Orlando Bosch, Cuban Exile Militant, Dies at 84

Orlando Bosch, a hero to many in Miami's Cuban exile community and an unrepentant terrorist to others, has died at the age of 84 in Miami after a prolonged fight with illness. Bosch, a fierce anti-Castro militant, had been linked to several violent acts in his life, including the bombing of a Cuban plane and several dynamite bombings in South Florida. Though many within the American intelligence community viewed Bosch as a dangerous terrorist, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and a young Jeb Bush worked tirelessly to have him pardoned of his crimes.

Born in Cuba in 1926, Bosch became a physician in his native land before becoming an armed anti-Castro guerrilla. He eventually went into exile in South Florida but still took part in the planning of several attacks against Cuba.

Bosch became connected with several militant anti-Castro groups and had some contact with the CIA in the early '60s. In 1968 he was arrested for firing a recoilless rifle at a Polish freighter from the Port of Miami, and after being released from prison in 1972, he fled America and showed up in Venezuela. There he took part in bombings of Cuban buildings.

He was arrested in 1976 for the bombing of Cubana Flight 455, which killed 73 people. Bosch was later acquitted of the charges. Some also connected Bosch to the bombings of Mackey Airlines offices in Fort Lauderdale after the carrier announced plans to offer flights to Cuba, but that was never proven.

He maintained that the communist Cuban government had tried to tie him to numerous violent incidents in which he had no hand.

Bosch popped back up in Miami in 1988 and was promptly arrested for violating parole. He was considered a hero in the exile community, and Ros-Lehtinen and her then campaign manager Jeb Bush successfully pressured President George Bush, Jeb's father, to pardon Bosch of all American charges. Though many members of the Bush administration at the time considered Bosch a terrorist.

He lived the rest of his life in Miami as a free man, and though all of his bombs did little to deter the socialist march of the Castro regime, he remains a hero to many in the Magic City.

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