If this were but one isolated act there would still be just cause for outrage, but sadly in Cuba there is a pattern for this type of brutality by a government against its own people, stretching back over the past four decades of the Castro dictatorship.
Another recent example of this brutality was during the summer of 1993 during the month of June. U.S. military guards surveying Guantanamo Bay witnessed what the U.S. State Department called "an act of extreme cruelty." On June 19 at 2:00 p.m., Cuban troops aboard patrol boats dropped grenades in the paths of several swimmers headed for the U.S. base. A day later on June 20 at 1:30 p.m., Cuban troops repeated the action, then strafed the water with machine-gun fire. Six days later on June 26 at 11 a.m., three patrol boats surrounded a group of swimmers, lobbing grenades and spraying them with automatic weapons fire. At least three corpses were lifted out of the water with gaffs. A day later on June 27 at 11:30 a.m., guards aboard patrol boats lobbed two grenades into the water. Just before 3:00 p.m., a patrol boat opened automatic fire on a group of swimmers. Agents of the Cuban government were using gaffs usually used to pull game fish into boats on human beings to pull their bodies from the water after using grenades, and machine gun fire against unarmed swimmers.
The 1995 Ackerman and Clark study, The Cuban Balseros: Voyage of Uncertainty states that, "between 1959 and late August 1994, a total of as many as 100,000 balseros [rafters] may have died in crossing." Furthermore, they argue that it is likely that rafters in the early days of the revolution faced harsher conditions because Cuban gunboats "at that time had orders to shoot to kill."
We seek to draw attention to these outrages, and we plan to do so by raising a civil and respectful call for justice. We believe that the crimes committed above are a result of the utilization of violence, arrogance, and hatred as government policy. The policy is evil. The best way to oppose evil is not with more evil. Gandhi observed that, "civility and humility are expressions of the spirit of non-violence while incivility and insolence indicates the spirit of violence." Therefore, on July 13, 1999, we will be fasting at Florida International University for 24 hours. We will be holding silent vigils in remembrance of those who have died violently in the Florida Straits, and have created an on-line website in remembrance of the "13 de Marzo" victims with an on-line petition at http://www.fiu.edu/~fcf/justicenow . Finally, in solidarity with our brothers and sisters fasting in Tamarindo 34 in Cuba we will be reading the same Psalms at the same time they will be, once in the morning, and once again in the evening.
Member at Large
Free Cuba Foundation
Graham Center 340
Florida International University
Miami, FL. 33199