At around 3:15 a.m. on the morning of April 27, 2012, someone firebombed a Coral Gables, Florida, travel agency that was in the business of organizing legal tourist travel to Cuba.
It was an act of domestic terrorism. But it didn’t get the public — or FBI —attention the recent Boston attacks did, in part because the perpetrators were most likely Cuban-Americans, and because such acts of terror aimed at intimidating anyone who supports a saner approach to Cuban-American relations are still routine in Florida.
No wonder the Cuban government believed it had to send its own agents — like the Cuban Five — to Florida to protect itself from such violence.
Today, on the first anniversary of the still-unsolved terrorist attack, Vivian Mannerud, the president of the agency, compares what happened to her with what happened last week in Boston.
Terror in Miami
by Vivian Mannerud
This coming April 27, 2013, will mark the one-year anniversary of the domestic terrorist attack on my offices in Coral Gables, Florida.
Three incendiary devices where put inside my office in the pre-dawn hours. The effects were total destruction; everything was reduced to ashes.
As I watched the terrorist act in Boston, I could not help but find similarities and differences comparing it to my office fire bombing. Let me be clear, I am in no way comparing both acts as the one in Boston was of much more significance and destruction, to the people, city and our country.
Here is what I learned. Both bombings, Boston and my office, were carried out because of hate. I was lucky that no one died at my office, although the potential was there. As one blog put it: “Too bad she was not inside the office.” [One of] the other tenants of the building who could have been working late, or just someone who works the night shift, walking their dog.
In the case of Boston, there was immediate condemnation from the city, state, and federal officials, and a determination to catch these terrorists. In my case, to this day, not one elected official — and in particular, James Cason, mayor of Coral Gables — has ever come out to denounce this act of terrorism.
I also learned the FBI has the technology to take grainy photographs and make them crystal clear. Yes, there is a grainy photograph of a vehicle of interest in my case, but no FBI technology has ever released the CLEAR PICTURE.
I, like Boston had many people come rally to help me and support me. After all, my “crime” was organizing legal travel to Cuba and, in particular, [during] the pilgrimage for His Holiness Benedict VI to Cuba
The Spanish radio stations were receiving calls celebrating this act, not much different than the Jihadist celebrating in the Middle East the bombing of BOSTON.
As we all know, ones man’s terrorist is another man’s hero.
I wish I could say my case is isolated. It is not. There are many cases of these types of bombing in South Florida, even some that have resulted in death and maiming people. Just because they dare to think differently on Cuba and how we should approach democracy in Cuba.
Gee, I thought we lived in a democratic nation that encourages free thinking.
Here in South Florida, you can lose your life for this. Imagine that. Most of the country would not even believe this has been going on in South Florida — yes, part of the United states of America.
As I watched Yoani Sanchez visit here, I wondered if they told her about these unsolved crimes, or if they told her how at some point people in South Florida would lose their jobs if their employer found out they traveled to Cuba. Or how we too have in South Florida “actos de repudio,” calling you communist, just because you believe in peaceful solutions. Solutions that would help the U.S. and the Cuban people.
So, here it is, a year later,no news, no arrest, no suspects.
I — born in Brooklyn, with an enormous love and pride for my country — was convinced that, this time, they would be caught. I was wrong. It just is not politically correct in South Florida to call these terrorists what they are, TERRORIST. They are called freedom fighters.
I just wonder, whose freedom?
Vivian Mannerud Verble
PresidentAirline Brokers Co.
You can find more on the original story here, including a video news report from the day after the attack.