Saturday, October 13, 2012

Barbados 1976: A monstrous crime

Self confessed terrorist Luis Posada Carriles

October 6 is a sad and unforgettable date for the relatives of 73 people who died in the terrorist bombing in midair of a Cubana airliner, off the coast of Barbados, in 1976. It is also recalled as one of the most atrocious terrorist actions committed ever.

The masterminds behind the atrocious act, Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, were free in US territory with the protection of the US administration, 32 years after the explosion. Bosch has already died in Miami. The executers of the crime were Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo. “We planted the bomb, and so what?” Lugo later told Venezuelan reporter Alicia Herrera, in an interview while he was in prison.

Among the 73 victims of the terrorist action were 11 Guyanese youths, six of them had been selected to take medical courses in Cuba; five North Korean citizens who were on a friendship tour of Latin America. Among the Cubans was the whole juvenile fencing team, whose members expected to return home after having garnered the victory at the Central American and Caribbean sports games, held that year in Venezuela.

“You cannot get rid of such a deep pain,” the victims´ relatives have reiterated over the past 32 years. “It is an incalculably deep wound,” said Odalys Perez Rodriguez, older daughter of pilot Wilfredo Fello Perez, also a victim. “The years go by and I still can hear my father’s recorded voice asking for help; I listen to it and I start crying.”

After a bomb exploded onboard Cubana flight 455, which was covering the route Barbados, Kingston, Havana, the captain Wilfredo Perez and his co-pilot contacted Barbados´ Seawall air traffic control and warned: “We have fire on board!, we request landing immediately, immediately!...” Shortly after those words and a second explosion onboard, the plane, set on fire, fell to the sea.

The Cuban people gathered at Havana’s Revolution Square on October 15 to hold a farewell rally for the victims of the terrorist crime. On the occasion, Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro said that “shocked, painful and outraged, we gather today at this historic square to say good-bye, though in a symbolic way, to the remains of our sisters and brothers murdered in the brutal terrorist action perpetrated against a Cuban civil plane. Most of their remains are still in the deep ocean waters, while the tragedy did not allow their closest relatives the relief of having their dead bodies.”

After all these years, the world public opinion has witnessed how impunity and injustice have prevailed in the case. Luis Posada Carriles has been protected once and again by Washington despite his terrorist crimes.

Passage to sabotage

Oct 5, 1976
Cubana de Aviación DC-8, flight 455, arrives at Guyana’s Timerhri airport.
Oct 6, 1976
10:57 GMT. CU-455 departs for Port of Spain, Trinidad Tobago, on a 27-minute delay after waiting for an official North Korean delegation. In Port of Spain, all 24 members of the Cuba juvenile fencing team come on board after having arrived from Caracas, Venezuela, on a Pan-Am flight.
15:49 GMT. The plane heads for Barbados.
16:21 GMT. CU-455 arrives at Seawell airport, in Barbados. Terrorists Freddy Lugo and Jose Vazquez García (fake name Hernan Ricardo ) conclude their trip.
17:15 GMT. CU-455 takes off for Jamaica with 73 POB.
17:23 GMT. Seawall air traffic control records the voice of Captain Wilfredo Perez warning of fire onboard.
17:25:20 GMT. The co-pilot requests emergency landing at Seawall, the air traffic control authorizes the landing. 
17:25:27 GMT. Seawall receives a compelling phrase: Close that door!! Seawall replies “CU-455 we understand, we have full emergency, we keep in contact, over.” At that moment a second bomb blew off in the rear toilet. Several people near the coasts saw the plane fall in the ocean.
Oct 7, 1976
Cuba’s Civil Aeronautic Institute officially announced that the 73 victims included 57 Cubans, 11 Guyanese and 5 North Koreans. Following suspicious actions, Barbadian authorities warned their counterpart in Trinidad about Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo, who were arrested as possible executors of the sabotage. Meanwhile, rescue actions were underway, but with difficulties due to the deep ocean scenario.
Oct 11, 1976
Barbados Prime Minister Tom Adams declares at the 31st UN General Assembly that disaster of a Cubana airliner in the Caribbean was a terrorist action. The Comandos de Organizaciones Revolucionarias Unidas (CORU) counterrevolutionary organisation claims responsibility for the crime.
Oct 14, 1976
The remains of the victims that rescue operations could withdraw from the ocean are taken to Havana’s Revolution Square; National Mourning declared. 
Venezuela’s secret police (DISIP) announces the arrest in Caracas of counterrevolutionaries of Cuban origin Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, as well as another three men involved.
Oct 15, 1976
A huge crowd gathered at Havana’s Revolution Square to hold a farewell rally for the Barbados victims, where Commander in Chief Fidel Castro denounced that the US Central Intelligence Agency was behind the crime. Under the deep emotion and sorrow of the moment, Fidel stated the historic phrase: “When energetic and virile people cry, injustice trembles!”

By Luis Chirino Cuban News Agency