Superpower Principles: U.S. Terrorism Against Cuba

Salim Lamarani, ed., Superpower Principles: U.S. Terrorism Against Cuba (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2005).

This slim volume is packed full of information about US aggression against Cuba, but more specifically focuses on the case of the Cuban Five. These were the five Cubans who infiltrated terrorist groups in Florida, reported on the activities of these groups in order to try and prevent attacks against their homeland, and were subsequently arrested by the US government and convicted in a Miami courtroom (in 2001), under trumped up charges of conspiracy and, in one case, complicity in murder. (The Miami verdict was overturned in August 2005 by the Appeals Court in Atlanta, but as of this writing the Five remain in prison after more than seven years, under very harsh conditions.)

After a brief introduction the book contains two sections: “U.S Terrorism Against Cuba” and “The Story of the Cuban 5.” The first is mostly historical background of US designs and actions against the island as an integral part of imperial expansion from the 19th century to the present. The seven essays range from Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky discussing the long train of US attacks, to William Blum and Michael Parenti explaining why the Cuban Revolution so sticks in the US craw, to Piero Glieses’ article making the connection between Cuban policy in Africa, the Five (three of whom fought there), and US vindictiveness, to two essays showing the nature of the right-wing Cuban exile terrorist groups operating openly with government blessing in Florida, most specifically the Cuban American National Foundation.

The second section zeroes in on the case of the Five. Leonard Weinglass, who represents one of the defendants, concisely presents the major details of the case and its aftermath. The other writings in this section, by Wayne Smith, Saul Landau, Michael Steven Smith, and Ricardo Alarcón (President of the National Assembly and only Cuban represented), focus on various aspects of the trial and the larger picture of the contradictions involved in the US’s supposed stance against terrorism, its harboring of known terrorists, and its persecution of these five Cubans whose only crime was trying to stop terrorist attacks against their own people.

Although somewhat repetitive (inherent in 15 essays of this nature) and in need of more footnotes, the book makes an excellent informative read about the case. In all, it provides a comprehensive view of both local and international contexts, along with extensive background material about the travesty of justice that has imposed draconian punishment on five young men whose legal infractions did not extend beyond minor offenses such as falsification of IDs. The book could make a good discussion item in classrooms or study groups. It makes a solid introduction for those who have not followed this important case.

Reviewed by Hobart Spalding

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