September 4, 1997: Several bombings at Cuban hotel

On this day in 1997, a man tied to a US-based anti-Cuba organisation is believed to have been behind series of bombings in which an Italian tourist died.

The last thing one expects when on vacation is to die in a terrorist incident.

HAVANA, CUBA — Can anyone REALLY explain the US obsession with Cuba? Why is it that for more than half a century the Caribbean island nation has REALLY pissed off the Americans? Is it REALLY that important a threat to them?

OK, OK, I get the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 when the world came close (did we REALLY?) to nuclear war when the Soviets wanted to station their ballistic missiles a scant 150 km from US shores. That was serious. But was a lot of the US angst over Cuba not REALLY tied to the fact that their dictator, Fulgencio Batista, was overthrown by a Marxist dictator, Fidel Castro? US President Franklin Roosevelt may have once said – there is some doubt on this apparently – of Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza “he may be a son of a bitch but he is OUR son of a bitch” but he could just have easily been referring to Batista.

Anyhow, the US plots to take out Castro – one estimate is that the Cuban leader survived 634 attempts on his life! – are legion: exploding cigars, tainted seashells, and the classic ‘poisoned pen’. Still, old Fidel outlived them all and died in 2016 at the ripe old age of 90!

The US government was not the only party that wanted to see Castro ‘out of office’. He had other enemies as well, especially Cubans who fled to the US after the revolution. On this day in 1997 a Salvadoran man (‘mercenary’) Cuban authorities said was tied to the US-sponsored anti-Castro movement in Florida, the Cuban-American National Foundation, carried out several bombings at Cuban hotels. In one, an Italian businessman living in Canada and on vacation in Cuba was killed. In all, 11 people were injured in that blast.

‘It is hard to believe that the American intelligence services could not have been capable of aborting these plans” – o

fficial Cuban press agency

As noted, attacks of this nature had no real impact on the Cuban regime. It remained (and remains) a cheap getaway for Canadians fleeing winter. And it is still a poorly-run country, even with Castro now dead.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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