Brothers To The Rescue – A Crime That Hurts “Like The First Day”
Brothers To The Rescue: A Crime That Hurts “Like The First Day”/
14ymedio, Mario Penton
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 24 February 2017 – Members of the Cuban
exile remembered the anniversary of the death of four Cuban Americans
after the shooting down of two planes of the humanitarian NGO Brothers
to the Rescue by the Cuban Air Force in 1996.
The commemorative activities began with an act of homage to Manuel de la
Peña, Carlos Acosta, Armando Alejandre and Pablo Morales, at the
monument in Opa-locka that reminds them of the 21st anniversary of the
“Every year when we remember them, we feel immense pain,” says Ana
Ciereszko, sister of Armando Alejandre, one of those murdered.
“When President Obama returned the spy responsible for the murder of our
relatives it was very hard because they gave their lives to save the
lives of others, Cuban rafters, many of whom have disappeared at sea,”
Cuban-American Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also recalled those
killed and lashed out at the Obama administration for the release of spy
Gerardo Hernandez, convicted of providing information to the Cuban
government that allowed the perpetration of the crime.
“Our nation must defend these murdered Americans and ensure that justice
prevails so that the families of these victims can have the final peace
they so deeply deserve,” said the congresswoman.
Brothers to the Rescue emerged as an initiative of civilian aviators of
various nationalities and Cubans interested in assisting the rafters who
escaped from the island in fragile vessels during the migratory crisis
in the early 1990s. The collapse of the Soviet Union caused the greatest
economic crisis in the country’s history and thousands of migrants threw
themselves into the sea in the hope of reaching the United States.
The two Cessna 337 Skymaster aircraft, from Miami, were shot down with
air-to-air missiles by a MiG-29UB 900 fighter and a MiG-23 fighter. A
third plane escaped and called for help from the US authorities, who
never gave it to them.
The Cuban government accused the organization of having “terrorist
purposes” and defended the demolition of light aircraft on the grounds
that they were over Cuban waters. Brothers to the Rescue, however, says
that the shooting down took place in international waters.
“There has been no justice because there was no clarification of the
truth. The facts were carefully hidden under the presidencies of Clinton
and Castro,” says Jose Basulto, 76, president of Brothers to the Rescue
and one of the survivors of the tragedy.
“It was a joint action, complicit, because they wanted to resume
relations between both countries,” he says. He adds that on the Island
there practice runs for shooting down the planes and that it was
suggested to American officials what was going to happen. “We were
exposed to the enemy fire and nobody helped us,” he adds.
According to Basulto, the days before each commemoration of the
demolition are filled with memories and are “very sad.”
“Brothers to the Rescue was an example of human solidarity with the
people of Cuba and to teach the world the harshness of the suffering of
the people, capable of committing suicide at sea in order to escape from
that dictatorship,” he recalls.
At Florida International University (FIU) a commemorative event was held
with relatives of the victims and a broad representation of the
exile. The meeting has become a tradition to remember the four
Cuban-American youth and, as every year, silence was held between 3:21
pm and 3:28 pm, the time at which the planes were shot down.
“My brother was my first baby. He was just a boy when he was killed,”
says Mirtha Costa, sister of Carlos Alberto Costa.
“He loved being together with everyone in the family. He was also a very
cheerful person and always looked for how to make jokes to others,” he
Both Costa and the other relatives are responsible for the CAMP
Foundation, named after the initials of each of the victims of the
The foundation supports diverse organizations that promote youth
education, such as Miami Dade College and the University of Miami.
The families of the victims will honor their memory with a Eucharist at
St. Agatha Church at 7:00 pm this Friday.
Source: Brothers To The Rescue: A Crime That Hurts “Like The First Day”/
14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba –