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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Silent Vigil for Justice at FIU on February 24th for Brothers to the Rescue shootdown martyrs

"To forget the victims means to kill them a second time. So I couldn't prevent the first death. I surely must be capable of saving them from a second death." -  Elie Wiesel



What:   Vigil for BTTR shoot down victims 
When:  Gather Monday, February 24, 2020 @ 3pm Vigil starts 3:21pm
Where: Main Fountain
             Florida International University 
             11200 South West 8th Street Miami, FL 

Vigil hosted at the main fountain at Florida International University between 3:21pm and 3:27pm the times that two Brothers to the Rescue planes were destroyed by air-to-air missiles fired by Cuban MiGs as they flew through international airspace searching for rafters. 

On February 24, 1996 between 3:00pm and 3:53pm three civilian planes from the United States flying in international airspace were hunted by two Cuban MiGs and two of the planes were blown to bits by air to air missiles killing four men at 3:21pm and 3:27pm while the third plane was pursued to within minutes of the Florida Keys but made it back. On the third plane were Sylvia Iriondo, Andrés Iriondo,  Jose Basulto, and Arnaldo Iglesias.



The audio below is in Spanish and is of the MiG pilots and tower hunting and killing Armando Alejandre Jr., Carlos Costa, Mario de la Peña, and Pablo Morales.  The transcript is of the conversation between the Brothers to the Rescue pilots and the Cuban air traffic controller that was taking place at the same time. It also demonstrates that the MiG pilots gave no warning as they carried out their deadly attacks that day. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 1999 published an extensive report on the shoot down that is available online. Today at 3:00pm at Florida International University there will be a moment of silence marking the times when both planes were shot down.

Family members and friends of Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña and Armando Alejandre Jr. will be in attendance. This event is for FIU students and members of the FIU Community and has been held annually since 1996.


Fact Sheet: February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue Shoot down 

February 24, 1996 shoot down was an act of state terrorism that blew two civilian aircraft out of the sky with air to air missiles while in international airspace after regime planned the act months beforehand with its espionage network in the United States.

 FACT 1: By definition: Terrorism is the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear)
http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=terrorism  


FACT 2: Cuba is responsible for violating the right to life (Article I of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man) to the detriment of Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña, and Armando Alejandre, who died as a result of the direct actions of its agents on the afternoon of 24 February 1996 while flying through international airspace.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights September 29, 1999 Report on the Merits http://www.cidh.org/annualrep/99eng/Merits/Cuba11.589.htm

FACT 3: Cuba is responsible for violating the right to a fair trial (Article XVIII of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man) to the detriment of the relatives of Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña, and Armando Alejandre, in that to date the Cuban authorities have not conducted an exhaustive investigation with a view toward prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators and have not indemnified those same relatives for the damage they suffered as a result of those illicit acts.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights September 29, 1999 Report on the Merits http://www.cidh.org/annualrep/99eng/Merits/Cuba11.589.htm

FACT 4: In Alejandre v. Republic of Cuba, 996 F.Supp. 1239 (S.D.Fla. 1997), a federal district court awarded the families of three of the four occupants of the “ Brothers to the Rescue” planes shot down by Cuba in 1996 a total of $187.7 million in damages against Cuba.

Lawsuits Against State Supporters of Terrorism: An Overview by Jennifer K. Elsea
https://fas.org/sgp/crs/terror/RS22094.pdf

FACT 5: WASP spy network was involved. One of the “illegal officers” (Gerardo Hernandez) was convicted of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder based on his role in the February 24, 1996, shoot-down of two unarmed civilian aircraft in international airspace by Cuban Air Force jet fighters, which resulted in the deaths of four people, three of them U.S. citizens.

Department of Justice on Obama Commutations
http://www.justice.gov/pardon/obama-commutations#dec152014

FACT 6: Brothers to the Rescue had spotted and saved thousands of rafters in the Florida Straits and was engaged in such a mission on that day. The one plane that skirted the boundary briefly was the only one to return. The other two were shotdown miles away from Cuba’s boundary having never entered or touched it on that day and the planes had been in contact with the Cuban tower throughout the flight.

ICAO Resolution on February 24 shootdown http://www.icao.int/icao/en/nr/1996/pio199606_e.pdf

FACT 7: On July 26, 1996 the United Nations Security Council: "Noting that the unlawful downing of two civil aircraft on 24 February by the Cuban Air Force violated the principle that States must refrain from using weapons against airborne civil aircraft, the Security Council this afternoon condemned such use as being incompatible with the rules of customary international law "

ICAO Resolution on February 24 shootdown 
http://www.icao.int/icao/en/nr/1996/pio199606_e.pdf

FACT 8: Ana Belen Montes, the US intelligence community's top analyst on Cuban affairs had throughout a sixteen-year career at the Defense Intelligence Agency sent the Cuba intelligence service sensitive and secret information and helped to shape US opinion on Cuba. Investigation against her was triggered by her odd behavior before and after the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down. On September 21 2001 Ana Belen Montes was arrested and subsequently charged with Conspiracy to Commit Espionage for the government of Cuba. Montes eventually pleaded guilty to spying, and in October, 2002, she was sentenced to a 25-year prison term followed by 5 years of probation.

True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba's Master Spy http://www.amazon.com/True-Believer-Inside-Investigation-Capture/dp/1591141001

FACT 9: On December 27, 2010 and again in a January 19, 2011 clarification the defense of Cuban spy-master Gerardo Hernandez acknowledged that "there was overwhelming evidence that the 1996 shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes occurred in international airspace, not Cuban territory."

The Miami Herald: Cuban spymaster now claims Brothers to the Rescue shooting was outside Cuban airspace by Jay Weaver December 27, 2010 http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2010-12-27/news/fl-cuba-spy-20101227_1_cuban-government-gerardo-hernandez-jose-basulto

FACT 10: On December 17, 2014 President Barack Obama commuted Gerardo Hernandez’s two life sentences and returned him along with two other spies jailed for crimes in the United States to Cuba where they were received with a hero’s welcome in what is an immense propaganda victory for the Castro regime.

Department of Justice on Obama Commutations
http://www.justice.gov/pardon/obama-commutations#dec152014 


Friday, October 25, 2019

Join the Path Toward Change in Cuba: Sign the Agreement for Democracy

A hundred opposition organizations inside and outside of the island ratified a road map for a transition in Cuba, at the Freedom Tower in Miami, Florida on Friday, October 25, 2019. 




This Agreement for Democracy was first signed and ratified by 57 organizations from inside and outside of Cuba on February 20, 1998. This event today was called "Path Toward Change" and had as its symbol the sunflower. You can sign the Agreement for Democracy here.


Twenty one years ago, 57 groups from inside and outside the island signed The Agreement for Democracy in Cuba. The Free Cuba Foundation signed The Agreement on February 20, 1998 at Florida International University at an event attended by 33 Cuban exile organizations. 

A total of 57 organizations (33 in the diaspora and 24 inside Cuba) signed this document in 1998 that was ratified today by a hundred opposition organizations. Below is the original text and list of signers translated to English.



Agreement for Democracy in Cuba

We, Cubans conscious of the need for transcendental change in the political, social and economic structures of our country, gather, beyond our diverse strategies for liberation, to affirm before our people and the international community the essential postulates that substantiate the democratic alternative to the despotism which currently prevails in our homeland.

We affirm that the Cuban nation is one, within the national territory and in diaspora. We believe that all Cubans have the right to be equal before the law and the nation, with full dignity that cannot be subject to any discrimination. We likewise understand that the present regime has shown itself incapable of assuring liberty and justice and of promoting well-being and human solidarity in our homeland. Due to this, from this point forward, we establish, through a great national consensus and as a clear alternative to the current oppression, this: Agreement for Democracy in Cuba.

We recognize as the fundamental principle of the new Republic that Cuba is one and independent, whose sovereignty resides in the people and functions through the effective exercise of representative multi-party democracy, which is the government of the majority with absolute respect for the minority.

All governments must respect the sovereignty of the people, therefore, at the end of the current tyrannical regime, the provisional or transition government shall be obligated to return sovereignty to the people by way of the following measures:
  1. Guarantee the people’s participation in the decisions of the nation through the exercise of universal, direct, and secret voting to elect its representatives, and the right to seek public office.
  2. Immediately issue a general amnesty for the liberation of all political prisoners, including those who have been sentenced for fictitious common crimes, and cancel the pending political cases against Cubans in exile, so as to facilitate their return to the homeland and their reintegration into the national society.
  3. Organize an independent, impartial, and professional judiciary.
  4. Recognize and protect the freedom of expression, of the press, of association, of assembly, of peaceful demonstration, profession, and religion.
  5. Protect the Cuban people from arbitrary expulsion from their homes as well as against all forms of detention, search, confiscation or arbitrary aggression, and from violation of their correspondence, documents and other communications, and defend all Cubans’ rights to privacy and honor.
  6. Immediately legalize all political parties and other organizations and activities of civil society.
  7. Refer to the Constitution of 1940, when applicable, during the transition period and convoke free elections with the supervision of international organizations within a time period not greater than one year, for a Constituent Congress which will establish a Constitution and which, during its existence, shall have authority to legislate as well as to oversee the executive. Having thus achieved democratic legitimacy, it shall call general elections in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
  8. Recognize and protect the freedom of economic activity; the right to private property; the right to unionize, to bargain collectively and to strike; the Cuban people’s right to genuine participation in their economic development; access to public health and education, and initiate the reestablishment of civic values in education.
  9. Take immediate steps to protect Cuba’s environmental security and protect and rescue the national patrimony.
  10. Propitiate and guarantee the professionalism and political neutrality of the Armed Forces and create forces of public order whose rules of conduct shall adjust to the principles of this Agreement.
Cuba shall resurrect from its own ashes, but it is the sacred obligation of all Cubans – both within the oppressed island and in diaspora – to place our hands on the plough without looking backwards but rather into the deepest part of our hearts, to convert those ashes into fertile seeds of love and creation. Now, as 100 years ago, our national aspiration remains the construction of a Republic based on the formula of triumphant love:

WITH ALL AND FOR THE GOOD FOR ALL


Signed February 20, 1998 at Florida International University.

ACCIÓN CIVICA CUBANA 
José Luis Pujol

ACCIÓN DEMOCRÁTICA CUBANA 
Juan Carlos Acosta

AGENDA:CUBA 
Pedro L. Solares

ALIANZA CUBANA 
José Pérez Linares

ALIANZA DE JÓVENES CUBANOS 
Ana M. Carbonell

ASOCIACIóN INTEGRAL MAMBISA 
Pedro Luis Ferro

COORDINADORA INTERNACIONAL DE EX-PRISIONEROS POLÍTICOS CUBANOS Guillermo Rivas-Porta

COORDINADORA SOCIAL DEMÓCRATA 
Dr. Lino B. Fernández

COMITÉ CUBANO PRO DERECHOS HUMANOS 
Dr. Ricardo Bofill

CUBAN AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION 
Andrés García

CUBA DEMOCRATIQUE 
Lázaro Jordana

CUBA INDEPENDIENTE Y DEMOCRÁTICA (CID) 
Húber Matos

DIRECTORIO REVOLUCIONARIO DEMOCRÁTICO CUBANO 
Juan Fernandez de Castro y Orlando Gutiérrez

EX-CLUB (ASOC.DE EX-PRISIONEROS Y COMBATIENTES POLÍTICOS CUBANOS) 
Rolando Borges

EX-CONFINADOS POLITICOS DE LA UMAP 
Francisco García

FREE CUBA FOUNDATION 
John Suárez

FRENTE NACIONAL DEL PRESIDIO POLITICO CUBANO 
Rufino Alvarez

GRUPO DE TRABAJO DE LA DISIDENCIA INTERNA 
Ruth C. Montaner

HERMANOS AL RESCATE 
José Basulto

LA ROSA BLANCA 
Dr. Rafael Díaz-Balart

M.A.R. POR CUBA 
Sylvia G. Iriondo

MOVIMIENTO DEMOCRACIA 
Ramón Saúl Sánchez

MUNICIPIOS DE CUBA EN EL EXILIO 
Roberto Pereda

MOVIMIENTO 30 DE NOVIEMBRE FRANK PAÍS 
Israel Abreu Villareal

MUJER CUBANA 
Estela Rose

MUJERES LUCHADORAS POR LA DEMOCRACIA 
María Márquez

ORGANIZACIONES CUBANAS UNIDAS DE LA ZONA NORTE (OCU)

PARTIDO INDEPENDENTISTA CUBANO 
Alberto Martínez Echenique

PARTIDO ACCIÓN NACIONALISTA 
Sergio Ramos

(Representación en el exterior) PARTIDO SOCIAL DEMÓCRATA CUBANO 
Tony Santiago

PRESIDIO POLITICO HISTORICO CUBANO - CASA DEL PRESO 
Luis González Infante

PUENTE DE JOVENES PROFESIONALES CUBANOS 
Dr. Nicolás Gutiérrez

UNIÓN LIBERAL CUBANA 
Carlos Alberto Montaner

Original Spanish text follows:

Acuerdo por la Democracia en Cuba

Nosotros, cubanos conscientes de la necesidad de un cambio trascendente en las estructuras políticas, sociales y económicas de nuestro país, nos juntamos más allá de nuestras estrategias en favor de la liberación para afirmar ante nuestro pueblo y la comunidad internacional los postulados esenciales que substancien la alternativa democrática al despotismo que impera actualmente en nuestra patria.

Afirmamos que la nación cubana es una sola, en el territorio nacional y en la diáspora. Creemos que todos los cubanos tenemos el derecho a ser iguales ante la ley y la nación, con dignidad plena que no puede ser sometida a ninguna discriminación. Entendemos, asimismo, que el presente régimen se ha mostrado incapaz de asegurar la libertad y la justicia y de promover el bienestar general y la solidaridad humana en nuestra patria. Por eso desde ahora establecemos, mediante un gran consenso nacional y como una clara alternativa a la opresión actual, este

Acuerdo por la Democracia en Cuba

Reconocemos como principio fundamental de la Nueva República que Cuba es una e independiente, cuya soberanía reside en el pueblo y funciona mediante el ejercicio efectivo de la democracia representativa pluripartidista, que es el gobierno de la mayoría con respeto absoluto a la minoría.

Todo gobierno tiene que respetar la soberanía del pueblo, por tanto, al fin del régimen tiránico actual, el gobierno provisional o de transición tendrá la obligación de devolverle la soberanía al pueblo mediante las siguientes medidas:

  1. Garantizar la participación del pueblo en las decisiones de la nación, a través del ejercicio del sufragio universal directo y secreto para elegir a sus representantes y el derecho a postularse para cargos públicos.
  2. Promulgar de inmediato una amnistía general para la liberación de todos los presos políticos, incluyendo a aquellos condenados por falsos delitos comunes, y cancelar las causas políticas pendientes contra los cubanos exiliados, para facilitar su regreso a la patria y su reincorporación a la vida nacional.
  3. Organizar un poder judicial independiente, imparcial y profesional.
  4. Reconocer y proteger la libertad de expresión, de prensa, de asociación, de reunión, de manifestación pacífica, de profesión y religión.
  5. Amparar a los cubanos contra todo tipo de desalojo arbitrario de sus viviendas así como contra toda detención, registro, allanamiento, confiscación o agresión arbitraria, y contra la violación de su correspondencia, documentos, y otras comunicaciones y defender el derecho de todos a la intimidad y el honor.
  6. Legalizar de inmediato a todos los partidos políticos y demás organizaciones y actividades de la sociedad civil.
  7. Referirse a la Constitución de 1940, en lo aplicable, durante el período de transición y convocar a elecciones libres con la supervisión de organismos internacionales, en un plazo no mayor de un aqo, para un Congreso Constituyente que establezca una Constitución y que durante su existencia pueda legislar y fiscalizar al Ejecutivo. Lograda así la legitimidad democrática, convocará a elecciones generales según establezca la Constitución.
  8. Reconocer y proteger la libertad de gestión económica; el derecho a la propiedad privada; la libertad sindical; el derecho al convenio colectivo y a la huelga; el derecho a la participación real del pueblo cubano en el desarrollo económico; y el acceso a la salud y la educación públicas e iniciar el reestablecimiento de los valores cívicos en la misma.
  9. Tomar con urgencia medidas para proteger la seguridad medioambiental y proteger y rescatar el patrimonio nacional.
  10. Propiciar y garantizar la profesionalidad, dignidad y neutralidad política de las Fuerzas Armadas y crear cuerpos de orden público cuyas normas de conducta se ajusten a los principios de este Acuerdo.

Cuba resurgirá de sus propias cenizas, pero es obligación sagrada de todos los cubanos - tanto de los que viven en la isla oprimida como en la diáspora - poner las manos en el arado sin mirar atrás sino a lo más profundo de nuestros corazones, para convertir las cenizas en semilla fecunda de amor y creación. Ahora, como hace 100 aqos, nuestra aspiración nacional continúa siendo construir una República basada en la fórmula del amor triunfante:

CON TODOS Y PARA EL BIEN DE TODOS



Friday, September 27, 2019

Free Cuba Foundation announces support for #FreeHongKong and Global Anti-Totalitarianism Rallies

The really frightening thing about totalitarianism is not that it commits 'atrocities' but that it attacks the concept of objective truth; it claims to control the past as well as the future. - George Orwell "As I Please," Tribune (4 February 1944)



Twenty NGOs are planning a human chain rally around the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Sep 29th, to protest against the 70 years of the #CHINAZI regime, and also to support a #FreeHongKong. This is one of a series of Global Anti-Totalitarianism Rallies being held around the world on September 29, 2019 at 2:30pm.
Human Chain Rally at the Chinese Embassy
When: Sunday, September 29, 2019
Rally: 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Location: The Chinese Embassy
3505 International Place NW
Washington, DC 20008
The communist regime in China wants to celebrate 70 years in power on October 1, 1949.  However on September 29, 2019 around the world free Chinese and friends of a free China will gather to protest this brutal regime that costs tens of millions of lives in Mainland China and today poses a threat to the free world.



Like their Soviet comrades the Chinese communists have attempted to rewrite their shameful role in World War II in the fight against Imperial Japan that was led and won by the Nationalists.

People of goodwill will not forget that 30 years ago on June 4, 1989 this regime murdered thousands of Chinese who wanted to be free. 



We will also not forget the other horrors carried out by Mao Ze Dong in the first decades of the communist revolution in China.

We are in solidarity with a #FreeChina and join the #929GlobalAntiTotalitarianism effort.

The Free Cuba Foundation announces its support for a #FreeHongKong and the upcoming Global Anti-Totalitarianism Rallies, and encourage all people of good will to attend and show their solidarity.




The International Campaign for Tibet has the following statement surrounding the event that places it into context:




Since the launch of the Anti-Extradition Legislation Protests in Hong Kong on June 9, the people of Hong Kong have waged a three-month struggle for freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Their courage, endurance and wisdom have earned the world’s admiration. However, the struggle is still ongoing.
#HongKongProtests have created #Chinnazi, a wordplay hashtag of “China” and “Nazism,” which is trending on Twitter across the globe. The protesters have also displayed a flag, which they designed by re-arranging the red stars in the CCP’s national flag to form Nazi swastika, naming it the “Red Nazi (Chinazi) Flag,” symbolizing that the totalitarian state under the CCP is the “Nazism of the 21st century” and “fascism with Chinese characteristics.”

On October 1, 2019, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will hold an unprecedented grand military parade in Beijing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the party state, and to show off its military muscle to the world. This CCP National Day is also a critical time for Hong Kong’s protesters, because they could face unprecedented suppression. Human rights organizations in Washington DC plan to jointly hold a human chain rally to encircle the Chinese Embassy to protest against 70 years of #Chinazi rule in China and support a free Hong Kong. We will display and stamp on the #Chinazi red flag during the rally. We call for all ethnic and religious groups, human rights activists and any other people who oppose the CCP’s Red Nazi Empire, support Hong Kong’s freedom, and support the Chinese people by ending the one-party dictatorship and achieving constitutional democracy, to join us in this rally, with your own homemade #Chinazi flags, banners and placards.

We also urge our friends who love freedom and democracy from all over the world, especially those who live in cities that have Chinese embassies and consulates, to hold similar human chain rallies to protest against #Chinazi’s 70 year rule in China, and support free Hong Kong during #Chinazi’s national day.

Let us roar for justice!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Sorry Mr. Assayas and Mr. García Bernal: Wasp Network plotted terrorism and caused deaths of innocents

Setting the record straight.

There is a buzz on the internet, about the Wasp Network, a film about the Cuban spy ring implicated in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down. No one that we know has seen the movie, but there is already calls for a boycott on social media.

Whether one wishes to boycott the movie or not is a personal decision.  However, we do believe that it is important to set the record straight.  

The Wasp Network engaged in espionage: its primary objective was to spy on US military facilities, it also planned to smuggle arms and explosives into the United States, it provided information that led to the extrajudicial killings of four innocent Americans, infiltrated two nonviolent exile groups and carried numerous other activities, but will focus on these for the sake of brevity.



The film's director Olivier Assayas in a press conference for the movie made a blanket statement about the Cuban exile community that was slanderous.  Gael García Bernal at the same press conference made the false claim that "they were not going somewhere else to kill someone ... they are spies that are trying to stop violence ... there is something unique about the real story that highlights the act of love that made them do this." He also claimed that they "were proven innocent." They weren't.

Here are the facts.

The Wasp network was made up of over forty officers and agents, four escaped to Cuba when the FBI began rounding them up on September 12, 1998. Ten were captured, and five of them pleaded guilty and cooperated with the prosecution. 


Alejandro Alonso, Linda Hernandez, Nilo Hernandez Mederos pled guilty and were all sentenced to seven years in prison. Joseph Santos Cecilia pled guilty and got four years in prison and Amarylis Silverio Garcia de Santos pled guilty and was sentenced three and a half years in prison.

They are unpersons in Cuba.  

The remaining five spies, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González, who had refused to cooperate with U.S. authorities or plead guilty went on trial and the evidence against them was overwhelming.  

Gerardo Hernández was found guilty of espionage and murder conspiracy and sentenced two life terms to be served consecutively; life for Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino; 19 years for Fernando González; and 15 years for René González.

The Cuban "WASP" spies arrested in 1998 used coded material on computer disks to communicate with other members of the spy network.

Their primary objective was "penetrating and obtaining information on the naval station located in that city." They communicated about "burning down the warehouse" and sabotaging Brothers to the Rescue equipment. They had been instructed to identify who would be flying aboard the Brothers to the Rescue planes at certain times.

Mr. García Bernal speaks of a radical act of love, but fails to mention it because he was not looking at what Brothers to the Rescue were doing.

In February of 1991 news accounts of the death by dehydration of 15-year-old Gregorio Perez Ricardo, a rafter fleeing Cuba, as U.S. Coast Guard officials tried to save his life shocked the moral imagination of several pilots. 

This was not an isolated event. Academics Holly Ackerman and Juan Clark, in the 1995 monograph The Cuban Balseros: Voyage of Uncertainty reported that “as many as 100,000 Cuban rafters may have perished trying to leave Cuba.” Anecdotal evidence documents that some of them were victims of the Cuban border patrol using sand bags and snipers against defenseless rafters. 

It was within this context that on May 13, 1991 Brothers to the Rescue was founded with the aim of searching for rafters in the Florida Straits, getting them water, food, and rescued. In December of 1993 Brothers to the Rescue inaugurated their permanent hangar naming it after Gregorio.


Coretta Scott King and Brothers to the Rescue's Jose Basulto
Brothers to the Rescue by November of 1995 was collaborating with the Florida Martin Luther King Institute for Non-violence and took part in the King Day parade in 1996. 

On February 8, 1996 The Miami Times reported “that this group has come around to the belief that change can be brought about in Cuba in the same way that it was brought about by Dr. King in the United States.” 

The Miami Times concluded in the editorial “Spreading King’s Message” that “in throwing Dr. King's principle into the volatile mix of Cuban exile politics, Brothers to the Rescue is showing a willingness to be creative.”

They risked their lives in the Florida Straits to rescue Cuban rafters and at the same time Brothers to the Rescue challenged the Cuban exile community to abandon both the failed violent resistance and appeasement approaches in order to embrace strategic nonviolence.  This path followed the way of Martin Luther King Jr. with both civil disobedience and a constructive program. What was the end result? Brothers to the Rescue saved more than 4,200 men, women, and children ranging from a five-day old infant to a 79 year old man, and rescued thousands more during the 1994 refugee crisis.



One year after the July 13, 1994 tugboat massacre in which 37 men, women and children were killed Cuban exiles organized a flotilla to travel in a civic non-violent manner to the spot six miles off the Havana coastline where the "13 de Marzo" tugboat had been attacked and sunk to hold a religious service for the victims. The Brothers to the Rescue overflight of Havana, where they dropped bumper stickers in Spanish that read "Comrades No. Brothers" was in response to Cuban gunboats ramming the lead boat of the flotilla
 


Brothers to the Rescue also served as a bridge between a nonviolent civic movement inside of Cuba and an exile community seeking a different approach. Cuban dissidents announced on October 10, 1995 the intention to hold a national gathering of the opposition in Cuba on February 24, 1996. The coalition of over a 160 groups named themselves the Cuban Council. Brothers to the Rescue in an open and transparent manner sent $2,000 of privately raised assistance to this coalition on February 13, 1996. In the days leading up to February 24 over a 180 dissidents were imprisoned in a nationwide crackdown.
 
The events surrounding the February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down began weeks in advance with the dictatorship planning out the shoot down and using its spy networks to obtain information to carry out this act of state terrorism while blaming the victims in the media coverage.

Jose Basulto with Rene Gonzalez and Juan Pablo Roque.
It was a conspiracy to destroy Brothers to the Rescue while at the same time taking attention away from a crack down on a national gathering of the democratic opposition in Cuba. This was taking place in the midst of a profound crisis for the Castro regime following the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991 and a warming relationship in 1994 between the Clinton administration and the Cuban dictatorship that included secret joint military exercises

However, none of this changed the brutal nature of the Cuban dictatorship in how it dealt with Cubans on the island or the continuing hostility of the Castro regime for the United States

Two Cuban intelligence agents infiltrated Brothers to the Rescue, providing information to the Castro regime on the group, disinformation to the FBI, and their Cuban spy ring leader, Gerardo Hernandez warned the two infiltrated agents not to fly during a four-day period that included the day of the premeditated attack. Six days before the attack a Cuban pilot saw Cuban MiGs rehearsing the shoot down.  

On February 24, 1996 at 3:21pm and 3:27pm two Brothers to the Rescue planes were shot down by two Cuban MiGs over international airspace killing four. Two more MIG’s chased a third plane to within three minutes of downtown Key West, but that plane made it back and provided critical information on what had occurred.

Within moments of the shootdown, allegations were immediately generated that Brothers to the Rescue had involved itself in "paramilitary activities against the government of the Republic of Cuba." Juan Pablo Roque, who had defected the day before, and arrived in Cuba through Mexico, claimed that they had been planning to introduce anti-personnel weapons to blow up high-tension plants. This cover story collapsed when the third plane returned to Key West.
Martyred on February 24, 1996
The four men who were killed represented all aspects of the Cuban diaspora: Armando Alejandre Jr, a child who arrived with his parents from Cuba in 1960, Carlos Costa, born in Miami Beach in 1966 and Mario Manuel de la Peña, born in New Jersey in 1971 the children of Cuban exiles. Pablo Morales was born in Cuba in 1966, raised there and was saved by Brothers to the Rescue when he was 26 years old while fleeing the island on a raft. Two were from Havana, one was from New Jersey and the other from Miami Beach.

The Brothers to the Rescue shoot down case in the U.S. courts 
U.S. courts found the Cuban government guilty of premeditation in the February 24, 1996 shoot down. Family members of the four men have over the past twenty years pursued and continue to pursue justice. They have had concrete results.

  1. On November 14, 1997 U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King found Cuba guilty in civil court of planning the shoot down before the actual attack, and noted that there had been ample time to issue warnings to the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft if these had been needed. 
  2.  A jury in criminal court presided by U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard on June 10, 2001 found Cuban spy Gerardo Hernandez guilty of conspiracy to commit murder because of his role in providing information to the Cuban government on the flight plans of Brothers to the Rescue. 
  3. On August 21, 2003 a U.S. grand jury indicted the two fighter pilots and their commanding general on murder charges for the 1996 shoot down. Indictments were returned against General Ruben Martinez Puente, who at the time headed the Cuban Air Force, and fighter pilots Lorenzo Alberto Perez-Perez and Francisco Perez-Perez. The defendants were charged with four counts of murder, one count of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals and two counts of destruction of aircraft. They are still at large.

There has been a lack of political will on behalf of several White Houses to pursue justice in the premeditated, extrajudicial murders of these four men.

The Obama administration commuted the double life sentence of Gerardo Hernandez, the one man actually imprisoned for conspiracy to commit murder in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down on December 17, 2014 setting him free and returning him to Cuba.  
Nevertheless, the families of Armando, Mario, Carlos and Pablo continue their struggle for memory, truth, and justice on behalf of their loved ones. This means “the indictments of the military officials involved, from Raul Castro, Minister of the Armed Forces, down the military chain of command” and documenting what happened.
The excerpts of the press conference released on the internet make a travesty of this episode, and raises concerns among many that the movie will demonize those who saved thousands of lives while celebrating those who conspired successfully to murder four humanitarians and deal a powerful blow against a nonviolent movement.

What was broken up in South Florida on September 12, 1998 was a terror spy network with plans to damage property and kill persons with the objective of planting terror. The network achieved part of their objective in providing information that led to four extrajudicial killings. 

George Orwell could have cited the so-called "Cuban Five" campaign and the press conference for the Wasp Network as examples of newspeak on the order of "War is Peace" only that it in this case it declares "Terrorism is Anti-Terrorism" "Lies are Truth", "Terrorists are Heroes", and "cold blooded murder is a radical act of love."  

Shame on them.