Cuba and Terrorists
April 12, 2015 § Leave a comment
A recent newscast informed me that President Obama is “considering” removing Cuba from a list of terrorist sponsors. Huh! I didn’t know Cuba was on such a list. This caused me to think about how Cuban school children might react to this news.
A Short History of U.S. Cuba Relations
I assume that they, like American school children, are taught the history of their country. So, I assume they learn that Cuban patriots, in the 1890’s, revolted against Spanish colonial rule, just as America revolted against British colonial rule. Then, I assume they learn that, following an explosion on the American battleship Maine, the United States sent an army to Cuba, not to join the revolution, but to replace Spain’s colonial control of Cuba. They probably also read that the Maine explosion may have been part of a plot to create an excuse for the American invasion.
Next, they probably learn that a guerrilla army led by Raul Castro, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara waged a successful war against Fulgencia Batista, a puppet dictator of the United States and loyal friend of American corporations enjoying profitable arrangements in Cuba. That revolution lasted from July 1953 until January 1, 1959. On that New Year’s day, the victorious guerrillas swept into Havana, drove out Batista and established Cuba as a free country.
Fidel Castro became President, an office he still holds. The Cuban government nationalized property owned by American corporations. In retaliation, the American government imposed an embargo seeking to destroy the Cuban economy and confiscated all Cuban funds located in the United States. The Soviet Union loaned Cuba money to enable it to survive these destructive efforts and established a close relationship with Cuba.
In 1961, the United States attempted to overthrow the Cuban government with a military invasion at the Bay of Pigs on Cuba’s southern coast. The Cuban army defeated the invaders.
After serving in various capacities following the revolution, Che Guevara, a communist from Argentina, went to Bolivia. There he organized a revolutionary force opposed to a military dictator, Renee Barrientos. CIA commandos were sent by the United States to support Barrientos. One writer claims that Klaus Barbie, a Nazi war criminal living in Bolivia, aka The Butcher of Lyon, assisted and advised the CIA about the capture of Guevara. Finally, on October 9, 1967, Che Guevara was executed by a Bolivian soldier, on orders from Barrientos.
I can only imagine, given this history, how Cuban school children might react to the news that this history brands their government as a sponsor of terrorism. I suspect they would like for the restrictions lifted on travel to and from the U.S.. They probably would like to emigrate to the U.S.. But they would be only human to question why this record labels their country with the same label as the one pinned on ISIS. They may even know of some Cuban version of an old saying about the pot calling the kettle black.
Are revolutionary efforts to free a population from brutal colonial rule or military dictatorships “terrorism”? If so, in addition to “considering” the removal of Cuba from a list of sponsors of “terrorism”, I think we should reconsider the definition of “terrorism”. The United States’ history of sponsoring and supporting military dictators all over Central and South America hardly gives us credentials to pin labels on Cuba or anyone else until we change our policies.