568. 4/1/2003

“A man using two fake hand grenades commandeered a passenger plane from Cuba to Florida on Tuesday [April 1, 2003], in a 14-hour ordeal that, for a few hours at least, united the U.S. and Cuban governments in an effort to stop the hijacking. The truce was short-lived: Within hours of the plane’s landing in Key West, U.S. officials blasted Cuba for incompetent airport security and Cuba accused the U.S. government of being soft on hijackers. The hijacking was the second from Cuba in two weeks. On the heels of harsh criticism from the Cuban government of U.S. response to hijackers from the island, top federal law enforcers in Miami reacted aggressively…The hijackings have occurred in the midst of one of the Cuban government’s biggest crackdowns on island-based dissidents in years…On Monday night, Adermis Wilson Gonzalez, 33, boarded the plane with his wife and son. Wilson brandishes two grenade-like balls and yelled that eh[he] would blow up the plane unless the pilots tool him to Miami, authorities said…Wilson was one of the first people off the plane. He wore a red jacket with the word ‘America’ stitched on the back and carried his son. The boy was handed to a woman who may have been his mother, who was also on the flight…The other passengers were processed by federal agents, their hands bound with plastic handcuffs. The pilot asked to be sent back to Cuba, and some of the passengers may have requested to be allowed to stay in the United States, law-enforcement sources said.”

Jennifer Babson & Oscar Corral, “Hijacked plane from Cuba 2nd in 2 weeks,” The Miami Herald, April 2, 2003

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