Cuban-Americans in Miami condemn arson against Cuba travel company

By NY Net News
Posted on 04 May 2012 at 1:13pm

HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) — Groups of Cuban-American residents in Miami strongly condemned a deliberate fire that last Friday gutted the offices of Airlines Brokers, a charter line in Coral Gables specializing in flights to Cuba.

“We regard this criminal action as a terrorist attack, not only against this company, but also against the right of all American citizens to travel to Cuba and, particularly, to share time with and to help their families,” read a statement signed by groups including the Alianza Martiana, the Antonio Maceo Brigade, the Jose Marti Association, the Bolivarian Circle of Miami, and the Association of Christian Women in Defense of the Family, among others.

“Terrorist actions like this one violate democracy,” added the text, which urges the US government to lift all Cuba travel bans and calls on local and federal authorities to conduct a swift and thorough investigation that can lead to bringing a prosecution against the culprits.

“As long as terrorists walk the streets of Miami as free men, actions like this one will continue to be perpetrated by them or by others who think and act like them,” the statement warned.

After pointing out that neither congresspersons nor any other elected public servants of the state of Florida have condemned the attack, the document adds that it must be done as soon as possible because the situation is “truly disgraceful.”

“I thought we had moved past the era of terrorist acts,” said Airline Brokers owner Vivian Mannerud, referring to the 1970s and 1980s, when Miami was the scene of politically motivated arson attacks and car-bombings targeting perceived Cuba government sympathizers and people doing business with the Caribbean nation.

Mannerud, who has been active in several humanitarian campaigns in Cuba and Haiti, played a major role in helping the Miami archdiocese organize the trip by more than 300 pilgrims to Cuba to take part in Pope Benedict XVI’s three-day visit last month.

Airline Brokers is one of a number of charter companies that fly to Cuba from airports in Miami, as well as a growing number of other US cities, including Tampa, New York and Los Angeles, under special Treasury Department licenses.

Mannerud said her company has seven flights a week from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Despite losing all the office computers, she said she planned to continue taking bookings, adding that the company’s Cuba flight schedule would not be affected.

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