Cuba, Barbados mark 37th anniversary of Cubana airlines bombing

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday October 7, 2013, CMC – Barbados and Cuba have paid homage to the victims of the 1976 bombing of a Cubana Airlines jet off the coast of Barbados that killed all 73 people on board, lamenting the fact that the masterminds of the attack were never convicted.

Cuba’s Ambassador to Barbados, Mrs Lisette Perez Perez, told the wreath laying ceremony on Sunday that what happened to the Cubana passenger plane on October 6, 1976 was not an isolated incident.

“The cruelty of a 50-year war of terror against Cuba is abhorrent. Since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, terrorists have murdered 3, 478 Cubans and incapacitated 2, 099 others.”

She said that the masterminds behind the attack, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles were never convicted for this criminal act.

“Bosch passed away peacefully in Miami, where he lived in complete freedom (and) impunity, after being granted presidential pardon by (President) George Bush, which was negotiated by the Cuban far-right wing. A similar treatment was given to the other perpetrator of this abominable crime. Carriles was neither charged nor prosecuted in the United States,” she said.

The Cuban diplomat thanked Barbados for its support saying “there is a history of injustice in the waters of Paradise Beach in Barbados.

“The cold–blooded murder of the people on board that passenger plane was a crime against them, their families, and their countries. It was also a crime against Barbados and its people,” she added.

Labour and Human Resource Development Minister, Dr. Esther Byer- Suckoo, said that while 37 years have passed, the memory of the tragedy remains etched in everyone’s minds.

“We continue to remember those who were lost and we continue to call for justice. I reaffirm that the Government of Barbados stands in solidarity with all of you and against acts of terrorism and injustice whenever and wherever they occur. The monument remains a telling symbol that we who were touched by this tragedy will never forget it, as we remember those who we mourn today,” she said.

The Douglas DC-8 aircraft was brought down on October 6, 1976 in a terrorist attack off the coast of Barbados in what was then described as the deadliest terrorist airline attack in the Western Hemisphere.

The US-based Central Intelligence Agency in documents released in 2005 indicated that it had “concrete advance intelligence, as early as June 1976, on plans by Cuban exile terrorist groups to bomb a Cubana airliner”.

In his book, Caminos del Guerrero” (Way of the Warrior), Carriles, a former CIA operative provides much details about the boming, even as he denied any involvement.

Four men were arrested in connection with the bombing, and a trial was held in Venezuela. Freddy Lugo and Hernán Ricardo Lozano were each sentenced to 20-year prison terms.

Bosch was acquitted and Carriles fled to America where he was held on charges of entering the country illegally, but was released on April 19, 2007.

Meanwhile, Granma newspaper reported Monday that Cubans paid homage to the victims of the disaster that included the Cuban Juvenile fencing team that returned victorious from a regional championship held that year in Venezuela. 

It said the ceremony took place at Havana’s Colon cemetery and included the laying of wreaths sent by Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro and by President Raul Castro.

The paper said that Wilfredo Perez, the son of the pilot of the plane, demanded the extradition of Carriles, and the release of the anti-terrorist Cubans who are serving prison sentences in US jails for their action in preventing terrorist actions against the Cuban people. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)