WE DEMAND JUSTICE AND TRUTH FOR
ARMANDO, CARLOS, MARIO AND PABLO
BY JOSÉ J. BASULTO
February 24, 1999 marked the third anniversary of the premeditated murders of Armando, Carlos, Mario and Pablo, by the Cuban air force, when two Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR) airplanes were downed in international airspace. These crimes remain unpunished and unresolved by US authorities, which have this obligation, as three US citizens, a legal alien, and two US flag airplanes were involved.
It is our conviction that these politically motivated murders were coldly calculated to eliminate BTTR, who, then as now, supports the internal opposition in Cuba and constitutes one of the obstacles to the reestablishment of relations between the US and the Cuban regime, without the knowledge and consent of the Cuban people.
The plan by the enemies of Cubas liberty and sovereignty failed because Castros MiGs were able to down only two of the three BTTR airplanes. The third one, which I piloted, miraculously escaped with three other witnesses onboard, after a documented, uninterrupted 53 minute chase. During this period of time, the US saw on its radars and heard on its monitors these events unfold. Nevertheless, they remained motionless and in absolute silence, as if no response was required.
The execution of the plan by Castro required the total destruction of the three BTTR airplanes, in order to validate the testimony of its fabricated witnesses, including the so-called "survivor" Juan Pablo Roque, presented by Cuba as such, immediately after the downing of our airplanes.
The failure of the MiGs forced the Cuban government to abandon the previously planned justification for the downing, which included discrediting the humanitarian purpose of BTTRs mission in order to prevent military or political measures which the Clinton Administration would have been forced to impose in light of the attack. The only consequence to the Castro regime, imposed by the US, was the Helms-Burton Act. Clinton was forced to approve this law, despite his previous opposition, and subsequently only implemented it partially. At the present time he pretends to abrogate it.
We have no doubt that when we demand justice and truth for our martyrs, we are being blocked by the private and secret agenda of US economic interests and officials of the Administration. They are eager to establish relations with Cuba, at any cost, in order to "legally" perpetuate the present regime and exploit the slave labor market that the Island at present offers.
After the downing, BTTR started to research what had actually happened due to our serious doubts about how it had been possible for Castro and his MiGs to carry out these actions, with impunity, without alerting any US defense mechanism. We were met with an attitude on the part of US authorities, that prevails to-date, of refusal to respond to our questions related to their conduct before, during and after these events. Everything indicates that the Clinton Administration intends to cover up the truth with its silence, contradictions, falsehoods and the convenient invocation of "national security".
The Clinton Administration attempted and continues to attempt to obstruct justice in two trials, in 1997 and again in 1998, against three Cubans. One of them, Adel Regalado Ulloa, witnessed the MiGs practices in Cuba to shoot our airplanes and his testimony can establish premeditation on the part of Castro and prior knowledge by the US. (The US radars also observed the events). Despite the fact that these Cubans have been twice acquitted, by a federal jury and by an immigration judge, the Clinton Administration still plans to appeal the second verdict. These actions can only lead to the conclusion that the Administration intends to forward its agenda by handing them over to Castro to guarantee Regalados silence.
In July of 1998, despite the shootdown of February 24, 1996, the Clinton Administration inexplicably ordered BTTRs airplanes that in case of interception by Cuban MiGs in international airspace, they should submit themselves to their orders, including following them to Cuba. Later it attempted to justify these instructions with falsehoods.
We believe that the answers to our questions can reveal not only criminal negligence on the part of high US officials, but also collaboration with the Cuban government in the downing, as well as how the national security of the US was put at risk.
We maintain that Castro and the pilots of the Cuban air force, the Pérez Pérez brothers, were the direct perpetrators of these crimes and that the Clinton Administration had prior knowledge of Castros intentions. Through certain actions and omissions, which included the violation of mechanisms for national security and defense, and through its complicity of silence, the Administration contributed to the murders. We are aware, therefore, that high officials of this Administration may be among those most interested in ensuring that the truth will never be known and that there will never be justice.
Our unalterable obligation is to fight for justice and truth for Armando, Carlos, Mario and Pablo, for the rescue of our homeland, and a Cuba for Cubans.
We are infinitely grateful to our congressmen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Díaz Balart for their support in asking the authorities to answer our questions. Write to your congressmen requesting a congressional investigation on the downing of our airplanes.
We reproduce in Section IV, entitled "Unanswered Questions" the aforementioned questions, as they have been previously presented.
This site last updated: Jan. 13, 1999
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