"Voices from the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba"





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Published on May 24, 2012

On the evening of Wednesday, April 4th, LALSI hosted a lecture and discussion of the book Voices from the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba featuring Canadian author Keith Bolender and renowned American linguist, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky.

Bolender's book is a highly provocative oral history based on the testimonies of many Cuban citizens who have been victims of different types of attacks by US nationals. The author claims that since 1960, successive US administrations have waged an illegal war against civilian targets in Cuba, providing examples such as the bombing of Cubana Airlines flight 455 on 1976, the "Peter Pan Operation" in the 1960's (which resulted in the exodus of 14,000 children out of Cuba), the hotel bombings occurred during the 1990's, and several other cases. Bolender's objective to have US nationals exposed to the testimonies he presents in his book fills a necessary gap in the development of a thoroughly informed debate about US-Cuban relations. As such, during his lecture Bolender highlighted some of the cases described in his book, and was followed by a lecture by Noam Chomsky, who wrote the book's introduction. Chomsky's lecture framed Bolender's book in the greater context of United States foreign policy. Particularly in the case of Cuba, he focused on the political and economic embargo imposed on the island, as well as on the United States' historical construction of Cuba as a threat to international political stability. Chomsky gave a thorough historical account of the 50-year old embargo initiated by Eisenhower, intensified by Kennedy, and continued by every American president until the present. He also highlighted the irony of the 1982 US declaration of Cuba as a "terrorist state" by making reference to some of the cases presented in Bolender's book. Apart from discussing in depth these and other aspects of US -Cuban relations, Chomsky's lecture also touched on several other aspects of US foreign policy, such as the aid given to the Contras in Nicaragua during the 80's - something he believes would fit any standard definition of terrorism. After his lecture, there was a half hour Q & A session in which many questions were posed to both panelists: the issues discussed were, among others, the role that the new generation of Cuban-Americans could play in shaping US policies towards Cuba, as well as the nature and implications of the economic changes in the island recently started by Raul Castro.

This event, held at the Law School's Mc Nally Amphitheatre, was very well attended by Fordham graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, administrators and general public of the NYC metropolitan area. Cuban-Americans from different associations throughout the city, as well as representatives from the Cuban Permanent Mission to the United Nations were also present. With this panel and discussion, LALSI's objective was to offer another tool for the NYC academic community and the general public to engage in a discussion of the many intricacies that define the sometimes-thorny Cuban-American relationship. We believe it was a most successful event that we were proud to host.

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