Today 6th October is CARICOM-Cuba Day Against Terrorism
In the “The Bridgetown Declaration - Eighth CARICOM-Cuba Summit, Bridgetown, Barbados, 6 December 2022,” 6th October was declared as the CARICOM-Cuba Day Against Terrorism “in memory of the 73 people who died including CARICOM and Cuban nationals in the bombing of the Cubana Airlines in the waters off Barbados on 6th October 1976 and for which there has been no accountability.”
About ten (10) minutes after take-off from the Seawell Airport (renamed the Grantley Adams International Airport) in Barbados, at an altitude of approximately 18,000 feet, two bombs exploded on board Cubana Flight #455 killing all onboard. There were forty-eight (48) passengers and a crew of twenty-five (25). Those on board included fifty-seven (57) Cubans, eleven (11) Guyanese, and five (5) North Koreans.
Among the dead were all twenty-four (24) members of Cuba’s 1975 national fencing team that had won gold medals in the Central American and Caribbean Championships. Among the Guyanese killed were students Eric Norton (18 years), Ann Nelson (18 years), Seshnarine Kumar (18 years), Jaqueline Williams (19 years) and Rawle Thomas (18 years); Margaret Bradshaw – the spouse of a Guyanese diplomat; Gordon Sobha – economist; Violet Thomas and Rita Thomas; and Sabrina Harripaul (9 years). The young students were going to Cuba to study medicine, engineering and other disciplines.
Cubana Flight #455 had several stops: Guyana-Trinidad and Tobago-Barbados-Jamaica-Cuba. A day earlier, on 5 October, two Venezuelan nationals, flew from Caracas, Venezuela, to Port of Spain, Trinidad and both were able to get seats on the Cubana flight to Havana. However, upon arrival in Barbados, the pair got off the aircraft and flew back to Trinidad. Several hours after the bombing, police in Trinidad tracked down and detained the two Venezuelan men. In the wake of the bombing, a threat to BWIA was reported in Bridgetown, Barbados and security at Piarco International Airport was increased.
The downing of Cubana Flight #455, a civilian airliner, was an act of terrorism. The alleged masterminds of the bombing, Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch who were of Cuban origin and rumoured to have linkages with anti-Castro groups in exile in North America, never paid a price for their roles in that act of terrorism. Nevertheless, in spite of the trauma associated with the bombing of Cubana Flight #455 in 1976, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago resolved to continue to build lasting bilateral relations with Cuba in subsequent years. Monuments in remembrance of the bombing were unveiled in Barbados and Guyana and a plaque was unveiled in the Atrium of the Piarco International Airport in October 2016 – the fortieth anniversary of the bombing.
Let us remember and honour the 73 victims of the terrorist tragedy of 06th October 1976!
See below for coverage in the Trinidad Guardian of the detention of the Venezuelans, threat to the BWIA (now CAL) office in Bridgetown, Barbados and increased security measures at the Piarco International Airport as well as photographs of the 57 Cubans and 11 Guyanese killed in the bombing.
Figure 1: Front page Trinidad Guardian 9 Oct 1976
Dr. Eric Williams speaks at signing of Treaty of Chaguaramas on 4 July, 1973
In this season of Independence and Republic Day for Trinidad and Tobago and ongoing celebration of the 50th Anniversary of CARICOM, we should reflect on the address delivered by Dr. Eric Williams during the signing ceremony for the Treaty of Chaguaramas on 4th July 1973 at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre. Dr. Williams was the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and presided over the proceedings of the ceremony. He was one of the original four (4) signatories of the Treaty of Chaguaramas.
Figure 1: Dr. Eric E. Williams
Dr. Eric Eustace Williams
was born on 25 September 1911. He attended Queen’s Royal College (QRC)
where he excelled academically. He won
an island scholarship in 1932 to undertake tertiary studies at Oxford
University. Having attained a first
class honours degree in History in 1935, Williams decided to pursue a Doctor of
Philosophy degree in History. He
completed his doctorate in 1938 and his doctoral thesis which was
entitled The Economic Aspects of the Abolition of the Slave Trade and
West Indian Slavery, was published as Capitalism and Slavery.
From the public platform in Woodford Square, on 15 January 1956, Dr. Williams inaugurated his own political party, the People’s National Movement (PNM). He became the Chief Minister of Trinidad and Tobago in 1956, Premier in 1959 and led Trinidad and Tobago to Independence from the United Kingdom on 31st August, 1962. Dr. Williams was the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and held that position until his passing on 29 March, 1981. He also led Trinidad and Tobago to attain status as a Republic in 1976.
Williams was an advocate of regional integration and even after the collapse of the West Indies Federation in 1962 and Trinidad and Tobago’s attainment of independence in that same year, between 1963 to 1973, he hosted several meetings of the Heads of Government of Commonwealth Caribbean Countries in Port of Spain.
Caribbean Wellness Day 2023
Caribbean Wellness Day is celebrated by CARICOM countries on the second Saturday in September, and forms part of the Region’s strategy to promote health and prevent and control the rates of Non-Communicable Diseases or NCDs.
The concept for Caribbean Wellness Day was agreed at the Regional Summit on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) held on 15 September, 2007 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago under the theme “Stemming the Tide of Non-Communicable Diseases in the Caribbean.” The Regional Summit was historic and its outcome document is called the Port of Spain Declaration.
Over the years, CARICOM Member States have worked towards enhancing the awareness of their populations on the threat posed by NCDs to their health and well-being. The overall theme for the celebration of Caribbean Wellness Day over the period 2020 – 2024 is “Power Through Collective Action.”
Let us celebrate Caribbean Wellness Day 2023!
Photographs from the Regional Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), 15 September, 2007 - Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Figure 1: Heads of Government & CARICOM Secretary General
Figure 2: From Left - Prime Ministers of St. Vincent & the Grenadines (Dr. Ralph Gonsalves), Trinidad & Tobago (Mr. Patrick Manning), and Jamaica (Mr. Bruce Golding)
Figure 3: Trinidad & Tobago Display on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)
Figure 4: Prime Minister of Barbados (Mr. Owen Arthur)
Salute to Jamaica's Independence
On 6th August, 2023, Jamaica, our sister CARICOM State, celebrated its 61st Anniversary of Independence. Congratulations to the Government and people of Jamaica.
In honour of CARICOM’s 50th Golden Jubilee and Jamaica’s Independence, it is fitting that we can be inspired by this excerpt from the address delivered by one of CARICOM’s founding fathers, the then Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mr. Michael Norman Manley, on 4th July, 1973 during the signing ceremony for the Treaty of Chaguaramas. This blast from the past brings back memories!
CARICOM 50th Anniversary - Activities in Brasilia
In honour of the CARICOM 50th Anniversary, on 9 July, 2023, Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador to Brazil, His Excellency Gerard Greene, hosted the diplomatic corps, Brazilian officials, the media and other guests to a Luncheon at the Residence. The event was a fitting celebration of CARICOM’s Golden Jubilee.
on 12 July, 2023, Ambassador Gerard Greene and other Heads of CARICOM Diplomatic Missions, participated in a tree planting ceremony at the Botanical Gardens in Brasilia. The ceremony was organised in collaboration with the Government of the Federal District. Ambassador Greene and his diplomatic colleagues are well aware that tree plantings build community spirit, benefit the environment and help to prevent soil erosion.
Congratulations to Ambassador Greene and his CARICOM colleagues for organising this event.
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