their points of view on what we are doing, to
see if there is something we should do that we are not doing. It is a
very amiable dialogue and one of my messages is that the important thing
in Cuba is that there is an opposition; they are isolated, harassed,
but they are persisting and have a lot of courage, and the important
thing is that they meet, come together and concentrate on the essentials,
on the rights that they do not have and on the liberties that they
should have; in other words, not to focus on personalities, on ideological
differences; the important thing is that the opposition has to gain
ground, because the day is going to come when there is a transition.
There is a transition now, but there is going to be a new Cuba one
day, and they have to take their part in forming and deciding the
future of Cuba. So, they must win their space, begin to discuss what
has to be done differently to change Cuba; so, it is important that
they focus on the important things, not the non-essential ones.
Journalist.- Of the
meetings that you have had with the dissidents –I don’t know if you
want to go into this type of detail– but, where do you see that the
dissident movement is perhaps not going in a positive direction? What
is your message to the dissidents? I would like to ask you, if you
allow me to, for a message to anti-Castro groups in Miami. Which is
your message to the dissidents in Cuba, what would you like to tell
them base on what you have already seen?
James Cason.- Well,
first that the future of Cuba… as US citizens we are not going to
decide the future of Cuba, it’s going to be the Cubans, outside and
within Cuba. From my point of view,... my advice is to focus on the
essential, what are the important factors? Not to become divided,
to meet and try to agree or reach an agreement on 10 points; for example,
points on which all of them agree, and not talk about issues on which
they are not in agreement; because in a democracy everyone has differences,
there are actions, but the important thing is that that is a military
dictatorship where if people do not meet, they are not going to have
much chance of prospering. So, they should concentrate on the essentials
and look for points of agreement, not differences.
Journalist.- O.K., now
I’m moving on to the theme of the dissidence movement. One of your
priorities is also to help that movement in Cuba. How are you trying
to help the Castro opposition?
James Cason.- Well,
as I said before, by offering information, moral and spiritual support,
that they are not alone, that the world knows what is going on inside
Cuba. One manifestation of that is the fact that many of the leaders,
like Osvaldo Payá, Vladimiro Roca, Marta Beatriz Roque, have received
European human rights awards and from other parts of the world, so
the world knows what is going on in Cuba, and we are there to tell
them about that reality and help them as much as possible.
We’re not giving them anything,
it is not what Castro says, that we are financing the opposition;
the opposition is insisting on the fact that the system has failed
and we are there to offer them the support of the American people
and of the rest of the democratic world in what they are doing, which
is advocating having the basic human rights that Cuba signed in the
Declaration of Human Rights, in the Universal declarations, and has
not fulfilled in all these years.
Felipe Pérez. - This is
Mr. Cason in December. As you can see his explicit job is to unify
the groups, help them to draw up a ten-point program.
Mr. Cason, as we can see, came
to Cuba with the plan of creating a single party of dissidents in
Cuba. I don’t know, then, why it bothers him so much that we Cuban
revolutionaries have a single party to defend the Revolution, since
that is what he has tried to foster with the so-called "dissidents".
His instructions concerning these
groups were to iron out their internal differences, the internecine
"fights" over who shall play the leading role or over money, and to
try to create a unified group, with money.
I am amazed that he doesn’t talk
about the prizes awarded in the United States, because the International
Republican Institute, one of the groups that has received money from
the United States, that received as much as $1,674,462 in 2002, and
what for? To help create the bases of international support to provide
the activists in Cuba with material, moral and ideological support,
even giving them awards and international recognition. And we know
how this institution and others in the United States have been involved
in the business of giving prizes and for that reason they have been
giving more and more money every year, organizing trips, awards, tours.
We have information on all of that.
I want to highlight to you the
idea that Mr. Cason marks a time when the anti-Cuban policy, the policy
of subversion against Cuba is become fiercer, overt, gloves off.
Here he says: "I meet whenever
I can with the Cuban-American National Foundation", the people who
financed the wave of terrorists attacks on hotels in Cuba which caused
the death of an Italian tourist and injuries to dozens of tourists
and Cuban workers.
"I meet with them whenever I can",
with the Council for the Freedom of Cuba which is the paramilitary
wing of the old Cuban American National Foundation; Martín Pérez,
head of the Foundation’s paramilitary apparatus, the organizer of
many plans to assassinate the head of the Cuban state, President Fidel
Castro, at international events; people involved in organizing and
financing the attempt to put 40 kilograms of C-4 explosive in the
Ibero-American Summit in Panama to assassinate the President of Cuba.
So "I meet with them whenever
I can to give them information, to compare notes; I give them hope
that the time is near when they and the groups inside which we support
can finally ensure that people enjoy their human rights" all those
individuals, Batista supporters most of them, implicated in the repression
and murder of 20,000 Cubans during the Batista dictatorship.
We are very well aware why Mr.
Cason has come here, what orders he brings, what his motives are and
what affiliations he has. Therefore, it is our duty and our right
to defend our country’s independence using the legal structure in
our country strictly within respect for our laws, for our moral values
and our sense of life and of the convictions that guide us.
Now, that interview took place
in December. What has happened between then and now? On February 27,
2003, Adolfo Franco, a Cuban, one of more than twenty holding positions
in the government, an administrator who looks after Latin America
and the Caribbean in USAID, the United States Agency for International
Development, a U.S. government agency, said before a House of Representative
Foreign Affairs Subcommittee that the U.S. Agency for International
Development has invested more than $20 million, $22 million to be
exact, since 1997 to put the Helms-Burton Act into effect in Cuba.
He also said that one of the things
done to comply with this act has been to send materials, propaganda,
to deliver more than 7,000 radio tuned to receive Radio Martí, among
The USAID itself has said that
these $22 million are just a tiny part of the funds channeled to Cuba,
a tiny part! because most of the money for subversion does not go
through USAID. The Helms-Burton Act has paragraph 109 which directs
the government to distribute money for subversion in Cuba through
USAID and it has paragraph 115 which favors giving the money through
secret channels, the special services’ channels. USAID itself says
that the amount they give is the smallest part and, according to Franco,
it has been $22 million since 1997.
On February 28, the Five Cuban
Heroes unjustly imprisoned in the United States when they were helping
the fight against terrorism, are once again send to the punishment
cells from where they are not allowed out until April 2.
On March 24, the Office of Foreign
Assets Control —the U.S. government office which keeps an eye open
to see that the blockade is abided by— issues new regulations which
make the blockade even tighter: travel by Americans to Cuba is limited
even more; the small licenses that had been issued so that students
could come to Cuba, for intellectuals and suchlike, have been restricted
to such a point that they are virtually eliminated; educational exchanges
are eliminated, no only who can come here has been restricted in an
arbitrary manner but also who can go there. Visas are virtually denied
out of hand to young people, students, Cuban intellectuals, athletes,
and scientists to attend events in the United States to which they
have been invited. Travel to Cuba on trips to supply the groups in
their job of internal subversion has been expedited. Americans are
forbidden to attend seminars and conferences in Cuba organized by
Cuban institutions. That is to say that on March 24, a new tightening
of the blockade took place, which takes the measure against Cuba envisaged
by the blockade to schizophrenic levels.
On March 26, the Secretary of
State Mr. Colin Powell appears before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
and announces that the budget he is presenting includes $26,900,000
for anti-Cuban broadcasts on Radio and Television "Martí"; this is
added to the twenty something millions we already mentioned and is
a violation of international legality, of the International Telecommunications
Union’s regulations, and acknowledges that they finance a radio station
which violates our radio electronic space with more than 1,200 broadcast
hours to Cuba every week encouraging internal subversion, sabotage
plans, encouraging desertion, illegal emigration, that is what that
radio and television station spend their time doing, spreading lies
and false stories about Cuba.
On March 31, the State Department
publishes its report on human rights in the world, which, as we know,
discusses the whole world except for the United States itself and
devotes pages of lies and slanders to Cuba which are then used as
the basis for submitting the resolution against Cuba, which the United
States sponsors and organizes, in the Commission on Human Rights in
This year the resolution will
be voted on, on April 16. The United States, because of its inability
and lack of credibility to submit it, especially since it has been
out of the Commission for a year as the international community felt
that it did not meet the requirements for being a member of the commission,
and after getting back on [the commission] thanks to Spain and Italy
that agreed to withdraw their candidacies so that the United States
could be elected without voting since it set the condition of not
having to go to a vote because it feared losing —because voting in
the election is secret and they are afraid of secret ballots whereas
we aim for them— so it is back, but it feels afraid to submit the
resolution against Cuba.
Other countries that previously
rendered them this service are not willing to do it anymore. So now
the United States has sought to have the governments of Peru and Costa
Rica join with the government of Uruguay, who did it last year. They
have submitted an almost innocuous text which says practically nothing
but meets the American goal of ensuring that the subject is kept before
the Commission on Human Rights so they can justify keeping the blockade
against Cuba by the censure of Cuba in Geneva.
On April 2, the Undersecretary
of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Curtis Strubble said "the
USAID will invest $7 million from the fund for economic support in
Cuba this year". Note how money is flowing into Cuba. Here we have
seen Mr. Cason saying that the United States really does not provide
financing. In my view, Mr. Cason does not read Congress’s minutes,
they don’t tell him what his bosses say because the Undersecretary of
State says that they have allocated $7 million this year; the
Administrator for Latin America says that they have allotted $22 million,
USAID alone. Mr. Cason doesn’t want to know about these things but
anyway I shall tell you later on how the money gets here and what
is the government’s role and I will show you here the paychecks and
the payrolls that we have in our possession.
On April 6, the Sun Sentinel,
a Florida newspaper has an article telling how the
counterrevolutionary organization Commandos F-4, a violent terrorist
group tied to sabotage plans, to armed raids into Cuba are training
with heavy arms —it doesn’t say with handguns and knives— it says:
"Training is with heavy arms to carry out armed actions against Cuba
and for a possible armed invasion of that country."
The Sun Sentinel calls
the terrorist organization paramilitary and prints statements by the
head of this organization that openly declares their intention of
eliminate the Cuban President by military force and terrorist methods.
They train, they have a camp over there, located in south Florida
and they feel inspired in this new time in relation to increase their
violent terrorist activities against Cuba.
This is what has been happening,
especially in the last few months, since the U.S. government decided
to turn up the heat on our country.
Now, what has Cuba done during
this time, what have we done, aware that the majority of the U.S.
people does not have a hostile view of Cuba; aware that there is a
growing current of friendship of sympathy towards Cuba in the US;
knowing that the overwhelming majority of the American people supported
the return of the little Cuban boy whom they tried to kidnap in Florida;
motivated, as well, by genuine feelings of respect of friendship toward
the people of the United States?
While all of this was going on,
we, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, which Cuba condemned
offering its sympathies to the American people, rejecting the practice
of terrorism, offering our air space, our airports, offering medical
assistance, offering Cuban institutions to provide help for the victims
of the attack, after we had offered to the US medicine to fight against
anthrax in the United States, we offered to produce 100 million tablets
for them, free of charge, but received virtually no reply. We expressed
our willingness to provide medical equipment developed in Cuba, scientific
equipment that, in a time of terror in the United States, could help
with research to fight against anthrax.
On 29 November 2001, we sent a
note to the Head of the US Interest Section in Havana which officially
proposed the draft agreements for both countries to co-operate in
matters concerning the fight against drug-trafficking, the fight against
terrorism, co-operation to eliminate the smuggling of persons, the
illegal immigration which we have submitted on previous occasions
and which have been reiterated afterwards, receiving a negative reply.
Why is the U.S. government not
interested in co-operating with Cuba in matters concerning drug trafficking,
the fight against illegal emigration, boat and plane hijacking, people
smuggling and the fight against terrorism? Why isn’t it interested?
These are subjects of interest to the U.S. society.
On December 20, 2001 we passed
our law against acts of terrorism in which we set penalties for anyone
using Cuban territory even to organize or finance acts [of terrorism]
against other countries including the United States.
When the news about the Nile virus
broke out we made an offer to the U.S. government to co-operate in
scientific research. While this was going on what was going on over
there? Cuba was falsely and unjustly accused on being a country that
sponsors terrorism, of being a country with a program to develop biological
and chemical weapons that we had to prove wrong when the time came.
They tried to boycott President Carter’s visit to Cuba by making those
accusation to coincide with his visit to our country.
We have, nevertheless, kept on
with our fight against terrorism, we have given drug traffickers tough
sentences, we have struggled to ensure that drugs don’t travel close
to Cuba so that Cuban territory is not used to ship drugs to the United
The U.S. people must have plenty
of examples of the feelings of respect for Cuba, proved by the hundreds
of US farmers who have come to Cuba, who have defended their rights.
And it was while they were defending their rights that the purchase
of more than one million tons of food was purchased from the United
States, worth almost $250 million, something significant for U.S.
In other words, while all this
was occurring and Cuba was making gestures of good will, the response
was all this policy of harassment and provocation against Cuba.
Now well, I should give a brief
timetable of the days leading up to the criminal trials, which we
shall explain later.
On February 24 this year, the
head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Mr. Cason, in a meeting
organized by him with a group of those mercenaries who, organized
and financed by the U.S. government cooperate with the power that
attacks their country, at that meeting Mr. Cason made unheard of statements,
words never before spoken by any diplomat in any part of the world,
offensive words against the government and people of Cuba, words that
infringe the basic rules on how diplomats should behave, interfering
words, words aimed at provoking the Cuban government and people. That
was February 24.
On March 6, the President of the
Cuban Council of State, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, in his
remarks to the National Assembly gave due response to these provocations,
called these words a shameless and defiant provocation and suggested
that perhaps the numerous U.S. intelligence service officers who work
in the USIS could explain to Mr Cason that Cuba could easily do without
the U.S. Interest Section in Havana; a warning, a clear message that
he should stop his provocations, should temper his behavior, which
is becoming truly intolerable for the authorities and the public opinion
On March 7, the U.S. State Department
confirmed that the five Cubans held political prisoner in U.S. jails
had been in the punishment cells for nine days.
On March 10, we delivered a diplomatic
note to Mr. Cason, Note 365 in which we replied to the statements
he had made on February 24, we asked him once again to cease his openly
provocative actions, his interference with Cuba and we let him know
about decisions we had taken concerning his subversive movements in
our country which violate Cuban law. It seemed to be our final warning,
our final effort at persuading Mr. Carson about his irresponsible
and openly provocative behavior.
On March 12, that is, two days
after our note, seemingly as a response to our appeal, to our diplomatic
note, Mr. Cason organized a new conspiratorial meeting in his own
residence, the place where he lives, setting yet another record, now
he was not only offering his offices but also his house.
On March 14, two days later, he
again organized another meeting —it was so quickly organized that
we perceived an obvious decision to reach a confrontational stage
with Cuban authorities— it began at 10:00 in the morning, ended at
5:00 in the afternoon.
We have been patient. I am telling
the whole story to provide evidence that we have been patient, that
we have been tolerant. But, in fact, Mr. Cason’s latest decision to
turn the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and his residence into a
sort of headquarters of subversion against Cuba, is sending a message
to all these mercenaries which is that of believing that they can
count on impunity, that they are protected by a powerful ally who
encourages, finances, organizes, and directs them and having created this
situation, Mr. Cason implementing his government’s aggressive policy
against Cuba at unsuspected levels has compelled us to apply our law,
and these trials must be understood as Cuba’s behavior when no other
option remained given the path of confrontation and provocation that
the U.S. government has chosen to pursue in its relations with Cuba
and in which the Head of its diplomatic mission in Havana has played
a leading role.
Our patience was no longer justified;
our tolerance was no longer justified. Things had reached an untenable
point for our country which lives under aggression, harassment and
blockade and which has laws to defend itself and has made sovereign
use of its laws to protect its sovereignty, to punish those who co-operate
with the power that tries to subvert order in the country and tries
to crush and deprive Cubans of the right to enjoy independence and
Mr Cason and his irresponsible
behavior exhausted our patience. He is the main responsible for what
Therefore, after all this, on
March 18, the decision was taken to arrest a group of the mercenaries
who had been at the meetings on December 24, March 12 and 14. Thirty-two
mercenaries were arrested that day.
On the following day, March 19,
another 33 mercenaries were arrested. They had, and have, been involved
and received money and given distorted information so the Helms-Burton
Act could be implemented, so that the blockade could be implemented.
They have contributed to the U.S. policy of condemning Cuba in Geneva
to legitimize the blockade, to give a cloak of respectability to the
blockade that is rejected by the international community.
On the night of March 19, a DC-3
was hijacked the result of years of tolerating, of encouraging plane
hijackings, of welcoming those who commit violent acts to emigrate
illegally to the United States as heroes.
And I really want to stress this,
because, when I say that it was the 18 and 19 of March I am underlining
that this decision was taken and these arrests took place before the
war in Iraq began and before the two planes and the ferry were hijacked.
The decision was taken before and the arrests took place as a result
of the unbearable situation we had been placed in by Mr. Cason’s provocations
and irresponsible behavior.
Now, with the DC-3 hijacked, the
hijackers in the United States, the plane confiscated, the news leaked
to the press that the authorities were willing to grant the hijackers
bail —which finally, it seems, is not going to happen but it was leaked
to the press and where there’s smoke there’s fire— all this created
new encouragement, as we warned, and again on March 31, the AN-24
was hijacked. On April 2 the ferry was hijacked. Curiously, with the
ferry hijacking there was a change in the behavior pattern that U.S.
authorities had showed until that time. Because in compliance with
the Migratory Agreements they intercepted at sea all the small craft that
were trying to reach the United States, they stopped the boats and
were committed to returning those who were trying to reach the United
States illegally. They didn’t return all of them, they took between
10% and 12% of those intercepted to the United States, under one pretext
or another, but still they did return about 90%.
On the day of the hijacked ferry
they said that they were not willing to act in this case as they had
always done and so we took action and solved the problem.
In other words, there has been
a wave of plane hijackings, an attempt to use illegal emigration to
destabilize the country, to create a situation in Cuba that was really
complex. Then, on April 3 the trials began.
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