Since August of last year, seven armed hijackings have taken place on the island at an accelerating pace--the last three within a two-week period from mid-March to the beginning of April. U.S. officials have refused to prosecute the perpetrators or even return the stolen planes and boats. Cuban officials cite evidence of an additional 29 attacks that were planned but foiled. No new incidents have been reported since the Cuban courts tried and convicted those who carried out an April 2 ferry hijacking and hostage seizure. Three of the attackers were sentenced to death and eight to prison.
Washington’s long-established policy, codified some 37 years ago in the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, is to automatically grant permanent residency within a year to any Cuban who sets foot on the sand of Florida’s shores, whether by hijacking a plane or boat, hiring a smuggler, or risking a crossing of the Florida Straits aboard a flimsy raft. The enticement has cost the lives of many Cubans who have drowned at sea. This law singling out Cuba--it is not applied to any other country--is combined with the U.S. government’s policy of deliberately granting far fewer visas to Cubans than are provided for in the 1994 immigration accords between Washington and Havana. Together, these provocative policies are a spur to acts of armed piracy.
In contrast, Cuban policy is designed to prevent hijackings from the United States to the island and seeks to normalize relations between the two countries. In the early years of the Cuban Revolution, hijackings of planes from the United States to Cuba were not an uncommon occurrence, often carried out by victims of racist laws and law enforcement officials targeting those involved in the mass struggles that eventually put an end to the Jim Crow segregation that reigned in the U.S. South. Despite the fact that those who violated international laws against air piracy were prosecuted and served time in Cuban prisons, the hijackings continued until September 1980, when the Cuban government took the decision to return to the United States two Cuban-Americans who had commandeered a U.S. plane to Havana. No U.S. aircraft has been hijacked to Cuba since then.
The April 11 execution of three Cubans convicted of armed piracy in the ferry incident--a decision taken, according to Cuban president Fidel Castro, to "definitively put an end to these actions"--is now being used by the U.S. government as one of the pretexts for new acts of aggression against Cuba. The measures being considered include a cutoff of remittances by Cuban-Americans to their families on the island, the elimination of direct flights to Cuba, and the suspension of the 1994 immigration accords. Along with an already announced decision to eliminate "people-to-people" licenses that allow thousands of U.S. residents to visit Cuba each year, these actions register a new escalation of Washington’s hostile measures against the Cuban people.
The indefinite imprisonment of some 660 people under subhuman conditions, with no charges, at a concentration camp established at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo--territory occupied against the will of the Cuban people--constitutes another ongoing provocation against Cuba as well as an assault on the democratic rights of U.S. working people won through centuries of struggle. This week the Militant covers the story of three minors--cynically labeled "juvenile enemy combatants" by their captors--who are among the Guantánamo prisoners.
Meanwhile, the brutal treatment of five Cuban revolutionaries who are serving draconian sentences in U.S. prisons on frame-up charges of conspiracy to commit espionage and, in one case, murder, also reveals the true face of Washington’s concern for "justice" and "human rights."
The recent attacks and provocations against Cuba are one more chapter in the 44-year-long campaign by Washington to undermine and overthrow the Cuban Revolution. The reason for this implacable hostility is that the U.S. rulers fear and hate the example that the Cuban people and their revolutionary government set for workers and farmers around the world. Cuba shows it is possible for working people to make a socialist revolution--in the process transforming society and themselves--enabling them to defend their sovereignty and independence for decades in face of the world’s mightiest imperialist power.
We urge you to join with others who oppose Washington’s policy of aggression against Cuba in campaigning to demand:
Repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act!
End all U.S. restrictions on trade with and travel to Cuba!
Free the Cuban Five!
Normalize diplomatic relations with Havana!
U.S. out of Guantánamo!
Fidel Castro details U.S. provocations in escalation of hijackings
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