By José J. Basulto


Three U.S. citizens and a resident of Florida were assassinated on February 24, 1996 when two civilian Brothers to the Rescue aircraft, on a humanitarian mission, were ambushed in international airspace by Cuban MiGs.  The shootdown was ordered by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. (For background information see Tab B.)


This premeditated crime remains unpunished and unresolved by U.S. authorities, who are obliged and duty bound to act, under “THE RULE OF LAW”, since U.S. citizens and American airplanes were the target of an act of international terrorism perpetrated by Castro’s Cuba.


Fidel Castro and his accomplices in Cuba and the US have not been criminally indicted.


After careful review of the available information and data, obtained by Brothers to the Rescue from expert independent sources and the U.S. government itself, we have enough evidence (Tab C) to prove that the Clinton-Gore Administration (the Administration):


1.                  Had prior knowledge of the attack,

2.         Consented to the shootdown,

3.         Collaborated with Castro’s Cuba to make the crime possible,

4.         Covered up its own participation, by using misinformation and efforts to remove evidence and potential witnesses, and

5.         Refused to indict and obstructed the criminal indictment of Fidel Castro and others responsible for the crime.


A third aircraft on the mission, which I piloted, miraculously escaped the shootdown, with three other witnesses onboard.   This is our testimony:


Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR) is a humanitarian, pro-democracy organization.  Prior to the attack, BTTR had helped in saving the lives of over four thousand refugees escaping Cuba and seeking freedom in the U.S., in close to two thousand search and rescue missions in the same area where the murders took place.  Members of the local, national and international press routinely documented these flights and their findings, thus providing dramatic evidence of the repressive social and political conditions in Cuba, which caused the suicidal exodus.


In addition to exposing the government of Cuba for causing the deaths of thousands of refugees in the Florida Straits, BTTR became Castro’s target due to our support of the independent nonviolent opposition within Cuba, which seeks a change to democracy.  Furthermore, BTTR has always maintained a strong and active opposition to the Cuban agenda of the Administration.


The Clinton-Gore agenda is mainly driven by private interests seeking to profit by opening economic and political relations with Cuba, at any cost (attachment 1).  To the American people, it would entail a moral as well as financial cost, as U.S. government subsidies would be required.  It would also prolong Castro’s permanence in power, which has already spanned the terms of nine U.S. presidents, and, consequently, the suffering of the Cuban people.


The Administration, unable under U.S. laws to curtail BTTR’s active, nonviolent pro-democracy agenda for Cuba, allowed and collaborated with Castro in this attempt to eliminate BTTR, a thorn in their relations.


Cuba’s plan failed when the MiGs were unable to shoot down the third aircraft, allowing four witnesses to escape and successfully contradict a fabricated version of the events, which was needed to justify the attack.  Castro’s plot used a Cuban spy, Maj. Juan Pablo Roque, who was initially portrayed as a “survivor” of the downing.  Roque joined BTTR and acted as a double agent working for Cuba and the FBI.  Roque was being paid by the FBI to give information on BTTR.


Shortly after the murders, BTTR and others started to raise questions about the Administration’s role in the shootdown.  The few responses obtained in official reports and statements by government officials contained conflicting information and falsehoods.


Prime examples of misinformation are the letter from Gen. Howard G. DeWolf (September 5, 1996) to Rep. Dan Burton, submitted for the record at the hearing before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere (September 18, 1996) and the Report of Inquiry by Gen. Rodney P. Kelly (October 13, 1996)(Attachment 15).  The Administration’s evasive handling of said hearing also attests to a wide cover up of its own actions.  First it sent few and purposely unprepared witnesses.  Later one of the witnesses, Colonel Michael C. McMahan, Deputy J-3 for the Atlantic Command, sent a written response from SEADS i and NORAD i to some of the member’s questions.  BTTR maintains that these responses contain contradictions and nonfactual information.


On August 31, 1998, Florida congressmen Lincoln Díaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen requested Attorney General Janet Reno to respond to a summary of questions submitted by BTTR.  A no-response letter came back from the Inspector General of the Department of Defense (DOD) on Dec. 28, 1998, invoking “national security” and refusing to answer. (Tab E)


A Cuban spy network known as “Wasp” whose purpose was to commit espionage in the United States, including U.S. military installations, existed at least as early as 1994.  It coordinated in 1996 “Operation Scorpion”, the conspiracy to commit the murder on February 24, 1996.  This network was uncovered by the FBI.  It included: (a) Juan Pablo Roque, who played a key role; (b) the Cuban Air Force pilot who participated in the practice run and Lt. Col. Comeneros who directed the run; (c) Generals Arnoldo Tamayo and Rosales del Toro; (d) the Pérez-Pérez brothers who piloted the MiGs; (e) Fidel Castro, and (e) others.  On May 7, 1999 prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida indicted some members of the conspiracy.  Key conspirators, including Fidel Castro and General Arnaldo Tamayo, were conspicuously missing from this indictment.  All legal elements are in place to indict them.  There is no legal reason why they should not be indicted.  The information and evidence support prosecution by way of a superseding indictment in the pending spy case.


Castro has publicly admitted his responsibility for the shootdown. (Attachment 13).  The legal elements to prove the offenses are there.  BTTR has formally requested the office of the U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Florida, and the State Attorney of Miami-Dade to bring criminal charges against Castro and all others responsible for these murders and the international conspiracy to commit murder, including the attempted murder of the four surviving participants in the mission.


The U.S. Department of Justice has taken no criminal legal action against Castro and all others responsible and has further instructed the Florida State Attorney to refrain from charging them in state court.  We believe that the Administration is aware that the criminal indictment of Castro and his collaborators could expose its own culpable involvement in the shootdown.


We demand that:


1.         The office of the U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Florida, and the State Attorney of Miami-Dade bring criminal charges against Fidel Castro and all others responsible for these murders and the attempted murder of the surviving victims.  The prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida indict all co-conspirators in Operation Scorpion.


2.         The Clinton-Gore Administration respond to the questions raised by BTTR and others regarding the shootdown and to BTTR’s rebuttal of the nonfactual information that the government has provided.






i           The Southeast Air Defense Sector Command (SEADS) has full authority to launch fighters to intercept unknown targets that threaten US sovereign airspace.


North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has the peacetime responsibility for the air sovereignty of North American airspace.