Cubans angry 'terror' suspect free
Accuse U.S. of double standard by releasing man wanted in bombing of Cubana jet in 1976
by Keith Bolender
May 29, 2007
Reprinted from The Toronto Star
HAVANA–More than 30 years have passed since Jorge de la Nuez was told he'd never see his father again, but he still remembers that afternoon like it was yesterday.
De la Nuez was 7 years old and living in a small house just outside of Havana when his mother held him in her arms and told him the news that would forever change his life. Now 38, he is one of dozens of Cubans who continue to suffer with the memory of lost loved ones who were killed on Oct. 6, 1976 when a Cubana Airlines DC-8 exploded out of the skies over Barbados.
That act of terrorism killed 73 people: 57 were Cubans, 11 Guyanese and five North Koreans. Most of the Cubans were members of the national youth fencing team, which had just won the Central American Championships in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.
De la Nuez's memory was made all the clearer this month when he received word that the man accused of masterminding the act, Luis Posada, was freed after a United States judge threw out immigration fraud charges. Posada had entered the United States illegally in 2005, and at that time authorities said he lied about how he came into the U.S. The charges were dismissed in Houston and now Posada is expected to move to Miami, where Orlando Bosch, the other Cuban-American believed to have planned the bombing, lives.
Previously, an immigration judge ruled that Posada be deported for his illegal entry – but not to Cuba, where he was born, or Venezuela, where he is a naturalized citizen, because of fears that he could be tortured. Federal authorities have been unable to find a country that would accept Posada. Canada has rejected a formal request.
De la Nuez is a member of a Cuban organization for the families of the victims of the Cubana disaster. They meet regularly for emotional support, and have their own website. Group members have also been in touch regularly with their Sept. 11, 2001 counterparts in the U.S..;The destruction of the Cubana flight was the worst act of air terrorism in the Americas before 9/11.
"We offer each other support, we tell them we know what their families are going through – we've been going through it for the past 30 years. There are links between us, strong links," de la Nuez says.
He finds it difficult to understand why the man accused of planning the attack is now walking free.
"All these people killed, the families destroyed, and nothing has happened to anyone. There has been no justice. To me, terrorism is terrorism. There is no good terrorism, no bad terrorism. And I keep asking myself, why was my Dad killed, just because of a different point of view?"
Posada, 79, has long been accused by the Cuban government of plotting the bombing of the airline. He had been charged in a Venezuelan court for the crime, but escaped prison in 1982 before the trial ended. Cuba has also accused Posada, who was trained by the CIA during the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, of assassination attempts against Fidel Castro and a series of bombings in Havana hotels in 1997 that killed an Italian tourist.
De la Nuez still remembers the intense emotions of the day he found out what happened to his father.
"A friend of my mother and father was coming over to pick me up at school and take me to my house. So when this friend got to the school I kept asking him, `How's my Dad, is he fat, did he bring me any toys, did he bring me anything?'
"But my friend couldn't bring himself to tell me anything, he saw my happy face and didn't have the strength to say what he knew."
When de la Nuez got home, he ran up the stairs to greet his mother. "But when I got to the top of the stairs she was crying, and I couldn't understand why she'd be sad with my Dad coming home. But she grabbed me, gave me a big hug and said I wouldn't be able to see my Dad anymore. It took me many years to begin to understand."
Carlos Manuel Permuy lost his father, Manuel, in the plane crash. His father was head of the Cuban fencing delegation. For 31 years Carlos has steadfastly called for Posada to be put on trial, as an important way to show the United States "is consistent with what it says regarding terrorism. President Bush himself said there is no justification for terrorism, no matter what political, religious or social motive. Let them now prove it."