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Remembering terrorism in the Caribbean

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Fri, Oct 3, 2014

by Renwick Rose

on behalf of the SVG/Cuba Friendship Society

Each year, in the months of September and December, Vincentians mourn the tragic loss of the lives of two young Vincentian men, the victims of terrorist bombs in Lockerbie, Scotland (December 1982) and New York (9/11, 2001). In both cases bombs planted on airlines were the cause of death and destruction.{{more}}

Imagine therefore how the people of two sister Caribbean nations, Guyana and Cuba, must have felt in October 1976, when they heard the horrifying news that 73 citizens of both countries were killed when Cubana airlines flight # 455, en route from Barbados to Cuba, was blown up in the air just after it took off from Barbados airport. Terrorism had visited the peace and tranquillity of the Eastern Caribbean, a quarter of a century before 9/11.

BACKGROUND

A lot has changed in the world since 1976. Then, Cold War rivalry not also fuelled local and regional tensions and wars, but was threatening the world with nuclear conflagration. The Vietnam War had just ended leaving much suffering and bitterness, in South East Asia and in war-weary USA. Vietnam remained an enemy of the United States as did China, in spite of the historic visit of Us President Nixon to China four years before. Iran, yes Iran, was then a close friend and ally of the West.

In Africa, the battle to end apartheid and colonialism in Southern Africa was being fought on the battlefields of Angola. That war was to lead to the military defeat of racist South Africa paving the way to freedom for Nelson Mandela and his compatriots a decade and a half later and the birth of a democratic, non-racial South Africa.

It must be remembered that in the hour of critical need it was Cuba which came to the rescue of Angola, sending its own soldiers there, and that the Caribbean foursome of Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago had the courage, not only to open diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba, but resisted US efforts to get them to continue Cuba’s isolation.

ENEMIES HAVE MADE FRIENDS

Today, the global scenario is very different. Vietnam which inflicted military defeat on the USA now enjoys Most Favoured Nation status; China is wrapped up in the financial and commercial beds with American capital; Iran is now public enemy number 1; the Cold War has ended and Southern Africa liberated.

But some things have not changed. The hostility to and attempted isolation of Cuba by the United States of America continues, 55 years after the triumph of its Revolution in 1959. That hostility led to some actions on the part of successive US administrations, unworthy of such a great nation.

ECONOMIC BLOCKADE

There was the economic blockade, bringing hardship to the Cuban people and retarding its economic development. But worse, much worse, was the US support at state level for exile Cuban terrorist, blinded by hatred for Cuban President Fidel Castro and “communism”. That led the USA, through its intelligence agency, the CIA, to give succour to, arm and shelter criminal Cuban elements, who committed countless acts of terror against the Cuban state and people, even right in sovereign countries like Chile, the USA itself and Barbados.

Those elements led by two infamous terrorists, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, organized the Cubana bombing, using two Venezuelans Hernan Lozano and Freddy Lugo to plant the fatal bomb. They confessed to Trinidad police, detailing how they put the bomb in a camera, using toothpaste to disguise the plastic explosives. It is ironic that today there is a global alert for would-be terrorists who we are told are planning to use toothpaste bombs to down airplanes.

SUPPORTING CRIMINALS

How then could the USA, in the face of mountains of evidence against Bosch and Carriles, shelter them, refuse to prosecute them all these years, for crimes for which the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and is now carrying out aerial attacks in Syria and Iraq? How could such a country which hounded Muamar Gadaffi, for alleged masterminding the Lockerbie bombing, harbour Bosch (till his death in 2011) and Carriles, until today, when there is evidence of their complicity in the murder of 73 persons off Barbados? Are Cuban, Guyanese and Korean lives not as sacred as American ones?

This injustice towards Cuba continues. It is seen in the protracted incarceration of the ‘Cuban Five’, Cuban citizens forced to serve long sentences in the USA for the “crime” of tracking down the activities of criminal Cuban elements who have carried out terrorist actions against Cuba and were plotting on American soil, in contravention of American law.

It is seen in the refusal to lift the economic blockade against Cuba, which has cost that country millions of dollars over the past half a century. When one recalls Cuba’s selfless role in helping to develop our own human and physical resource base, in spite of such a blockade, then we would realize how much more it could have done if there had been no blockade. The blockade is hurting us too.

In spite of all this, the Cuban people and government continue with acts of solidarity. When others are waging war in the skies against Islamic extremists, Cuba has sent hundreds of medical personnel to West Africa to fight war – against the deadly ebola disease. What greater manifestation of humanity and solidarity can one wish for?

We in the SVG/Cuba Friendship Society greatly appreciate Cuban friendship and solidarity, from which our people have benefitted enormously. We reiterate our solidarity, call once more for the lifting of the blockade and support the call for the freedom of the three remaining Cuban patriots (of the ‘Cuban Five’), still in US prisons.

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