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Saturday, July 2, 2016

13 minute silent vigil for July's Cuban martyrs on July 13 at FIU's main fountain at 12 noon

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." - Elie Wiesel, Nobel Lecture 1986*

July 13, 1994 at three in the morning three extended Cuban families set out for a better life aboard the "13 de Marzo" tugboat from Havana, Cuba and were massacred in a heinous crime committed by agents of the Cuban government. The most extensive international report on the the events that took place was prepared by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 1996. Four years later on 1998 on the eve of Pope John Paul the Second's visit to Cuba Ted Koppel had a segment on the tugboat massacre interviewing survivor's and family members.  Fifteen years later human rights champion Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas reflected on what had happened:

Behind the Christ of Havana, about seven miles from the coast, "volunteers" of the Communist regime committed one of the most heinous crimes in the history of our city and of Cuba. In the morning, a group of seventy people in all, fled on a tugboat, led by the ship's own crew; none was kidnapped, or there against their will. They came out of the mouth of the Bay of Havana. They were pursued by other similar ships. When the runaway ship and its occupants stopped to surrender, the ships that had been chasing them started ramming to sink it. Meanwhile, on the deck, women with children in their arms begging for mercy, but the answer of their captors was to project high pressure water cannons against them. Some saw their children fall overboard under the murderous jets of water amid shrieks of horror. They behaved brutally until their perverse mission was fulfilled: Sink the fleeing ship and annihilate many of its occupants.
Four years ago on July 22, 2012 on a stretch of road in Eastern Cuba, State Security agents rammed the car Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante were traveling in. Both bodies appeared later that same day. The man who denounced the "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre in 2009 would himself become a martyr of the same dictatorship along with Harold, a youth leader from the Christian Liberation Movement three years later in 2012 in the same month.
On July 13 at 12 noon at Florida International University the Free Cuba Foundation will hold a 13 minute silent vigil in memory of July's Cuban martyrs. This tradition has been underway at Florida International University for twenty years with one change. In the first year a one minute moment of silence was held and as each year passed without justice a minute was added. On the 20th anniversary we held a 20 minute moment of silence and after that we decided to set the minutes to 13 and in addition to remembering the 37 victims of the "13 de Marzo" tugboat sinking we would also remember Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante. We began this new practice last year. We ask to join us in continuing this tradition again this year at FIU and continue to make a silent demand for justice. Other activities have been organized by others to remember these crimes over the years.
What:   13 Minute Silent Vigil
When:  Wednesday, July 13 at 12 noon
Where: Main Fountain at Florida International University
             [Between Library, and Charles Perry (PC) building]
Why:    Remember and Demand Justice for the Dead

July 22, 2012 Extrajudicial Killings

Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas. Age: 60
Harold Cepero Escalante. Age: 32

July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" Tugboat Massacre Victims

Hellen Martínez Enriquez. Age: 5 Months 
Xicdy Rodríguez Fernández. Age: 2 
Angel René Abreu Ruíz. Age: 3 
José Carlos Niclas Anaya. Age: 3 
Giselle Borges Alvarez. Age: 4 
Caridad Leyva Tacoronte. Age: 5 
Juan Mario Gutiérrez García. Age: 10 
Yousell Eugenio Pérez Tacoronte. Age: 11 
Yasser Perodín Almanza. Age: 11 
Eliécer Suárez Plasencia. Age: 12 
Mayulis Méndez Tacoronte. Age: 17 
Miladys Sanabria Leal. Age: 19 
Joel García Suárez. Age: 20 
Odalys Muñoz García. Age: 21 
Yalta Mila Anaya Carrasco. Age: 22 
Luliana Enríquez Carrazana. Age: 22 
Jorge Gregorio Balmaseda Castillo. Age: 24 
Lissett María Alvarez Guerra. Age: 24 
Ernesto Alfonso Loureiro. Age: 25 
María Miralis Fernández Rodríguez. Age: 27 
Leonardo Notario Góngora. Age: 28 
Jorge Arquímedes Levrígido Flores. Age: 28 
Pilar Almanza Romero. Age: 31 
Rigoberto Feu González. Age: 31 
Omar Rodríguez Suárez. Age: 33 
Lázaro Enrique Borges Briel. Age: 34 
Julia Caridad Ruíz Blanco. Age: 35 
Martha Caridad Tacoronte Vega. Age: 35 
Eduardo Suárez Esquivel. Age: 38 
Martha Mirella Carrasco Sanabria. Age: 45 
Augusto Guillermo Guerra Martínez. Age: 45 
Rosa María Alcalde Puig. Age: 47 
Estrella Suárez Esquivel. Age: 48 
Reynaldo Joaquín Marrero Alamo. Age: 48 
Amado González Raices. Age: 50 
Fidencio Ramel Prieto Hernández. Age: 51 
Manuel Cayol. Age: 56 

 *We pray for Elie Wiesel and thank him bearing witness for victims of oppression and injustice

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