Monday, February 25, 2019

The Brothers to the Rescue Shootdown: How the Castro regime sought to destroy hope

"There is another side called justice. And justice is really love in calculation. Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love." - Martin Luther King, Jr., Holt Street Baptist Church,  Dec 5, 1955
Silent Vigil at Florida International University for Brothers to the Rescue martyrs
Today at Florida International University, as has been the case for the past 23 years, friends and family members of Armando Alejandre, Jr., Carlos Costa, Mario de la Peña, and Pablo Morales gathered to pay their respects and hold a silent vigil for justice.

When the long national nightmare of Castroism is finally over in Cuba there needs to time set aside to engage in a national act of Remembrance for Truth and Justice. In Argentina, the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice is a public holiday commemorating the victims of the Dirty War and it is held on March 24th.

The Castro dictatorship has caused so much harm over the past six and a half decades that Cubans will need two days of Remembrance for Truth and Justice. There are two days to consider for somber reflection on crimes against humanity in Cuba: February 24th and July 13th.  

Twenty five years ago on July 13, 1994 agents of the Castro regime carried out a massacre that claimed the lives of 37 men, women, and children fleeing Cuba on a tugboat. 

Silent vigil for justice for victims of Castroism in front of the Cuban Embassy
Today, will focus on what took place 23 years ago on February 24, 1996 because it is the day that the Castro regime used a Mikoyan MiG-29UB to launch two missiles that blew to pieces two Brothers to the Rescue Cessna Skymasters in international airspace at 3:21pm and 3:27pm, then took credit for it. Killed during the attack were Armando Alejandre, Jr., Carlos Costa, Mario de la Peña, and Pablo Morales.

Brothers to the Rescue, beginning in 1991, had engaged in a search and rescue mission that saved thousands of lives of Cuban rafters in the Florida Straits.  Viewing humanitarian assistance as an existential threat, now on display in the actions of the emerging totalitarian regime in Venezuela, is what led the Castro regime to order a risky act of state terrorism 23 years ago. 

Hope is not allowed to flourish in this kind of regime, because it can mobilize and expand dissidence. This is how a mass non-violent movement can erupt and sweep old tyrants from power. In addition to hope, two other things these regimes cannot abide are truth and memory. These are necessary preconditions for justice, and something that with a simple and nonviolent act of remembrance defies forgetfulness and the re-writing of history.

Yesterday, we gathered at the Cuban Embassy at 3:00pm with posters of Armando Alejandre, Jr., Carlos Costa, Mario de la Peña, and Pablo Morales killed on February 24, 1996. We also had posters of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the Cuban human rights defender who died on hunger strike on February 23, 2010 following years of torture in Cuba's prisons, and of Venezuelan martyrs Geraldine Moreno and Génesis Carmona shot in the head by Maduro's security forces trained by Castro's intelligence services.

Brothers to the Rescue members remember their brethren at Opa-locka airport
Earlier in the day at Opa-locka airport, members of Brothers to the Rescue gathered to remember their fallen brethren, where the airplanes had flown out on their final mission that fateful Saturday afternoon.

Twenty three years later the silent vigil for justice continues.

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