14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 4 November 2019 — In these times when political correctness in language usage has become fashionable, few terms are as ambiguous as “terrorism.” The use and abuse of this concept for political purposes has led to numerous inaccuracies and interpretations, which often confuse the supposed legitimacy of motivations with terrorist actions.
The violent nature of terrorist acts by groups, organizations or governments has the effect of altering public peace and destabilizing the institutional and economic structures of the State.
Intimidation, kidnappings, bomb attacks, coercion, sabotage, selective or massive killings, torture, extrajudicial executions and destruction of private and public property are common tactics of terrorist groups of the most diverse nature – whether they are religious, ethnic, political or simply gang criminals – whose objective is to gain domination through social terror, whether at the national or the regional level, even affecting power structures and relationships at the international level.
The violent nature of terrorist acts by groups, organizations or governments has the effect of altering public peace and destabilizing State institutional and economic structures
The violent nature of terrorist acts by groups, organizations or governments has the effect of altering public peace and destabilizing State institutional and economic structures. In addition, they cause deep damage at the human level, taking into account that the majority of their victims are innocent civilians. These are, then, unjustifiable facts beyond ideological foundations.
Thus, the “action and sabotage groups” of the Revolutionary Directory — clandestine organization founded on February 24th, 1956 by university student leader José Antonio Echeverría with the aim of supporting the guerrilla Fidel Castro that operated in the Sierra Maestra — have simply been renamed as “action groups,” as if those young people, instead of simply placing bombs in the capital and in important cities of the interior in public places, had limited themselves to the innocuous task of delivering anti-government proclamations, shouting slogans or orchestrating rallies in favor of the Revolution.
It is clear that if we applied the current standards to the events that marked the Cuban Revolution, the assault on a military headquarters of the constitutional army starring a handful of men in charge of Fidel Castro is a definitely terrorist act.
The taking of a radio station at gunpoint was also terrorism – in the best American gangster-style film – by the aforementioned José Antonio Echeverría who, thanks to that fact became perhaps the author of the most famous fake news of the time when announcing the death (supposedly an execution) of the dictator of the day, Fulgencio Batista.
Their evolutionary character is another level of the term that should be added to these general considerations. Decades ago, for example, revolutionary violence against political power in Cuba was not defined exactly as terrorism, although it should have been, in light of current considerations. This explains why the violent events that took place fundamentally in the second half of the 1950’s have been omitted or reinterpreted, though without abandoning indoctrination.
It is clear that if we applied the current standards to the events that marked the Cuban Revolution, the assault on a military headquarters of the constitutional army, starring a handful of men at Fidel Castro’s command, was definitely a terrorist act.
The overtaking of a radio station at gunpoint was also an act of terrorism – in the best gangster-style of American films – by the aforementioned José Antonio Echeverría, who thanks to that fact became perhaps the author of the most famous fake news of the time when announcing the death (supposedly an execution) of the dictator of the moment, Fulgencio Batista.
In the eyes of the Castro regime, everyone in its opposition is susceptible to being accused of terrorism in the service of a foreign power. These are bad terrorists
The list bearing the terrorist symbol that has marked our history would be endless, but it would not make much sense to delve into it, given that – for better and for worse – justice is not retroactive.
However, the instrumental utility that the Cuban Government makes of this term is notorious. For the Castro regime, everyone opposing it is susceptible to being accused of terrorism in the service of a foreign power. These are bad terrorists. And, under the pretext of safeguarding that superior value, the Homeland-Revolution (besieged, stalked, threatened by a powerful external enemy), they apply with impunity the violence of repressive bodies, repudiation rallies, prestige stoning, disqualification, harassment, jail, death and banishment.
Currently, and in proportion to the deepening of the structural crisis of the system, there is a rebound in Cuba of what, in other situations and scenarios, would be considered State terrorism. Today’s coercion, intimidation and repressive terror are not limited to opposing and dissident groups but are directed against all civil society, including renegade artists, uncomfortable citizens or groups of independent entrepreneurs who question the dispositions of power in any way.
And, as if the repressive spiral silenced in the official media were not enough, some signals radiating from the government television monopoly tend to revalue and legitimize “revolutionary” terrorism in the social imagery.
This was evidenced on October 30th during the regular broadcast of the Cuban soap opera Delivery, which is being broadcast on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the country’s main channel (Cubavisión) at 9pm, prime time.
In a completely expendable scene, a History professor at a high school in the capital was making an apologetic reference to Urselia Díaz Báez as “the first heroine of the clandestine world,” who died September, 1957 at Havana’s Teatro América in Calle Galiano because of a bomb explosion attached to her thigh which exploded before she had time to place it under some window or in the bathroom, where her shattered body was ultimately found.
The undisguised message is that terrorism is lawful, provided it is done for the sake of the Castro revolution
The omen-of-death professor did not limit himself to appealing to the memory of that 18-year-old girl perfectly unknown to the vast majority of Cubans, but instead challenged his students to have the courage of that clumsy terrorist when defending the Revolution. “Which of you would dare to ride with a bomb under your clothes?” The teacher asked his teenage students. The undisguised message is that terrorism is lawful, provided it is done for the sake of the Castro revolution.
Whether slip, carelessness or deliberate strategy, it is wrong, at this point in the 21st century, in a society of long accumulated tensions and frayed by resentment, polarization and frustrations, to influence young viewers in the culture of violence through the powerful official media.
And it is also a double-edged sword, because if today’s Cubans internalize violence as a legitimate method to achieve their aspirations and freedoms, they could, in their day, turn against the power that is clipping their wings and against its institutions, with unpredictable consequences. If, in the midst of widespread social unrest, the Cuban Government continues to tighten the rope, perhaps it will have an occasion to regret it.
Translated by Norma Whiting
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