Address of His Excellency Brigadier David Granger President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana at the Ceremony to Observe the 4oth Anniversary of the Cubana de Aviación Terrorist Attack
Ministry of the Presidency, Guyana, Thursday, October 6, 2016
The Cooperative Republic of Guyana recalls, with anguish, the bombing of the Cubana de Aviación flight CU 455 on 6th October 1976. Forty years have elapsed since this crime was committed. The passage of time has not diminished our pain at the loss of eleven young Guyanese lives on board that flight.
The Cubana terrorist attack was the deadliest terrorist incident in the western hemisphere up to that time. The flight originated in Guyana, proceeded to Trinidad and Tobago then to Barbados. It was en route to Jamaica with the aim of terminating in Cuba.
Four Caribbean Community countries – Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica – in December 1972, four years earlier, had made the courageous démarche of establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. All four capitals were on the itinerary of Cubana de Aviación flight CU 455.
The Cubana terrorist attack ensnared the Caribbean Community in a Cold War conflict which was not of the Region’s making. The terrorist attack constituted an assault on the freedom-loving peoples of the Caribbean. It was an attack on the right of the small states of the Region to determine their international relations in their own national interest.
The Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community and Cuba, at the Second CARICOM-Cuba Summit in Barbados in December 2005, urged the government of the United States of America to consider favourably, the request for the extradition of the suspect to Venezuela in order to ensure that he is brought to justice on charges of terrorism, in accordance with states’ obligations under international law and their own national legislation.
Guyanese, today, remember the victims of the Cubana terrorist attack. We are assembled here before a monument to memorialize the human cost of terrorism and to consider the political cost to small states, which seek to exercise their sovereignty and independence.
We intend that, by remembering the horror of the past at this solemn commemoration, we could spare present and future generations of Caribbean citizens of the recurrence of such transnational crimes.
The observance of the fortieth anniversary of the Cubana terrorist attack takes place in the year that Guyana celebrates its fiftieth anniversary of its political independence. We recall that our national independence was won by the sacrifice of those who were prepared to give their lives for the principles for which they stood. Let it not be that the blood of the victims of this terrorist attack was shed in vain.
Guyana abhors the crime of international terrorism whenever and wherever it occurs.
Guyana reasserts its complete rejection of the use of force to settle controversies between states.
Guyana reassures the world of its commitment to ensure that the Caribbean remains a zone of peace.
Guyana honours the memory of the martyrs of 6th October 1976. We will never forget them.
I thank you.