Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, paying their respects to the 73 passengers and crew of Cubana Airlines Flight 455, who were killed off the coast of Barbados on October 6, 1976. ( S.Maughan/BGIS)

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, has emphasized that the Caribbean Sea must remain a zone of peace.

He was speaking this morning at a wreath laying ceremony held at the Cubana Monument, Payne’s Bay, St. James, which kicked off an official visit to the island by Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla.

Minister Walcott acknowledged the tragic downing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455, which exploded off the coast of Barbados on October 6, 1976, killing all 73 passengers and crew on board. 

He stated: “It was imperative that the pursuit of international peace and security be of paramount importance to Barbados, Cuba and all peace-loving nations.”

Noting that the monument erected at Payne’s Bay, St. James, was a “simple but eloquent tribute to the memory of the victims of the Cubana crash”, he extended “heartfelt condolences and solidarity” to the victims’ families, Governments and peoples of the Republic of Cuba, the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Each year, Barbados joins Cuba and these nations to honour the victims whose names were carved on the monument, and to “denounce this senseless act of terrorism”.

Minister Walcott stressed: “Terrorism constitutes a major threat to the peace and security of the hemisphere, and must be condemned in all its forms. As we commemorate those who perished on that fateful day almost 43 years ago, we must strive towards a world where mutual respect and peace dominate.

“Let us eliminate the seeds of hate, intolerance and terrorism where they exist, and strengthen security and cooperation through our efforts and continue to make the Caribbean Sea a zone of peace.”

Stating that Barbados was proud to have Cuba as a “treasured partner”, he welcomed Minister Rodriguez to the country.

Minister Walcott also disclosed that Barbados and all CARICOM Member States reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the CARICOM-Cuba relationship.

“Our on-going solidarity with Cuba was demonstrated just three days ago at the Sixth Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuba, held in Georgetown, Guyana.

“Barbados and all CARICOM member states recommitted to strengtheing the CARICOM-Cuba relationship, which is based on a deep historical foundation rooted in solidarity, cooperation and complementarity,” he said.

Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said the monument that was erected “is a proud remembrance of the victims of this abhorrent crime”.

He added: “It is also an expression of the sorrow shared by our Caribbean brothers and sisters who were also victims of the abominable attack.  This monument is a permanent tribute to those who fell in these waters, and a confirmation of the rejection of the injustice perpetrated against our people.”

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