Pretoria, November 2nd, 2020.- By Rodolfo Benitez Verson, Ambassador of Cuba in South Africa, Eswatini and Lesotho
On Thursday, April 30 this year, at 2.05am, a terrorist attack was perpetrated against the Cuban Embassy in the US.
Thirty-two rounds were fired from a semi-automatic assault rifle at our diplomatic mission in Washington DC.
At the time of the events, there were 10 officials in the building. If the attack had taken place at another time, the story would be different. A massacre could have occurred.
As a result of the impacts, material damage to the property was reported. The bullets hit the front of the embassy, mainly the door and columns at the entrance. Several projectiles penetrated the interior of the building, damaging the main staircase, ceiling and walls.
Adding to the gravity of the act, the Cuban embassy is on a busy avenue in the Adams Morgan neighbourhood. It is located between the Polish and Lithuanian embassies, just 3km from the White House.
The perpetrator, a citizen of Cuban origin named Alexander Alazo Baró, was detained at the scene by local authorities. He had planned the attack in advance. He had ties to groups and individuals within the US, with a known record of hatred and instigation of violence and terrorism against Cuba.
It is a profoundly serious crime, one of international concern, that an embassy has been the target of a terrorist act. However, almost six months after the attack, the US State Department has not issued any official public statement on this matter.
The US government has chosen not to acknowledge, let alone reject, this terrorist attack. It seeks to disregard its legal responsibility to protect all diplomatic missions in its territory, as established by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. It has not even recognised the attack as terrorist in its nature. This is demonstrated by the charges against the aggressor.
The complicit silence of the US government encourages the continuation of future similar actions. This terrorist act is a direct result of the aggressive official policy and the increasing hostile rhetoric of the US government against Cuba.
It is fuelled by the permanent and open instigation of violence by American politicians, including high officials of the State Department, the US Embassy in Havana, as well as anti-Cuban extremist groups in that country, who have made such attacks their livelihood.
Whoever listens to the frequent falsehoods of the State Department and the Secretary of State himself will observe that there is constantly an appeal to resent and hate Cuba.
There is practically not a day in which there is not an offensive and manipulative statement or tweet from the US government about the Cuban reality. Nor is it possible to separate an event like this from the intensification of the illegal economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the US, even during the Covid-19 pandemic.
One hundred and thirty new unilateral measures against Cuba have been implemented by the US government just during the last year.
They intend to drown the Cuban people through hunger and hardship so that they rise up against the government. They are doomed to failure. They have not succeeded in imposing their imperial designs on our people in 61 years and they will never do so.
While Washington tolerates and acts as an accomplice of terrorism against Cuba, in an act of supreme hypocrisy it includes our country in a spurious unilateral list of nations that supposedly do not co-operate with the US’s counter-terrorism efforts. A complete manipulation and obvious double standards of the facts at hand!
It is not the first time that the Cuban Embassy in Washington, our Mission at the UN headquarters in New York and Cuban foreign service officials have been subjected to aggression on US soil, a country where there are as many weapons as there are inhabitants.
Suffice to remember the explosive device launched on May 8, 1979 by the terrorist organisation Omega 7 against the same building of our Embassy in Washington, causing serious damage. Or on September 11, 1980, when Cuban diplomat Félix García Rodríguez was shot dead in New York.
Three attempts have been made to assassinate the Cuban Ambassador to the UN and 17 acts of aggression, including direct attacks with explosive devices, have been carried out against the Cuban Mission to the United Nations.
So far, there are 83 officially registered attacks on Cuban embassies around the world and 29 attacks on diplomatic officials of our country (8 of them dead) because of terrorism. Terrorism encouraged, financed, and/ or tolerated by Washington.
Terrorist acts against Cuba have cost the lives of 3 478 people and disabled another 2 099. Furthermore, groups and individuals that have committed terrorist acts against our country in the past have operated for years and continue to operate with impunity on US soil.
Cuba, as it has always done, will maintain its position of unequivocal condemnation of all terrorist acts in all their forms and manifestations, whatever their motivations. We demand that the government of the US act in the same way and comply with its international obligations on the fight against terrorism.