Georgetown, Guyana – (October 6, 2015) As Guyanese joined in remembering the victims of the Cubana terrorist attack on the occasion of that dark day in history, President David Granger called on citizens, not to forget the price small States pay in an effort to defend their principles.
The Head of State joined, Cuba’s Ambassador to Guyana, His Excellency, Julio César González Marchante, His Excellency, Ambassador designate, from the People’s Republic of Korea, Pak Chung Yul, Honorary Consul for Barbados, Gerry Gouveia, and other dignitaries on the occasion, at the Monument site at the University of Guyana Campus.
“Guyana, a small state, was one of the earliest victims of international terrorism. This was so because it was at 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,” the President stated.
It is for this reason, the President said, Guyana’s citizens were intentionally targeted to be victims of that terrorist attack. Reminding those gathered of the sequence leading up to the airline bombing, President Granger, recalled that Guyana’s Consulate in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago was bombed and three persons were injured, only one month prior.
“Guyana must never forget 10/6 [October 6]. 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 honoring the 11 Guyanese who perished in the attack, the President said Guyana will always remind the world that justice for the victims of the Cubana de Aviación flight CU 455 is still outstanding. He added that it is with pain, Guyana remembers, the massacre of the 73 persons on board that flight on October 6, 1976.
“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,” he stated.
During the sober ceremony, wreaths were laid at the monument site by the President and other dignitaries in attendance. A wreath was laid by Jeffery Thomas, the brother of Rawle Thomas, one of the victims who was a 19 year-old student at the time, on behalf of the families of the other victims.
The Cubana de Aviación flight CU 455 departed from the Timehri International Airport in Guyana on October 6, 1976. The flight then went to the Piarco International Airport in Trinidad and Tobago and then on to Seawell Airport in Barbados. Its flight plan was to travel further to Kingston, Jamaica before travelling on to Cuba. The aircraft was blown up soon after leaving Barbados. All seventy three persons; 68 passengers and five crew members were killed. The terrorist attack was executed by the ‘Coordination of United Revolutionary Organisations (CORU).’ This organisation was formed in the Dominican Republic in 1976 and was comprised of several terrorist groups opposed to the Cuban government. It then embarked on a violent terrorist campaign that shook the region in 1976.
The Cuban Consulate in Bogotá, Colombia, was attacked with machine gunfire in July, 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. The Cubana de Aviación flight 455 was bombed on October 6, 1976. It was the bloodiest event in CORU’s reign of terror that year.