written for RATB by Ben Watson, 08 May 2011.
On Wednesday 27 April 2011, Orlando Bosch Avila died peacefully, after a four-month spell in a hospital in Miami at the ripe age of 84 years. His wife, Adriana Bosch said she wants her husband to be remembered as a great father, husband and doctor. His daughter, Karen Bosch added: ‘I never considered him a violent man, growing up with him and I don’t relate him to any violence’. Thank goodness for family, as there are many who would disagree and with good reason.
Orlando Bosch was born in Cuba on 18 August 1926 (within a week of his contemporary, Fidel Castro) in Potrerillo village, 150 miles east of Havana. His father was a policeman and later a restaurant owner. His mother was a teacher.
In 1946 Bosch enrolled in the medical school at the University of Havana where he first met Fidel. Both were leading figures in their respective fields: Bosch was president of the medical school student body while Fidel was head of the law school student body.
The two men, from similarly middle class backgrounds, became allies. Bosch participated in the struggle against dictator Fulgencio Batista, which culminated in the successful 1959 revolution headed by Fidel. During the struggle, Bosch fled to the United States to escape arrest. On his return, Fidel rewarded Bosch with an appointment as governor of a province. The relationship turned sour as Bosch rejecting the radicalization of the revolutionary process. He quit and retreated to the mountains in central Cuba to lead an armed rebellion against the revolution. By mid-1960, Bosch returned to the United States with his family. According to his autobiography he refused to participate in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion because the USA had refused to help his rebellion.
The US National Security Archive Bosch records that Bosch was in contact with the CIA in 1962 and 1963. He became a case officer for Operation 40, a covert operation to mount another Cuban exile invasion force to depose Fidel. He also ran the Insurrectional Movement of Revolutionary Recovery (MIRR), one of a number of ultra-violent Cuban exile groups which launched attacks against their native country, killing innocent families and destroying agriculture crops. Overthrowing and killing Fidel became Bosch’s sole mission in life.
The following are a few examples of his activities:
1964: Arrested in Miami for ‘towing a homemade, radio-operated torpedo through downtown in rush-hour traffic’.
1965: Arrested for attempting to smuggle bombs out of the country.
1966: Arrested for ferrying ‘six dynamite-stuffed, 100 pound surplus aerial bombs’ up the Tamiami Trail ‘to a secret base where there was a boat we could use to bomb Castro’.
None of these charges resulted in convictions.
1970: Finally convicted for misfiring a bazooka at a freighter docked at the Port of Miami, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison but paroled after only 4 years! He violated the terms of his parole by leaving the US for other Latin American countries when he was wanted for questioning in connection with the assassination of another Cuban exile leader, Jose Elias de la Torriente.
1974-1976: US authorities rejected offers from Venezuela and Costa Rica to return him to the United States.
1976: Bosch helped found the Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU), an umbrella organization for the most extreme anti-Castro groups. US government documentation shows that CORU was directly responsible for 50 terrorist operations in the next 5 years. The most lethal operation happened on 6 October 1976, just west of the Caribbean island of Barbados, when 2 bombs were set-off on a Cubana Airlines civilian aeroplane in mid-air, killing all 73 people on-board.
The CIA, who had been keeping track of Bosch and his associates for years, identified Bosch, along with CORU co-founder Luis Posada, as masterminds for the outrageous action. Other participants were found guilty after trial and sentenced to 20 years, but Bosch’s case dragged on until 1986 when he was acquitted on a technicality.
In 1987, Bosch was arrested in the United States on a parole violation and held for 6 months. The powerful Cuban-American lobby put pressure on wannabe Florida governor Jeb Bush, son of the then President George Bush Senior, to intervene. Despite strong objections from the President’s own Defense Department, which labelled him as one of the most deadly terrorists within the hemisphere, all the charges were dropped and Bosch was released. He had acquired friends in high places.
Federal attorneys told a judge in 1990 that they had tried to deport Bosch to 31 different countries but all had refused to take him. Cuba’s request for Bosch to be sent to back for trial on the island was denied by the United States.
A former US attorney called Bosch an ‘unrepentant terrorist’. With so much evidence stacked against him and no final words of regret or remorse, that is exactly how he should be remembered.