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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bearing Witness for the Victims of the July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" Tugboat Massacre

“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” - Elie Wiesel, Night

 In the early morning hours of July 13, 1994 37 men, women, and children were killed by government agents as they sought to travel to freedom on board of the “13 de Marzo” tugboat. Eleven of these Cubans were children ranging in age from Helen Martínez Enríquez, just five months old to Mayulis Méndez Tacaronte age seventeen.

International human rights bodies and organizations investigated the incident. The United Nations Human Rights Commission's special rapporteur on Cuba made the following observation on October 24, 1995 in his report on the human rights situation in Cuba to the UN General Assembly:
Although the Government maintains that the authorities bore no responsibility for what was considered to have been an accident, the Special Rapporteur received testimony from some of the survivors indicating that Government launches from the port of Havana tried to stop the 13 de Marzo with pressurized water jets and then deliberately rammed it, causing it to sink. Non-governmental sources informed the Special Rapporteur that the number of persons who died was not 32, as the Government had stated, but at least 37 and that the families have for a year now been asking for an investigation to be initiated.
On October 16, 1996 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) released Report Nº 47/96 Case 11.436 Victims of the Tugboat “13 de Marzo” vs. Cuba. Among the conclusions reached in the investigation was that: The Cuban State is responsible for violating the right to life (Article 1 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man) of the [37] people who were shipwrecked and perished as a result of the sinking of the tug "13 de Marzo", which events occurred seven miles off the Cuban coast on July 13, 1994.

Both  Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also reported on the events and aftermath of that day.  Twenty years have passed and still justice has been denied the victims and their families. 

The persons who died that morning are:

Helen Martínez Enríquez ( 6 months)
Cindy Rodríguez Fernández (age 2)
José Carlos Nicole Anaya (3)
Angel Rene Abreu Ruiz ( age 3)
Yisel Borges Alvarez (4) 
Caridad Leyva Tacoronte (age 5)
Juan Mario Gutiérrez García (age 10) 
Yousell E. Perez Tacoronte (age 11)
Yasser Perodin Almanza (age 11)
Eliecer Suarez Plasencia ( age 12)
Mayulis Mendez Tacoronte (age 17)
Miladys Sanabria Cabrera ( age 19 )
Odalys Muñoz García (age 21)
Yuliana Enríquez Carrazana (age 22)
Yaltamira Anaya Carrasco (age 22)
Lissett María Álvarez Guerra (age 24)
José Gregorio Balmaceda Castillo (24)
Joel García Suárez (age 24)
Ernesto Alfonso Loureiro (age 25)
María Miralis Fernández Rodríguez (age 27)
Pilar Almanza Romero (age 28)
Leonardo Notario Góngora ( age 28)
Jorge Arquímides Lebrijio Flores (age 28)   
Rigoberto Feut Gonzáles (age 31)
Omar Rodriguez Suarez (age 33)
Lázaro Enrique Borges Briel (age 34)
Julia Caridad Ruiz Blanco (age 35)
Martha Caridad Tacoronte Vega (age 36)
Eduardo Suárez Esquivel ( age 39)
Martha M.Carrasco Sanabria (age 45)  
Augusto Guillermo Guerra Martínez ( age 45)
Rosa María Alcalde Puig (age 47)    
Estrella Suárez Esquivel (age 48)
Reynaldo Joaquín Marrero (age 48)       
Manuel Cayol (age 50)           
Amado Gonzáles Raices (50)
Fidelio Ramel Prieto-Hernández (51)    

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