BY RICARDO ALARCÓN DE QUESADA*
IT was January 28 of this year. George Bush spelt it out so that everyone would understand. He didn’t hide away where no one could hear him. At a formal session of Congress he openly proclaimed it, in a state of the union address — the most important speech given by U.S. presidents.
To quote his words: "More than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let’s put it this way: they are no problem to the United States."
The official text issued by the White House recorded that this revelation was greeted by applause from those who heard it at the Capitol building.
For some time now it has been known that there are thousands of people imprisoned in the United States and other countries whose governments promote human rights as zealously as Bush does. For more than one year now, many have been imprisoned without formal charges and without recourse to a defense lawyer. Their number is not known although it has been confirmed that the majority are immigrants or are too dark-skinned for the racism cultivated by those societies that believe themselves superior.
But the White House incumbent added something that had never been publicly affirmed before in such a brazen form: "Many others have had a different fate" — or rather, they are not prisoners but… "they’re no longer a problem."
Nothing like it has been recorded since Hitler’s times. For some time now the world has not heard any similar official acknowledgment of an extra-judicial execution policy, the physical liquidation of human beings without any other proceedings before squeezing the trigger.
The speech was widely published for everyone to understand. It provoked no denunciations or protests, save that of one New York magazine. After the applause came the silence.
Once again a confirmation of what Mark Twain discovered one century previously regarding the three gifts that God blessed the United States with: Freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and the prudence not to exercise either of them.
Three months have passed since then. A war unleashed against the defenseless Iraqi people deployed all the destruction capacity of an empire that attacked without cause or justification, abusing international legality just as another Führer did in his era.
The number of "suspects" held in prisons in the United States and other countries without any legal trial has constantly increased. And there are the many more who had a different fate, who are now simply… no longer a problem. Nobody has any idea of exactly how many dead swell the never-ending list of ‘no longer a problem.’ Those people throughout the world who claim to advocate human rights and who earn an elegant, lucrative living doing so are not bothered about them.
Recently, certain politicians and other figures have felt an urgent need to criticize Cuba over the legal trial of mercenaries who acted against their homeland in the pay of the Washington government, and the sentences given to various terrorists, all of whose cases were in conformity with law and legal procedures. Cuba has not violated any legal principle, any international norm; it has done nothing to affect world peace or endanger anybody’s legitimate interests. It has simply exercised its sovereign obligation to defend itself and has done so without recourse to war or violence.
Cuba is defending itself from someone trying to attack or undermine its sovereignty by organizing, directing and financing groups of traitors while intensifying an implacable economic war and threatening to destroy the nation. No one has the right to ignore the fact that Washington has created these groups because this has been recorded in official documents published there some years back. No one has the right to ignore the fact that those traitors are instructed and supported by the U.S. government when it is easy to find plenty of information on that fact by merely visiting that government’s Internet sites.
Instead of slandering Cuba, a basic sense of justice should lead them to condemn the aggression that the island is suffering.
Those who wring their hands over the necessary measures that Cuba has been obliged to take have still not uttered one single word to repudiate that unwonted statement that Bush made three months ago. Perhaps they are still applauding him?
* Ricardo Alarcón is president of the National Assembly of People’s Power.