Students Fast for Justice and Human Rights on Anniversary of Massacre

By Andres Perez
Yara News Service

Five members of the Free Cuba Foundation all of whom are FIU students fasted for 24 hours spanning the entire 24 hours that comprised July 13 at Florida International University to observe the 5th Anniversary of the July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre. The students held the fast at the Graham Center West Wall throughout the 24 hours of July 13. At 6am and again at 6pm Psalms 104 and 103 were read to coincide with their reading in Tamarindo 34 in Havana, Cuba where human rights and pro-democracy activists entered their 37th day of fasting, and Matanzas, Cuba where this tragic anniversary was also be observed. At 12 noon FIU students gathered together in a circle held hands and observed a 5 minute moment of silence(one minute for each year that has passed since July 13, 1994).

Karla Withee, an FIU graduate student, joined the 24 hour fast to, " pay respect to the victims and to express how opposed I am to this regime. In 1999 there is no reason for people to live in the horrible conditions that they do in Cuba." Susana Mendiola, president of the Free Cuba Foundation, and one of the fasters explains what motivates her, "I want to be a reminder of something terrible that is easily forgotten." Viviana Mendiola states, "I think it's very important to express solidarity with others who are making sacrifices for causes we believe in," referring to the 24 hour fast which is in part in solidarity with the Cuban human rights and pro-democracy activists currently engaged in a 40 day fast.

"We do not believe in violence as a method for resolving the deep rooted problems in Cuba not because violence is too radical an approach in dealing with the Castro regime, but rather because it's not radical enough," states John Suarez. Suarez goes on to say, "for the past century we have solved our problems via violent political revolutions and today we find ourselves steeped in tragedy and bloodshed. We must fundamentally challenge the violence, injustice and hatred that led to this massacre of innocents 5 years ago, and the many more that remain unknown with non-violence, justice and love." Robert Linares, five years after the tragedy, still remembers, "I'm very sad for those people who died in the "13 de Marzo" tugboat. The defenseless women, and children who died, still move me greatly."

Five years ago on July 13, 1994 forty one men, women, and children were murdered by the Cuban government for trying to leave Cuba. Five years later despite offers from European nations and exile groups, the bodies of the 41 victims have still not been recovered. The men responsible for the massacre were given medals and promoted. Survivors and family members of the victims who refused to remain silent are harassed. A memorial site has been created on the internet at http://www.fiu.edu/~fcf/justicenow

Copyright yara! 1999