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Issue #1693      July 15, 2015

Met says sorry for Cuba t-shirt gaffe

The Met has issued a “sincere and unreserved apology” for staging a police terror training exercise in which one of the “terrorists” was wearing a Cuban flag T-shirt. More than 1,000 Metropolitan Police officers were involved in the simulated armed terror attack exercise dubbed Operation Strong Tower on June 30.

But in images seen on TV news reports, three officers acting as terrorists donned balaclavas, wore black and carried weapons while one of them sported a T-shirt emblazoned with the Cuban flag.

Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) responded angrily to the incident and argued that the exercise associated the proud socialist nation with terrorism.

The Met’s deputy assistant commissioner Maxine de Brunner has written to the campaign group offering “a sincere and unreserved apology on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service.”

She said: “This was clearly a regrettable error, which I take full responsibility for. This has been investigated and the role actor has been spoken to. He genuinely did not think of the significance and implications of wearing a T-shirt with a national flag on it.

“The impact has been explained, he is genuinely sorry and states there was no intention to cause offence or associate the Cuban people with terrorism.”

Ms de Brunner added that the officer in question has been given “advice” regarding his actions and ensured that “the learning from this will be incorporated into future exercises.”

CSC director Rob Miller welcomed the apology but added that the incident should never have happened.

He said that the association with terrorism was a “cruel irony” for Cuban people as they had been victims of numerous terrorist attacks from US-based groups over the last 55 years, leaving 3,478 dead and 2,099 disabled.

“Too often, the small island of Cuba has suffered misrepresentation and misinformation from the anti-Cuban mass media,” Mr Miller said.

“This incident could further perpetuate such dominant anti-Cuba smears. Rather than support terrorism, Cuba continues to be an inspiration with its exemplary health and education systems and its internationalism.”

On the same day as Operation Strong Tower, the World Health Organisation announced that Cuba had become the first country in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

Morning Star

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