Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Miami Herald, May 8, 1976, "Recalling the 'Intellectual' and the 'Radical'" by Dorothy Gaiter.

Antonio de la Cova and Gary E. Latham were as different as night and day to the friends and professors who knew them as students at Florida Atlantic University.

De la Cova, 25, was "unstable, braggadocious," feared by some of the professors in the history department. He carried a gun on campus which frightened students so badly that none would testify to police that he had it, one professor said. He was "a dangerous element."

Latham, 27, was remembered Friday as a "quiet, withdrawn methodical student who kept to himself." He was a very intelligent and maintained a straight-A average, earning a place on the President's Honor List.

Those that saw them together wondered what they had in common. Several people who knew one had never heard of the other.

And yet something during their time together at FAU - before de la Cova withdrew from the University "voluntarily" according to school records - the two became friends, accomplices in some shadowy radical bond that led to their arrest Thursday morning for planting a bomb at an adult book store in Miami's Little Havana.

Undercover police, waiting for them, at the store while de la Cova took a potentially fatal pipe bomb wrapped in a brown paper bag toward the building.

The two were taken into custody on a string of federal and state bomb and-or conspiracy charges. Blas Jesus Corbo, a student at Miami-Dade Community College, was with them and shares the charges.

Friday, U.S. Magistrate J.V. Eskenazi reduced the bond for Latham from $200,000 to $100,000 in cash or securities and Corbo from $200,000 to $50,000 in cash or securities.

De la Cova was not present in the Miami courtroom because he has not hired an attorney and cannot represent himself at a bond reduction hearing.

All that led to the arrest Thursday will unfold in time as the police investigation continues and when the fear of talking about them leaves the hearts of some of those who know them - especially de la Cova.

"Tony" was well known on campus as an anti-Semite who was the information spokesman for the Arab and American Student Organization which in his words, "tenaciously professed a strong anti-Zionist platforms,"

Although he was known to sometimes wear a full army fatigue outfit, complete with boots and a hat, students remember that he participated in an Arab-Israeli debate in 1974 wearing a "very chic pin-striped suit and he tore them (the pro-Israeli speakers) apart." Latham, on the other hand, shunned public attention and kept to himself.

"Tony" often sang at the campus' coffeehouses playing his guitar or harmonica, singing songs he'd written that were patterned after Bob Dylan's style, said G. Beppo, a student who used to operate the coffeehouse. Beppo said the only time he saw de la Cova lose his temper was "when he was being heckled by Israeli students."

Academically, he was a "pretty good student," said Dale Hoak who taught him in four courses before taking another job in Virginia last year. De la Cova "raised a lot of questions about his political activities and there was his attitude towards some of his professors.

"Some of my colleagues (in the history department - Tony was a history major) felt personally threatened and they expressed this. I was also very upset by it and I knew that there was a tension about it," Hoak said.

The "tension was so great, that de la Cova once wrote a letter printed in the student paper, the Atlantic Sun, accusing Dr. Boyd Breslow of grading an exam with "undo influence because of my personal beliefs."

According to the letter, Breslow reconsidered the D he gave de la Cova and "re-evaluated the paper to a C-plus." Breslow refused to talk about the disagreement when questioned by Miami Herald Correspondent C.L. Steele.

An acquaintance of de la Cova who asked not to be identified said he had both a "running dislike and respect for Boyd Breslow."

The "tension" grew, professor Hoak said, with members of the History Department meeting occasionally to "seek his expulsion from campus. But we had problems," Hoak said, "because we couldn't get any evidence that we could use.

"He was not a bad student, but he seemed to be disruptive to campus life to such an extraordinary degree that some of my colleagues actually felt threatened by him. I tried to completely separate his politics from his academic performance, but at the same time, his political activities seemed to border on the violent."

When he sought admission to the school's graduate department, the history department rejected his application and he applied to the University of Miami which accepted him even though Hoak wrote a letter suggesting that they evaluate his extracurricular leanings.

Whether de la Cova did half the "violent" things he boasted of is unknown at this time. Hoak said his accounts of various "escapades with anti-Castro ties in Miami" bordered on being braggadocious, "and one tended not to believe him for that reason."

Barbara Rice, a friend and former editor of the Sun when Tony was on campus, said he became disenchanted with the United States because he felt this country had "betrayed Cuban refugees. The State Department had sold them out and they couldn't get any sympathy from the press. He felt that the only thing left was violence," she said.

She said he talked about carrying out attacks on businesses that had ties with Cuba. However, federal agents late Thursday were trying to link the alleged aborted bomb attempt with bombings of the Miami FBI building, Social Security office, two post offices and a bank.

If Latham had any political philosophy, his professors and friends never heard him talk about it.

One student told Miss Steele that Gary "often talked about having radical friends," but he had "always assumed that they were left wing."

James McGuire, chairman of the Physics Department, said Latham was in class as ususal Wednesday, the day before the bombing attempt and he was "withdrawn."

Other professors told Miss Steele that they were shocked that police had confiscated explosive devices and a shotgun from Latham's apartment.

One teacher of the "straight," bespectacled student said Latham was so smart that, "I'd expect him to build a better bomb" than the contraption de la Cova had Thursday.

But still these were the two students arrested together Thursday. A flamboyant radical and a studious "straight" intellectual - an unlikely couple to be planting a bomb together.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Miami News, May 7, 1976, Editorial "Break, At Last, in Terrorism."

Everyone will hope that the arrests yesterday morning on SW 8th Street provide a genuine break in the wave of murders and bombings that have terrorized this community for the past two years.

In a display of excellent coordination, officers from the FBI and the county's two largest police departments, Miami and Dade County, apprehended three suspects, allegedly on the scene of an attempted bombing. One of the suspects was said to have been carrying an explosive device when the officers closed in.

The arrests obviously resulted from excellent intelligence work over a long period of time. The incident answers, at least in part, criticism that law enforcement agencies were giving the terrorism less attention than it deserved because the victims were Latins.

Common sense tells us that it is early, however, to conclude that the entire wave of terror, which has included scores of bombings, four murders and three murder attempts, will be closed because of these arrests.

Circumstances suggest that the terrorism in its different forms resulted from many possible motives. Certain covert political groups claimed responsibility for a few activities which appeared to be protest oriented, although even those were clouded by speculation that they were inspired by Castro partisans to sow confusion and discord.

Some of the incidents carried undertones of narcotic involvement, and still others were rumored to be simple cases of extortion - the old fashioned American protection racket.

Investigators believe the arrest of the three suspects, who seemed to be deeply involved in the manufacture of explosives, will lead to the apprehension of other persons connected to the terrorism. We hope they are correct.

We also hope that the investigating agencies will provide more information about all this as soon as possible. The break had been a long time coming; the public deserves relief from the anxiety that has hung over the community for the past two years.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami News
The Miami News, May 7, 1976, "How Law Officers Tracked Suspects" by Louis Salome.

A red motorcycle, a dog-eared 15-month-old FBI memo and two bungled bombing attempts led police to make their first arrests in connection with a wave of terrorist bombings that began here two years ago.

A leader in the combined federal and local investigation was FBI agent George R. Kiszynski, a bomb expert. His principal quarry was a 25-year-old former history teacher, Antonio Raphael de la Cova of 960 Le Jeune Rd., who police said had a talent for planting bombs.

Kiszynski eventually pieced together the puzzle which led police in April to implement a seven-week, round-the-clock surveillance of de la Cova.

The hunt started last Nov. 18, when Kiszynski was called in to examine an unexploded pipe bomb left at the front screen door of a University of Miami dormitory apartment. Its occupant, Eliseo Perez-Stable was a staff member of Areito, a Spanish-language magazine which favored peaceful coexistence with Fidel Castro.

While checking out Areito - a national magazine with headquarters in New York and bureaus in several states - Kiszynski learned the name of Vicente Dopico, a member of its editorial board.

Almost four months later, Kiszynski was called in to investigate the attempted fire-bombing of Dopico's home at 450 NW 43rd Place.

As Kiszynski was cruising the area near the Dopico home, he saw a man riding a red motorcycle. Kiszynski followed the motorcycle south on Le Jeune Road and managed to force the rider to the side of the road.

"The rider was a white male, young, about mid-20s, Latin, wearing metal rim aviator glasses and dark clothing" - but as he got out of his car to question the rider, the man took off, fleeing through the yards of two homes.

Kiszynski had gotten a good look at Antonio Raphael de la Cova, but it took some digging and some luck for him to match the name to the face.

With the visual evidence in his head, Kiszynski returned to FBI headquarters here and found a memo written by Agent Joseph S. Dawson dated Jan. 10, 1975, 15 months earlier.

That memo said de la Cova, then a student at Florida Atlantic University, living at 311 SW 31st Ave., Fort Lauderdale, reported to the FBI that he had been accused by police in Boca Raton of stealing documents belonging to one of the officers of Areito. The memo related how de la Cova explained that some students at Florida Atlantic University favored the Castro regime.

To penetrate the magazine's hierarchy and learn more, de la Cova told Dawson, he had become friendly with some of Areito's leaders. But he denied stealing documents and offered to take a lie detector test, according to Dawson's memo.

Kiszynski tracked down a picture of de la Cova and now he had the identity of the man on the red motorcycle he had flagged down a few weeks earlier.

From that time in mid-April, a dragnet of police kept watch on de la Cova's every move. It paid off at 1:30 a.m. yesterday.

Police got the break they wanted Wednesday when a Metro investigation spotted de la Cova "reconnoitering" the 3400 block of SW 8th Street.

That investigator, David S. Nye, recalled that some Cubans had picketed the Mini-Adult Books store at 3458 SW 8th St. a couple of weeks earlier.

The police watch continued that same day and detectives saw de la Cova leave his apartment at 8 p.m. in a faded beige Volkswagen with a sunroof, heading north.

Other detectives saw an old school chum of de la Cova's, Gary E. Latham, leave his home at 1721 NW 15th Vista, Boca Raton, about 7:20 p.m. driving a 1974 Pinto.

At 9:16 p.m., two persons, one of them de la Cova, entered Latham's apartment. The other man was unidentified at the time. Shortly after, Latham returned home and at 9:37 p.m. the trio left in Latham's Pinto.

About 11:10 p.m., the three man returned to Latham's apartment and de la Cova was carrying "what appeared to be a heavy satchel or suitcase," FBI Agent Federico Villalobos said.

Shortly after midnight, the three men headed down Interstate 95 towards Dade County. The brown, three-door Pinto eventually stopped in the 3400 block of SW 8th Street.

Police said de la Cova, carrying a package, and another unidentified white male left the car and walked up 34th Avenue and turned up toward the adult bookstore.

When police moved in to arrest the pair, de la Cova tried to flee, dropping the package.

At this point, a small mystery creeps into the police account: There is no further mention of de la Cova's companion on the street. It is unclear how he escaped and police have refused to comment on the point.

After the arrest of de la Cova, other officers "almost simultaneously" moved in on the Pinto and arrested Latham and a man identified as Blas Jesus Corbo, address unknown.

That makes three men. However, if the police affidavit is accurate, there were four men on the scene - two in the car and two, including de la Cova, on the street.

Another mystery is Corbo himself. Police at first said his address was 660 Collins Ave. Miami Beach. But, the manager of the apartment at the address had no record of Corbo living in the building and other tenants said they had never heard of him.

Much more is known about Latham, who had been chums with de la Cova since elementary school.

When police searched Latham's home in Boca Raton, they found a shotgun, hand grenade, gelatin-type explosives and completed pipe bombs. Police called it a "bomb factory."

There were also reports from police that other parts of the dynamite allegedly planned for use at the adult bookstore were found in Latham's home.

An honor student in physics at FAU, Latham was regarded as virtually a hermit by his neighbors.

"This doesn't sound like the one I know," said Eve Magnuson, a neighbor. "We thought he was a hermit. He never had any visitors. He doesn't know anyone. You hardly knew he was there."

In his apartment, police found several books and publications on bombs, including one on how to defuse bombs by Metro's detonations expert Tom Brodie, who defused the explosive allegedly dropped on 8th Street by de la Cova yesterday morning.

The three men were charged with violating a series of state and federal laws. They are being held in Broward County Jail on $200,000 bond each.

Police have indicated that the arrests may lead to a breakthrough in solving other bombings that have been occurring in the Miami area with increasing frequency in the past two years. Since Jan. 1, 1975, there have been 80 of them attempted, 47 of which resulted in actual detonations.

Police hinted in the affidavits seeking warrants to search the apartments of de la Cova and Latham that the latter may have been involved in a series of five bombings last Dec. 3. But they stopped short of making a direct connection.

The state of terror that has gripped parts of Miami's Cuban community was shown by an incident yesterday afternoon at WQBA, a Spanish-language radio station whose news director, Emilio Milian, had his legs blown off by a bomb last Friday.

A WQBA spokesman said a suspicious-looking package addressed to Milian arrived in the mail. It had no return address.

Station officials promptly evacuated the building and called Metro's bomb squad. The bomb squad arrived and gingerly opened the 10-by-12 inch package.

It contained a Bible.
The Miami News, May 7, 1976, "De la Cova: Two Political Faces... A Fixation on Communism" by Hilda Inclan.

Antonio Raphael de la Cova, whom police arrested early yesterday as he was allegedly about to plant a bomb in an adult bookstore in Little Havana, is a man with two faces, politically and intellectually.

At Florida Atlantic University, where he received his bachelor's degree in history, he was known as a leader among pro-Castro intellectuals, police said.

It's likely he adopted a pro-Castro position at the university in order to infiltrate pro-Castro factions.

In Dade county, where de la Cova taught American history at a private high school, he was widely known as a vehement opponent of Castro.

His alleged attacks on Areito magazine, a national publication which advocated peaceful coexistence with Castro, mesh more with the Dade County version of his political leanings.

De la Cova's grades at FAU were good, and he has been seeking admission to the University of Miami's graduate school.

He was dismissed from his job as an eighth-grade history teacher at the Inter-American Military School at NW 7th Street and 36th Avenue in January because he could not maintain discipline in class.

"But he was a fine teacher," said school principal Pedro Roig.

"His fixation was Communism. He would always be very quiet until somebody brought up the subject of Cuba or Communism. Then, he wouldn't stop talking."

De la Cova, one of four children, had moved in the past year to an apartment at 960 Le Jeune Rd. It was from there that police had watched his every move for seven weeks.

Nancy de la Cova, his mother, said, "What can I tell you about him? I am his mother. If it is true that he was involved, then I can't condone it. I can't justify it. I must condemn this type of activity."

Mrs. de la Cova, who teaches Spanish in a private school during the day in Fort Lauderdale and in an adult education program at night, said, "If he had been stupid, I could understand that he would get involved in something like this. But he was very intelligent."

Rene de la Cova, Antonio father, is a lab technician at the North Broward General Hospital at Pompano.

His family has lived in Fort Lauderdale since July 1966. The family arrived from Cuba in 1961, and moved to Louisville and St. Louis before moving to South Florida.

De la Cova wrote sporadically for the weekly Spanish tabloid Libertad, which was directed by the late Rolando Masferrer, who was victim of a bomb blast last Oct. 31.

Masferrer's politics were mixed and he had many enemies on the right and left.

"This (de la Cova's arrest) has taken everybody by surprise," said Lucilla Masferrer, Masferrer's widow.

"He (de la Cova) was the type of person you would never suspect of terroristic activities. He looked rather harmless, kind of intellectual, a studious type of person."

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami News

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Miami Herald, May 7, 1976, "Explosives, Grenade Seized At Bomb Suspect's Apartment" by Edna Buchanan and Joe Crankshaw.

[Front Page Photo]

Explosives, clocks, a shotgun and a fragmentation grenade were seized from a "hermitish" young college student's Boca Raton apartment Thursday, hours after he and two other students were arrested planting a time bomb at an adult book store in Miami's Little Havana, police and FBI agents said.

Literature and letters which FBI men said were "not political but could pertain to bombings" were also found at the apartment of Gary E. Latham, a 22-year-old straight-A mechanical engineering Florida Atlantic University student.

Latham, Antonio De la Cova, 25, a University of Miami student seeking his masters in history and Blas Jesus Corbo, 21, a student at Miami Dade Community College, are being held in lieu of $200,000 bond each on a string of federal and state bomb and-or conspiracy charges.

Little was known immediately about Corbo.

De la Cova was known as a radical anti-Castroite who taught Cuban history at a military school deplored the spate of bombings that have plagued Miami and wrote about them in the Cuban publication Libertad.

On the campus of Florida Atlantic University, which he attended for two years, students remember him as a radical pro-Castroite who condemned American involvement in the Cuban situation.

Corbo, Latham and De la Cova have no prior records, police said.

Police wouldn't say whether the three were believed tied to any other bombings in the area. But in a search warrant for De la Cova's apartment, Thursday officials said they were looking for a "typewriter used to write threatening communications."

A tri-agency task force of FBI, Miami and Public Safety Department agents waited in darkness on a surveillance that sealed off 10-blocks from SW 32nd to 42nd Avenues at SW 8th Street Wednesday night and early Thursday.

The wait for 30 undercover men ended at 1:30 a.m. whne a brown 1974 Pinto owned by Latham rolled to a stop in a shopping center parking lot 75 yards from the adult book store at 3458 SW 8th St.

The occupational license for the shop - picketed by irate citizens last month - is issued to a man named Al Dowd, S.B.D. Inc., county records show.

De la Cova stepped from the car with a potentially lethal pipe bomb - dynamite wrapped around a pipe with a black powder fuse - in a brown paper sack under his arm, FBI agents said.

"He was walking like it was the middle of noon," a police officer said.

As De la Cova bent over, placing the bomb directly in front of the book shop's yellow door, the undercover men moved in on command, they said, guns drawn and shouting for him to halt.

Instead, he fled, still carrying the bomb, running first east and then west, no more than five feet in either direction, police said.

Seeing agents closing in, he dropped the bomb to the sidewalk, police said and reached for a .38 caliber revolver which fell from his shirt. He and the other two suspects, one of whom was on foot near the car and the other inside the Pinto, were arrested with no resistance.

Police described the suspects' reaction to their arrest as "total shock."

Metro Bomb Squad expert Tom Brodie, on stand-by during the surveillance, quickly dismantled the device.

Later Thursday a Metro bomb disposal truck rolled to the Geneva Apartments at 1721 NW 15th Vista in Boca Raton where Latham has rented a $185-a-month efficiency for two years.

FBI men and Boca Raton police took their search warrant in through a window because "they don't know what to expect, the door could be rigged," an officer said.

They also searched and photographed a grey Volkswagen parked nearby, apparently belonging to Corbo.

"I wouldn't call it a bomb factory," Boca Police Chief Charles McCutcheon told Herald Reporter Dorothy Gaiter, "but there were explosive devices in his apartment." He said his department had been part of the investigation for about two weeks, and that the trio so far has not been linked to other South Florida bombings.

"They do have reason to believe that the bomb found this morning came from this apartment," Chief McCutcheon said.

Two pounds of explosives were removed from the apartment, he said.

FAU declined to release information on Latham's scholastic career based on his right to privacy under the Buckley Amendment. School officials said they sent letters to all 4,000 FAU students advising them of their rights to privacy. Of the 4,000, 27 said they wanted privacy protection.

One of the books found in Latham's apartment, police said, was written by bomb expert Brodie - who stood by during the search to dispose of any explosives.

Neighbors described the 1972 graduate of Stranahan High School in Fort Lauderdale as a quiet, almost "hermitish" loner.

He was clad in blue jeans and a green army coat when arrested. He and De la Cova both wear gold rimmed round eyeglasses.

Neighbors also described De la Cova as "a very quiet man. He's lived alone for slightly more than a year in a single room on the top floor of an apartment house at 960 Le Jeune Rd.

Student President Jim Hardman said De la Cova's friends were primarily Arab students - mostly from the chemistry department.

Campus police say that on May 22, 1974 De la Cova, wearing a Palestine Liberation organization armband, complained that he was shot at by four youths with a shotgun in the campus parking lot.

He shot back four times, he said, with a .22 caliber revolver which he kept in his car. Campus security Lt. George Harper said no arrests were made and no evidence was ever found to substantiate the report.

During that time, students said, De la Cova wore knee high boots and a beret to symbolize his protest image.

Miami friends of De la Cova gave conflicting accounts, describing him as a fiery anti-Communist who left FAU because he felt some teachers were Marxist.

De la Cova wrote articles for Libertad, the Miami Spanish language newspaper whose editor, Rolando Masferrer was killed by a car bomb Oct. 31, 1975.

De la Cova's most recent contribution to Libertad was a Jan. 2, 1976 article detailing Miami's 47 bombings and 33 attempted bombings since January, 1975.

Corbo, a Havana-born permanent resident alien, told police he lives in South Miami Beach, at 660 Collins Ave. People at the apartment said they never heard of him.

Miami Police Chief Garland Watkins was at home, asleep during the wee hours Thursday when Miami FBI Chief Julius Mattson telephoned to say that the joint surveillance was successful.

All three agencies have worked together since November to solve area bombing cases.

The recent bombings, one of which cost WQBA radio station director Emilio Milian his legs last week, have resulted in outraged reaction from the community, police say.

"Community concern has been reflected in information to police agencies," Chief Watkins said.

The investigations and surveillances in past months have been "coordinated at top levels" of all three agencies, Watkins said.

Investigators said they hope the Thursday arrests will lead them to conclusions in other cases and said their efforts are continuing.

"You can't make one neat little package out of all the things that have happened over weeks and months," Watkins said. "We still need as much, or more information from the public."

Investigators said they had no motive for the attempted bombing of the book store.

The store operators gave land lord Soloman Latman notice that they will be closing four days ago, he said. Signs in the store, which feature 25 cent mini-movies, sex devices and magazines, say a 50 percent discount is in effect in a going out of business sale.

The manager, an attractive young woman, said she operates the store for a man in charge who represents out-of-town owners. She declined to give his name.

The $300-a-month, three year lease was signed by Al Dowd, who could not be reached Thursday for comment.

All the tenants in the sprawling building have complained about the adult bookshop since it opened in April, 1975, Latman said.

"He lied to me," Latman says, insisting he was unaware of the type bookstore planned when the lease was signed.

When he asked the potential tenant the type of book shop he said he was told that "Spanish books" would be sold.

Last month a group of demonstrators picketed the store but departed after less than a day. They were objecting to the store's presence, but neighboring businessmen said the demonstrators were strangers.

The store, open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. was extremely busy after 6 p.m. neighbors said.

closest neighbors are a doctor's office on one side and a bakery on the other.

The bookstore manager, who asked that her name not be used, said she knew nothing of the bomb attempt or any threats.

She said she did not know the suspects.

Latham and De la Cova are charged federally with conspiracy to violate civil rights, conspiracy to and attempting to bomb property used in interstate and foreign commerce, and possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Florida charges against them include, carrying a concealed firearm, having a gun while committing a crime, attempting to discharge a destructive device, and possession of a destructive device with intent to harm life, limb or property.

Corbo is charged with conspiracy to commit the violations.

Corbo, and the two others, appeared before the U.S. Magistrate Charlene Sorrentino who advised them of their rights and set a bond hearing for Friday.

She appointed Public Defender Ed Galante to represent Corbo. De la Cova said he would hire his own lawyer and Judge Sorrentino gave him until 10 a.m. Monday.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald
The Miami News, May 6, 1976, "Three Suspects Arrested in Little Havana Bomb Try" by Milt Sosin.

Three men were arrested early today as they allegedly tried to bomb a building in Little Havana in what may be the first crack in an 18-month wave of terrorist bombings here.

FBI Agent-in-Charge Julius Mattson said, "The investigation and these arrests are expected to lead to the solution of some other bombings, including those last December (when seven bombs exploded in a 24 hour period.)"

Federal and local officials refused to link the men arrested to any specific bombing or attribute any motive, and Mattson added it was too early to tell if any of these cases were related to the murders of four Cuban exiles and the attempted murder of three others in the past two years.

In addition to the three arrested in Little Havana last night, federal and local officials were questioning several others in connection with the bombing wave, and said further arrests were expected later today.

FBI agents Metro and Miami police said the arrests of the three in the 3400 block of SW 8th Street resulted from a stakeout that followed a six-month surveillance of a suspected terrorist group.

The FBI identified the suspects as Antonio Raphael de la Cova, 25, of 960 SW 42nd Ave; Blas Jesus Corbo, 21, of an unknown address; and Gary Edward Latham, 22, of 1721 NW 15th Vista, Boca Raton.

They were nabbed after 25 officers from the three agencies had converged upon the scene at 1:30 a.m. while maintaining strict radio silence.

Miami police said the suspects drove to the 3400 block of SW 8th Street and parked their car. Officials said de la Cova got out carrying a small length of pipe packed with dynamite, while Corbo and Latham remained in the car.

As de la Cova walked along the block - composed of stores at the street level with offices on the upper floors - FBI agents and police sprang out of hiding and converged on him.

De la Cova, police said, dropped the bomb in the doorway of a TV appliance store. One police source said the actual target was an "adult book store" and mini-movie establishment at 3458 SW 8th St., but a press conference later in the morning, police spokesmen said they are not positive of the intended target.

Within minutes after the bomb was found, Tom Brodie, head of the Metro bomb squad and one of the nation's leading experts in the field, was at work disassembling it.

"The way we figured it," said one of Brodie's associates at the scene, "Tom had only a minute or so to defuse the bomb. He took it apart right then and there."

Police cordoned the block while detectives combed the area using a metal detector to locate scraps of possible evidence.

The wave of bombings date back to January 1975. There have been 47 bombs that have exploded and 33 that didn't. Federal officials have made no arrests in those cases and frequently blamed the "lack of co-operation" of the Cuban community.

Last December seven bombs exploded in a 24 hour period, one at the Miami police department, another in the State Attorney's office, and others at federal buildings.

The men arrested today were charged under both federal and state laws.

De la Cova was described by neighbors as a quiet, self-effacing man who frequently ran short of money, drove a battered old Volkswagen and a motorcycle, and taught at Inter-American Military Academy, a private elementary school in Little Havana. A secretary at the academy, at 3525 NW 7th St., said de la Cova had worked there but "left three of four months ago."

Latham was said by the FBI to be student at Florida Atlantic University.

His mother, Mrs. John Latham, said her son was a physics major at Boca Raton University and had a 4.0 grade average. "We're baffled," she said. "My son was the quiet type, the kind who just went off to his room and studies." She said he had no involvement in radical politics.

Corbo was studying at Miami-Dade North Community College. Police gave his address as 660 Collins Ave. but the owners of an apartment building there said he had never heard of Corbo. All three suspects are single.

"The surveillance has been going on since last November," a Metro source said today. "Last night, based on certain activities, it became apparent that some kind of a bombing attempt would be made within a few hours.

"The surveillance was stepped up but the exact target did not become known until shortly before the attempt was made. However, we had time enough to move the FBI agents, the Metro Organized Crime detectives and the Miami police into position, and at 1:30 a.m., the suspects showed up and we grabbed them."

A number of other persons were picked up and questioned by the FBI and two of them were taken to the FBI headquarters on Biscayne Boulevard. Their identities were not immediately disclosed.

The structure housing the apparent target of the bomb is an L-shaped, two-story building, with offices above the stores, on the south side of SW 8th Street. In the block of stores, most of which cater to a Latin clientele, are a printing shop, a mini-market, a party service, a physician's office, a beauty shop, an income tax service, the TV appliance store and the adult book store.

Just hours before the arrests, U.S. Sen Lawton Chiles had criticized the FBI in a speech in Miami for its failure to quell terrorist activities in Miami. Chiles could not be reached this morning for comment on the arrests early today.

Chiles also visited Emilio Milian, the news director of radio station WQBA, who last week had both legs blown off by a bomb. Milian is at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami News

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Miami News, May 6, 1976, "Chiles Criticizes FBI Inaction Here" by Louis Salome

U.S. Sen. Lawton Chiles has criticized the FBI for failing to halt the wave of terrorist murders and attempted murders that has gripped Miami for two years.

Just hours after his speech, the FBI, Miami and Metro police arrested three men and detained two others for questioning about bombings.

In his speech in Miami last night, Chiles urged the creation of a special FBI task force to combat the terrorist activity.

Federal agents today indicated the people being held were among a group of men who have been under surveillance since November.

The Lakeland Democrat said he met recently with Deputy U.S. Attorney General Harold Tyler in an attempt to get Tyler to persuade U.S. Attorney General Edward Levi to create the beefed-up task force in cooperation with local law enforcement officials.

Chiles said he expected to get Levi's response very soon. While in Miami, Chiles said, he hoped to meet with U.S. Attorney Robert Rusk about the problem.

"For the period of time this has been goig on, we ought to be seeing some action and results," Chiles said.

He said it is no longer good enough for the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to say they have ideas about who's behind the violence but can't prove it.

Chiles made the comments while on his way to visit Emilio Milian, the news director of radio station WQBA, who last week had both legs blown off by a bomb.

"It's been going on for a long period of time," Chiles said of the bombings and shootings.

"When a newsman is a victim apparently because he spoke out against terrorism, the community needs to see some action."

There have been seven assassinations attempts - four of them successful - here in two years, all of them apparently related in some fashion to anti-Castro Cuban politics.

After a series of bombings last December, the FBI and local law enforcement agencies formed a task force which resulted in the indictment of Rolando Otero, who has fled the country.

The FBI, however, is directly involved only in bombings, not shootings, and official meetings of the task force have become less frequent in recent months.

Chiles said the FBI has not added any agents to work on the cases, at least to his knowledge.

"I don't think they (the FBI) have the kind of force operating here that they have in New York and Chicago to combat terrorism," Chiles said.

"The total community needs to speak out and make clear we are not going to be intimidated. The total community needs to condemn the action and show this is the American way."

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami News
The Miami Herald, May 6, 1976, Letter to the Editor "For 'Liberty'... Terrorism?"

It is almost impossible to comprehend how the minds of these bomb throwers and planters work.

For "Liberty" they try to destroy someone?

For "Liberty" they attempt to silence by hideous means those in the community who disagree with them?

For "Freedom" they would run the risk of crippling or maiming or murdering innocent individuals?

How little sensitivity they must possess. How small a portion of them must be given over to the decisions of right or wrong.

I am sickened and revolted by revolutionaries who try to impose the greatest tyranny of all on our community; the utter disregard and lack of respect for the sanctity of human life.

I sincerely hope that none for a minute think that their activities reflect in any way on the 99.99 per cent of our Latin community that has given us so much and abides with and loves the law.


Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald
The Miami News, May 3, 1976, Editorial "An Excuse for Inaction."

When somebody knocks off a couple of banks in town, the police usually do not wait for the English-speaking community to decide to turn in the robbers. Instead, the various city, county, state and federal police agencies dig in to try to track down the lawless gang of toughs.

That is the same attitude with which law enforcement people should approach the detestable murders and attempts at murder that have become epidemic within Miami's Cuban exile community. It is ridiculous to suppose, as some police officials apparently do, that the identity of the bombers is common knowledge among the generally law abiding half-million Dade residents of Cuban origins. The criminals are killers, and they will have to be tracked down like other killers.

There is a not-so-subtle racism in the implication that four murders, dozens of bombings and several attempts at killings are somehow a Cuban problem for which all local Cubans share the responsibility.

The explosion Friday night which nearly killed WQBA newscaster Emilio Milian was not an act of the Cuban community - it was a vicious act by criminals who deserve at least as much attention as police gave to Patty Hearst. It is an insult to Dade's thousands of Cubans to imply that they do not want to see the terrorists brought to justice.

Milian's employer is offering a $25,000 reward for information on his assailants and many leading local Latins have deplored the violence that terrorizes their neighborhoods. It is time for the police, and especially the federal agencies, to stop blaming their own failures on some alleged conspiracy of silence.

There is good reason to believe that at least some of the bombings and killings are connected to each other, and that they may relate either to political activity or to organized extortion. In either case, there is justification for the FBI to bring its full weight into the matter as Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre requested last year.

The terrorism which makes Dade the nation's leading center of such activity is not a Cuban problem, it is a Miami problem, and it is past time for the police to throw their fullest possible resources into the fight.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami News

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Miami Herald, May 1, 1976, "Cuban Newsman is Maimed As Bomb Explodes in Car" by Edna Buchanan and Dorothy Gaiter.

A bomb planted under the hood of his station wagon shattered the legs of the news director of Spanish-language radio station WQBA in Little Havana Friday night.

Emilio Milian, 45, who had editorialized against terrorism and violence in Miami, stepped out of the station after a show, got into his WQBA car, turned on the ignition and the device detonated at 7:17 p.m.

Late Friday doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital amputated both of Milian's legs below the knees, and at 2 a.m today he was still in surgery, the hospital said. His condition was described as "serious but stable."

Moments before the explosion, Milian had been approached in the parking lot by Rosa Delgado and three friends who found a little lost boy. Miss Delgado, who attends Garces Commercial College on the first floor of the concrete-block building that houses the radio station, had explained the little boy's plight to Milian and he told them the station would call the police.

Then he turned on the ignition. Miss Delgado and her friends were 10 feet away.

"There was dark smoke and flames. I tried to open the door but it was too hot. I told him to help me help him. His eyes were full of pain," Mis Delgado said.

"He kept shaking his hands. He didn't say anything. He was bloody all over. He pulled up his leg to show me he couldn't move. His leg appeared to be severed below the knee. He was just looking at me."

Albert Miguel, 20, who was passing when he saw the hood of Milian's car hurled 100 feet in the air, ran to help. With two of Garces students he tried to open the car door but it was jammed.

Milian, still conscious, asked them: "Get me out."

"I couldn't open the door so I grabbed him by the belt and by his leg. His leg, both his legs were gone," Miguel said.

He and the others lifted Milian from the car.

"He's a brave man,' said Professor Herbert Garcia of the college. "He didn't cry. He saw his legs, but he didn't cry. He was trying yo get up."

Garcia said Milian pounded the pavement with his fists in anger and agony.

"He's one of the best," Garcia said of the broadcaster, whose station has the largest audience of any station in the metropolitan area. "He's a leader against Fidel Castro and leftists. Of course that's why this happened."

Miami City Commissioner J.L. Plummer, nearby when the explosion rocked the neighborhood, arrived then and was credited by firemen with saving Milian's life.

Milian recognized Plummer at once, as the commissioner worked to stop the bleeding.

"I was afraid he would bleed to death. He said: 'Plummer, the pain is very bad. Do something for the pain.' I told him I was doing everything I could," Plummer said.

Homicide Detectives Anthony Dagger and Ina Shepard arrived minutes after the blast, while firemen, who were still working on Milian, put him into a "shock suit" that forces blood up into the vital organs, preventing the victim from lapsing into shock.

Detective Dagger said Milian had been the target of "many threats in the past months after his editorials against the terrorists here in town."

Police had a watch over Milian's home.

Maj. Phil Doherty said the bomber apparently planted the device under the station wagon's hood during the daylight hours in the WQBA parking lot. Milian had driven it home for lunch.

Milian, who was born Sept. 8, 1930 in Cuba's Las Villas Province, had come to this country in 1965. He opened a print shop and worked part-time as a sports commentator for the station that later would become WQBA. In 1971, he became news director. He also directed the station's programming.

At Jackson Memorial, Milian's wife Enma Mirta, two sons, a daughter, his elderly father and two sisters maintained vigil late Friday night as surgeons operated.

Milian's son, Alberto, 15, said the death threats his father received were all the same. "They told him to shut up, to stop criticizing the bombings or they would murder him. He felt it was his right to criticize. He took precautions. He was not afraid.

"He had a gun, but he never looked under his car," young Milian said. "He told us when his day came, it would come." His father, he said, was angry "at the stupid idiots who were bombing."

Two days ago, the family said, a white car passed their home, stopped in front and someone got out. Milian reported the suspicious vehicle and its occupants to police and asked for protection.

After the Milian bombing Friday, Miami fire officials investigated a fire that gutted the 45-foot commercial fishing boat El Brabo at the Merrill-Stevens Dry Dock on the Miami River at 12th Avenue. There was no immediate evidence that the fire resulted from a bomb or that it was connected to the Miami incident, they said.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald