Castro's massacre of
with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton
Julio 13, 2001
Today is the
seventh anniversary of one more unpunished crime by the Castro regime.
It was July 13, 1994, and again I say we must not forget the infamous
case of the "13 de Marzo" tugboat, in which 72 Cuban men, women and
children were trying to escape for the U.S. In this attack, 42 lost
their lives, including 12 children -- one of them just 6 months old. The
U.S. media were silent when it happened and since then have hardly
According to the testimony of survivors and Tim Bower’s book "Cuba:
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," the passengers attempted to
surrender, and many of them held their children up in the air. But Fidel
Castro’s Coast Guard was relentless in its savage attack and began to
pummel the helpless passengers with water cannons.
Bower’s book recounts the testimony that water cannons were used to
"spray children from the arms of their mothers into the ocean waters."
Other children were simply swept off the deck into the sea. Desperate to
protect the children, the women carried the remaining children down into
the boat’s hold.
Maria Victoria Garcia, a survivor of the massacre - who lost her husband
and 10-year old son, her brother, three uncles and two cousins - said:
"We struggled to stay above water by clinging to a floating body. I held
on to my son because I saw he was weakening and he didn’t have the
strength to go on. But people fell on me and my son slipped from my
grasp." Bower’s book explains, "The young boy could not fight the huge
waves created by the government vessels and his mother was forced to
watch helplessly as her baby drowned just five feet away."
The survivors relate how "The tugboat filled with water and cracked in
two by renewed ramming." Another survivor relayed that she "saw how they
(the fire hoses) were filling the hold with water. Once the boat was
sinking, I didn’t see anybody come out (of the hold)."
Cuba’s Coast Guard, following Castro’s orders, executed this criminal
massacre, which to this day remains unpunished. Those responsible for
this barbaric act received congratulations and promotions from Castro’s
regime. And Castro himself travels the world with proud impunity. Unlike
Milosevic, he will not face justice when he is no longer in charge
because he will be in charge until he dies.
This was not the first time Cuban children have suffered and paid with
their lives at the whim of the Castro regime.
Before 1959 Cubans did not leave their country; once Cuba became
Castro’s, its history is riddled with massive and daring escapes. There
are enough thrilling and dramatic stories to fill entire libraries and
"I had never faced death before nor saw it on other people’s faces. I'll
never forget those children. Or the look on their mothers’ faces," said
Eduardo Serrera in Helga Silva’s book "The Children of Mariel."
Serrera recalls the traumatizing event he experienced while leaving via
the port of Mariel, Cuba in 1980. He was crammed aboard a 24-foot shrimp
boat along with 36 men, women and children. He was leaving with his
mother, but Castro’s guards forced them to travel apart. He lost track
"By the third day water started coming into the boat. We used everything
at hand -- buckets, containers -- to bail out." Fortunately, around noon
the U.S. Coast Guard spotted the boat. Serrera recalls, "The sailors had
to make a human chain to physically lift us from our sinking boat."
Aboard the cutter on their way to the U.S., they encountered other
Cubans in distress in the Florida Straits. But not everybody could be
saved because the waves prevented the Coast Guard cutter from getting
close enough to rescue them. A boat was drifting away and falling apart,
and Serrera cannot forget the screams for help.
"It was awful." When the women aboard realized that they could not be
rescued, they "picked up their children and threw them over the railings
over to our side. Eight or nine children were flung in the air. I caught
one, a baby -- about nine months old -- so cold his skin was blue. And
his eyes were open wide in terror.
"The women on the boat looked so desperate when their boat began to
drift away. They wailed in pain. I could hear their voices trail off in
the darkness begging us to look after their children."
According to Helga Silva’s book, of the more than 125,000 refugees who
came to the U.S. during the 1980 Mariel boatlift, there were 13,000 to
However, the biggest exodus of unaccompanied children ever recorded in
the Western Hemisphere -- which is largely unknown to the American
people, thanks to the U.S. media -- took place in Cuba from Dec. 26,
1960 through Oct. 22, 1962. During that period, 14,048 children between
the ages of 6 and 18 years left Cuba for the U.S. in what was later
called "Operation Peter Pan."
This massive exodus was triggered by the increasing revelation of
Castro’s turn to communism. This awakened fears in Cuban parents that
they were about to lose the right to make decisions about raising their
children and their education as happened in the Soviet Union, China and
other communist regimes.
This fear was well founded. On May 1, 1960, Castro ordered the creation
of communist indoctrination schools, and private schools were under
increasing pressure from the regime to change to Marxist textbooks to
indoctrinate the children. Many private schools closed rather than be
taken over by Castro’s regime. Many parents kept their children home
instead of sending them to public schools, where communist
indoctrination had already begun. The future didn’t look promising for
families under Castro in 1960, just as today.
Cuba is a country where parents have taken extraordinary risks for
decades to get their children out. This desperate exodus has Castro’s
fingerprints all over it. He often uses a crisis to divert attention
from his failing revolution, as he masterminded the Elian Gonzalez case.
These stories of daring escapes from Castro’s Cuba are just a few grains
of salt on the vast sea of the tragedies taking place for the last 42
years in the Florida Straits. The fact that Cubans have been risking
their lives and would rather die at sea is very eloquent testimony,
When taking a vacation cruise traveling though the Florida Straits, just
consider for a minute the thousands of lives that have been needlessly
lost at sea and the last minute human struggle for survival of men,
women and children before they drown or are eaten by sharks - about
84,800. All of it because of the ambition for power of one man shielded
behind a failed and inhumane political system and very much protected by
the silence of the U.S. media.
Let us remember today all the children who died along with their parents
seeking freedom. Is it moral to look the other way in order to visit
Cuba as tourists? Or for the sake of making some dubious business deals,
giving up principles and ideals on behalf of a man and the dehumanized
political system he created to violate the human rights of the citizens
of his nation?
© 2001 ABIP
Agustin Blazquez is producer-director of the documentaries "Covering
Cuba," "Covering Cuba 2: The New Generation" and the upcoming "Covering
Cuba 3." E-mail: ABIP@olg.com
Source: La Nueva Cuba