It is a great very great privilege and an honor that I have been invited to join you here today in the celebration of May Day, International Workers Day.
All over the world today, working people are in the streets, in a grand expression of international solidarity and friendship.
Very few workers in the United States realize that this holiday, May 1, May Day has its origins right inside the United States. It commemorates the day when the main leaders of the movement for the eight-hour workday in the United States were singled out and falsely accused of terrorist activity. They were put on trial and executed. They were all socialists.
They were accused of terrorism but their executions were, in fact, an act designed to terrorize the workers movement in the United States.
How ironic it is that throughout history those who actually perpetuate and tolerate terrorism, those who finance and organize terrorism are sometimes able to conceal their own dirty deeds in the name of “combating terrorism.”
I have thought about this issue a great deal. Of course, everyone in the U.S. thinks about this because the issue of terrorism is discussed all the time by the Bush administration. Every day on U.S. TV, Bush administration officials, take to the airways to talk about what they call the War on Terrorism.
But I think about this issue also in a very personal way.
On September 11, 2001 my friend, partner and fiancée, Margaret Mattic, a warm and beautiful human being went to work at the WorldTradeCenter. She was an office worker who worked on the 83rd floor when the planes struck the WorldTradeCenter. And like nearly 3,000 other people that day, Margaret did not survive the attack.
Every one of us who lost a loved one on September 11 will never forget, nor can we ever forget the human loss. We will also remember that the Cuban government and the Cuban people quickly condemned the September 11 attack.
I have to be very honest though today. While Cuba condemned the attack on September 11, the Bush administration has not reciprocated. No, not at all.
In fact, I have to tell you the truth. While President Bush immediately announced that the “war on terrorism” was the top priority of his government, and used the events of September 11 as a pretext to illegally invade Iraq and threaten other countries, the administration has in reality allowed those terrorist who target Cuba to operate with impunity from right within the United States.
Mr. Bush, it is not possible to allow Luis Posada Carriles to live inside the United States and seek political asylum and pretend that he and his cohorts are “victims” when the world knows that they have carried out the 1976 terrorist bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455, a civilian airliner. By his own admission, the attack on the airliner was just one of very many bombings that have taken civilian lives.
I cannot in good conscience stand aside in the face of this hypocrisy by the U.S. administration. I extend a hand of friendship and a warm embrace to the families and loved ones of those precious young people who murdered in that terrorist assault. They, and the families of the other 3,400 Cubans who have died at the hands of anti-Cuban terrorism since 1959, must know that we the people of the United States, and especially those of us who have lost loved ones, cannot rest while the Bush administration fails to extradite Posada Carilles to stand trial for his crimes.
The people of the United States are coming together to renounce the terrorism that is being directed against Cuba. Thousands of U.S. citizens have sent letters to President Bush and to Congress in the last ten days insisting that Posadsa Carriles be extradited.
The war against Cuba must come to and end not tomorrow but today. It does not in any way represent the sentiment, aspirations or desires of the majority of people in my country.
Cuba and the United States are neighbors. The Cuban people want to live and breath free from outside interference. They like all people want to be free from terrorism, blockades, and endless threats. The people of the United States, who have joined demonstrations by the millions in the last few years, must insist that the government that speaks in their name stop organizing, financing and sheltering terrorists who are willing to commit any crime in the hope of stopping Cuba’s forward progress.
Again, I thank you for allowing me to share this day with you.