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July Anniversaries of Two Massacres. 7/6/07

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CUBA: JULY ANNIVERSARIES OF TWO MASSACRES
Unpunished, but not forgotten

July 6, 2007, Summit, New Jersey.

Among the most flagrant atrocities committed by the Castro regime in its long history of human rights’ abuses, two incidents stand out –the Canimar River Massacre of 1980 and the Tugboat Massacre of 1994. Both took place in the month of July and poignantly illustrate the Cuban leadership’s profound disregard for human life and their egregious violation of the fundamental right of citizens to leave their country.
 
On July 6, 1980 three youngsters hijacked an excursion boat that was to navigate inland along the scenic Canimar river flowing into Matanzas Bay. Surprised passengers screamed their approval to go to the United States, but the security guard resisted and shot at the youngsters, who wounded him with firearms clandestinely obtained from their military service. Concerned for his health, they sent him back to shore with a passenger who refused to leave. Alerted authorities commanded a chase. High-speed Cuban Navy patrol boats fired on the escapees and attempted to sink the vessel. Then, a Cuban Air Force plane overflew the boat and opened fire. Finally, most not yet wounded or dead drowned when a special boat used for heavy industrial work was brought in to ram and sink the vessel.

The excursion boat had capacity for one hundred passengers, yet only ten survived. Reportedly, there were at least 56 victims, including four children, ages 3, 9, 11, and 17. The actual number was kept secret and recovered bodies were not handed to the families, communal funerals forbidden. The Cuban government claimed it was an accident, but survivors were threatened with prison into silence and kept under surveillance for years

Fourteen years later, on July 13, 1994, a group of around seventy family members and friends, including many children, boarded the tugboat “13 de marzo” in the middle of the night planning to escape to the United States. As they made their way out of Havana’s harbor, three tugboats that had been waiting in the dark started a chase. Relentlessly, they sprayed the boat with high pressure water jets, ripping children from their parents’ arms and sweeping passengers off to sea. Finally, the attackers rammed the “13 de marzo” enough to make it sink. Passengers who had taken refuge in the cargo hold were pinned down and desperately pounded on the walls, the children wailing in horror, as they went down. Survivors who then clung to life in high seas, contended with the three pursuing tugboats circling them and creating wave turbulence and eddies for them to drown. The attack stopped suddenly when a merchant ship with a Greek flag approached Havana Harbor and Cuban Navy ships picked up survivors. Brought to shore, the stunned women and children were interrogated and sent home. The men were kept in detention for months and given psychotropic drugs. No bodies of the 37 victims (including 11 children) were returned to their families for burial. Survivors and relatives of the dead were denied information and put under surveillance. Many were dismissed from their jobs and systematically harassed by the authorities.

More detailed accounts are available at www.CubaArchive.org:

Canimar River Massacre
http://www.cubaarchive.org/english_version/articles/88/1/The-Canimar-River-Massacre-of-July-6%2C-1980

Tugboat Massacre (with photos of victims)
www.CubaArchive.org/english_version/articles/97/1/The-Tugboat-Massacre

Summary of Documented Victims of Exit Attempts
http://www.CubaArchive.org/english_version/articles/89/1/ Cubans -killed-for-attempting-to-flee-Cuba


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Free Society Project, Inc. March 2007. ©All rights reserved.   Reproduction and redistribution of this material is authorized as long as  its source, Cuba Archive ( Free Society Project), is cited.
 

 

 

 
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