Memorial dedicated to the four who were murdered in the Florida Straits.
Here are their names and a brief summary about what really happened.
And here are the thugs released who were responsible for their murder:
In his announcement last Wednesday, December 17th, President Barack Obama referred to the three men pictured above who were arrested after the shoot down (murder) of the Brothers to the Rescue pilots simply as “Cuban agents“, noting they had served more than 15 years in prison. (Talk about audacity!)
Labañino and Guerrero originally got life sentences on espionage charges, but later were re-sentenced by a court to 30 years and about 22 years, respectively… Gerardo Hernández, convicted in 2001, was serving a lifetime sentence for conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes over Cuba in 1996. All three were arrested in 1998 and were part of the so-called “Cuban Five” group — Cuban nationals (convicted in 2001) of a spy ring called “the Wasp Network” which used shortwave radios to receive direction from Cuba, including demands for information on Cuban exile groups in Florida and U.S. military activities in the Caribbean. Read more
Obama also said that as far as he knew the “plane shut down” was not a premeditated move by Castro but a “tragic circumstance.” He said he was going to “weigh in” during the “healthy debate” inside Congress. He added that his policy against the embargo was going to give the United Nations and the Red Cross more freedom to help Cubans on the island.
“I share the concerns of dissidents there and human rights activist that this is still a regime that represses its people“.
Cuban-American lawmakers have promised the relatives of The Brothers To The Rescue victims that they will do everything in their power to keep the embargo in place to pressure Cuban officials to respect human rights. Let’s see what they do.
Left behind in all of this, the families of four men killed. They got the short end of the deal. They called Obama’s decision to release three of the members of the “Cuban Five” an insult to the U.S. justice system. Their biggest complaint was that they were not contacted by the Obama administration to prepare for the news.
“Everybody knows everyone’s phone numbers here, and any way to call, e-mail, anything, and nothing was done.”
“First, I want to say that I’m so happy that Alan Gross will be able to spend Hanukkah with his two daughters, ’cause I’ll never have that again with my father,” said Marelene Alejandre Triana, who was only 18 when her father, Armando Alejandre Jr., one of the four men on board Cessna Skymasters that had taken off from Opa-locka Airport on Feb. 24, 1996, was shot down over international waters.
“The only person that we had responsible for what happened, to be let go, it’s a slap in the face to my dad”.
For a tearful daughter Marlene Alejandre Triana, the relaxing of restrictions is especially painful because her father fought for the U.S. in Vietnam. “To me, it’s just a dishonor to my father’s memory, to every soldier that goes and does anything, that this can happen, that there’s no respect,” she said. Video here
Interesting to note that Alan Gross has a picture of Che hanging on the wall as he and fellow attorneys prepare a message shortly after his arrival:
Alan Gross, w atty Scott Gilbert & spokeswoman Jill Zuckman, prepping remarks to deliver after arriving in US…#Cuba
A tearful Miriam de la Peña said Raul Castro was the one who ordered the hit on The Brothers To The Rescue plane that her son, Mario de la Peña, was in when he died Feb. 24, 1996.
“I’d like to say that, not only do I feel that I’ve been slapped in the face by a president. I feel that the justice system of the United States of America today has suffered a big blow.“
Raul Castro with Cuban spies released by Obama.
José Basulto, the founder of Brothers to the Rescue
“Obama has elected himself as the new king of America, and he feels free to take any type of actions, even if he has to [bypass] the justice system of the United States.” Read more.
MOST INFURIATING (if it is even possible)!
Not mentioned much on my part because I am not interested in discussing matters that are divisive. It needs to be said that as a Catholic, I am beyond disappointed in the latest action of Pope Francis. There is no comparison between the visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba in 1998 who went to bring a new breeze (literally) and spiritual renewal which resulted in a return to churches all over Cuba, and the actions of this Pope (Francis) who helped broker a politically motivated deal that never even took into consideration the victims or their families but gave comfort to a murderous regime and a deliberately anti-American interests president instead. Critics of the church may or may not use this to continue condemning the Catholic Church, but I will ignore them to be able to report the story.
Pope Francis paid for US-Cuba deal at secret Vatican meetings with Obama.
Barbaric regimes (not just Fidel’s) will never change with the lifting of sanctions. It is a dream romanticized by fools in the media like Chuck Todd to name one of dozens if not hundreds. You cannot legislate moral political leadership or force ruthless despots to have principles. Just two days following the announcement…
I have been standing with the families of the pilots who were murdered in the Brothers to the Rescue mission. They have my heart and prayers as they represent the injustice suffered by victims who have struggled not just against communism in Cuba, but misinformation and propaganda against its dissidents in the media.
Noam Chomsky: Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media. (H/T David Rosenthal)
There are no limits to Fidel’s hatred for the people of Cuba. Likewise, no love by our president for Americans or a scintilla of concern for victims of political or religious persecution worldwide. None. He is one of them.
Image courtesy of US4Palin
If anyone wonders why I support Sarah Palin, it is because we didn’t have anyone like her in politics to be the antidote for communism in Cuba. Without putting too much pressure on one woman, she is a treasure because of her GOODNESS and FIGHT for the right things. This is scary to despots. So I believe and I have faith that since GOOD wins in the end, we shall prevail. I don’t know how else to express how disappointing and disheartening it is for people not to APPRECIATE what they have after all the evil and malice displayed over five decades.
I like how Sarah Palin has approached this Cuba deal because it is empowering to the people there. That being said I hope and pray she knows Cubans who lost Cuba will never see it again out of conviction until the Castro brothers are gone (and even then the destruction has been so vast and permanent) and that it will remain just a remembrance of a healthy, prosperous and self-sufficient nation. It is lost and will never be the same. We who fought for her are thirsty for fighting for America. It is going to be 56 years this January 1st that the revolution started and there is no end in sight to the tyranny. I have lit my candle in solidarity for those fighting the oppression in Cuba, but Cuba is only in my heart and mind. It is time to realize FIGHTING for AMERICA is our first hope!
From protests in Miami to Candle lighting in solidarity all over the U.S. Few were unaffected by this story as we all are now brothers and sisters fighting for a universal and God-given right: freedom. In Cuba, the Billboard is obviously for the liberation of the murderous accomplices.
Candle images by John Qualls II and Mariah May, respectively.
Update: The wife of Gerardo Hernandez became pregnant through artificial insemination and it is expected she will give birth in two weeks. What a coincidence, huh. This could go on forever… Enough.
1898: U.S. wins the Spanish-American war, forcing Spain to cede control over Cuba
1902: Cuba becomes independent but the island remains under US protection and Congress retains the right to intervene in the nation’s affairs
1934: After a coup led by Sergeant Fulgencio Batista, the U.S. relinquishes its right to intervene in Cuba and alters its tariff structure to favor Cuba’s economy
1958: The US pulls its military aid to Batista following two years of guerrilla warfare waged by leftist rebels Fidel Castro and Che Guevara
1959: Castro leads 9,000 guerrillas into Havana and deposes Batista, later meeting with then-Vice President Richard Nixon in Washington
1960: U.S. breaks off diplomatic relations with Havana and imposes a trade embargo after Castro ‘nationalizes’ all U.S. businesses operating in Cuba without any compensation
1961: Castro proclaims Cuba a communist nation and allies with the Soviet Union, shortly after the U.S. backs Cuban exiles who aimed, but failed, to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs
1961-63: The CIA draws up at least five separate plans to assassinate Castro
1962: Castro lets the Soviet Union deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba, pointed at the U.S., and the U.S. releases photos of the missile silos; the ‘Cuban missile crisis’ was resolved when the USSR dismantled the missiles in exchange for the withdrawal of American nuclear missiles from Turkey
1980: Around 125,000 Cubans in the ‘Mariel boatlift’ – a large number of them convicts released from Cuban jails – flee to the US, when Castro temporarily lifts restrictions on travel
1996: U.S. makes its trade embargo permanent after Cuba shoots down two American aircraft operated by Cuban exiles based in Miami
2001: Five Cubans are given long sentences in the U.S. for spying for the Cuban government, including one who conspired to bring down the planes in 1996
2001: The Bush administration exports food to Cuba for the first time in more than four decades, following Havana’s plea for help after Hurricane Michelle
2002: U.S. Under Secretary of State John Bolton, later America’s UN Reresentative, accuses Cuba of trying to develop biological weapons
2002: Former President Jimmy Carter tours scientific facilities in Cuba, making him the first former or current U.S. president to visit the country in more than 40 years
2003: President George W. Bush tightens Cuban travel embargo and creates the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba
2006: Fidel Castro, in failing health, hands over power to his brother Raul
2006: The U.S. sends a 10-member bipartisan delegation from Congress to Cuba, but Raul Castro refuses to meet with them
2009: Barack Obama lifts restrictions on family travel and cash transfers to Cuba by family members
2009: Alan Gross is jailed in Cuba, accused of spying for Washington just days before the New Year
2014: Gross is released in exchange for the three remaining ‘Cuban Five’ prisoners, and the Obama administration announces plans to ‘normalize’ relations with Havana