NEW YORK — The United States on May 21 failed to respond to Cuban accusations that it had been promoting terrorism against the island. The two faced off in a United Nations Security Council meeting, held at Cuba's request.
Havana's UN ambassador, Ricardo Alarcon, presented the council with all the information in his possession on the 1976 bombing of a Cuban commercial airliner off the coast of Barbados, in which all 73 passengers and crew members were killed.
Cuba charges that Washington has protected and provided shelter to the two men who planned the terrorist action, both Cuban exiles. Orlando Bosch, one of the two, lives in Miami, Florida. Havana charges that he was acquitted by the Venezuelan court that originally tried the case because the United States deliberately withheld the evidence that would have convicted him.
The other man, Luis Posada Carriles, is a known employee of the US government. He never came to trial, having escaped from the Venezuelan prison where he was being held. In US Senate hearings during the Iran-Contragate scandal, CIA official Felix Rodriguez testified to having personally participated in Posada's escape, and to having then assigned the fugitive terrorist to take charge of the Oliver North arms-for-guns network at El Salvador's Ilopango air base.
In the Security Council meeting, Alarcon presented both public and confidential US documents relating to the training of Cuban exile groups in US territory in preparation for terrorist acts against the island. Faced with the documentation, US representative Edward Perkins limited himself to arguing that the airliner bombing took place "a long time ago". However, legal authorities point out that there is no statute of limitations in such cases and that because of the deliberate cover-up and withholding of information, a mistrial could be declared in the case of Bosch, opening the way for a new trial.
Perkins claimed that the Cuban charges were slander, making no mention of Washington's decision to allow Bosch to live in the country after the US Justice Department ordered his deportation on grounds of terrorism. He denied that Washington knows the whereabouts of Posada. Posada dropped out of sight after he was identified as the US man overseeing operations in Ilopango.
The two ambassadors were the only speakers to address the council, and no action was taken on a draft resolution presented by Cuba which would have condemned the bombing of the Cuban plane and demanded that the United States give the council all the evidence it has on the case.
Cuba had requested a formal Security Council meeting on the issue a month earlier. But, charges Havana, US reluctance prevented the council from convening more rapidly. Cuba has insisted the Security ting last January's declaration strongly condemning international terrorism. Cuba argues that the Cuban airliner bombing is no different from that of PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, and deserves the same treatment at the United Nations. Otherwise, it says, the Security Council's credibility will be severely damaged.
Ambassador Alarcon told the Cuban daily Granma that, until justice is done, Havana will not let the case of Cubana flight 455 rest. He said all the evidence shows the United States violated the very anti-terrorist resolutions Washington sponsored in the Security Council earlier this year.
Putting the issue of US terrorism before the council, said the Cuban diplomat, is an uphill battle because Washington holds veto power, as do several of its allies. But, said Alarcon, as the black residents of Los Angeles put it, there will be no peace without justice. The Cuban ambassador said Havana will continue to insist on the UN doing something about the case, and if the Security Council does not act, Cuba will take it to the General Assembly.