by Jane Franklin
As millions of us shuffle shoeless through airport security lines, few remember that the age of civilian airline terrorism began 31 years ago, on October 6, 1976, when two bombs exploded aboard a civilian passenger plane, killing all 73 people aboard. Cubana Airlines Flight 455 had just taken off from Barbados headed for Havana. Thanks to rapid work by police in Barbados and Trinidad, two bombers were arrested within 24 hours, and their capture led directly to the arrests in Venezuela of Cuban-born terrorists Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch, charged with masterminding the bombing.
Posada escaped while awaiting trial and continued his career of terrorism that began when he came to the United States from Havana after the Cuban revolution. At that time, Posada joined thousands of Cubans being trained by the CIA to bring down the government of Cuba. As he bragged to New York Times journalists in 1998, “`The CIA taught us everything--everything….They taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage.’” After his escape from Venezuela, he operated from Central America with the impunity of a CIA asset. Posada knew he would always have the support of the CIA and plenty of money from the Cuban American National Foundation, the wealthy and influential group based in Florida and New Jersey.
In 2005, he entered Florida illegally and made the mistake of holding a press conference in Miami. This forced the FBI to arrest him, and he was held for trial. But what was he to be tried for? Not for overseeing the explosions that killed the passengers and crew aboard that civilian airliner. Not for orchestrating the fatal 1997 bombing campaign aimed at tourists in Havana hotels and restaurants about which he openly boasted. Not for his many attempts to assassinate the head of a foreign government, Fidel Castro. No, Posada was facing trial on seven minor charges of immigration fraud. ... (for exclusive consideration of this piece contact us)
Jane Franklin is the author of Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History (Ocean Press).
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