Agency suffers arson attack for Cuba tours

News from Cuba | Sunday, 15 July 2012

A fire at a Florida based travel company which organised licensed tours to Cuba was found to be started intentionally say fire investigators. 

According to the Miami Herald, "A K-9 dog trained to detect accelerants led investigators to three separate spots where the fire at the Airline Brokers Co. began, including an area where a shattered green bottle was found. Investigators also found a disposable lighter in a doorway" At the beginning of June, investigators released FBI photos of a 'vehicle of interest.' Nearly a month has gone by and no suspects have been arrested or named. 

Airline Brokers Co., in Coral Gables, Florida, organises trips to Cuba, including recently a high-profile pilgrimage by Catholics to the island for the Pope's visit in March.

This attack was not a random street crime. "I am afraid it was intentional," Vivian Mannerud, the owner said at the time, "because of the indignation over the pope's visit."

In the '70s and '80s, similar acts of violence and intimidation were commonplace in the Miami area, but have significantly decreased, to the point of being unheard of in the last decade.

Though Vivian Mannerud, the owner, reported receiving death threats in the past, she stated that she had not received any prior to the fire. 

In June, the group Cuban Americans for Engagement (CAFÉ) released a statement urging elected officials "to denounce this act of terrorism, no matter the ideology or political position of the victim or the perpetrator...and call publicly for total cooperation with the authorities in the identification and capture of the author or authors of this callous and cowardly attack."

Not one of Florida’s Congresspeople or Senators have so far acknowledged or condemned the attack.

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