October 6, 1976: Bombing of Cuban aircraft

Venezuelan and Cuban American anti-Castro forces bombed a Cuban airline on October 6, 1976 killing all 73 civilians aboard.

There is sadly no depth to which terrorists will not stoop to support their ’cause’.

BARBADOS — I am pretty sure I have already talked about this so I apologise if it comes across as a little repetitive. But it still confuses me nonetheless and as it has to do with today’s featured terrorist attack in history it bears mentioning again.

What is it about Cuba that has lit a fire under the US for 60 years? I get that having a Marxo-Communist nation state some 100 km south of the Florida Keys was uncomfortable in 1959 and also ticked off a lot of Cuban American organised crime figures but did the island REALLY pose that much of a threat (the 1962 Cuban missile crisis notwithstanding)?

The US spent a tonne of money trying to kill Cuban President Fidel Castro and defeat his regime. For decades. It is hard for us now, in 2020, to see how this was more important than other world crises over the decades but I guess you had to be there.

Giving Fidel an exploding cigar is one thing: killing innocent civilians is quite another. And yet that is exactly what the CIA did through its Cuban American proxies. Like the attack featured here.

On this day in 1976

On October 6, 1976 anti-Castro terrorists bombed a Cubana flight which crashed off the coast of Barbados soon after takeoff, killing all 73 on board. Cuba said that the CIA was involved. One bomb was in the aircraft’s rear lavatory and that destroyed the aircraft’s control cables, while another was hidden in the midsection of the passenger cabin and blasted a hole in the aircraft, causing a fire.

This day, the sixth of October the Caribbean’s 911, that precedent-setting act of terrorism. The first time that certainly in this hemisphere that anyone got it into their heads to use a civilian airliner full of passengers as an instrument of terror.

Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong

Interestingly, two Venezuelan police from the DISIP who were bomb experts were also believed to be involved. In all four men, two Venezuelans and two Cuban Americans were tried and sentenced although one, Posada Carriles ‘escaped’ from prison and fled to Miami.

I do not care what you thought of the Castro regime or its politics. Blowing an aircraft full of civilians out of the sky is reprehensible.

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.

2 replies on “October 6, 1976: Bombing of Cuban aircraft”

The destruction of Cubana Flight 455 is one of the oft-overlooked acts of terrorism, but it was one of the many testaments to US hostility to Castro’s Cuba during the Cold War, the determination of many anti-Castro Cuban exiles seek the ouster of Fidel Castro despite the failure of the April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Although Luis Posada and his buddy Orlando Bosch were demonized by Fidel Castro as terrorists and the vast majority of Cuban Americans came to use non-violence and civil disobedience to press for the end of Fidel Castro’s rule by the 1990s, Posada and Bosch remained steadfastly committed to ousting Castro through violence, and the administration of George W. Bush refused to extradite both men back to Cuba because it was busy fighting al-Qaeda and doing so was sure of make of mockery of Bush 43’s self-professed duty to fight international terrorism. Bosch died in 2011, and Posada died in 2018, and the Cuban people are happy that both men are dead, despite disappointment that neither was ever punished for the Cubana Flight 455 explosion. Posada was a controversial figure among many Cuban exiles, with some (e.g. former congressmen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz-Balart) viewing Posada and Bosch as valiant freedom fighters, and others simply calling Posada and Bosch martyrs willing to die for the cause of a democratic Cuba because they didn’t believe that political change in Cuba could be hastened by blowing up a passenger plane.

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