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 are named Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch; both are free in US territory with the protection of the US administration, thirty two years after the explosion. The executers of the crime were known as Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo. “We planted the bomb, and so what? Lugo later told Venezuelan reporter Alicia Herrera, in an interview during his arrest.
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 can not 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 here my father’s recorded voice asking for help; I listen to it and I start crying.”
After a bomb exploded onboard the Cubana flight 455, which was covering the route Barbados, Kingston, Havana, the captain Wilfredo Perez and his co-pilot contacted Barbados´ Seawell 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 in fire, fell to the sea.
The Cuban people gathered at Havana’s Revolution Square, October 15, to hold a farewell rally for the victims of the terrorist crime. On the occasion, 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. Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles have been protected once and again by Washington despite their terrorist crimes.
SHORT CHRONOLOGY OF THE 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. Seawell 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 Seawell, the air traffic control authorizes the landing.
17:25:27 GMT. Seawell receives a compelling phrase: Close that door!! Seawell replies “CU-455 we understand, we have full emergency, we keep in contact, over. At that moment a second explosion took place in the rear toilet. Several people near the coasts saw the plane fall on 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 executers 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 organization 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 crowed 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 that: When energetic and virile people cry, injustice trembles!!