Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

July 2, 1999. THE GHOST OF A SUNKEN CUBAN TUGBOAT ARRIVES OFF FLORIDA COAST By Tania Quintero, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - Off the coast of Florida on June 29, two weeks before the fifth anniversary of the sinking of the Cuban tugboat named "13th of March" (13 de Marzo), the tugboat's ghost appeared when U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats tried to keep six Cuban "raftriders" who propelled a small fragile rowboat from landing at Miami Beach. The U.S. coast guardsmen used methods similar to those employed by the Cuban government officials who sank the Cuban tugboat the fateful night of July 13, 1994, killing 41 people, almost half of them children.

By spraying the rowboat with water hoses and discharging pepper gas into the faces of the island escapees, the U.S. guardsmen not only tried to impede the Cubans' reaching land but seemed to try to sink their boat.

But the presence of television cameras which transmitted live photos of the incident for an hour, showing the inhuman treatment, was a determining factor in saving the six Cubans who had left Cuba and were trying to reach the United States illegally.

The event mobilized thousands of Cuban Americans in Miami and their voices of protest reached far, even to the White House.

Now not only do the authors of the criminal actions have to face justice for their behavior, the six "raftriders" have won asylum from the Immigration Service so they can remain in the nation they sought to their north.

The event has various outcomes: The brutal actions of the U.S. coastal police following an illegal penetration of their lines was something very negative. Also negative was the fact that despite the agreements since 1995 between Cuba and the United States, the dangerous clandestine exodus by sea continues. A positive fact was the rapidity with which the Cuban community in Florida responded and took to the streets to make justice prevail.

To date, the writer of this commentary as of July 1 was aware of no notice in the Cuban media about the incident. But all of Cuba knows: Besides being on Radio Marti, the news was spread by most of the more important broadcasts around the world.

Tania Quintero, Cuba Free Press


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