Terrorists, but Our Terrorists

Where can terrorists find safe harbor? If you're of the Cuban exile variety, right here.

"On a day like today, we have the right to ask what will be done about Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, the perpetrators of that monstrous terrorist act ... and about those who planned and financed the bombs that were placed in the hotels in [Havana], and the assassination attempts against Cuban leaders, which haven't stopped for a minute in more than 40 years."

Could the supreme guerrilla and head of a repressive one-party state possibly have a point? While President Bush is warning the nations of the world that they must not harbor terrorists, is South Florida harboring a legion of its own, who have engaged in activities that look a lot like terrorism? After all, the list of acciones terroristas -- from the Alpha 66 and Comandos L raids of the early Sixties to the group of commandos arrested in Villa Clara province this past April -- is long enough to fill a 300-page book (see, for example, Jane Franklin's Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History). Moreover even the leading exile scholars cannot point to any actual terrorist acts carried out on U.S. soil by Castristas.

Today, nine years after the Justice Department legitimated Bosch's release by saying he had renounced violence, Bosch is sounding awfully bellicose. He was one of nineteen exiles in the Cuban Patriotic Forum who signed a Declaration of Principles published in the Miami Herald this past August. "We recognize and support the right of the Cuban people inside the island and in exile to avail themselves of all means and methods at their disposal in the struggle for the freedom of Cuba," the coalition stated. Other signatories included Armando Perez-Roura and Juan Ruiz of Cuban Unity; Hubert Matos of Democratic Independent Cuba; Eugenio Llamera of the World Federation of Cuban Former Political Prisoners; Sylvia Iriondo of Mothers and Women Against Repression; Juan Perez Franco of the Veterans Association of the Bay of Pigs; and several Cuban American National Foundation board members who resigned from CANF in August.

Ricardo Alarcon, president of the National Assembly of the People's Power, wonders why the United States won't muscle its violent Cuban exiles
Kirk Nielsen
Ricardo Alarcon, president of the National Assembly of the People's Power, wonders why the United States won't muscle its violent Cuban exiles
The result of a 1997 bombing at a Havana hotel, one of many that Cuban authorities link to former CIA operative and exile hero Luis Posada Carriles
The result of a 1997 bombing at a Havana hotel, one of many that Cuban authorities link to former CIA operative and exile hero Luis Posada Carriles

That "principle" is consistent with the 1979 statement Bosch made while jailed in Venezuela to investigators for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations. "You have to fight violence with violence. At times you cannot avoid hurting innocent people," Bosch proclaimed. According to the investigators, he denied involvement in the Cubana de Aviación slaughter but said he supported it and called terrorism a necessary evil in the fight against Castro.

On this recent Friday morning 25 years later, he didn't exactly renounce terrorism either. He again denied involvement in the jetliner bombing and then offered a unique, if oblique, definition of terrorism. "All fights are terrorism," Bosch posited. "Suppose I go at you with a knife and you have a pistol." He touched the reporter's knee for emphasis. "What are you going to do with that pistol?" (Shoot it, the reporter supposed.)

Bosch, like his nemesis Castro, bemoaned the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington. "It's unbelievable, man," he said. "If you are my enemy, I will fight you, but what the hell is this killing all those people with that plane?" Yet he went on again with the inevitability of innocent casualties. "When they attack this guy, some innocents will be killed," he predicted, referring to the military assaults the United States would launch two days later in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. "It's like Churchill said: “War is a competition of cruelty.'"

Early this month Bosch admitted to shipping explosives to Cuba.

Guys such as Bosch make it easy for the Cuban government to claim that the United States harbors, or at least tolerates, anti-Castro terrorists. The fact that many prominent Cuban exiles continue to support, and in some cases plan, bombings and other violence against targets in Cuba casts an eerie irony over President Bush's warnings that ambivalence is unacceptable in the war on terrorism. "Some governments still turn a blind eye to the terrorists, hoping the threat will pass them by. They are mistaken," Bush admonished during his United Nations speech on November 10. "The allies of terror are equally guilty and equally accountable."

Ricardo Alarcon, the president of Cuba's National Assembly of the People's Power, hastened to point out the disconnect during an October interview in Havana with New Times. "Bush's words are very categorical: “He who harbors a terrorist is as guilty as the terrorist himself.' A government that harbors a terrorist in its territory, that permits him to act, to live, to raise money, to organize himself, is as guilty as the terrorist," a guayabera-clad Alarcon elaborated, waving an unlit cigar as he sat in an old-fashioned easy chair in a salon inside the assembly building. "Orlando Bosch has been defined by the U.S. Department of Justice as a terrorist. “Notorious,' even. Where does he live? In Afghanistan? Or does he live in Miami? Is he keeping quiet? No."

Alarcon, a 64-year-old Communist Party Central Committee member and former UN ambassador, declined to comment on the latest terrorist mission produced by Miami's hard-core anti-Castristas, saying it was under investigation. But Cuban Interior Ministry officials had already released considerable information about it on Mesa Redonda, the island's state-run evening news and commentary program. This past April Cuban authorities arrested three Miami-Dade residents -- Ihosvani Suris, Santiago Padron, and Maximo Padrera -- who had boated to the island. According to Interior Ministry officials, the three had several AK-47 assault rifles, an M-3 carbine rifle, and three semiautomatic Makarov pistols when they were apprehended in Villa Clara province, Bosch's old stomping grounds.

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