President David Granger said that the Caribbean cannot afford to be theatre of warfare and terrorism, but instead must focus on being a zone of peace. However, he noted that this can only be realised if international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of small Caribbean states are respected. The Head of State made these remarks, today, at a memorial ceremony in observance of the 41st anniversary of the Cubana de Aviación Terrorist Attack.
“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 the victims of the Cubana terrorist attack. We assemble annually before this monument to memorialise the human cost of terrorism and warfare,” the Head of State told those gathered at the Cubana Air Disaster Monument at the University of Guyana, Turkeyen Campus, where the ceremony was held.
The 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. The President said that these four Anglophone Caribbean states had, four years earlier in December 1972, made the courageous démarche of establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and noted that bombing could not have been unrelated.
Meanwhile, Ambassador of Cuba to Guyana, Mr. Julio Cesar Gonzalez Marchante said that, “all of us and especially the new generations must know the truth about how the evils against Cuba and other nations of the hemisphere were articulated in those times.”
The Ambassador said that the act of terrorism perpetrated against Cuba is responsible for the mourning and pain for numerous Cuban families as well as the destruction of property. He reminded that terror attacks in Cuba resulted in the death of 3,478 people and over 2,099 maimed and or disabled. “Cuba rejects double-standards and unilateral actions contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and to the principles and norms of international law. May it serve this commemoration, to reiterate Cuba’s unwavering will to fight against terrorism and to state its firm rejection and condemnation of all terrorist acts, methods and practices in all its forms and manifestations regardless of their motivation,” Ambassador Marchante said.
In 2010, Cuba declared October 6 as ‘Day of victims of state terrorism’ in remembrance of those who died on the fateful flight on October 6, 1976, when a bomb detonated shortly after take-off from the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados. Everyone on board the flight perished, including 11 Guyanese nationals, six of whom were going to Cuba to study medicine. The names of the Guyanese who died that day were: Mr. Raymond Persaud, Mr. Rawle Thomas, Ms. Jacqueline Williams, Ms. Rita Thomas, Mr. Harold Norton, Mr. Gordon Sobha, Ms. Anne Nelson, Ms. Margaret Bradshaw, Ms. Violet Thomas, Ms. Sabrina Harrypaul and Mr. Seshnarine Kumar. (Story and photos by MOTP)