César Arredondo is one of the Cuban radio hosts who participated in the news coverage of the tragic terrorist event on October 6, 1976 when a Cubana de Aviación airliner was blown off the coast of Barbados. By recalling this experience, the renowned radio host confirms us that 35 years ago it as a moment where communication became a means for mediation, solidarity and collective condemnation.
“Since we announced the news of the fall of the CU-455 aircraft, from Cubana Airlines brought down by a bomb planted in the plane that exploded near the Caribbean island, all the media in the country began to give special coverage. I worked on Liberation Radio at the time; it was located in the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT). The news came as a shock to everyone in the room and it caused a strong repudiation.
“The role of us as broadcasters was to convey the feeling of grief and dismay that the country was living. The messages not only reached the homes of Cubans. The international waves of Radio Havana Cuba spread the news to all the world.
“I remember when the exact number of casualties was revealed: 73 people (57 Cubans, 11 Guyanese and five Koreans) died in the bombing. The people, in shock, called to express condemn and they were aired to show people’s reaction to the terrorist attack.
“On October 14, the caskets were exposed at the base of the monument to Jose Marti in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana. National radio and television were also there. In those years, we were the main radio announcers of public events. The journalists worked as reporters, basically. Official mourning was declared that day nationwide.”
Arredondo recalled that the microphones were located at the exit of the Memorial. He and other announcers broadcast the thoughts and feelings expressed by relatives of those killed in Barbados and the people attending the funeral.
“We interviewed the people who came to pay tribute to the victims. Everyone was shocked. You could feel they were in deep grief. People who attended that evening felt a strong repulsion for the perpetrators of the terrorist act. “
According to our interviewee said, those days were very intense in newsrooms and audio booths in radio stations. “The media joined the feelings of the people to condemn the crime of Barbados from Cuba and the world.”
Translated by: Daysi Olano