MIAMI, (Reuters) – Orlando Bosch, a militant anti-communist Cuban exile who spent 11 years in jail in Venezuela for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner but was later acquitted, died in Miami today. He was 84.
A statement from his family said the death of Cuba-born Bosch followed “a long and painful illness.”
It did not give a specific cause of the death of Bosch, who has been hailed by many in Miami’s Cuban exile community as a hero for his long-standing opposition to Fidel Castro and Cuba’s communist government.
The Cuban government website cubadebate.com reported his death, calling him a “terrorist.”
Bosch was jailed in Miami in February 1988 when he entered the United States illegally from Venezuela, where he had been finally acquitted in the 1976 Cuban airliner bombing in which 73 people were killed.
He was freed in 1990 after the U.S. government failed to find a country willing to accept him as a deportee.
Prior to his arrival in Miami, Bosch spent 11 years in a Venezuelan prison for the bombing, which he was accused of planning along with fellow anti-Castro exile Luis Posada Carriles.
More than 40 years ago, Bosch was convicted and jailed in the United States for firing a bazooka at a Polish freighter docked in Miami port. He fled the United States in 1974, violating his parole.
Posada Carriles, 83, was recently tried in El Paso, Texas, on charges of lying to U.S. immigration officials about how he sneaked into the United States in 2005 and about his alleged role in bombings of Cuban tourist sites in 1997.
He was acquitted on all charges by a Texas jury after a 13-week trial, which Cuban officials condemned as “theater.”