In a statement made yesterday in Washington, which was released by foreign news agencies, U.S. Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, described as "totally unjustified" the shooting down of two U.S."civilian" aircrafts by Cuban planes.
According to this statement this was a "blatant violation of international law and the rules of a civilized country."
Further on, Mr. Christopher said that according to the evidence available "they concluded that the shooting down took place in international waters" not as the Cuban Government states, that it took place in its territorial waters.
In this respect, the U.S. diplomat disregards the statement made by Havana pointing out that the Cuban response "was neither plausible nor acceptable."
Finally, in an intimidating attitude, the U.S. Secretary of State said that there would be a prompt and appropriate response by President William Clinton to the actions carried out by our country, stating that "we would not limit ourselves to multilateral actions, but we are going to consider actions that the United States could take unilaterally."
The least that could be said, about the statement by the responsible for the U.S. foreign policy, is that he is lying in a cynical way and with a language which recalls the one used for more than 36 years by senior officials of different administrations of the neighboring country.
A first argument we should mention is the fact that, on that very Saturday, the U.S. authorities requested permission to enter our territorial waters North of Havana, to jointly participate in the search and rescue operations in the area where the two pirates' aircraft were downed, which is an evidence that it was an act of legitimate defense of our air space and not a "totally unjustified act" as described by U.S. diplomat.
At the same time, this corroborates our assertion that the shooting down of the aircrafts occurred in Cuban air space and within our territorial waters, not international waters as pointed out by M. Christopher.
This is not the core of the matter, but the fact that hundreds of times violations have happened, including pirate incursions over our own territory and over Havana city, which in one way or another, after ignoring multiple warnings, had to result in this incident. The fact that they try to justify themselves now by saying that such incident took place in international waters is not but an enormous insolence. No country which respects itself could tolerate what was being done against Cuba through ever more shameful and humiliating actions. The United States would have never permitted such actions, not even once.
Congressman Charles Rangel, an integral and courageous man, said yesterday to CNN television networks that "no U.S. group has the right to enter the Cuban air space and drop anticonstitutional propaganda, in violation of the U.S. law and the Cuban law."
The fast statement by Secretary of State differs from what was stated on the same day by a non-identified U.S.official, to REUTER press agency in Washington, who on the occasion of a meeting held that day in the White House by advisors to President Clinton, said that one of the goals was "to evaluate together all the evidence we have" as to whether the aircrafts have ventured into the Cuban air space when they were downed, giving signs of insecurity as to whether or not there was a violation.
But if there is still any doubt on the part of the United states, we have unequivocal evidence, which goes from illustrated maps showing radar detection on a minute-by-minute basis and taped conversations, to objects belonging to the transgressors of our sovereignty that were found in Cuban waters to the north of the capital, where they were downed last Saturday, February 24.
Therefore the official accusation that we have violated international law has no foundation. It is rather the United Sates who should face the responsibility for having repeatedly tolerated that aircrafts, with U.S. registration and departing from its territory with flight authorization, would change, however, their route and enter shamelessly into our air and maritime space, only to return afterwards and face no action whatsoever by the Judicial authorities of that country.
In addition, when it comes to known violations and provocations, spokesmen in the United States have recognized that the promoters of this incident had been warned sufficiently in advance that any flight heading for Cuba trespassing parallel 24 could bring about problems and that the U.S. Government would not hold any responsibility for that.
An example of this is the fact that President of the Association of Cuban-American Pilots, Jorge Dorrbecker, stated yesterday that authorities from the Federal Aviation Agency of the United States had given new warnings regarding Cuba some three weeks ago, as reported by NOTIMEX news agency in Miami.
Dorrbecker added that "all pilots were warned that if they trespassed parallel 24 without a flight program, the Cuban Government would not be responsible for their personal safety."
The alert was further expanded, as stated in the Note of our Ministry issued on Sunday, February 25, by the Cuban civil aviation authorities, which before the pirates' incursions warned the transgressors not to trespass the above-mentioned parallel, as it was recognized, among others, by a U.S. official who was quoted that day by The Miami Herald.
Now, as stated by Warren Christopher, the government of this country is analyzing the possibility of taking measures against Cuba while promoting others of a multilateral character through the U.N. Security Council.
The United States is free to make the decisions and take the measures it considers relevant, but it should be aware that those same measures would also inevitably have negative consequences for them too.
Our country has given proverbial evidence of calm and firmness facing a great number of planes and misdeeds from U.S. territory for more than three and half decades.
Cuba is and will always be responsible for its actions and it has unmistakably proven that knows how to defend its sovereignty and is not afraid of any threats which, troughs the measures adopted under present circumstances, could come, among others, from the U.N. Security council.
Finally, so that there is no room to doubt that Mr. Warren Christopher is lying on purpose, we have with us a pilot from the group of violators which has carried out so many actions against our country. Until a few hours ago he was with them. This pilot knows many things. There is irrefutable evidence showing that this group is far from carrying out humanitarian actions, as ridiculously stated by Mr. Christopher, and that is a terrorist mob which has made up repugnant and bloody plans against our people. We are ready to discuss these matters with Mr. Christopher, in the Security Council or elsewhere.
Stop opportunism, the cowardice and the attempts to involve Cuba with the electoral policy-making of the United States.
We are ready for that struggle. No one ignores it.
February 26, 1996.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs.