Cuba’s Open Wound from the Terrorist Attack In Barbados

By Alejandra Garcia on October 10, 2021, from Havana

Families of the victims of the terrorist bombing of Cubana airliner. photo: Bill Hackwell

Photojournalist Jorge Oller immortalized with his camera one of the saddest days in the history of Cuba. The few bodies that could be recovered from the shores of Paradise Beach in Barbados, arrived in Cuba, nine days after two bombs went off inside a Cubana de Aviación passenger plane plunging it into the sea, killing all 73 persons aboard on October 6, 1976.

Forty-five years have passed since Oller photographed a couple crying inconsolably in front of a picture of their daughter, one of the 24 members of Cuba’s youth fencing team that had been traveling on the plane. The photographer also captured the moment when a man kissed a coffin covered with a Cuban flag, thus immortalizing the sorrowful face of a little girl who realized that she would never see her father alive again.

Cuba does not forget those days of pain and still mourns the 73 victims, including 57 Cubans, of the “abominable crime of Barbados,” as the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro called it in his historic speech that October 15.

Only the bodies of eight Cubans could be recovered. “Most of the remains lie in the abysmal depths of the ocean. The tragedy did not even leave to the victims’ close relatives the consolation of having their corpses,” Fidel said, adding:

“They were not millionaires on a pleasure trip. They were not tourists who had time and resources to visit other countries; they were humble workers or students and sportsmen who fulfilled, with modesty and dedication, the tasks assigned by the homeland.”

The plane was destroyed in mid-flight, 600 meters off the coast of the capital of Barbados, a few minutes after take-off. Following the explosion of the first bomb, the pilots attempted to divert the aircraft’s course back towards the landing strip. But the fire on the plane´s nearly destroyed equipment allowed it to remain airborne for only a few more minutes.

“The drama that the explosion and fire must have meant for the passengers and crew locked at an altitude of approximately 6,000 meters is unimaginable,” Fidel stressed.

Orlando Bosh and Luis Posada Carriles, the U.S.-backed masterminds of this terrorist attack, were never convicted of the crime.  They eventually sought refuge in Miami, where they enjoyed full impunity for this and the many other crimes they committed during their several decades long reign of terror.

Attorney José Pertierra, who represented Venezuela in seeking the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, will never forget the forensic report of one of the victims: a little nine-year old Guyanese girl named Sabrina.

“What shocked me the most was the condition in which the remains of the little girl were found”, the lawyer told Counterpunch.

“The forensic report read: ‘No brain…, only her facial bones, scalp and the rest of her hair. The lungs and heart, destroyed. The liver and intestines shattered. Absence of the buttock of the right lower extremity…Compound fracture of the tibia and fibula…’. Sabrina was traveling with her family to Cuba to visit her brother who was a medical student on the island. She was one of 15 people whose body parts were recovered from the waters of Paradise Beach,” Pertierra said.

Bosh was once asked about the civilian victims of the Cuban plane sabotage and expressed that they were all members of the Cuban communist government who deserved to die, including the female athletes, whom he contemptuously called “some black chicks.”

“All Castro’s aircraft are warplanes,” he declared, ignoring the obvious distinction between passenger planes and military aircraft.

In a 1998 interview with journalist Ann Louise Bardach for the New York Times, Posada Carriles said, “at night I sleep like a baby” when asked if he carried any remorse for the deaths of the innocent passengers. The question still remains relevant; why would he make such a public admission of guilt of his role in the terrorist act if he wasn’t convinced he had blanket impunity by the US government?

The hatred felt by the terrorists against Cuba, which moved them to plant bombs and kill civilians in cold blood, is the same hatred that motivates right wing extremists in Washington´s efforts to promote regime change in Cuba today, little has changed in that dark criminal mentality. Like then they are staunch supporters of overthrowing Cuba’s socialist project and all its gains no matter what the human cost.

The imprints of Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch are clearly evident in the hatred of those who in the midst of a pandemic promote severe sanctions against Cuba and call for Washington to intervene militarily in Cuba.

Today, the sorrow remains the same as it was 45 years ago. The wound does not heal. “We are moved, mournful, indignant. We cannot say that the pain is shared. The pain multiplied. Millions of Cubans weep today together with the victims’ loved ones. And when an energetic and virile people cry, injustice trembles!” in the words of Fidel.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English