16 years later, Cubans of all ages still remember and pay tribute to the 4 heroes of the Brothers to the Rescue who were assassinated by the Cuban dictatorship on February 24th of 1996 as they flew over international waters on civilian aircraft in search of Cuban rafters.
Mario de la Peña, Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre Jr and Pablo Morales are names which are part of a long list of martyrs in the struggle for a free Cuba. Although they were Cuban-American, they carried Cuba in their blood, and for this reason- for the love of their parents and grandparent’s homeland- they lost their lives.
The Castro dictatorship has not yet been brought to justice for this horrendous crime, but one day justice will reign for the brave Brothers and for the countless men and women who have died in the island in the name of freedom. Due to the shoot-down of these planes, as well as because of the “Yell of Baire” which started the Cuban wars of independence from Spain in 1895, members of the internal Cuban Resistance have chosen the 24th of each month as the Day of the Resistance. Though justice on an international scale, in terms of tribunals and sentences, has not occurred, we can say that their is some form of justice on the island, in the sense that dissidents are challenging the dictatorship, protesting out on the streets in the name of martyrs like Zapata, Boitel, Wilman Villar Mendoza, and, yes, Mario de la Peña, Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre Jr y Pablo Morales.
And each year that passes, young people, in their majority, take part in events which take place in tribute to these 4 grand men. Perhaps one of the most symbolic of the events is held in Miami’s Florida International University (FIU), where relatives of the victims and students of FIU carry out a silent vigil around a water fountain at the same exact time in which the aircraft were shot down, from 3:21 pm to 3:28 pm. Below are photos of this year’s event, as well as one from a mass celebrated in their honor at night:
At evening mass: