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Friday, November 15, 2002 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES
2002-11-15

President of the Cuban National Assembly Ricardo Alarcon Talks About Terror, Trade, and Tyranny . . . of the U.S. Government; and Civil Rights Attorney Leonard Weinglass On the Case of the Cuban 5

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Scores of assassination attempts on a president’s life.

Numerous attempts to overthrow the government.

Strangling a country’s economy in an attempt to undermine the political system.

This is terrorism by anyone’s definition. But it has been waged by the US government against Cuba for more than forty years.

On Tuesday, the U.N. General Assembly voted for the 11th consecutive year to end the four-decade U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. The vote was 173-3. Only the U.S., Israel, and the Marshall Islands opposed the resolution.

Last month, a Puerto Rican born US citizen Ana Montes was convicted of giving information to Cuba about US spies on the island. She was a senior analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency. She was sentenced to 25 years in prison for espionage. At her sentencing, Montes said: "Our government’s policy toward Cuba is cruel and unfair, profoundly unneighborly, and I felt morally obligated to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values and our political system on it." She said, "I did what I thought right to counter a grave injustice."

Two weeks ago, the Bush administration ordered the expulsion of four Cuban diplomats. US State Department officials said they were retaliating for the actions of Ana Montes.

For more than 40 years, Cuban right-wing groups based in Miami have engaged in terrorist activities against Cuba, from assassination attempts to bombings at hotels, restaurants and discotheques in Havana.

FBI agents went to Havana in 1998 to allegedly help the government in their fight against the Miami-based terrorist organizations. Cuba shared with the agents much of the information they had about the terrorist networks.

Well, less than two months later, the FBI made their arrests. But instead of rounding up members from the right-wing terrorist groups, they arrested five Cubans who were working to defend their country against terrorist attacks.

The men Rene Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, and Gerardo Hernandez maintain they were strictly involved in monitoring the actions and criminal activities of the Miami-based right-wing groups.

The US claimed they were a threat to "national security" and charged them with espionage.

Now known as the Cuban 5, the men were tried in a Miami federal court and received sentences from 15 years to life.

Last Tuesday, defense lawyers demanded a re-trial arguing that hostility against the Cuban government in Miami prevented their clients from receiving a fair trial.

Today on Democracy Now, we are joined by the President of the Cuban National Assembly, Dr. Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada. He has been fighting for the Cuba 5 and for Cuba, even before the 1959 revolution.

Ricardo Alarcón was born in Havana on May 21, 1937 and received his Ph.D from the University of Havana in Cuba.

In the two year period leading up to the Cuban revolution in 1959, he was a leader in the July 26th movement in Havana.

In the sixties, Alarcon was the Director of the Americas division of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was later elected Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Ricardo Alarcon also served as Cuba’s ambassador to the United Nations for nearly fifteen years.

He also served as Vice-President of the United Nations General Assembly, and the Vice-Chair of the UN Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

In 1993, he was elected President of the Cuban National Assembly.

Guests:

  • Dr. Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, President of the National Assembly, Republic of Cuba.
  • Leonard Weinglass, Civil Rights Attorney, defending five Cuban men who have been charged with espionage and imprisoned in the US.

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