Days after identifying the United States (US) as a potential player to help secure small states, President David Granger Tuesday said the perpetrators of the Hemisphere’s worst terrorist attack-Cubana Air Disaster-were still to be prosecuted.
“Guyana reminds the world that justice for the victims of the Cubana de Aviación flight CU 455 is still outstanding,” he told a commemorative ceremony at the Cubana Air Disaster momument, University of Guyana.
Eleven Guyanese were among the 73 persons who were killed when the plane blew up and nose-dived off the coast of Barbados shortly after take-off from that island’s airport. The flight, which had originated in Guyana, had been going to Jamaica before completing its journey in Cuba.
“We are assembled at this monument in a solemn act of commemoration to assure the families that their loved ones have not been forgotten. We have come, also, to remind the world of the pervasive threat and danger of international terrorism,” said the Guyanese leader in his first address to such an event since he was elected in May of this year.
Laying a wreath on behalf of the survivng Guyanese families was Jeffrey Thomas whose brother was killed.
While Granger did not directly accuse the US administration at the time for the bombing of flight CU 455 on October 6, 1976, he noted that the ‘Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU) was formed in that same year, he said Guyana was among several Caribbean countries had been targeted because they had been opposed to America’s isolation of Cuba.
“Guyana, a small state, was one of the earliest victims of international terrorism. This was so because it was in the forefront of the campaign to break the diplomatic isolation of Cuba. Guyana – along with three other small states, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago – had established diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1972,” said the Guyanese leader.
He said CORU had embarked on a violent terrorist campaign that had shaken the region in 1976. Those acts, he said, had included a violent attack on Guyana’s low-level diplomatic presence in Trinidad.
“Guyana’s citizens, therefore, were intentionally targeted to be victims of that terrorist attack. Guyana’s Consulate in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago was bombed and three persons injured only one month prior to the Cubana attack” on the flight, he said.
Describing the bombing of the Cubana Airways flight as “the bloodiest event in CORU’s reign of terror that year,” he identified two other attacks that had occured during 1976.
The Cuban Consulate in Bogotá, Colombia, was attacked with machine gunfire in July of 1976. A Cuban official was murdered five days later in Merida, Mexico. Two Cuban Consulate security officials were kidnapped in Argentina the following month. The Cubana de Aviación office in Panama City, Panama was bombed in August 1976.
He urged Guyanese never to forget that incident. “The small states of the Anglophone Caribbean – particularly Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago – were to become the theatre for the deadliest terrorist attack in the Western hemisphere,” he said.
In apparent reference to punishing Guyana for supporting Cuba against the US’ isolation, Granger said his country has a right to self-determination.
$Guyana reaffirms, on this the 39th anniversary of the Cuban terrorist attack, its resolve to defend its Independence and to determine its destiny.
Guyana reminds the world of the high price that small states pay to defend their principles and independence,” he said.
The President last week said the US and Brazil should be part of an international system to protect small states like Guyana against military aggression for territorial reasons and transnational crimes such as narco-trafficking.
President David Granger is a graduate of and former adjunct professor of the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies.