Tugboat “13 de Marzo” Massacre: An Anniversary We Will Never Forget

On a dark and late night, 72 Cubans tried fleeing the island aboard an old tugboat called “13 de Marzo” in search of freedom.  Many young mothers boarded their small children on the tugboat, while many other adults clung onto the faith that, soon, they would be able to work and live like dignified people.  Wrapped in fear, but with much hope that beyond the horizon they would be ree, these Cubans were planning to reach the United States, but destiny and the cruelty of a regime impeded this dream, which was born out of desperation, to become reality.

Tomorrow, July 13th, will be another dark anniversary of Cuban history- the “13 de Marzo” tugboat massacre.  This slaughter, which stole the lives of 41 innocent Cubans- among them many children and adolescents- is one of the many atrocities committed by the Cuban dictatorship against its own people.  Official representatives of the repressive police force of the island used their hate, in this case personified by viciously hosing down the victims who were trying to escape, in order to prevent the tugboat from reaching land of liberty.  Despite the fact that 17 years have passed since the cruel assassination, justice has not been done, the same way that there has been no justice for the shot down Brothers to the Rescue victims, the thousands of innocents executed by firing squads since 1959, the countless cases of death behind the prison bars, and, in sum, the thousands of anonymous Cubans who have lost their lives at the hands of totalitarian communism.

Let it be clear in Cuba, and in the rest of the world: we will never forget the victims of the dictatorship and tomorrow, July 13th, and always, we will remember the victims of the “13 de Marzo” tugboat.

Below is a report made on the massacre, sent to the Interamerican Human Rights Commission:

  REPORT Nº 47/96

CASE 11.436


October 16, 1996

I.          BACKGROUND

1.       On July 19, 1994, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received a complaint stating that in the early morning hours of July 13, 1994, four boats belonging to the Cuban State and equipped with water hoses attacked an old tugboat that was fleeing Cuba with 72 people on board.  The incident occurred seven miles off the Cuban coast, opposite the port of Havana.  The complaint also indicates that the Cuban State boats attacked the runaway tug with their prows with the intention of sinking it, while at the same time spraying everyone on the deck of the boat, including women and children, with pressurized water.  The pleas of the women and children to stop the attack were in vain, and the old boat–named “13 de Marzo”–sank, with a toll of 41 deaths, including ten minors.  Thirty-one people survived the events of July 13, 1994.

2.   On February 28, 1995, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received another complaint concerning the same events, which was added to Case File No. 11.436, in accordance with Article 40.2 of its Regulations.

Continue reading this shocking report here.

And a moving short video about the massacre, narrated by the survivors:

And more stories here.

Faces of the victims

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