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The Summit of Salamanca and the Struggle against Terrorism

On October 14-15, 2005, the city of Salamanca hosted the 15th Ibero-American Summit with the participation of all Latina American countries, Spain, Portugal and Andorra. This summit, organized several weeks ahead of the Summit of Mar del Plata, which represented a failure for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), showed Washington’s isolation in the region. The US double speech regarding the issues of terrorism, human rights and development projects has finally tired the most loyal mainstays of the Bush administration in the region.

| Paris (France)
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Heads of State and Government participating in the Summit
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Portugal, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Venezuela and Andorra.

The 15th Ibero-American Summit, held on October 14-15, 2005 in Salamanca, Spain, witnessed an important condemnation of Washington’s policy against Cuba. [1]. The 19 Latin American countries plus Spain, Portugal and Andorra adopted two resolutions, one condemning the US “financial, commercial and economic blockade”, and another one denouncing the selective struggle against terrorism, thus inflicting a huge political setback to the Bush administration [“Ibero-American community demands trial against Posada Carriles”, Granma, October 13, 2005 (website, October 17, 2005)]].

Following this unprecedented common position in the history of Ibero-American summits, the US embassy in Madrid expressed its dissatisfaction and deplored the decisions made by the Ibero-American nations against the economic sanctions imposed on Cuba [2]. Participants in the summit also demanded the organisation of a trial against Cuban-born terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, who remains under the protection of the Bush administration and whom the French media still dares to describe as an “anti-Castro militant” [3] and as “dissident” [4]. But it is true that his victims are Cubans and Latin Americans and thus they lack interest.

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The Robert Menard Files
Available in French language in the Voltaire Network Library.

In France, Reporters without Borders (RSF), has pledged loyalty to Washington’s anti-Cuba policy for a long time now [5], was the only European organization that declared to be offended by the resolutions adopted in Salamanca and repeated the statements by the US embassy in Madrid. They said they were “very disappointed about the concessions made to Cuba”. For its general secretary, Mr. Robert Ménard, condemning the immoral economic sanctions imposed on the Cuban people is not an act of justice but a “concession” made to the Cuban government. Likewise, demanding a trial for the worst terrorist of the western hemisphere, whose hands are soaked in innocent blood, and reaffirming the struggle against terrorism, of any kind, is not a sign of respect for moral and legal principles but a simple response to the “demands […] of the authoritarian regime of Havana”. The pledge of fidelity of RSF to Washington has since long ago gone beyond the borders of decency [“Sommet ibéro-américain : Reporters sans frontières très déçue par les concessions faites à Cuba sans contrepartie”, Reporters sans frontières,”, October 17, 2005 (website, October 18, 2005)]].

Even the US’s closest allies in the region, such as Colombia, joined their voices to those of the rest of Latin American nations in their unanimous condemnation of international terrorism. Mr. Alvaro Uribe, the Colombian President, stressed that his country should “sign a declaration against terrorism anywhere in the world”, implicitly referring to the protection given by US authorities to Cuban-born terrorists [6].

For his part, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos was even more explicit: “We condemned terrorism when they attacked the twin towers – World Trade Center – in New York, or the trains in Madrid or the subway in London, or when their attack is aimed at hindering tourism development in Bali, but we also condemn terrorism when they put bombs in planes”, in reference to the cruel bomb attack organized by Mr. Posada Carriles against a Cuban airliner in October 1976 which killed all 73 people onboard [7] and whose 29th anniversary was recently commemorated by the Cuban people [8].

The resolution against terrorism demands, among other things, that Mr. Posada Carriles be tried or extradited to Venezuela, a country of which he is a citizen and from where he escaped justice: “We reaffirm the value of extradition as an essential instrument in the fight against terrorism and we urge those countries that have received extradition requests from member states of our Community to proceed to consider them properly, in accordance with legal regulations in force”. The text also stresses the need to put an end to terrorists’ impunity and to deny asylum or refugee status to any person that may have committed criminal acts [“Special communiqué supporting the extradition of Posada Carriles”, Granma, October 17, 2005]].

Mr. Posada Carriles, whose extradition was denied by Judge William Abbott under the cunning pretext that he could be tortured in Venezuela, requested political asylum in the United States. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez denounced this masquerade of justice and the “cynicism of the Empire”. “In Guantánamo, they torture people. They [the United States] torture, murder, bomb [and] kill children” in Iraq. Venezuelan Vice President José Vicente Rangel said Mr. Abbott’s decision was “as vile and sinister as the terrorist attack” of 1976, noting that, actually, “the decision was made by the Bush family” [9].

Venezuela challenged Washington to present any evidence that Mr. Posada Carriles would be tortured after being extradited. To this day, they have not answered. Mr. Rangel also noted the weird silence kept by Mr. Bush with regards to this issue: “Bush has not said anything at all about the presence of a terrorist” in his country, in contrast to other cases of terrorism when, usually, “he is so loquacious” [10]. The bonds between the father of the current US President, George H. Bush, and Mr. Luis Posada Carriles, that go back to the times when Bush was the CIA Director, certainly explain the silence of the White House.

As to the illegal economic sanctions imposed on Cuba by the United States, the resolution condemned the “unacceptable nature of the implementation of unilateral coercive measures that affect the wellbeing of the peoples and obstruct integration processes” [11]. The economic blockade against Cuba has been annually condemned for the past 13 years by an overwhelming majority of UN member nations that have demanded its end, in vain.

_For the first time in the history of Ibero-American summits, the term “blockade”, used by the Cuban government to refer to the economic sanctions, replaced the word “embargo” used by Washington to refer to the punishment inflicted to the Cubans. The semantic difference used by the White House aims at minimizing the seriousness and the consequences of the state of siege in force since 1960. The President of the Cuban Parliament, Ricardo Alarcón, expressed his satisfaction: “It is a historic decision [because the Ibero-American community] has used a more precise and accurate language, and has even demanded the end of recent aggressive measures” adopted by President Bush in May 2004. [12].

_In effect, the harshness of the economic sanctions seriously damages the moral integrity and physical safety of the Cuban people, which explains the unanimity of the condemnation by the 22 Ibero-American foreign ministers. [13]. The blockade against Cuba affects the entire population of the island at all levels, even in the health sector. For example, a Cuban boy needing a liver transplant could die because the decoder of the immune-depressor Tracolimus, produced only by a US pharmaceutical lab, can not be exported to Cuba. [14].

Likewise, the American Abbot laboratories did not respond to a Cuban request relating to the purchase of certain equipment, only produced by them, that was indispensable to watch the blood levels of children-patients needing hepatic transplants. [15]. In all, from 1962 to 2005, the blockade has cost the Cuban economy 82 billion dollars, which represents twice the GDP of the country [16]. In the field of health, the blockade cost 75.7 million dollars from June 2004 to April 2005 alone [17].

Health Minister Mr. José Ramón Balaguer noted that “the blockade imposed by the United States has caused enormous suffering to the Cuban people” [18]. Regarding an amendment passed by the US Congress in 2000 providing that the sale of medicines should not be included in the economic sanctions, Mr. Balaguer was skeptical: “The obstacles, restrictions, bureaucratic delays and permissions that the Treasury Department must grant implies that actually all this propaganda about the Congress amendment is false” [19]. In this respect, the Cuban Parliament launched a call to all legislators around the world so that they demand the end of the US economic aggression against Cuba [20].

The blockade imposed on Cuba also prevents US scientists from traveling to Cuba. In September 2005, six intensive care specialists from the universities of Washington, Texas, Pittsburg and Loyola were not able to participate in the “Ventilación 2005” Congress, held in Villa Clara province and which gathered 300 of the best experts of the world, because the Treasury Department did not authorize them to travel to Cuba [21]. Likewise, the US government denied a visa to Cuban doctor Vicente Vérez Bencomo, whose research team was granted an award by the Museum of Technology of San José in California because they created a vaccine against the bacterium that causes meningitis [22].

The absence of President Fidel Castro also marked the summit of Salamanca [23]. The Cuban president preferred to stay on the island to coordinate his country’s assistance to Guatemala, hit by torrential rains caused by Hurricane Stan [24]. The Cuban government sent the impressive number of 535 doctors and several tons of medical material to aid the victims of the natural disaster [25]. The Cuban aid has not been equaled by any country, not even by developed ones.

_Guatemalan authorities praised the high professional level and the dedication of the Cuban doctors. The Director of the Health Center of Acatenango said that the doctors of the Caribbean archipelago had “the willingness, the experience” and the knowledge of their work to which “they devote themselves […] without objections”. For his part, the official in charge of the departmental Health Zone, Mr. Telma Santizo, said: “The Cubans give a great support; they do not come out with excuses not to go to the places they are told to go in the communities, not to mention their high professional level and that they are very well prepared people” [26].

_The Cuban excellence in the field of health is well illustrated in the field of biotechnology. Cuban researchers have just created a monoclonal antibody that is effective against brain cancer in children. The antibody is currently being produced and commercialized by the Cuban-Chinese company Biotech Pharmaceutical [27]. The implementation of the “Yo sí puedo” method allowed Caracas to be an illiteracy-free territory in a first stage [28]. Then, the entire Venezuelan country was declared the second Latin American nation, only after Cuba, free of illiteracy, thus rewarding the willingness and the efforts of President Chávez, whose balance is exceptional. The Venezuelan president thanked the Cuban people saying that without Havana’s help, it would have been impossible to carry out the Robinson education plan [29].

The Venezuelan President, who continues to irritate Washington because of his open willingness to get his people out of poverty, used one of the weekly editions of his program Aló Presidente to respond to accusations by the White House and to express his ideas: “Some people say I am a tyrant […] and many say that there is a tyranny in Cuba. No, in Cuba there is a liberating process […]. As a fundamental rule and praxis, tyrannies deny education to the majority in order to be able to manipulate them. No tyranny does what we are doing because knowledge means liberating” [30].

On October 17, 2005, Hugo Chávez, as well as his Paraguayan and Brazilian counterparts, Nicanor Duarte and Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva, denounced the horrors of hunger during the 60th anniversary of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome. Chávez took the opportunity to highlight the fact that the US military budget of 500 billion dollars could finance FAO for 500 years and it would thus solve part of the hunger problem [31].

The US government demands that other nations respect human rights while it systematically violates them, not only abroad like in the case of Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in its own territory. Currently, in the state of California alone, nearly 180 minors are serving life sentences, with no right to parole, according to a report by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. This study shows that per every group of 2,300 Californians, one black teenager, between 14 and 17, is currently serving a life sentence while only one white youth is condemned per every 50,000 people. So, a black teenager has 22 more chances of being given a life sentenced than a white one. Around 59% of these minors who received life sentences are first offenders and 16% of them were between 13 and 15 years old [32]. Those who try to teach lessons should be able to show more humbleness.

[1] “L’Espagne tente de désamorcer la polémique sur ses relations avec Cuba”, by Cécile Chambraud, Le Monde, October 18, 2005

[2] “Cuba trouble le sommet de Salamanque”, by Cécile Chambraud, Le Monde, October 16, 2005

[3] “La communauté ibéro-américaine s’organise”, by François Musseau, Radio France Internationale, October 16, 2005

[4] Radio France Info, “Journal de 12h30”, October 16, 2005

[5] See: “The Lies of Reporters without Borders”, by Salim Lamrani, Voltaire, September 2, 2005, and “Quand Reporters Sans Frontières couvre la CIA”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire, April 25, 2005.

[6] “L’Espagne tente de désamorcer la polémique sur ses relations avec Cuba”, Cécile Chambraud, op.cit.

[7] Ibid.

[8] “Terrorist attack against Cuban civil airplane commemorated as people demand justice”, by Andrea Rodríguez, “El Nuevo Herald”, October 6, 2005

[9] “Venezuela Criticizes Court Ruling on Posada”, by Ian James, The Miami Herald, September 29, 2005

[10] “Venezuela denounces links of the Bush family with terrorists”, Granma, September 30, 2005 (website, October 3, 2005)

[11] “Ibero-American foreign ministers unanimously support struggle against blockade and in favour of extradition of terrorist Luis Posada Carriles”, by Nidia Díaz & Jorge Luis González, Granma, October 14, 2005 (website, October 17, 2005)

[12] “Cuba satisfied because Ibero-America speaks of ‘blockade’”, by Andrea Rodríguez, El Nuevo Herald, October 17, 2005

[13] “Cuba wins approval of condemnation of terrorism and US embargo”, by Vivian Sequera, El Nuevo Herald, October 13, 2005

[14] “Cuban children could die due to absence of response from US labs”, by Raisa Pages, Granma, October 14, 2005 (website, October 17, 2005)

[15] “A hundred hepatic transplants in spite of the blockadeGranma, October 15, 2005 (website, October 17, 2005)

[16] “Cuban children could die due to absence of response from US labs”, by Raisa Pagés, ob. cit.

[17] “Cuba: Embargo cost health 75 million dollars in one year”, by Andrea Rodríguez, El Nuevo Herald, October 4, 2005

[18] Ibid

[19] Ibid

[20] “Cuban Parliament members ask Parliaments around the world to oppose the US Blockade”, by María Julia Mayoral, Cuba vs Bloqueo, October 18, 2005 (website, October 20, 2005)

[21] “US government denies scientists permission to travel to Cuba”, by Freddy Pérez Cabrera, Granma, September 23, 2005 (website, September 23, 2005)

[22] “Scientist will not be able to travel to the US to receive award”, by Orfilio Pelaez, Granma, October 29, 2005 (website, October 31, 2005)

[23] “Castro does not take plane to Salamanca”, El Nuevo Herald, October 14, 2005

[24] “Emergency puts Cuba and the US to cooperate with Guatemala”, by Sergio de Leon, El Nuevo Herald, October 12, 2005

[25] “Cuba sends 535 doctors to Guatemala to help victims”, by Ulises Canales, Granma, October 12, 2005 (website, October 14, 2005)

[26] “Guatemalans praise professionalism and dedication of Cuban doctors”, by Ulises Canales, Granma, October 15, 2005 (website, October 17, 2005)

[27] “Cuban biomedicine achieves life extension in children suffering from brain cancer].

In the field of education, the Venezuelan minister in the sector, Mr. Aristóbulo Istúriz, presented the Cuban learning method “Yo sí puedo” (Yes, I can), that helps illiterate people learn how to read and write, during the 33rd UNESCO General Conference. According to the minister, this method allowed 1,400,000 Venezuelans to learn how to read and write. Mr. Marcio Barbosa, UNESCO Deputy General Director, highlighted the efforts made by the government of Hugo Chávez in this sector and which contribute to fulfilling the main objectives of the Paris-based organization [[“Achievements of the Cuban method ‘Yo sí puedo’ presented in UNESCO “, by Fidel Vascos González, Granma, October 10, 2005. www.granma.cu/espanol/2005/o... (website, October 17, 2005)

[28] “Caracas, free of illiteracy”, by Ventura de Jesús and Jorge Luis Baños, Granma, October 17, 2005 (website, October 18, 2005)

[29] “Venezuela: Territory free of illiteracy”, by Ventura de Jesús, Granma, October 29, 2005 (website, October 31, 2005)

[30] “Chávez denies existence of tyrannies in Cuba and Venezuela”, El Nuevo Herald, October 9, 2005

[31] “FAO could be subsidized for 500 years with what the US spends in weapons”, Granma, October 18, 2005 (website, October 20, 2005)

[32] “The Rest of their Lives without Parole for Child Offenders in the United States”, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, October 2005 (website, October 31, 2005). “One-hundred-eighty children sentenced to life in California”, by Jorge Morales Almada Granma, October 13, 2005 (website, October 14, 2005)

Salim Lamrani

Salim Lamrani Lecturer at the Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV and Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée Universities and specialist in Cuba-US relations. His latest published work in French: Cuba. Les médias face au défi de l’impartialité Estrella, 2013; in English: Superpower Principles: U.S. Terrorism Against Cuba (Common Courage Press, 2006).

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