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October 6th - the bombing of Cubana remembered
by Karen Wald

Today, October 6, was the 23rd anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the Cubana airlines flight as it left Barbados in 1976. The plane had taken off from Caracas, Venezuela with 73 people aboard. All died. Of those, 19 were members of the junior fencing team (mostly 18, 19 and 20 year olds) who had just won all the gold medals at a fencing competition in Caracas.

The sports news paid special attention to this date, and showed the thousands of people --especially athletes and student athletes -- who took part in a pilgrimage to the cemetery, as they do every year, to place wreaths of flowers on the collective tomb for those who have died in the course of the Revolution. Former teammates and instructors talked about the young athletes who died in that horrendous counterrevolutionary explosion aboard the airliner, and the TV camera scanned pictures of these young men and women -- most of whom were black.

Many others died on that flight: -- the entire crew (which included the wife of Cuban documentary filmmaker Santiago Alvarez, the director of "NOW!" -- a prize-winning short on the US Civil Rights struggles -- and "79 Springtimes" about Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh, among many others) , visitors from Korea and Guinea. But the greatest emotional impact was, naturally, these young people, just starting life, filled with the joy of just having won gold medals for their team and their country.

It is not lost on Cubans that the masterminds of the airplane bombing, spirited out of Venezuelan prison by bribing jailers and judges, still enjoy the protection of the US government and CIA. Luis Posada Carilles, who walked out of the prison and "disappeared", later surfaced as a CIA asset in El Salvador helping run the guns-for-cocaine flights for the Nicaraguan Contras. (He more recently turned up taking credit for the ordering the bombings of a number of Cuban hotels and restaurants that left one Italian-Canadian visitor dead, others scarred and mutilated, and many more traumatized.)

The other, Orlando Bosch, freely walks the streets of Miami, after a judge was persuaded to turn down the Immigration Department's request to deport him as a proven and repeated terrorist. Bosch was allowed to remain free under a form of house arrest in which he was "forbidden" from engaging in his previous violent activities and ordered to wear a monitoring device -- measures which he publicly ridiculed.

For Cubans on the island it is not surprising that Bosch would be welcomed as a hero in Miami, where those same rightwing ex-patriots recently convinced another judge to award over 80 million dollars to the families of Cuban-American pilots who repeatedly made provocative, taunting flights over Cuban airspace until two of their planes (Cessnas formerly used in Vietnam and the Contra war) were shot down. The US' double standard as far as terrorism is concerned is well-known to the Cuban revolutionaries: the first "exiles" welcomed with open arms in Miami were the most savage torturers and murderers of Batista's army, Rural Guard and police forces.

But October 6 is always a day marked with sadness for the young civilian victims of the terrorist actions against the revolution, and a new resolve to honor their memories by keeping the revolution alive.

Karen Lee Wald
3ra A #15205 e/ 152 y 154 Nautico, Playa Habana, Cuba
Tel. (537) 218072

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