October 6th, is the 38th anniversary of the first act of terrorism against civilian aviation in the western hemisphere – the unparalleled Cubana air disaster on the coastline of Barbados on October 6, 1976 – the Barbados crime. Cubana flight 455 was hit by two C-4 explosives bombs just after the aircraft took off from the then Seawell Airport (now the Grantley Adams International Airport) in Barbados at an altitude of 18,000 feet.
Rather than crashing into the white sands of the beach called Paradise and killing the vacationers, the Cubana pilot, Wilfredo Pérez Sr., courageously banked the plane away from the beach and towards the Atlantic Ocean, saving the lives of many tourists. It crashed in a ball of fire one mile north of Deep Water Bay. The crash occurred about eight kilometres short of the airport.
Cubana flight 455 was a routine, scheduled commercial, passenger flight of no military significance. There were no survivors. All 73 passengers and five crew members aboard the plane were assassinated: 57 Cubans, 11 Guyanese, and five North Koreans.
Among the dead were all 24 members of the 1975 Olympic youth fencing team; many were teenagers. The young athletes had just won all the gold medals in the Central American and Caribbean Championship Games, as well as several sport officials of the Cuban Government. They proudly wore their gold medals on board the aircraft.