Friday, September 14, 2012

Review of "Voices from the other side: An oral history of terrorism against Cuba"

Review of "Voices from the other side: An oral history of terrorism against Cuba"

Author: Keith Bolender

In his introduction to this book, Noam Chomsky quotes Henry Kissinger. "If we cannot control Central America, it will be impossible to convince threatened nations and in other places in the Persian Gulf and in other places that we know how to manage the global equilibrium".

He reminds us of what the CIA told the White House in the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution, when they reported that the overthrow of the new regime "was the key to all of Latin America; if Cuba succeeds, we can expect most of Latin America to fall".

Chomsky's introduction describes the basis of the terrorist war against Cuba. The overthrow of a government and its replacement with a regime more in tune with the interests of Cuba's neighbour to its North.

The first act of terrorism recalled by Bolender is the the attack on the Cubana Airlines flight 455 on October 6, 1976. 73 Cubans were killed. Luis Posada Carriles, one of the 2 masterminds of the attack, told the New York Times in 1998;"the CIA taught us everything, how to use explosives, to kill, to make bombs...they trained us in acts of sabotage".

The chapter on the bombing of the Cubana Airlines flight sets the patterns for the book. Bolender describes the attacks and then allows the reader to witness the impact of terrorism against Cuba by recording the testimonies of some of those affected. It is a formula that works, allowing the victims to speak for themselves, and placing their words firmly in a political context.

There have been 1,000 documented incidents of terrorism against Cuba, causing 3,000 deaths and 2,000 injuries. In 14 chapters Bolender reveals the extent of the terrorist campaign; from the attacks on the literacy campaign in the aftermath of the revolution, to the hotel bombings of 1997.

The interviews do not deal exclusively with the personal. The testimonies touch on political and social subjects. In one of the most revealing, Marina Ochoa says "The blockade, the terrorist attacks, have all been designed to make things so bad that the Cuban people will rise up and overthrow the government".

In a book of interviews widely available in Cuba, Noam Chomsky advances a related point, suggesting that aim of the those behind the terrorist offensive is to provoke the government to put in place civil rights restrictions to encourage revolt within the population.

The book concludes with a chapter on the Cuban 5, the 5 men who were sent by the Cuban government to infiltrate counter revolutionary groups in Miami. The men were charged and jailed on conspiracy and espionage charges in September 2001. Calls for their release have come from various Nobel Prize winners and heads of state. Surveillance measures within Cuba and the United States are the primary methods applied by the Cuban government to deal with the terrorist threat.

This is a very worthwhile book that deserves a wide and attentive audience. It gives voice to victims whose stories may have been untold outside Cuba before and provides a series of very revealing glimpses into Cuban society. The book will also serve to inform its audience on the details of aggression against Cuba, as well as the impact of this aggression on both the Cuban government and broader Cuban society.

   Demonstration outside USA Embassy in Dublin in support of Cuba 5.(12.09.2012)

1 comment:

FearFeasaMacLéinn said...

Thanks, Paul, for that post. The book shows that it is the US Government which is the world's largest terrorist organisation.