Tuesday, February 24, 2015 will mark 19 years since Fidel and Raul Castro ordered Cuban MiGs to hunt and shoot down two Brothers to the Rescue planes that at the time were in international airspace killing Armando Alejandre Jr. (45 years old), Carlos Alberto Costa (29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (24), and Pablo Morales (29). A thorough international investigation carried out by the Inter-American Commission on the merits made public in 1999 concluded:
"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."Furthermore with the issue of justice for the four victims and their families the IACHR report stated:
"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."Beginning the week following the Saturday, February 24, 1996 shoot down the Free Cuba Foundation, a student movement founded at Florida International University in 1993 at the time with a second chapter at the University of Miami Holds Candlelight vigils at both universities. On Saturday, March 2, 1996 members of the Free Cuba Foundation participated in a flotilla that sought to journey to the spot both planes were shot down and hold a memorial service.
|FCF members in flotilla on March 2, 1996|
On December 12, 2001 the leader of the Cuban spy ring, Gerardo Hernandez, was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down. President Barack Obama on December 17, 2014 commuted his life sentence and returned Mr. Hernandez to Cuba.
For the past 18 years members of the Free Cuba Foundation have gathered at the main fountain at Florida International University beginning at 3:21pm, the time the first plane was shot down, in a silent vigil until 3:27pm, the time the second plane was shot down. Carlos Costa and Pablo Morales were on the first plane. Mario de la Peña and Armando Alejandre Jr. were on the second plane.
|Since 1996 silent vigils held at FIU for justice for Brothers to the Rescue|
Next Tuesday, February 24 at 3:21pm sharp FIU students, members of the FIU community and the families of the four men murdered in 1996 will for the nineteenth time gather at the main fountain at Florida International University in a silent vigil for justice.
This silent vigil seeks to remember the facts in the service of truth while demanding justice. Truth, memory and justice are necessary elements for a real and lasting national reconciliation.
Join the hundreds of FIU students who since 1996 have done their small part standing up for national reconciliation in Cuba by demanding truth and justice in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down.