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Cuba
September 11, 2001
   
 

News regarding Cuba & the September 11th attacks:

 
   
 

I. Cuban artists donate blood for US people

II. Cuba Expresses Sympathy for U.S. (AP 9/14/01)

III. US "Interests Section" in Cuba remained open after Sept. 11th attacks

IV. U.S. MD's Speak of Cubans' Compassion for US

V. Cuba's Castro Expresses Sympathy (Reuters)

VI. Statement by the Government of Cuba on Terrorism (9/19/01)

VII. Afghan War Detainees at Guantanamo Bay Navy Base

NOTE: The official Cuban Government statement of shock, condolences and offers of assistance, issued immediately following news of the Sept. 11th attacks, is available from the website of the Cuban Interest Section, in Washington, http://cubaofia.vze.com/. The offers included allowing diverted planes from the US to land in Cuba, offers of blood (Cuba is at the top in blood donations per capita, and its blood supply is considered quite safe), and of medical personnel (Cuba has also been a leader in sending emergency medical teams, such as after the natural disasters in Central America).

I. CUBAN ARTISTS DONATE BLOOD FOR US PEOPLE (9/14/01)

While New York and Washington are still in shock, the Cuban artists nominated for the Latin Grammy and the rest of the island's delegation that traveled to Los Angeles today went to a children's hospital in this US city to give their blood in a gesture of solidarity and support for the victims.

Julio Ballester, director of the Cuban Music Recording and Publishing Company (EGREM), said from Los Angeles to the Cuban daily Juventud Rebelde that it's still uncertain how the awarding of the Grammy still take place: "Up until today there was no agreement in relation to the different proposals such as, for example, sending the awards to the winners later on and definitively canceling the award ceremony."

[from www.cubasi.com, a very visual & creative website, with emphasis on current culture, including Cuba's hit parade, sending Cuban picture postcards via email to your friends, etc.]

II. US INTERESTS SECTION REMAINS OPEN IN HAVANA IN WAKE OF TERRORIST

Havana, September 11 (RHC)--In the wake of the terrorist acts mounted Tuesday against the United States, the Havana US Interests Section was one of the few Washington diplomatic offices across the world to remain open.

Cubans waiting to enter the Interests Section were not subjected to any more delay than usual and no extra security was in evidence. Roads around the Interests Section remained open and the only concern was shown by Cubans for the innocent people killed in New York and elsewhere in the worst attack against the US since Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Foreign diplomats doing service in Havana have often said how much safer Cuba is than almost anywhere else in the world both on an official as well as a personal basis.

[from Radio Havana, Cuba radiohc.cu]

III. CUBA EXPRESSES SYMPATHY FOR U.S.

 c The Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) - After decades of criticizing the United States, Cuba has moved to support its northern neighbor after terrorist attacks destroyed the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon.

Cuban television interrupted normal programming to broadcast images of Tuesday's carnage, and news shows have included updates from CNN's Spanish channel on the investigation and aftermath.

President Fidel Castro condemned the attacks and offered whatever medical assistance the Communist island could spare during a scheduled television appearance late Tuesday.

“The government of our country rejects and condemns with full force the attacks against the mentioned installations and expresses its sincerest condolences to the American people for the painful and unjustifiable loss of human life,” the Cuban government said in a statement issued hours after the attacks.

At noon in Havana, Cuban workers filed out of European embassies to observe with their foreign co-workers a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims.

The Roman Catholic Church in Cuba also said it would celebrate a Mass on Sunday in remembrance of the victims.

Throughout the city, European tourists and Cuban workers gather around televisions in hotels and restaurants, watching and talking solemnly about what happened.

The U.S. State Department lists Cuba as one of seven ``sponsors of terrorism.'' The other countries are North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria.

IV. IN HAVANA, VISITING US PHYSICIANS SPEAK OF COMPASSION OF CUBAN PEOPLE

Havana, September 14 (RHC)--In Havana on Friday, a group of prominent US medical experts highlighted Friday the attitude of compassion and sympathy shown by the Cuban population with regard to the tragedy in the United States. The visitors also condemned Washington's blockade against Cuba.

The team of US doctors, five eminent physicians, including two former surgeons general, travelled to Havana accompanied by Bob Schwartz, executive director of the New York-based Disarm Education Fund, an organization that has brought over $65 million worth of humanitarian aid to the island over the past few years.

Schwartz told RHC he was deeply impressed by the reaction of the Cuban population with regard to the tragedy the US people are now living.

"I think all of us, this entire delegation, was overwhelmed by the concern that all of the Cubans, not just the doctors, not just the health officials, everybody in Cuba has expressed to us, whether it's a taxi driver, a hotel employee -people on the street come up to us. And everyone is shocked by what they've seen on television, hearing on the radio, and they're all very concerned, they're all very sympathetic, Schwartz said.

The director of the Disarm Education Fund also told RHC that he's shocked about the events in the U.S., but has mixed feelings:

"I have very mixed feelings about what I see. I'm watching the television and I'm shocked at what has happened in the United States. But I also think about the way the embargo, over the past 40 years, has created so much need and suffering and death in Cuba. I think it's a time while we're looking at how disasters affect the United States we should also be looking at the impact that embargoes -- it's not just the Cuban embargo, it's all embargoes. They kill just as surely as bombs and bullets and we need to end embargoes."

V. Cuba's Castro Expresses Sympathy

 By Andrew Cawthorne

HAVANA, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Cuban President Fidel Castro, a longtime political foe of the United States, warned on Tuesday of "dangerous days" ahead for the world and urged U.S. policy-makers to keep calm following deadly attacks in Washington and New York.

The controversial communist leader also said Washington's own past use of "terrorism" against other countries was partially to blame for the three crashes of hijacked planes against New York's landmark World Trade Center and the Pentagon outside Washington.

The attacks killed thousands of people.

"In part, these tragedies are a consequence of having applied terrorist methods -- against Cuba for many years, and in the case of other countries -- because they have spread the idea of terrorism," Castro said in an evening speech.

Cuba, which is on the U.S. list of states allegedly sponsoring terrorism, in turn accuses Washington of a four-decade-old policy of "terrorism" and "genocide" against Havana through an economic embargo and support for acts of violence.

Castro, who spoke at the inauguration of a school, said Tuesday's events had thrown the world into uncertainty, and urged restraint from the United States. "It's very important to know what the U.S. government's reaction will be. There are possibly dangerous days ahead for the world," he said.

"If on one occasion it is permissible to make a suggestion to the enemy ... we would urge the leaders of the imperial power to be calm, act with equanimity, and not be dragged by moments of anger or hatred ... into wanting to hunt people, tossing bombs all over the place."

Rather, Castro said, the United States and the world should seek to tackle the roots of terrorism like unresolved international conflicts and an unjust socio-economic order.

"Search for peace everywhere to protect all peoples against this plague of terrorism," Castro said, drawing an ovation from his audience of several thousand. "None of the world's problems, including terrorism, can be resolved by force."

Earlier, Havana expressed its "solidarity" and "pain" after the attacks, and offered air and medical facilities to help.

"We deeply regret the loss of human life, and our position is of total rejection of this sort of terrorist attack," Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told reporters.

Cuba, which lies 90 miles (140 km) south of Florida, offered to receive aircraft blocked from entering the United States because of the closure of airports there.

An official government statement added Havana's offer to cooperate with medical aid to the United States. Castro said that could range from sending blood to medical personnel as needed.

"The Cuban government heard news of the attacks with pain and sadness," the communiqué said. "At this bitter time, our people express solidarity with the U.S. people and express total willingness to cooperate, as far as our modest possibilities allow."

its northern neighbor, Perez said the islanders could sympathize with victims of Tuesday's attacks because "Our people have suffered four decades of terrorism, and we know very well the consequences of this sort of act."

Pre-empting possible speculation -- which has not emerged -- that Havana might have had a hand in Tuesday's events, Perez said: "About any idea of Cuban involvement, I don't think that's even worth referring to. No one could be thinking such a barbarous thing."

Castro, in his nearly two-hour speech, noted the "efficiency, organization and synchronization" of Tuesday's attacks, and suggested it was not necessarily the work of a big group. "Nobody knows the damage small groups of 20, 25 or 30 people -- fanatics or people committed to certain ideas -- can do," he said.

A leading Cuban dissident also sent condolences in an open letter to Bush, and Cuban musicians in Los Angeles for Tuesday night's canceled Latin Grammy awards announced they were also canceling a concert scheduled for Wednesday.

[the full text of Castro's remarks, so far in Spanish only, are available at http://cubaofia.vze.com]

VI. Statement by the Government of Cuba on Terrorism (9/19/01)

Under the effect of the shock caused to the world by the appalling and brutal terrorist action that targeted the American people on September 11, underlined by painful reports and images of grief and sorrow, certain minds driven by feelings of hatred and arrogance have taken to the sinister task of reviving old methods and doctrines which lie at the very source of terrorism and the extremely grave tensions affecting the world today.

At a time when the only advisable thing to do is to calmly and courageously seek for a definitive solution to terrorism and other tragedies, by universal consensus, a rude language full of rage and a spirit of vengeance, that had not been heard since the days prior to World War II, is being used by influential political leaders in the United States.

Any honest person would have the right to ask if it is really justice what they want or rather to use the hurting and outrageous tragedy to impose methods, prerogatives and privileges leading to the establishment of an unrestricted tyranny over every people on Earth by the most powerful state in the world.

Some senior officials have openly claimed that all restrictions should be lifted on the right of American institutions and officials to murder any person, even if that requires the use of the most despicable criminals. Such a prerogative had been used in the past by U.S. leaders to eliminate patriots like Patricio Lumumba in 1961, and to arrange coup d’état and carnage which have taken the lives of hundreds of thousands and millions who have been tortured, vanished or removed by diverse means.

Cuba has denounced hundreds of plans of assassinate its leaders and has tirelessly demanded punishment for those responsible and for the authors of countless acts of terrorism which have claimed a high number of human lives from our people. The very U.S. Senate investigated and exposed several actions carried out against Cuba using various means that did not leave out any form of murder no matter how uncouth and revolting. A peculiar kind of science was developed to that end.

The world has not given its unanimous support or expressed its most sincere condolences to the noble American people to let such sentiments be used to elaborate doctrines that would spread chaos and bloody events throughout the planet. The fact that a State proclaims an alleged right to kill wantonly anywhere in the world in contempt of legal procedures, courts of law or even the presentation of evidence is as serious as terrorism itself, and one its most despicable manifestations. Such policy would constitute a barbarian and uncivilized action that would tear to pieces every rule and legal bases on which peace and coexistence between nations might be built.

Amidst the panic and confusion created by this whole situation and despite the extreme gravity of introducing such procedures in international affairs, the political leaders of various states have failed to speak out -–with few exceptions-- against the emergence of a fascist and terrorist trend implicit in such statements.

One of the first consequences of this has been the acts of xenophobia and terror perpetrated against people of a different nationality or religion.

Although terrorism is absolutely repugnant and immoral, the American people would never favor the brutal method of murdering other people in cool blood, breaking the law, punishing without evidence or denying fundamental principles of equity and justice with the pretext of fighting it. Such methods would take the planet back to law of the jungle, tarnish the United States’ reputation and destroy its prestige while further inciting the hatred that is today at the root of so much grief and sadness. The American people want justice, not revenge!

Cuba said from the very first moment that in today’s world no problem can be solved with the use of force and that, in order to fight terrorism, it was necessary to build an awareness and a universal union capable of definitely eradicating this and other scourges and tragedies that put in jeopardy the very survival of the specie.

Although the war drums beat unexpectedly loud and they seem to irrevocably lead towards a bloody end, everything is not lost, yet.

In Afghanistan the ulemas --religious leaders of a traditionally combative and brave people-- are meeting to adopt fundamental decisions. They have already said that they will not oppose the application of justice and the relevant procedures if those accused, living in their country, are really guilty. They have simply asked for evidence, and for guarantees of impartiality and equity in the process, something that the United Nations could perfectly ensure, with full support from the international community.

If such evidence exists, as the leaders of the U.S. government have categorically affirmed, and the religious leaders are not asked to override the deepest convictions of their faith, which they are known to defend with their own lives, then an alternative to war could be worked out. They would not sacrifice their people uselessly if their ethically unquestionable request was taken into account. In fact, a bloodshed could be avoided and this could become the first great step towards a world without terrorism or unpunished crimes: a true world association for peace and justice could emerge and the American people would earn enormous prestige and respect.

Cuba would resolutely support such a solution. But, there is not a minute to spare; there is little time left. To fail to make such a basic, simple and viable effort would make it an unjust war.

VII. Afghan War Detainees at Guantanamo Bay Navy Base

STATEMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF CUBA TO THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC OPINION

The American Naval Base at Guantanamo is a facility located in an area of 117.6 square kilometers of the national territory of Cuba occupied since 1903 due to an Agreement on Coaling and Naval Stations signed by the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Cuba under President Tomás Estrada Palma. At that time, our country was not really independent since an amendment --known as Platt Amendment-- had been passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President McKinley on March 1901 while our country was under occupation by the U.S. army after its intervention in the independence war waged by the Cuban people against the Spanish metropolis.

The Platt Amendment, which granted the United States the right to intervene in Cuba, was imposed to the text of our 1901 Constitution as a prerequisite for the withdrawal of the American troops from the Cuban territory. Following that clause, the aforementioned Agreement on Coaling and Naval Stations was signed on February 1903 in Havana and Washington, respectively. It actually included two areas of our national territory: Bahía Honda and Guantanamo, although a naval base was never established in the former.

In Article II of that Agreement, the right was literally granted to the United States to do "all that is necessary to outfit those places so they can be used exclusively as coaling or naval stations, and for no other purpose."

In addition to that treaty of February 1903, on May 22 that same year a Permanent Treaty of Relations was signed by Cuba and the United States of America using the exact text of the 8 clauses contained in the Platt Amendment which were thus turned into articles of said treaty.

Twenty-one years later, on May 29, 1934, in the spirit of the American "Good Neighbor" policy under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a new Treaty of Relations was subscribed between the Republic of Cuba and the United States of America that abrogated the previous 1903 Treaty, thereby abrogating the Platt Amendment. The new Treaty definitely excluded Bahía Honda as a possible base, but it sustained the presence in Guantanamo Naval Base and kept in effect the rules of establishment. As for such rules that remained in force, the Article III of the new Treaty literally stated:

"Until the two contracting parties agree to the modification of the agreement in regard to the lease to the United States of America of lands in Cuba for coaling and naval stations signed by the President of the Republic of Cuba on February 16, 1903, and by the President of the United States of America on the 23rd day of the same month and year, the stipulations of that agreement with regard to the naval station of Guantanamo shall continue in effect. The supplementary agreement in regard to coaling and naval stations signed between the two Governments on July 2, 1903
also shall continue in effect in the same form and on the same conditions with respect to the naval station at Guantanamo. So long as the United States of America shall
not abandon the said naval station of Guantanamo or the two Governments shall not agree to a modification of its present limits, the station shall continue to have the territorial area that it now has, with the limits that it has on the date of the signature of the present Treaty."

As evidence of the abusive conditions imposed by that Treaty, the above-mentioned supplementary agreement established that the United States would compensate the Republic of Cuba for the leasing of 117.6 square kilometers --that is, 11,760 hectares comprising a large portion of one of the best bays in the country--  with the sum of 2,000 US dollars annually, presently increased to 4,085 US dollars annually --that is, 34.7 cents per hectare -- to be paid to Cuba in yearly checks. An elemental sense of dignity and absolute disagreement with what happens in that portion of our national territory has prevented Cuba from cashing those checks which are issued to the Treasurer General of the Republic of Cuba, a position and an institution that ceased to exist a long time ago.

After the victory of the Revolution in Cuba, that base was the source of numerous frictions between Cuba and the United States. The overwhelming majority of the over three thousand Cubans who worked there were fired from their jobs and replaced by people from other countries. At present, only 10 Cubans work there.

In the past, shots were often made from that facility against our territory, and several Cuban soldiers died as a result. Counterrevolutionaries found haven and support over there. Following unilateral decisions by leaders of the U.S. government throughout the revolutionary period in Cuba, tens of thousands of immigrants  --Haitians and Cubans who tried to make it to the United States by their own means--  were taken to that military base. Throughout more than four decades, that base has been put to multiple uses, none of them contemplated in the agreement that justified its presence in our territory.

But, Cuba could do absolutely nothing to prevent it.

On the other hand, for almost half a century propitious conditions have never existed for a calmed, legal and diplomatic analysis aimed at the only logical and fair solution to this prolonged, chronic and abnormal situation, that is, the return to our country of that portion of our national territory occupied against the will of our people.

However, a basic principle of Cuba's policy toward this bizarre and potentially dangerous problem between Cuba and the United States, which is decades long, has been to avoid that our claim would become a major issue, not even a specially important issue, among the multiple and grave differences existing between the two nations. In the Pledge of Baraguá presented on February 19, 2000, the issue of the Guantanamo base is dealt with in the last point and formulated in the following way: "In due course, since it is not our main objective at this time, although it is our people's right and one that we shall never renounce, the illegally occupied territory of Guantanamo should be returned to Cuba!"

That military enclave is the exact place where American and Cuban soldiers stand face to face, thus the place where serenity and a sense of responsibility are most required. Although we have always been willing to fight and die in defense of our sovereignty and our rights, the most sacred duty of our people and their leaders has been to preserve the nation from avoidable, unnecessary and bloody wars.

At the same time, that is also the place where it would be easier for people interested in bringing about conflicts between the two countries to undertake plans aimed at attracting aggressive actions against our people in their heroic political, economic and ideological resistance vis-à-vis the enormous power of the United States.

Our country has been particularly thoughtful about applying there a specially cautious and equable policy.

It should be pointed out, however, that even if for decades there was quite a lot of tension in the area of the Guantanamo naval base, there have been changes there in the past few years and now an atmosphere of mutual respect prevails.

In 1994, when a large number of rafters sent by the U.S. authorities concentrated there, the situation created determined the need to solve the numerous problems that had been accumulating, which endangered the lives of many. Some people interested in migrating to the United States from our own territory attempted to do so through the base, while not few tried to leave the American military base and return to our country crossing mined fields. Accidents occurred and often our soldiers had to take major risks to rescue people from the mined fields. Such actions also required information and cooperation from the personnel stationed at the base. Additionally, there were the heavy rains and swollen rivers in the area that swept away mines and blurred their markings which gave rise to similarly hazardous situations for all.

Such circumstances contributed to an improvement of the atmosphere there and to authorized, albeit minimal, contacts that were indispensable to those in positions of responsibility on both sides of the base area. Consequently, what prevails there today is not what could be described as an atmosphere of hostility or war.

Two new international developments have had a bearing on the situation in that base: the war in Kosovo in 1999 and the war in Afghanistan after the terrorist acts of September 11.

In both cases, the United States has played a protagonist role.

In the former case there was a large number of Kosovars refugees. The Government of the United States of America, in accordance with previous commitments, made the decision to use the military base to shelter a number of them. Such decisions are always made unilaterally; our views are never previously asked; and, we were never even informed. However, on that occasion, for the first time, we were informed of the decision and the rational behind it. We then gave a constructive response.

Although we were opposed to that war, there was no reason for us to oppose the assistance that the Kosovars refugees might need. We even offered our country's cooperation, if necessary, to provide medical care or any other services that might be required. Ultimately, the refugees were not sent to Guantanamo naval base.

This time the decision has been adopted to bring prisoners of the war in Afghanistan to that military base. The same as in the past, we were not consulted but there was a gesture in previously providing ample and detailed information on the steps that would be taken to accommodate the prisoners there and ensure that the security of our people is not in anyway jeopardized. The latest details were given to the Cuban authorities last Monday, January 7, 2002.

==============================================

The information supplied indicates that there will be a strong reinforcement of the military personnel at the base in charge of taking the necessary measures for the accomplishment of their objectives.

Despite the fact that we hold different positions as to the most efficient way to eradicate terrorism, the difference between Cuba and the United States lies in the method and not in the need to put an end to that scourge,  --so familiar to our people that have been its victim for more than 40 years-- the same that last September 11 dealt a repulsive and brutal blow to the American people.

Although the transfer of foreign war prisoners by the United States government to one of its military facilities --located in a portion of our land over which we have no jurisdiction, as we have been deprived of it--  does not abide by the provisions that regulated its inception, we shall not set any obstacles to the development of the operation.

Having been apprised of the operation and aware of the fact that it demands a considerable movement of personnel and means of air transportation, the Cuban authorities will keep in contact with the personnel at the American naval base to adopt such measures as may be deemed convenient to avoid the risk of accidents that might put in jeopardy the lives of the personnel thus transported.

Despite the major increase of military personnel that such an operation will require, we feel that it does not pose any threat to the national security of our country. Therefore, we will not increase the Cuban personnel or the military means stationed in the area of that facility. Our highly disciplined and qualified personnel suffice to ensure the safety of the population in the region in case of any danger that might originate with the transfer of the foreign prisoners to that base.

Cuba will make every effort to preserve the atmosphere of détente and mutual respect that has prevailed in that area in the past few years.

The government of Cuba appreciates the previous information supplied and has taken note with satisfaction of the public statements made by the U.S. authorities in the sense that the prisoners will be accorded an adequate and humane treatment that may be monitored by the International Red Cross.

Although the exact number of prisoners that will be concentrated there is not yet known, just like on the occasion of the project to transfer to that place thousands of Kosovars refugees, we are willing to cooperate with the medical services required as well as with sanitation programs in the surrounding areas under our control to keep them clean of vectors and pests. Likewise, we are willing to cooperate in any other useful, constructive and humane way that may arise.

 
   
   

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