Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
Guerrilla peace talks in Cuba—a terrorist nation?
According to the 2011 report by the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterrorism: ”In order to designate a country as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, the Secretary of State must determine that the government of such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”
Iran and Syria are easy to understand, and perhaps even Sudan, not least for providing “lethal support, including weapons, training, funding, and guidance, to Iraqi Shia militant groups targeting U.S. and Iraqi forces, as well as civilians [and] training and arms shipments to the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
Cuba was designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982 following two decades of support for revolutionary movements in Africa and Latin America.
But that was then!
Cuba is retained on the list officially simply because “the Cuban government continues to provide safe haven to several terrorists.”
As the 2011 report states: “Current and former members of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) continue to reside in Cuba… One of them, José Ignacio Echarte, is a fugitive from Spanish law and was also believed to have ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)… There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training for either ETA or the FARC...[plus]... The Cuban government continued to permit [Black Panther] fugitives wanted in the United States to reside in Cuba and also provided support such as housing, food ration books, and medical care for these individuals.”
Sure enough ETA fugitives are present. I had a very scary chance meeting with one in a bar in Santa Clara about eight years ago. And several former Black Panther and Puerto Rican independence movement fugitives still reside in Cuba.
As to the Black Panthers, although Cuba has welcomed them for political reasons, there is no current extradition treaty between the USA and Cuba. It’s also worth remembering that many countries (including Australia and most European countries) will not extradite suspects for crimes of a political nature nor where the death penalty may be imposed on the suspect. I happen to be writing this from Costa Rica, where FBI fugitive Robert Vesco was able to live safe from extradition for many years. He eventually washed up in Cuba where, ironically, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison (where he died in 2007) for fraud.
And FARC, the Colombian leftist revolutionary movement?
Well, not only has Cuba not supported FARC in 20-plus years, just last week Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the Cuban government has been hosting secret negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC in an effort to end the decades-long guerrilla war waged by FARC.
The talks in Havana were apparently brokered by Cuban and Norwegian officials.
So, far from being a sponsor of terrorism, Cuba is now a broker of peace talks, which are scheduled to commence in Oslo on October 5, 2012.
Surely this further undercuts the flimsy rationale for maintaining Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
And how ironic that the day that Santos announced that Cuba was a neutral ground for peace talks coincided with the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, where the Party’s stale foreign-policy platform reiterated the old claim: "The anachronistic regime in Havana is a mummified relic of the age of totalitarianism, a state-sponsor of terrorism."
As the Cuba Central Newsblast (August 31, 2012) correctly noted, there’s a troubling dichotomy when the Obama administration “argues in public that having the FARC in Havana is a cause of keeping Cuba on the terror list, even as Mr. Obama approves in private a peace process brokered in Cuba to have the FARC and Colombia sit together to make peace.”
I say it’s time to take Cuba off the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
But this is election year, and the extremist Cuban-American lobbyists and other Cold War warriors are having none of it.
Now that you’re ready to travel to Cuba, buy Moon Handbook Cuba
For further information on Havana, buy Moon Spotlight Havana.
Learn more about Christopher P. Baker.
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly
Copyright © Christopher P. Baker