Monday, December 19, 2011

The Miami News, March 1, 1968, "Plot to Hijack Cuban Ship Fails" by Bob M. Gassaway.

A Cuban exile said today his group dispatched a heavily armed war party to hijack the Communist ship that rammed its own lifeboat carrying three crewmen fleeing to asylum in the United States. The effort was called "Operation Pueblo."

Dr. Orlando Bosch said U.S. government agents arrested four of the raiders and seized one arms-laden boat for violating federal laws. Later, another member of the group said six men in a second boat returned to Miami without attacking the ship.

Bosch said the 10 men were sent yesterday to hijack the Cuban freighter 26 de Julio which rammed the lifeboat 10 miles off the Virginia Coast Tuesday when three men called "traitor crewmen" by the Fidel Castro government attempted to flee the vessel.

The raiders, Bosch said, "knew where the ship was going and the way it was taking. They could very well have attacked the 26 de Julio if the U.S. government had not interfered."

Fred L. Patton, supervising U.S. customs agent in Miami, confirmed the four men named by Bosch were arrested in a boat carrying arms. Patton said, "they made no statement" about their intentions. The four were jailed on charges of illegal arms exportation.

Patton said the boat was seized off Miami Beach at government cut, an entrance to Biscayne Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.

Bosch told the Associated Press the hijackers "carried weapons and grenades and a 20-millimeter cannon. You can say we assume the responsibility. We were going to hijack the 26 de Julio." He said the boats departed from the Florida Keys.

Bosch, who is secretary general of an exile alliance called the Insurrectional Recovery Movement - Commandos L, identified the quartet as Jorge Gonzalez, Barbaro Balan, Marcos Rodriguez and Andres Garcia. The four were held at the Dade County jail.

Copyright (c) 1968 The Miami News

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