[Ppnews] Cherry Blossoms - The Untold Story of the Cuban Five

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 7 11:42:49 EDT 2009


http://www.counterpunch.org/alarcon10072009.html

October 7, 2009


The Untold Story of the Cuban Five


Cherry Blossoms

By RICARDO ALARCÓN de QUESADA

Attracting foreign tourism was at that time – mid 
and late nineties – one of the few possibilities 
to earn much needed hard currency. Knowing that, 
Washington reinforced its sanctions and threats 
against foreign companies investing in Cuba or 
having any transaction with the island. 
Coincidentally the so-called Cuban American 
National Foundation (CANF) and other anti-Cuba 
terrorist groups openly declared such visitors 
“enemies” and justified violent attacks against them.

As tourists were arriving to the island in larger 
numbers a series of bombs exploded and others 
were found at our hotels and beach resorts in 1997 and 1998.

 From April to September 1997 such attacks had 
the city of Havana as its main target. As a 
result, four people were wounded on July 12 when 
bombs exploded at the Nacional and Capri Hotels. 
On September 4 explosions occurred almost 
simultaneously in the Copacabana, Chateau and 
Triton Hotels and at a Havana restaurant. In the 
Copacabana, Fabio di Celmo, a 22-year-old Italian tourist was killed.

On August 11, 1997 in the middle of that 
terrorist campaign CANF made  public a statement 
describing it as “incidents of internal rebellion 
which have been taking place in Cuba over the 
last few weeks” and stating that “the Cuban 
American National Foundation supports these 
without hesitation or reservations.”

These acts were not “internal” much less a 
“rebellion”. Some Central-American mercenaries 
arrested in Havana had admitted that they were 
acting under instructions of Luis Posada 
Carriles, a fugitive criminal who had escaped 
from trial for masterminding in 1976 the first 
midair destruction of a civil airplane ever. 
Posada now enjoys total impunity in Miami. On 
July 12, 1998 in a front-page interview with the 
New York Times, Posada Carriles admitted full 
responsibility for the new terrorist attacks, 
recognized that he was financed by CANF and 
cynically referred to Fabio di Celmo as a person 
“at the wrong place at the wrong time” whose 
death didn’t disturb him. Posada said he was able 
to “sleep like a baby”. He repeated similar words 
in front of a TV camera on a programme broadcasted through the United States.

Between March and April 1998, Cuba was approached 
several times by the State Department and their 
representatives in Havana to share with us some 
sensitive information they had gotten, the 
gravest of all related to possible attacks on 
civilian airplanes flying to the island. We spent 
hours jointly examining intelligence that the 
Americans considered so credible that the Federal 
Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a special warning to air companies.

In view of those positive exchanges Fidel took a 
very important initiative. Gabriel García 
Márquez, a well recognized friend of Cuba and of 
the leader of its Revolution, was travelling soon 
to attend a conference at Princeton and expected 
to meet President Clinton, a reader and admirer, 
like many millions, of the Nobel Laureate in Literature.

On April 18, Fidel personally drafted a message 
to Clinton and gave it to the Colombian writer 
who arrived to the US Capital on May 1st. García 
Márquez waited for several days “in my impersonal 
room at the Washington hotel where I spent up to 
10 hours a day writing. However, even if I 
refused to admit it, the true reason for my 
confinement was the custody of the message lying 
in the safety box 
 I devoted myself to its 
custody while I continued to write, to eat my 
meals and to receive my visits in the hotel room.”

Unable to receive Gabo personally, President 
Clinton arranged for some of his closest 
associates to meet him at the White House on May 
6. According to Gabo’s report Fidel’s message was taken very seriously.

One after the other, they read it with keen 
interest. Richard Clarke, a senior official at 
National Security Council, said “that they would 
take immediate steps for a joint US-Cuba plan on 
terrorism.” James Dobbins, also a senior at NSC, 
“concluded that they would communicate with their 
embassy (sic) in Cuba to implement the project.” 
Mack McLarty “expressed his appreciation for the 
great importance of the message, worthy of the 
full attention of his Government, of which they would urgently take care.”

In closing the White House meeting McLarty said, 
“Your mission was in fact of utmost importance, 
and you have discharged it very well.”

Both Fidel’s message and García Márquez's entire 
and fascinating description of his mission were 
published, unedited, by Fidel Castro in a special 
public address on May 20, 2005 
(<http://www.cuba.cu/gobierno/discursos/2005/ing/f200505i.html>“A 
Different Behaviour”, 
<http://www.antiterroristas.cu/index.php?tpl=./interface.en/design/reading/news-update.tpl.html&aNews_lang=en&aNews_obj_id=1002042>www.antiterroristas.cu).

Having concluded such a delicate task, Gabo was 
happy, almost completely happy:

"My only frustration on the way back to the hotel 
was not having discovered and enjoyed till then 
the miracle of the cherries in blossom during that superb spring season.

I barely had time to pack my bags and catch the 
flight at five that afternoon. The plane that had 
brought me from Mexico fourteen days earlier had 
had to return to base with a broken turbine and 
we waited for four hours at the airport till 
there was another available flight. The one I 
took back to Mexico, after the meeting at the 
White House, was delayed in Washington for an 
hour and a half while they repaired the radar with the passengers on board.

Before landing in Mexico, five hours later, the 
plane had to hover over the city for almost two 
hours due to an out of service runway. Ever since 
I began flying fifty two years ago, I never had 
gone through anything like this. But then, it 
couldn’t be any other way, for a peaceful 
adventure that will forever hold a privileged place in my memories."

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada is president of the Cuban National Assembly.




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