Cuba: the massacre of the tugboat

and the message in Fatima


Lael Varella, federal congressman (PFL), Brasilia


I would like to remember, with a note of disbelief, a crime committed

by the Coast Guard of the communist regime of Cuba, which its lamentable

anniversary will be commemorated on July 13th.

In effect-- according to documents of the Organization of American

States (OEA), and in various trustworthy publications-- July 13, 1994, a

group of families were fleeing the prison-island of Cuba in a small

tugboat, looking for freedom. At 7 miles from the coast, the vessel was

intercepted and attacked repeatedly by Castro's ships, in an action that

was clearly premeditated, While the tugboat, broken in two, started to

shipwreck, its passengers on deck were thrown to the sea by powerful

streams of water from pressured hoses. The streams of water with

merciless power were directed to the children, targeting them directly

on their faces and therefore preventing them from breathing.

When the tugboat sank, Castro's vessels started to revolve around in

circles, creating a huge whirlwind that swallowed the shipwrecked

people. Out of 72 people, 41 died because of drowning, among them, 23


Janet Hernandez, a survivor, gave this account: "Sometimes I think

that it was all a nightmare. But the hideous cries of mothers that lost

their children, the little hands of children sinking forever to the

bottom of the sea and the crying that we shared, is real."

Confronting that massacre, the communist dictator Fidel Castro said:

"The coastguardsmen had nothing to do with it, they arrived a few

minutes after the accident happened..." Instead, the Inter-American

Commission for Human Rights, in its session of October 16, 1996, pointed

clearly to the responsibility of the Cuban State in that crime, with the

flagrant violation of two consecrated rights found in the American

Declaration of Rights and Duties of Mankind: the right to LIFE and the

right to TRANSIT.

But this tragedy has been practically forgotten. I ask in the name of

those who died, a prayer and a feeling of compassion. A prayer so that

soon, freedom will come to the Cuban people; and to the many occidental

leaders, to stop "opening" to the dictator and instead, open to the

unfortunate inhabitants of the prison-island of Cuba, as his holiness

John Paul II, asked them to.

I will request also in the plenary of the Brazilian Congress - as

soon as it starts its activities after the current recess - that there

will be one minute of silence in remembrance of those innocent victims.

But that minute of silence - as it will constitute a genuine

manifestation of respect, and justly so, of the Congress of my country -

does not seem to suffice.

Every time it is more imperious the necessity to proclaim to the

entire world, not only this horrendous crime that lays unpunished, but

the actual situation of Cuba.

Denouncement so needed and urgent, as there has been so little or no

change in the Cuban society after the visit of his holiness John Paul

II, despite the revolutionary stubbornness of Castro. It was denounced a

few days ago by Sebastian Arcos, son of a well known Cuban dissident,

who recently passed away, as he received in Madrid a posthumous award

given to his progenitor: "Castro has instrumentalized the visit of the

Pope, to give an appearance of change in front of the International

Community, which has hastily diminished its pressure on Cuba, when

nothing has changed in the regime. Everything has continued to be

exactly the same." And the executive secretary of the Conference of

Catholic Bishops of Cuba (COCC), father Jose Felix Perez Riera, has just

declared; "There has not been any openness or any significant

occurrences. To the average citizen, everything has been kept the same."

July 13, the Catholics of this entire world also commemorate a

special date, which has a lot of common from many points of view, with

the massacre of the tugboat and with the actual situation of the Cuban

people. It is the 81st anniversary of the 3rd apparition of our Blessed

Mother the Virgin of Fatima, Portugal, to 3 little shepherds. It is of

significant coincidence that said apparition happened also July 13th,

and that same day, the Virgin prophetically pointed out that Russia

would spread "its errors throughout the world," promoting "wars and

persecutions against the Church," in which "the good will succumb to

martyrdom." Those celestial words; don't they describe and how

profoundly so, the stations of the cross of the Cuban people, in which

the massacre of the tugboat is but one chapter?

Our Blessed Mother, on the same occasion, had some words of hope

that equally important, without a doubt, have a relationship with the

island; "At last my immaculate heart will triumph!"

May the victory of the Christian civilization as previewed by the

Virgin - that in Cuba is revered under the invocation of the Caridad del

Cobre - arrive at once to the "Pearl of the Antilles"

So I stated.

(Jul. 7, 1998: Newsgroups soc.culture.cuba, soc.rights.human, it.politica.cattolici, fr.soc.religion, soc.politics.marxism, can.politics, alt.journalism,, us.politics, alt.politics.usa.congress)