IN commemorating the 36th anniversary of the Cubana Air Disaster, the Cubana 455 Monument, erected to honour the memory of the persons who perished in the disaster, was yesterday unveiled at the University of Guyana (UG), Turkeyen Campus by President Donald Ramotar and Cuban Charge D’Affaires, Praxedes Louit Nordit.
In feature remarks, President Ramotar stated that he believes the monument is properly placed because five of the Guyanese who perished that day were students on their way to study in Cuba.
He said that the university is the fitting place for the monument so that persons can forever pay homage to the victims of that terrible disaster.
The president related that it is important for people to understand that the Cubana Air Disaster was one of acts of terrorism used in the early period of political struggles.
“It was at the height of the Cold War, a time when reason seemed to have taken wings, when the mentality that if you are not with me you’re against me prevailed in international relations throughout the world, and therefore someone’s terrorist was another one’s hero,” he stated.
According to President Ramotar, that was the mentality that the Cold War period induced in people at that time.
“We have always held the view that no political objective can justify actions of this nature, and I firmly believe that we cannot aspire to lofty goals with dirty and bloody hands. That is what I’m sure we cannot do,” he stressed.
He explained that in the time of the Cold War, violence and terrorism were carried out all over the world. Nevertheless, he said that Guyanese, Cubans and Koreans can take some pride in the fact that their brothers and sisters who lost their lives in the Cubana attack did not die in vain, because today, most of those countries that were gripped in violence are free, and colonialism has been almost completely wiped out.
President Ramotar noted that the Cold War has ended and there is new thinking taking place.
“We see now that terrorism is being condemned right across the board, whether you are left or right, whatever the colour of your political views, terrorism is now being condemned; but unfortunately it still has not been rooted out from political struggles,” he stated.
He pointed out that the evidence of terrorism is still visible in many countries around the world and referred to the famous attack on the United States by terrorists on September 11, 2001.
He stated too that terrorist actions are constantly taking place in countries such as Russia and in the Middle East.
Nevertheless, the Head of State stressed: “…it is something that we constantly have to fight against and we have to renew our resolve to do so.”
He asserted that whether it is for local political ends or for international political ends, terrorism cannot be justified.
President Ramotar stated that cases involving terrorist attacks need to be reviewed again, as this will send a strong signal everywhere that no one, no force, no political force and no state will tolerate terrorism as a form of political struggle.
In addition, he said that he believes that the best way to honour the memories of those who fell foul and victim to this terrible act is to continue to work to make whatever contribution can be made, recognising that Guyana is a small, developing country, and that its foreign policy must constantly be geared to promoting peace among peoples in every part of the world.
“… peace and friendship, promoting understanding; this is what is important for us, whatever contribution we can make in that way, that is what we want to do,” he added.
Cubana de Aviacion Flight 455 was a Cuban flight from Barbados to Jamaica that was brought down by a terrorist attack on October 6, 1976. All 73 passengers on board perished, including 57 Cubans, 5 Koreans and 11 Guyanese.