Press Release: Massacre in Cuba: Ramming and sinking of boat filled with Cuban refugees is part of the Castro dictatorship’s systematic pattern of repression

Press Release

Massacre in Cuba: Ramming and sinking of boat filled with Cuban refugees is part of the Castro dictatorship’s systematic pattern of repression

“Extrajudicial killings against fleeing Cuban refugees are and have been the policy of the Cuban government for decades. Disappointing that someone at the U.S. Embassy in Havana forgot this.”

Contact: John Suarez (612) -367-6845/

Janisset Rivero (786)-208-6056


Center for a Free Cuba. Miami, November 3, 2022. The ramming and sinking of a speedboat on October 28, 2022, off the coast of Bahía Honda, Artemisa Province, adds a new case to the long list of vessels sunk by the regime to prevent Cubans from fleeing the dictatorship. “They continue to use the same strategies since the communist dictatorship was established in Cuba. Attack boats to break them in half, then drown the passengers by creating eddies, physically attacking them as they try to swim, or using powerful jets of water.

“This also happened in 1994 with the tugboat “13 de Marzo”, the same thing happened in the Canímar River massacre in 1980, and the massacre of Barlovento in 1962, although most of the cases are not known. The Cuban Coast Guard vessels of the Cuban dictatorship are used as weapons against Cubans who try to flee the island, regardless of the presence of children, women, or elderly people,” explained activist and writer Janisset Rivero, who is the program officer of the Center for a Free Cuba.

Those who survived the attack on October 28th stated that the government vessels blocked their path as soon as their boat departed, and that they were deliberately attacked to break the boat in half with which they intended to flee the island. These witness reports, gathered after the event, say that one of the repressors threatened to “split them in two.”

“Cuba’s feared Ministry of the Interior (MININT) on October 29th blamed the United States for this crime, but the reality is that the MININT is directly responsible for the conduct of the Cuban Coast Guard ship that attacked and sank the boat carrying Cuban refugees, and the subsequent loss of life.  This has been the policy of Havana to murder fleeing Cuban refugees for decades,” said John Suárez, Executive Director of the Center for a Free Cuba.

“It was deeply disappointing to see the U.S. Embassy in Havana initially call this criminal and premeditated act an ‘accident’.”  They should know better. The United States in 1993 documented in a protest note sent to the Cuban government how MININT vessels, determined to stop Cuban refugees from reaching the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base, tossed grenades, and machine-gunned fleeing swimmers, and recovered their bodies with gaff hooks used in sport fishing.  The criminal nature of the regime in Havana has been reliably demonstrated over 63 years and to the present day,” added Mr. Suarez. 

At a time when the issue of the United States trade embargo on Cuba is being debated at the UN the Center for a Free Cuba denounces the criminal regime in Havana and asks the international community to condemn the ongoing internal economic, political, and social blockade the Castro regime has imposed on Cubans for more than six decades.