Voices from the other Side

Noam Chomsky’s introduction quotes Robert Kennedy who said that overthrowing the government of Cuba was “the top priority of the US Government – no time, money, effort or manpower is to be spared”. The Kennedy Administration wanted to bring “the terrors of the earth” to Cuba.

This book is a vital contribution to our understanding of what US sponsored terrorism over the last 50 years has meant to Cubans. The 800 documented acts of terrorism, the 3,478 deaths and 2,099 injured, are brought to life through the voices and photos of the victims, or those who lost friends or relatives. The written style is “testimonio” – based on the memory of a particular event, told from the individual’s point of view. This gives it freshness and an immediacy as those interviewed take you back to events as if they happened last week, and explain vividly how the repercussions continue to this day.

We meet the daughter of the co-pilot of the Cubana aircraft bombed in 1976 with the loss of 76 lives; the sister of a boy of 10 sent to the US in Operation Peter Pan in 1963 and never seen again; the wife of a lobster fisherman killed at sea in 1973; the sister of a young boy killed for taking part in the Literacy Campaign in 1961, the mother who lost her young daughter with Dengue fever in 1981 and many, many more.

The book ends with a section on the Cuban Five in which the wives of René González and Ramón Labañino are interviewed. The last word goes to Olga, René’s wife:

“You have to understand how many acts of terrorism have been committed against Cuba; only then you can realise why the Cuban 5 did what they had to.”

This book can only help to deepen our understanding of this terrorism and stiffen our resolve to support those who try to prevent it.

Jan O’Malley

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