Imagine living in a sleepy town and being awoken in the middle of the night by armed bandits spraying machine gun fire all around in an effort to kill as many defenseless people as possible. Or imagine being a sugar farmer that must deal with foreign aircraft that fly in and spray your crops with biological agents intended to destroy what you've created. Imagine living with the prospect of a neighbor 90 miles from you that routinely introduces things like Dengue Fever or Swine Flu in an effort to destroy both you, your children, and your livestock.
That's all pretty horrifying. There are a lot of horrors in this world. But this one in my view deserves special attention. Why? Because it is a horror that we are responsible for. This is a horror that our government is involved in and that means it is a horror that we can change.
We don't because we've never heard of it. And of course there's a reason for that. Still, we need to do better.
How many people know about what was the most severe terrorist incident that involved a commercial airliner in our hemisphere prior to 9-11? Very few. That's bad enough. But how many know that the two people responsible for planning this attack have been residing comfortably in Miami? Orlando Bosch (now deceased) in fact enjoyed a Presidential pardon from George Bush.
There's no dispute that these are the people responsible for this terrorist attack. They are proud of it. Osama bin Laden was probably involved in the 9-11 terror attacks, but I'd say his involvement in that is more debatable than the involvement of Carriles and Bosch in the downing of Cuban Airlines flight 455. Yet the Taliban did more than our government did to bring bin Laden to justice. They offered to hand him over to a neutral third party for a fair trial. Our government won't go that far.
From this terrorist attack things get even worse. The CIA in union with the Catholic Church perpetuated a horrendous event now known as Operation Peter Pan. In an effort to undermine Castro the CIA concocted a false rumor that the Castro regime intended to steal children from parents for various purposes, including possibly sending them to the Soviet Union where they would be turned into food. No joke. Frightened parents dispatched their own children, who were between the ages of 5 and 16, off to places unknown, often to be separated permanently. Why? Partly just to create misery which can be used to fuel an overthrow of the regime.
Here's another that you might think is a joke, but isn't. Anti Castro elements did not want the government to have any success. That's a propaganda win for Castro. So when the government called on volunteers to travel to remote locations to educate illiterate farmers so that they could read, guess what the reaction was? To literally target the instructors, who were mostly teenagers, and murder them. So that's what they did. The government had a program to bring cinema to remote regions just so that those that had never been exposed to film could enjoy it. What was the response? Those that brought the films were once again murdered. Preventing pleasure and enjoyment is supposed to fuel anti-Castro sentiments. That's nonsense of course. What it really creates is hostility to the US.
Some of the above incidents involve the CIA and others involve anti-Castro forces that reside in Miami with the protection of the US government.
So the Cuban government of course recognizes that they need to infiltrate these terrorist cells in Miami to prevent attacks on Cubans. They do this and have had success. They've saved many lives, though they can't stop the terrorism entirely. One group of 5 Cubans infiltrated cells and provided information to the FBI. Recorded phone conversations, documentation, etc. The FBI received the information and said thanks. They then used that information to identify the 5 Cubans, who they arrested. They were then tried in Miami and variously sentenced in decisions that have been criticized by Amnesty International and the UN Commission on Human Rights.
This is all well documented in a book by Keith Bohlender called "Voices From the Other Side". Generally each chapter starts with documentation of the various terrorist incidents, whether from declassified US governmental documentation or interviews in major US newspapers, and then follows that up with interviews from the victims today and how they cope with their losses. It's pretty heart breaking. Making it right is impossible. Preventing future suffering is possible. But it is up to us.