A Texas man was charged Thursday with attacking Cuba’s primary diplomatic facility in the District of Columbia. During a 2 a.m. attack on the building in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, he allegedly fired nearly 30 rounds at the structure from the public sidewalk outside the perimeter fence.
According to the embassy’s Twitter account, neither embassy staff nor bystanders were hurt, “but there was material damage caused to the building resulting from the impact of the bullets.”
Photos from the scene posted on social media show chipped marble from the columns and large pockmarks in the building facade, as well as a shattered street lamp.
#April30 2020: An unknown individual opened fire with an assault weapon against the building of our Embassy. There was no personal injury to the Mission, but there was material damage caused to the building resulting from the impact of the bullets.https://t.co/xHeoOjCWbT pic.twitter.com/ecrMS53Xxc— Cuban Embassy in US (@EmbaCubaUS) April 30, 2020
The suspect was identified to the Washington Post as Alexander Alazo, 42, of Aubrey, Texas. On the police report filed by the Metropolitan Police Department Thursday, the offense was marked as a “suspected hate crime.” He was charged with assault with intent to kill.
A maroon Nissan Pathfinder SUV with Texas license plates found in front of the property is believed by police to belong to Alazo.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel condemned the aggression in a statement on Twitter Thursday, and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said, “It is the responsibility of States to protect diplomats accredited to them and their facilities.”
A fan page for Cuban national hero José Martí noted the statue of Martí installed in the embassy’s front garden last year appeared undamaged by the attack. The page quoted a defiant Marti, who lived many years in the United States and was distrustful of American expansionism amid the Cuban colony’s struggle for independence from Spain.
Not one bullet hit the statue of José Martí at the Cuban embassy in Washington. There he is, still standing intact, symbolizing the actions of revolutionary Cubans through multiple generations. “I have lived in the monster & I know its entrails. My sling is the sling of David.” pic.twitter.com/bG57E5OqMw— José J. Martí (@JoseJuMarti) April 30, 2020
The Cuban Embassy in DC has been attacked once before. On May 19, 1979, the Cuban exile terrorist group Omega 7 detonated a bomb just outside the embassy, causing damage to both the building and the neighboring Lithuanian Embassy. That same year, Omega 7 also intended to assassinate Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro at the United Nations Headquarters, the New York Times reported.
At that time, the building did not house formal consular officials from the socialist country, but was instead operated as the Cuba Interests Section of the Czechoslovak Embassy, as Cuba did not have formal diplomatic relations with the US between 1961 and 2015, when then-US President Barack Obama restored them.
It is also interesting to note that Thursday’s attack happened on the one-year anniversary of another attack, the one made by right-wing Venezuelans against the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC. That attack led to an 18-day siege in which activists inside were prevented from accessing food, medicine and other necessities, while the besiegers, who openly declared their alliance with Venezuelan attempted coup leader Juan Guaido, attempted to break inside.
The Venezuelan embassy was eventually delivered to Venezuelan opposition forces after US federal police stormed the building and arrested the four remaining activists.