Thursday, July 7, 2011

17 years later without justice: The July 13, 1994 tugboat massacre

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

37 victims of the July 13, 1994 tugboat massacre

In six days 17 years will have passed since 37 men, women and children were massacred by agents of the Castro regime. Let us remember them and continue to demand justice.

"In the early morning hours of July 13, 1994, four boats belonging to the Cuban State and equipped with water hoses attacked an old tugboat that was fleeing Cuba with 72 people on board. The incident occurred seven miles off the Cuban coast, opposite the port of Havana. Cuban State boats attacked the runaway tug with their prows with the intention of sinking it, while at the same time spraying everyone on the deck of the boat, including women and children, with pressurized water. The pleas of the women and children to stop the attack were in vain, and the old boat--named "13 de Marzo"--sank, with a toll of 37 deaths, including ten minors. Thirty-one people survived the events of July 13, 1994." - Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Report Nº 47/96 Case 11.436 Victims of the Tugboat “13 de Marzo” vs. Cuba.

Imagine what it would be like to have lost a family member in such a crime. [It cannot be called a "tragedy" because it was a premeditated crime. The sinking of the tugboat was an act of state terrorism carried out by the dictatorship in Cuba.] Jorge Garcia lost 14 family members that day. He continues to demand justice but rejects revenge. During a question and answer session at Florida International University on July 13, 2009 organized and hosted by the Free Cuba Foundation an audience member asked Jorge about justice and reconciliation. Jorge responded:
"I could have easily executed the man who killed my family. The only picture of that man is the one I took a picture of. I knew where he lived. Despite that I didn't do it. The government itself directed me towards him. They wanted to turn me into a criminal. The regime sought to justify what it had first said. The regime had said that a group of anti-socials had stolen the boat and that there were an undetermined number of victims. If you look at the photographs and the profiles there were no 'anti-social elements.' What were there were entire families. I told the man that he would have to face trial that it might not be me but my son. It might take generations but there would be justice."

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