President David Granger: Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Honourable Khemraj Ramjattan; Ministers of the Government; Members of the National Assembly; His Excellency Julio Cesar Gonzalez Marchante, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to Guyana; other Members of the Diplomatic Corp; distinguished guests; members of the media; ladies and gentlemen.

The Cooperative Republic of Guyana, forty-one years ago, on the 6th October 1976, recoiled in pain at the slaughter of eleven innocent citizens. Our citizens were killed when two terrorist bombs exploded onboard Cubana de Aviación Flight CU-455 just off the coast of Barbados. Guyana mourns also the slaughter of passengers and a crew of other nationalities who died in that attack.

Cubana de Aviación Flight CU-455 had originated in Guyana, it proceeded to Trinidad and Tobago and then to Barbados and would have been en route to Jamaica before its scheduled final stop in Cuba. These four Anglophone Caribbean States: Barbados, Guyana Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago which were on the flight’s itinerary had made the courageous démarche of establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba four years earlier in December 1972. The bombing of Cubana de Aviación Flight, therefore, could not have been unrelated to the states’ diplomatic démarche towards Cuba.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Excellencies, the Caribbean commemorates next week on the 12th October, the 525th Anniversary of the European intrusion into the island of The Bahamas in 1492. The trickle of European interlopers turned into a torrent. The Caribbean in succeeding years experienced the establishment of British, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Spanish, Swedish and American colonising territories making the Caribbean the most balkanized region on earth.

The Caribbean became known as the cockpit of Europe; a theatre of European conquest and conflict, warfare between European States was waged invariably and vicariously in the Caribbean, not only by regular armies and navies but by regular bands of buccaneers, corsairs, pirates, and privateers. The Caribbean became a zone of conflict as the hot wars of the colonial eras turned into the cold war; this time mainly between the US and the former USSR.

The Caribbean today must cease being a theatre of warfare and terrorism. The Caribbean must become a zone of peace, but this objective can be realised only if international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of small Caribbean States are respected.

Guyana rejects, totally, the use of force to settle controversies between states.

Guyana abhors the crime of international terrorism, whenever and wherever it occurs.

Guyana reassures the world of its commitment to making the Caribbean a zone of peace.

Guyana remembers today, the victims of the Cubana terrorist attack. We assemble annually before this monument to memorialise the human cost of international terrorism.

Guyana honours the memory of the martyrs of the 6th October, 1976. We shall never forget them.

I thank you.

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