BY BRUNO RODRIGUEZ
[The following is an abridged version of a speech by Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Cuba's permanent representative to the United Nations, delivered at the UN General Assembly session on October 1, 2001.]
In a speech delivered just two days ago before 100,000 compatriots, President Fidel Castro stated: "The unanimous shock suffered by all peoples of the world on September 11, due to the insane terrorist attacks against the American people, has created exceptional conditions for the eradication of terrorism without the need to unleash a useless and perhaps endless war."
Later on, he went on adding: "Many seem not to have realised yet that, on September 20, before the United States Congress, the end of independence was decreed for every other state — without exceptions — as well as the end of the United Nations' role.
"Cuba was the first country to speak of the need for an international struggle against terrorism just a few hours after the tragedy brought on the American people on September 11. We also said that: None of the present problems of the world can be solved by force..."
Instead of war, it is necessary to organise international cooperation in order to launch effective global actions, in accordance with international law, the Charter of the United Nations and the relevant international conventions, based on the extraordinary power of consensus and the sovereign and united will of all states.
The United Nations alone can address in a deep, calm, resolute and strong way, the serious challenges of a globalised world, including terrorism as a matter of urgency.
To move forward, we must address — with total honesty and avoiding hegemonic interests or national ambitions — all forms and manifestations of terrorism in every corner of the world, including — without exception — state terrorism.
War no solution
We share the calls for prudence and moderation coming from all regions. One cannot respond to the September 11 terrorist attacks with revengeful and war actions that would result in increasing violence and barbaric acts, which we can't think of today.
The solution cannot be to pass legislation or decrees that authorise extrajudicial executions, or to let states kill foreign citizens, or to act covertly in other countries disrespecting laws and borders, or to use force within other states. That would divert the world from its purpose to eliminate terrorism, and would mean the end of collective security mechanisms. It would mean the rule of force and the beginning of the end of the proclaimed rule of law.
Terrorist acts are usually carried out by extremist groups, even by individuals. Faced with an event of this nature — however its seriousness — the right to self-defence must not be invoked by a powerful state to unilaterally unleash a war resulting in global and unpredictable effects, and the death of an unthinkable number of innocent people. Instead, that right must be exercised as the right of all to the common defence of all.
While the Security Council has made specific efforts and adopted several resolutions in the past, terrorism has been an area in which prudence has prevailed. In the few cases where specific acts of terrorism have been addressed, it has been done in the direct interest of some of its permanent members.
When Cuba asked the Security Council to act when the Cubana aircraft CU455 was blown up in flight, killing 73 people on board in 1976, draft resolution S/23990 submitted by Cuba was not even considered.
I have now reviewed that draft resolution once again, comparing it to the one the Security Council adopted last Friday night, and I have found that although ours was more moderate, it proposed some of the concepts and measures contained in the recent one.
In its preamble, the Cuban draft considered the suppression of acts of international terrorism essential for the maintenance of international peace and security; emphasised the need to deal effectively with terrorism; reaffirmed that every state had the duty to refrain from organising, instigating, assisting, participating in and consenting terrorist acts within its territory.
Our text took note that one permanent member of the Security Council had stated that it had evidence in its possession relating to that act.
It also took into account the fact that the mastermind of the terrorist act, Orlando Bosch, resided in the territory of that same state, where — by the way — he still lives; and that the other mastermind, Luis Posada Carriles, had been doubly employed — after the appalling crime — by the government of that state. The Cuban draft resolution also urged the involvement of the council in the struggle against international terrorism, invoking chapter VII of the [UN] charter.
The resolution did not request the use of force or sanctions, but simply asked the council to condemn the bombing of the passengers' aircraft in flight; to indicate the obligation to clarify the crime and to punish the guilty parties. It asked the state concerned to provide all the information and evidence in its possession relating to the past and current residence of the terrorists who were in its territory, and to adopt effective measures to prevent its territory from being used to prepare, organise and carry out terrorist acts against Cuba. And it asked the council to keep that matter under consideration.
After Cuba, the permanent member concerned took the floor for five minutes only to state the following: "I frankly cannot help but wonder why we are here... By meeting today ... we lose our most valuable commodity: time." And that was the end of the meeting.
Security Council dictatorship
However, the Security Council has recently adopted — after expedite and poorly transparent negotiations — a resolution that orders states to work on urgent legislative modifications, demands immediate reports and creates a sort of anti-terrorist general staff.
The Security Council has been pushed to give legal support to hegemonic and arbitrary decisions made by the ruling power, which violate the charter and international law, and that trespass on the sovereignty of all states. To achieve that, it usurps once again the functions of the General Assembly — the only body whose universal composition and democratic method could legitimise such far-reaching decisions. The council uses the unbelievable method of making mandatory for all states some of rules contained in conventions against terrorism, which only the states themselves are entitled to sign or not.
The Security Council, a hostage of the veto right, could only exercise a selective, capricious, arbitrary and ineffective dictatorship, instead of the moral leadership required for a comprehensive struggle against terrorism in a globalised world.
Terrorism cannot be eliminated if some terrorist acts are condemned while others are silenced or justified. It is an ethical imperative, for example, to put an end to the use of veto to prevent international actions from protecting the Palestinian people against the countless state terrorist acts they are suffering.
It is Cuba's opinion that any use of force against terrorism will require explicit and previous authorisation of the Security Council, as provided by the charter. Cuba also believes that none of the two resolutions adopted by the council in the wake of the September 11 attacks could be invoked to unleash unilateral military or force actions.
Despite some arbitrary methods and decisions of the Security Council, our country, as always, will cooperate in good faith with the council in accordance with the charter, and will enforce its own legislation adopted by our people in a sovereign way and according to international law, and which strongly and firmly opposes any act of terrorism, whoever its perpetrator, as well as other serious international crimes being committed in the world.
Murder of Felix Garcia
I have here with me today the memories of 3478 Cubans who have died as a result of aggressions and terrorist acts, and the claim for justice of 2099 people who have become disabled as a result of those acts.
I have — among others — the memory of Felix Garcia, a diplomat of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations, who was murdered here in New York, exactly on September 11, 1980. His murderer was arrested, together with Luis Posada Carriles, last November in Panama, in the midst of an Ibero-American Summit, when, with the purpose of assassinating President Fidel Castro, they were planning to blow up a university auditorium where thousands of students were expected to gather.
Posada Carriles and his group have neither been extradited nor sanctioned. There are reasons to fear their escape before being sentenced or a total impunity.
In the '90s alone, a total of 68 acts were perpetrated against Cuba, 33 of which took place over the last five years.
Our country speaks based on the moral position of not having committed any terrorist act ever, not even the attempt to kill — in an act of legitimate self-defence — the direct perpetrators and masterminds of abominable crimes, financed and carried out by the Cuban American National Foundation and other mob groups in Miami against our people.
However, bombings, assassination attempts against Cuban leaders and attacks against vital targets of our economy have been organised with total impunity from abroad over the last few years.
Only the consideration and respect of our people for the victims of the September 11 attack, as well as the seriousness of the current situation that brings us together to seek for constructive solutions, encourage me to contribute to the spirit of this debate with our silence on the origins of terrorism against Cuba, by omitting the real causes, the accomplices, the actual responsible people, the financial flows, the venal courts that absolve criminals and the territories where terrorist organisations acting against Cuba are based.
I share the hope that the September 11 tragedy leads to reflection and, in line with the desire of the US people, to changes in those policies that encourage and — in essence — justify terrorism against my people. Terrorism against Cuba must be brought to an end.