CubaBrief: 25 minute silent vigil for July’s Cuban martyrs on July 10th at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC

“To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” – Elie Wiesel, Night

Screen Shot 2019-07-10 at 11.06.40 AM.png

Wednesday, July 13, 1994 at three in the morning, three extended Cuban families set out for a better life aboard the “13 de Marzo” tugboat from Havana, Cuba and 37 of them were extrajudicially executed by Cuban government agents.

The most extensive international report on the what took place is by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and is available on-line. Fifteen years later human rights defender Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement, reflected on what had happened:

Behind the Christ of Havana, about seven miles from the coast, “volunteers” of the Communist regime committed one of the most heinous crimes in the history of our city and of Cuba. In the morning, a group of seventy people in all, fled on a tugboat, led by the ship’s own crew; none was kidnapped, or there against their will. They came out of the mouth of the Bay of Havana. They were pursued by other similar ships. When the runaway ship and its occupants stopped to surrender, the ships that had been chasing them started ramming to sink it. Meanwhile, on the deck, women with children in their arms begging for mercy, but the answer of their captors was to project high pressure water cannons against them. Some saw their children fall overboard under the murderous jets of water amid shrieks of horror. They behaved brutally until their perverse mission was fulfilled: Sink the fleeing ship and annihilate many of its occupants.

The man who denounced the “13 de Marzo” tugboat massacre would himself become a martyr of the same dictatorship along with Harold Cepero, a youth leader of the Christian Liberation Movement.

Seven years ago on July 22, 2012 on a stretch of road in Eastern Cuba, State Security agents rammed the car Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante were traveling in. Both bodies appeared later that same day.

Human rights activists, members of civil society and Cuban exiles will gather on Wednesday, July 10th at 8:00pm in front of the Embassy of Cuba located at 2630 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 to hold a 25 minute vigil of silence for the 25 years that the victims and their families have been denied justice.

This is why it is also important to call on Cuban officials such as @DiazCanelB to allow an international investigation into these events.

WHAT: Vigil to remember “13 de Marzo” Tugboat victims killed 25 years ago by the Castro regime.

WHEN: July 10, 2019 at 8:00 PM

WHO: Human rights organizations and international civil society.

WHERE: Embassy of Cuba
2630 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20009