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EDITORIAL: We must never forget 1976 act of terror

Barbados Nation

EDITORIAL: We must never forget 1976 act of terror

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ACTS OF TERRORISM the world over have significantly changed the way we live – regardless of location or nationality.

Much has had to change to fit the new order, with air travel being perhaps the one area which has undergone the greatest and most dramatic change since the incidents of September 11, 2001. That incident took place on American soil but the fallout has been felt across the world.

Twenty-five years earlier, an act of terrorism was perpetuated off the coast of Barbados when a Cubana Airline plane was blown up by anti-Cuban criminals. It was a terrible price innocent people paid in a cold war and highlighted the insignificance of a small island-state such as Barbados in global issues.

Seventy-three people – 57 Cubans, 11 Guyanese and five Koreans – were aboard the Cuban passenger plane that crashed only a few minutes after take-off from the then Seawell International Airport. To this day, those behind that event and still alive, known and exposed for their crime against humanity, have escaped justice and continue to enjoy their lives unperturbed about the consequences of their evil doings.

United Nations Resolution 1373 forbids the harbouring of terrorists by member nations. This resolution was introduced by the United States to combat terrorism after the tragedy of September 2001. It is fair to ask: does this resolution apply to those who masterminded and executed the Cubana crash, using two C-4 bombs to bring down the aircraft?

This incident never galvanised the world community or received the widespread condemnation it deserved because many people scorned Cuba at that time. Thankfully, we have been spared the evils of frequent terrorists attacks as is the norm now in so many places worldwide. And despite the dastardly deeds perpetrated at that time, our democracy has not been weakened.

Barbados must never forget to honour those lives so brutally taken 39 years ago today, and should always pay homage to the event. It was in many ways a watershed. We must reflect on how terrorists came to this island and created harm and destruction.

The monument at Paynes Bay, St James, commemorating the incident may mean little to a growing number of Barbadians who have no real connection with the tragedy, which is but a memory of yesterday. So even as interest wanes and numbers may dwindle, it is important we remember that incident while playing our part to make the world a safer place.

With Cuba and the United States having re-established diplomatic ties, and an urgency by many Americans to expand commercial and culture ties with that Caribbean state, the anti-Cuban element is now largely irrelevant. Yet, when the various internal intelligence agencies’ documents are declassified, much will be revealed.

Today the world is a different place with acts of terrorism roundly condemned and any guilty party relentlessly pursued. This is as it should be.