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October 7, 2016
SVG/CUBA Friendship Society statement: 40th Anniversary of terrorist carnage in Caribbean

by Renwick Rose

Thursday, October 6, 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of one of the biggest man-made human tragedies in the modern history of the Caribbean. Forty years ago, long before our peaceful region got accustomed to the dreaded word “terrorism” or the heinous deeds of terrorists, 68 young Caribbean citizens, mostly from Cuba (57), but also from Guyana (11), were among the 73 persons aboard a Cuban plane, CU 455, which was blown up just after it took off from Barbados.{{more}}

Taking advantage of what would in today’s world be considered as ‘lax’ security precautions, but which were the order of the day then, anti-Cuban terrorists, armed and financed by American intelligence agents, planted a bomb on the Cubana airline on its way from Trinidad to Barbados, and got off there. The plane and all those aboard exploded in a horrific conflagration. It was an unforgettable experience in this region.

That vicious act of terrorism had its roots, not only in continued hostility to the Cuban Revolution, but was also meant to frighten Caribbean governments and citizens. It was a time when intensive battles were being waged against apartheid in South Africa and for upholding the independence of Angola. The support of major western governments for racist South Africa had spurred a world-wide solidarity campaign and had resulted in African governments boycotting the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Canada.

To make matters worse, Cuba had given military support to the Angolan government, and four Caribbean governments, Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, had taken the courageous step to open diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1975. They had also permitted the national Cuban airline, Cubana, to break Cuba’s isolation in the region by flying from Cuba to those four countries.

That was the context of the bomb, planted on a Cubana airline on its way from Guyana and Trinidad, in Barbadian waters, and headed for Jamaica. It is an act as vicious as the 9/11 bombing a quarter century later. To this date the perpetrators have never been punished, unlike the innocent citizens of Afghanistan, still engulfed in war today because of the acts of the 9/11 terrorists. The SVG/Cuba Friendship Society, in remembering this act of anti-Caribbean terrorism, reiterates its solidarity with the Cuban people and government. We also recall the brutal murder of Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, on October 9, 1967 in Bolivia and again call for justice in these cases and the end to the continuing criminal embargo against Cuba.