Blacklist of alleged ‘terrorists’ from exile would be a legal tool against discontent

The power struggle, camouflaged with the ambiguous term of multilateralism, is a battle between Western democracy and authoritarian government methods. The ideological pirouettes of the Havana regime are common, as long as they suit the powers that be.

Twenty years ago, in Cuba computers were not sold to the population and when State Security seized a computer from an opponent or an independent journalist, that equipment served as accusatory evidence in court and thus increased the criminal penalty.

We Cubans were third class citizens. We couldn’t stay in hotels, having dollars was a crime and to travel abroad you needed permission from the authorities. Between 2008 and 2018, the Castro regime approved timid economic reforms and eliminated absurd restrictions out of pure financial necessity.

Internet access

On June 4, 2013, a resolution from the Ministry of Communications came into force that allowed public access to internet services in 118 browsing rooms in different cities in the country. Shortly after, with the opening of parks and Wi-Fi zones, a large segment of citizens began to use social networks as a platform against the government.

Each opening had a technological and legal infrastructure designed to control or punish criminally if they considered that it affected their interests. But when they perceived that the use of mobile phones, the Internet and social networks were a danger to the status quo, they approved a group of laws with the intention of intimidating citizens.

The massive popular protests of July 11, 2021 were a watershed. It took the political police and the regime itself by surprise. Tired of so much misery, people did not shout ‘Down with the blockade’. No. They demanded freedom and the renunciation of the communist system and its rulers.

The ‘enemy’ is no longer limited to opponents, independent journalists and human rights defenders. Anyone in a Facebook post openly criticizes the terrible administration of basic services and the ruler Díaz-Canel.

Miami-based ‘influencers’ such as Juan Juan Almeida, Alexander Otaola and Manuel Milanés began to have a wide audience in Cuba. The claims went from the virtual world to the real world. Street protests and protests in front of State institutions multiplied due to widespread blackouts, shortages of drinking water or lack of medicines and food.

a powder keg

Cuba right now is a powder keg. A former intelligence officer describes it as “a highly complicated scenario, which in police jargon is known as ‘surrounded by gas’, because any event can generate a social explosion. And the day that happens in Cuba, counterintelligence officers do not have the tools to stop or prevent a massive outbreak. The only weapon is repression,” he explains and adds:

The methods of containment of Cuban counterintelligence operations follow the bad strategies implemented by the government. When people do not see a solution to their multiple grievances, it can become a potential scene of protests. For now, they are resorting to instilling fear in the population and approving provisions that allow them to imprison the most rebellious. They are exemplary measures whose objective is to intimidate. This national list of alleged terrorists goes in that direction. In legal terms, this resolution has no basis. It is a legal nonsense. Its function is to outline a narrative that associates citizen unrest with a plot orchestrated by exiles to change the political system. Another possible objective is to send a message to local dissidents and activists: if you receive telephone recharges, financial aid or participate in direct events, a file could be opened for collaborating and participating in acts that the government considers terrorist.

The nonsense

A Havana lawyer considers that this list “makes no sense legally speaking. It does not comply with the precepts of Resolution 1373/2001 of the United Nations National Security Council, on which the government alleges that list is based and which to begin with includes four deceased people, among whom are Manuel Ramón Cereijo and Sergio González Donut In addition to organizations such as Alfa 66, inactive for 35 years. Mixing Santiago Álvarez, accused by the government of being the mastermind of attacks with explosives in several hotels in Havana, with Otaola and Eliecer Ávila, for example, and accusing them of terrorism and its financing is legal gibberish.”

According to the Havana lawyer, this list is designed for the internal context. “It is a kind of guillotine directed at those in Cuba who maintain contacts or are followers of these ‘influencers’, groups or people. The regime has been cowardly: if they really consider that they are victims of terrorism, they should have accused the United States government. But “Obviously, they do not want to close the only door they have to try to negotiate and solve the systemic crisis that the country is experiencing with the White House.”

a boomerang

To the olive green dictatorship, that blacklist could become a boomerang, because Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement (M-26) perpetrated actions based on violence that in some cases can be considered terrorism, such as the hijacking of a plane and bomb attacks. According to an estimate from the press of the time, between 1957 and 1958, sabotage of sugar industries and plants caused losses worth 23.3 million dollars, equivalent to 240 million in 2023.

In a compilation made by DIARIO LAS AMÉRICAS, from 1953 to 1958, the M-26 was involved in 138 acts of violence or sabotage that can be considered terrorism. On the night of November 10, 1958, following orders from Fidel Castro, action and sabotage groups of the M-26 detonated more than thirty bombs in Havana with the aim of preventing citizens from attending cinemas, theaters and nightclubs. . On December 1, 1958, Raúl Rolando Rodríguez, Pedro Valdés Orta, Erasmo Aponte, Manuel Fernández Falcón and Edmundo Ponce de León hijacked a Viscount plane that was taking flight 496 from Miami to Varadero, killing 17 of the twenty passengers, including three children and a pregnant woman.

Castroism is a philosophy based on the use of violence. The Cuban government financed and trained foreign groups today considered terrorists. More than twenty fugitives from US justice reside on the Island, such as Assata Shakur, accused of murdering two police officers in New Jersey in 1973 in cold blood. Since 1984 she has lived in Cuba, where she wrote the book Assata: An Autobiography. On May 2, 2013, the FBI added her back to the most wanted terrorist list and increased the reward for her capture to $2 million.

Today, the Havana government does not consider the ELN of Colombia, Hezbollah of Lebanon or Hamas in the Gaza Strip as terrorist groups. The list of real and verified terrorism by Fidel Castro and his revolution is yet to be made.