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The 35th Anniversary of Cubana Bombing Tragedy off Barbados Print E-mail

By Rickey Singh

Trinidad Express, October 2, 2011

THURSDAY will mark the 35th anniversary of the horrific bombing of a Cubana passenger aircraft off Barbados that killed all 73 people on board in what has been documented as the single worst human tragedy in the history of the Caribbean region to result from international terrorism linked to anti-Cuba operatives trained by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The government of Cuba and its embassies in Barbados and Guyana will have varying activities to commemorate the victims of that unprecedented crime in Caribbean air space in which the collaborators involved those who had boarded the Cubana flight at Piarco International Airport in Trinidad and Tobago.

With the explosive materials well concealed on board the Cubana aircraft while on the tarmac at Grantley Adams International in Barbados awaiting to resume flying to Havana, the terrorists succeeded in making their escape on another aircraft and eventually ended up in Caracas, Venezuela where five leading suspects were subsequently identified.

Among the 73 victims of that terrorist bombing were 11 Guyanese and five North Koreans with all others being Cubans and including the that country's national fencing team.

A week of activities has been planned for Barbados that includes an official observance ceremony on Thursday at the monument to the victims.

It was established on the sea front of Paynes Bay, in the parish of St James, in 2005 and formally unveiled in the presence of then Cuban President Fidel Castro and Heads of Government of Caricom who were attending an annual summit.

A second commemorative monument is currently under construction in Guyana.

Another major aspect of the programme to commemorate the 35th anniversary is scheduled to take place on Friday as a collaborative three-hour event between the Cuban embassy in Barbados and the Social Science Faculty of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus.

It will include a panel discussion focused on, among other things, the wider implications for security and development in the Caribbean as a consequence of the politics of the notorious terrorist act of 35 years ago with links to some hemispheric intelligence agencies and embassies.

This afternoon the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is scheduled to broadcast at 2 p.m. a one-hour documentary, titled The real history of the Cubana tragedy.

Among the masterminds behind the bombing plot were two Cuban émigrés who had obtained Venezuelan citizenship while they plotted terroristic activities in Havana, Santiago (Chile) and other capitals.

They were identified as Orlando Bosch (who recently died in the US where he had obtained a presidential "pardon" from the senior George Bush); and Luis Posada Carilles.

As if to show contempt, successive Washington administrations had refused demands from Cuban and Venezuelan authorities for the extradition of Bosch and Posada to face trials for their involvement in the Cubana tragedy.

That contempt was to be hilariously demonstrated in relation to Posada-(while Bosch astutely kept a very low profile)-with US immigration opting to put him on trial for "illegally" entering that "land of the free and home of the brave".

Instead, of course, facing indictment for murderous terrorist activities, the most sensational and gruesome in our region being that of the Cubana tragedy in Barbados air space. That was some 25 years before the unprecedented horrendous terrorist bombing attacks on New York and Washington that killed approximately 3,000-- overwhelmingly citizens of America but also including scores of Caribbean nationals.

Ironically, and particularly for the administration of President Barack Obama-who came to power with his endearing "promises of change" from the old political culture of that superpower now plagued with enormous social and economic problems of its own-it was the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) that at one stage felt compelled to publicly name Posada as a "terrorist".

In a document released from the Washington embassy of Venezuela, dated March 30, 2006, and sent to Posada and dated March 28, 2006, the US officially admitted for the first time that Posada was a terrorist "with a long history of criminal activity and violence in which innocent civilians were killed…"

From his own research some years later, the Jamaica-born Caribbean academic and writer, author of Reclaiming Zimbabwe, and Rasta and Resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney, was to declare Luis Posada Carilles as "the Bin Laden of the Americas", as he focused on terrorism and US foreign policy objectives in the Western Hemisphere.


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