Meeting a Terrorist in Cuba

Graham Sowa

graham1HAVANA TIMES — I’ve lived in Cuba for three years and I’ve met my share of patriots, dissidents, gusanos, and human rights activists.  I’ve met Communists and Anarchists.  One time I think I ran into some Surrealists…or maybe they were just homeless vagabonds…either way, my point is that in three years of living here I’ve never, ever, met a terrorist.

If you work for the US State Department perhaps you are surprised to read that previous affirmation.

I surely was surprised when I read that Cuba has been listed as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” in the Country Report on Terrorism issued by my government the other week.

What is your problem United States State Department?  Did trolling octogenarians in Miami and their younger sycophants in a few congressional seats bully you into adding Cuba to the list?

Or do you genuinely feel that Cuba is a threat to our homeland?  I promise you:  Cuba is no threat to the United States of America.

The Cuban military exists on paper more than in practice.  The armed forces mostly function as a tourism enterprise and farming initiative.  Tourism work and tips in hard currency are the retirement plan for military lifers.

The United States Defense Intelligence Agency states that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba are “…generally incapable of mounting effective operations above the battalion level, and that equipment was mostly in storage and unavailable at short notice.” So. Freaking. Scary.

graham2When I ask my Cuban friends about military service they say they don’t even have to live in barracks or handle real guns. Most just show up to tick their name on the attendance list then bounce.

In the street I see more British and American flags on cars, bicitaxis, in front of homes, and on clothing than I see Cuban flags.  Surely this can only be the sign of a population brainwashed to have an absolute hatred of our country and our values of freedom, right President Obama?

The State Department continues using Cuba’s “support” of insurgent movements in Spain and Columbia as an excuse to add its name to the list of terrorist supporters.  Both claims are wrong.

The Spanish Government sees no threat originating from Cuba. In fact, Cuba helps in negotiations in regard to Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA or the Basque Homeland and Freedom organization).  How to do I know?  In 2011 U.S. Brig. General John Adams (U.S. Army Ret.) personally told me when he visited the medical school.  The summary of his findings can be seen here.

In regard to Columbia and Revolutionary Armed Forces, Cuba’s only participation of late has been in denouncing violence and promoting negotiations right here on the island.  The Columbian Government attended these negotiations as recently as April of this year.

graham3In a world where people strap on bombs and blow up bus terminals, crash passenger jets into office buildings, shoot up marketplaces, and then post videos of all of that on the internet there exists no justification to equate the Government of Cuba with terrorists.

In a world where terrorism is measured by bomb crater depths, blast radius, and body counts the United States State Department is lying to the American people when it names Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Instead of alienating our geographic next-door neighbor we should talk with Cuba about how we can work together to combat terrorism.  Cuba proposed two such talks in 2010 and 2012.  President Obama did not respond.

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency has a brilliant track record in coordinating its operations with Cuba. The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement also has a healthy working relationship with their Cuban counterparts.

If President Obama is serious about protecting the American people he should remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and at least give the Cubans a chance to explain their ideas on bilaterally combating terrorism.


Graham Sowa: I've been living in Cuba for three years now. I would like to blame my obvious hair loss seen in this updated photo on the rigors of life here and medical school, but it is probably just genetic. I've made some of the strongest friendships during my time in Cuba from other writers on this website. The strength of those friendships has almost restored my faith that the online world can lead to offline and real life change. On that same note I've adjusted to using internet one or two hours a month. In the meantime I have rediscovered things like flipping through the pages of books, writing stuff down by hand, and having to admit that I don't know something instead of rapidly looking up the answer on Google while the teacher isn't looking.

29 thoughts on “Meeting a Terrorist in Cuba

  • June 26, 2013 at 6:37 am

    Most often i am traveling between Cuba the UK and the united snakes and do not get to respond Often as well i do not care what anyone says I am going to stand my ground

    The desc of cave people cannot be trusted and it has nothing to do with hate Its about history and our story! Destruction is in the DNA of the caveman and i hate that

  • June 26, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Now that Snowden has done what he has done is their anybody who still believes amerikkka or that they have secrets I love it
    Very happy Why? As an Angolan liberated by Cuba i have nothing to lose My Email is withoutacountry?

  • June 26, 2013 at 6:32 am

    But i do live here Next? i am a cit and also a former cit of the united snakes of amerikkka ?

  • June 14, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Believe it or not Graham, I share your disgust. The difference is that while I see the failure of US policy towards Cuba in its goal to cause popular unrest, I blame the Castros. Had the revolution worked to create the ‘New Man’ as promised or as Che said “to create a higher standard of living than that enjoyed by our enemy to the north”, I would be first in line to protest the US stance. However, your ‘disgust’ with US policy as expressed, is used as an endorsement of 55 years of Castro-ism that has nearly destroyed Cuba. Yes, US policy has “wasted” hundreds of millions of dollars. Castro’s policies has wasted millions of lives.

  • June 14, 2013 at 7:42 am

    That is a non-sequitur and irrelevant. Arguing that the US is guilty of supporting terrorists (and yes, they have done so) in no way refutes the case that Cuba belongs on the US list of state-sponsors of terrorism.

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