Cuba condemns US government silence on the terrorist attack on its embassy

Following the April 30 attack on Cuban embassy in Washington, its Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez insists on full investigation of assailant’s ties with anti-Cuban extremists | Milagros Pichardo Pérez

The Cuban Foreign Minister stated that the attack, which left 32 bullet holes in the embassy’s façade, is the direct result of official U.S. policy inciting hatred and violence against Cuba | AP photo

During an online press conference May 12, from the Ministry’s headquarters in Havana, Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, denounced the U.S. governmen’s complicit silence in the wake of the April 30 terrorist attack on our country’s embassy in Washington.

Virtual Press Conference offered by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, May 12, 2020. Year 62 of the Revolution.

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla addresses virtual press conference

Rodríguez identified the perpetuator as Alexander Alazo Baró, an individual of Cuban origin who has lived in the United States since 2010.

He recognized the prompt, professional action taken by local police and Secret Service forces at the time of the attack; while noting that the State Department took almost five days to contact Cuban authorities and issue any official communication about this serious incident.

“The State Department and the United States government have unfortunately chosen to keep this serious terrorist attack quiet… no public statement has been made condemning the attack or rejecting it as a terrorist act, “ he stated

The Minister presented images of the assailant and described the scene of the attack, “He approached the embassy, shouted offensive phrases and threw a desecrated Cuban flag against the fence, covered with several incoherent phrases, and then tried to set it on fire with gasoline. The firearm attack ensued,” which, he reported, included the firing of 32 bullets from a semi-automatic assault rifle, “with the intention of mowing down whatever he found in his path, even human beings if they had been in his line of fire.”

Rodríguez continued, “The U.S. government should be asked why it has remained silent about the event, attempting to keep it out of the public eye, and not issuing messages to deter such acts, in compliance with its legal obligation as the host country of diplomatic headquarters.”

He explained that this terrorist act is a direct result of the U.S. government’s aggressive policy toward Cuba, the hateful discourse used and constant incitement of violence by politicians and anti-Cuban extremist groups.

The Foreign Minister noted that Alazo Baró planned the attack well in advance, as he had visited the site for exploratory purposes two weeks before the attack.

According to legal documents to which the public has had access, “Alazo Baró visited a hospital, where he surely expressed his feelings and delusions of persecution by alleged Cuban criminal groups and the Cuban government itself, and subsequently visited the offices of several law enforcement agencies, that is, several United States national security agencies, to make accusations against our government and to denounce its alleged intention to kill him.

“It is the responsibility of the United States government to explain what follow-up was given to these accusations by Alazo Baró and what action was taken when an individual with these characteristics and background makes accusations … against a country with a diplomatic seat in U.S. territory,” Rodríguez continued.

He insisted, “I must say that negligence is evident in the conduct of the United States government, which did not act on information of this nature.”

The Minister noted that Alazo Baró was the licensed owner of a Glock pistol and had acquired an AK-47 prior to the attack, and two weeks earlier had made a trip to Washington to survey the site.

“The U.S. government failed in its obligation to prevent this attack, of which it had sufficient warning,” he stated.

According the Minister, legal arrest documents indicate that the attacker has a history of mental disorders and that a package of cocaine was found in his car. He further stated that Alazo Baró was in financial difficulty, had lost a business and was unemployed. He had a license to own a gun and a driver’s license.

“How could the U.S. government, despite this background, have allowed this person to act in such a premeditated fashion with the intention of carrying out such an aggression and killing?” Rodriguez asked, insisting, “It is incumbent upon the United States government, as well, to conduct a thorough, in-depth investigation to determine where the money he used came from.”

U.S. AUTHORITIES MUST INVESTIGATE ALAZO’S TIES

“According to legal documents, Alazo Baró acted out of hatred for Cuba and fear of aggression from alleged Cuban criminal groups, which everyone knows do not exist,” the Minister continued.

Nonetheless, Rodríguez reported that when Alazo lived in Cuba, he maintained “totally normal social behavior, with religious inclinations, and professionally devoted himself to pastoral work. He fulfilled his General Military Service in a normal way, without any difficulty or relevant incident, whatsoever.

“In 2003, Alazo Baró traveled to Mexico on a religious visa to settle there, having previously married a Mexican citizen of similar vocation. He lived in Mexico for several years and maintained a normal relationship with Cuba. He traveled to our country eight times, the last time in 2015,” availing himself of Cuban consular services.

The Minister continued stating, “It has been established that Mr. Alazo Baró never had, nor has, any problem in Cuba or with his country of origin.

“We must ask ourselves and the United States government how an individual with normal, religious, peaceful behavior can be transformed into someone with mental problems who, with scant economic resources, becomes the owner of an assault rifle, moves, travels from one state to another within the country and launches an armed attack on a diplomatic headquarters in the nation’s capital.”

The Minister insisted that the U.S. government has the obligation to investigate precisely what is Alazo’s relationship with groups and individuals, within the United States, with known records of hate crimes and incitement to violence – even terrorism against Cuba.

He also reported that Alazo was associated with a religious center in Miami called the Doral Jesus Worship Center, where persons gather who have known records of supporting aggression, hostility and violence against Cuba. Here he came in contact with Pastor Frank López, an individual who maintains close relations with individuals like Senator Marco Rubio and other figures known for their extremism against Cuba and promoters of aggression against our country, including Congressman Díaz-Balart.

He added that, incidentally, the Vice President of the United States recently visited this church, and previously, on February 1, 2019, delivered a speech expressing open hostility toward Cuba, showing contempt for Latin America and threatening the region.

The Minister noted,” Among those with whom Alazo Baró was closely associated at this church is a citizen of Cuban origin named Leandro Pérez, who on his own Facebook profile… declares himself to be a close friend of the shooter, who he says he knows and likes.

“Leandro Pérez is known for his public incitement, on social media, of assassinations in Cuba and has specifically singled out Army General Raúl Castro Ruz and President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez as targets in his calls for violent action.”

Leandro Perez has also used social media and his contacts to promote support for the terrorist Ramon Saul Sanchez, whose systematic violation of U.S. law led to an order for his deportation, which has never been enforced.

For his part, Alazo has a Facebook page under the name of Hamilton Alexander, where he shares messages from an individual promoting songs with marginal style and content, openly inciting acts of violence against diplomatic officials, precisely in the United States.

Rodríguez noted that this Facebook page contains links to those responsible for vandalism of busts and sculptures of José Martí that took place some months ago in Havana, offending the entire nation.

“I call on the government of the United States to explain what it knows about these relations, what it knows about the contacts and mutual admiration shared by Alazo and individuals who belong to groups that support the current government of the United States, and constantly incite violence and hatred against Cuba,” he insisted.

The Minister emphasized that it is the obligation of the United States government to clarify what influence the aggressive sentiment and action against Cuba, promoted at the Doral Jesus Worship Center in Miami, had on Alazo’s conduct, and what role the individuals mentioned may have played in his decision to open fire on the Cuban embassy.

Rodriguez denounced the complicit silence of the U.S. government as suspicious, given that it is well known that the nation’s law enforcement agencies regularly monitor groups that commit, and boast of committing, violent acts against Cuba.

“We have the right to ask Secretary of State Mike Pompeo what he knows about these issues, especially since he seems to be constantly making statements about Cuba, yet has not said a word about the attack that occurred,” the Minister noted.

He described as deplorable the attitude shown by Pompeo, who while remaining silent about the terrorist attack, speaks out against Cuba and attacks Cuban international medical cooperation, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Receipt to Cuban doctors from Ecuador at terminal No. 3 of the José Martí airport, received by José Angel Portuondo, Minister of Public Health;  Ana Yansi Rodríguez Camejo, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, developed at the José Martí airport, Boyeros

Cuban healthcare professionals in Lombardy Italy

The Minister said that it is very difficult to separate Alazo’s actions from the discourse of U.S. government officials, constantly attacking Cuba and our international medical cooperation and diplomatic activity, which encourages and incites violence against our personnel and others.

He described the U.S. government as one “that implements a genocidal policy, defends its as legitimate to punish an entire people which has decided to be free; that imposes an economic, commercial and financial blockade that qualifies, according to the Convention against the Crime of Genocide, as an act of genocide; a government that considers it acceptable to attack Cuban families.”

He insisted that the relationship between these policies and this attack be clarified.

“I directly affirm that this attack against the Cuban embassy, which is of a terrorist nature, is a direct result of an official policy of instigating hatred and violence against my country,” he said.

The Minister insisted that anyone who has heard the constant statements and falsehoods disseminated by the State Department, and the Secretary of State himself, can see that resentment and hatred toward Cuba is promoted.

“Anyone who understands that he is acting in line with the aggressive, hostile policy that the United States government constantly proclaims and practices could be encouraged to commit violent acts. Anyone who believes that he or she agrees with messages of hate and violence against Cuba, promoted daily on the radio, television and social media by official figures and violent groups within U.S. territory, could assume that he or she has support to commit acts such as the one on April 30,” he said.

Rodríguez insisted that if there was hatred behind Alazo’s actions, this hatred was bred by the aggressive discourse of the United States government, of politicians and groups that make a living from hostility toward Cuba, and a result of the promotion of violence carried out by different groups, particularly in Miami.

“The government of Cuba awaits for results of a thorough, exhaustive investigation of this terrorist attack. We will see if the United States government finds any plausible explanation for Alazo’s ties with the extremist, violent groups I have mentioned, and how it explains the inescapable connection between those ties and the attack on our diplomatic mission.” he said.

Rodríguez displayed images of persons who, just hours after the attack, approached and photographed the Cuban embassy, individuals who are known for their aggressive behaviour and harassment at that diplomatic headquarters, among them Marcheco Suárez and Mario Félix Leonard Barrós, both of whom are regular participants in hostile actions against Cuban diplomats. He requested that the U.S. government investigate this situation immediately.

He stated, “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has the responsibility to provide answers to the people of the United States, the people of Cuba and international public opinion, about these serious facts and the unavoidable evidence I have presented.”

He referred to the long, bloody history of terrorism against Cuba’s diplomatic missions and officials in the U.S.

“The foreign service of the Republic of Cuba has 11 martyrs, violently murdered by terrorist groups, one of them in 1980 on a downtown avenue in Queens, New York City. The assassination of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier on a downtown avenue in Washington is also part of that story,” he added.

He reiterated that the U.S. government has chosen to silence, not denounce, condemn, or reject the terrorist act committed against a diplomatic headquarters in Washington.

“The gunning of the Cuban embassy with an assault rifle, with the intention of killing, is a direct result of the aggressive policy of the U.S. government toward Cuba, and the tolerance, the instigation of violence by politicians and anti-Cuban extremist groups who have made a living with such attacks,” he said.  

He noted that it is no secret that a layer of individuals with extreme anti-Cuba records have achieved disproportionate influence in the White House and some of them unfortunately participate in implementation of U.S. policy toward Cuba.

“These are the facts surrounding the attack and the root causes that led to it; the failure of the U.S. government to condemn and denounce such acts; and its criminal negligence in failing to address the many previously known facts that could have prevented this terrorist attack,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla concluded.

In response to a question from Granma about other reactions within the United States, he stated that several Senators and Representatives have expressed solidarity and condemned the attack as an act of terrorism, along with a number of U.S. citizens, diplomats, other ambassadors in Washington, and Cubans living in different countries.

The DPA news agency asked what diplomatic steps Cuba would take now.

The Minister replied, “We expect the United States government to comply with its obligations under international treaties. We will appeal to courts of international law. We will continue our denunciations, until a visible, appropriate response is forthcoming.”

He reiterated that Cuba will continue to fully guarantee the security of the U.S. embassy in Havana, its diplomats and those of all other nations.

“We hope the U.S. government will at least attempt to align its anti-terrorism rhetoric and policy of fighting international terrorism with its responsibilities in the face of a terrorist attack that has taken place against a diplomatic mission in the center of Washington,” he said.

ABC’s Channel 10 in Miami asked the minister about the similarity and differences between the incident in Washington and alleged sonic attacks against diplomats in Havana.

The Minister reaffirmed categorically that it is the obligation of every state to protect the integrity, dignity and normal functioning of a diplomatic mission, personnel and their families, such as Cuba has always meticulously done.

“There are fundamental differences,” he replied, “The first difference is that there was no attack on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Havana; there was no deliberate act.”

He called on the U.S. government to present some minimal credible information or evidence. Since the results of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation, in this regard, agrees with the Cuban investigation, which strongly demonstrates that there was neither an attack, nor any deliberate act.

The Foreign Minister explained that, secondly, as soon the first statements on the matter were made, high-level Cuban authorities approached the U.S. government, offered full cooperation, provided information, and expressed the readiness to receive U.S. investigators and meet all their needs, including the taking of samples and their export.

“Thirdly” the Minister stated, with regard to the so-called health incidents of diplomats in Cuba, “There is no author, no hypothesis, no evidence, or a weapon. Here, we have an attacker, an AK-47 rifle, 32 shell casings, 32 bullet holes and a statement – by the perpetrator – of his intention to attack and kill.

He added that, another significant difference is that Cuba is currently waiting for results of the U.S. investigation, hoping it will be thorough, and that results will be publicly available. We also hope that the U.S. government will fulfill its obligation to take sufficient measures to prevent events like this from occurring again in the future against Cuban diplomats or diplomatic headquarters in the United States, and those of any other country.

“The Cuban government has not made any threats, has not implemented any blockades, has not issued any warnings to travellers, has not expelled U.S. personnel from Havana, has not dismantled its embassy and consulate in Washington. All of these steps were taken against Cuba by the United States, without a hypothesis, without credible information and without a single piece of evidence, under the pretext of these so-called health incidents,” the Minister concluded.

(Information from press conference transcript at Presdencia.cu. Minor spelling corrections by TSB)

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