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ALL AH WE IS ONE: Before 9/11

Tennyson Joseph, [email protected]

ALL AH WE IS ONE:  Before 9/11

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THE BOMBING, 40 years ago, of a Cubana Airways flight by terrorists sponsored and protected by a powerful regional hegemonic state, occurred long before September 11, 2001.

It occurred within Caribbean territory; it was a violation of the national security of several Caribbean states; and most of the victims were Caribbean students, athletes, the best amongst us.

Yet, we hardly mark the occasion with dignified seriousness. It is a measure of the total colonisation of the Caribbean consciousness that we lack the ability to mourn our own losses with appropriate meaning.

In our alienated minds, terrorism is only terrorism when it is so defined by CNN. It is almost comical to witness how, following any act of multiple murder in the United States, their media houses declare themselves “unable to determine yet whether it is an act of terrorism”.

Evidence of the perpetrator having the slightest connection to Islam, or being foreign-born, or having had military training in a foreign country, tips the verdict towards “terrorism”. What is not comical is our slavish acceptance of the verdicts that have been reached for us. This is the concrete manifestation of mental slavery.

There should be no difficulty in distinguishing an act of terrorism from a criminal act, and from a normal act of war. The strict definition of terrorism is the use of military force and tactics against civilian, non-combatant populations in the pursuit of political objectives.

A truly dignified and independent people, particularly a people who have been the world’s longest-suffering victims of such acts, should not be relying on others to define their reactions for them.

We should not be surprised about the Caribbean region’s early exposure to the modern tactics of terrorism, like the planting of bombs on aircrafts. Imperialism has always tried its new weapons and tactics on the formerly colonised world. Shrapnel and the Gatling gun were first tried in the Americas and Africa.

The concentration camp was first used by the British during the Boer war in South Africa, and indeed, nuclear weapons were first tried against the yellow people of Japan when indeed Nazi Germany was the main antagonist in World War II. 

For all these reasons, the Caribbean people owe a debt of gratitude to Cuba, for undertaking in a dignified way, an annual act of honouring the memory of those who have lost their lives in the Cubana Airways bombing. This year, the International Network in Defence of Humanity will join with progressive groupings in Barbados to initiate a call to the United Nations, through CARICOM, to recognise October 6 as International Day Against Terrorism.

We should all graciously join with the Cuban embassy in Barbados and attend the Cubana Airways bombing commemoration activities taking place from last Sunday to Saturday, October 8, and acknowledge that our experience of terrorism pre-dates September 11, 2001.

•Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs. Email: [email protected]