Thursday, February 24, 2011

February's Five Martyrs for Cuban Freedom

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." - John 15:13

In Cuba, February 23 and February 24 are now joined together in honoring five men who died while trying to save the lives of others. There deaths are separated by fourteen years and one day, but they are joined by the non-violent philosophy of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

Armando Alejandre, Carlos Alberto Costa, Mario Manuel de la Peña, and Pablo Morales were engaged in a constructive program of non-violence saving the lives of Cuban rafters before they died of dehydration or starvation on the high seas in small rafts. The entire operation known as Brothers to the Rescue was a grassroots movement funded by the community through donations. Brothers to the Rescue actively collaborated with both The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia and Gene Sharp of the Albert Einstein Institution. Fifteen years ago today as they flew along the Florida Straits searching for rafters (balseros) they were blown out of international air space by air-to-air missiles fired by Cuban MiGs under the orders and chain of command of Fidel and Raul Castro.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a human rights defender paid a high price for refusing to look the other way. Orlando refused to participate in evil even if it meant passive acceptance.
Martin Luther King Jr. spoke clearly on the matter: "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it."

Yesterday, a number of people of good will initiated a 24-hour fast in remembrance of Orlando Zapata Tamayo that will end today at 3:00pm as they also take part in acts of remembrance for
Armando Alejandre, Carlos Alberto Costa, Mario Manuel de la Peña, and Pablo Morales.

Today, February 24, 2011 between 3:21pm and 3:28pm the time when the first and second planes were shot down the silent vigil held at Florida International University since 1996 will take place at the main fountain on campus with the family members of the victims rain or shine. Bring an umbrella if you think it will rain. Standing in silence for seven minutes reflecting on this crime and in a silent demand for justice. In addition people of good will around the world are encouraged to hold a moment of silence and reflect on their sacrifice.

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