Fidel Castro’s greatest atrocities and crimes – Part 3
Fidel Castro's shoot down of American civilian aircraft killing 4 people including 3 American citizens
By February of 1996 the Cuban rafter crisis that began during Cuba's "special period" of austerity and shortages had been largely mitigated. The United States had agreed to accept 25,000 Cuban refugees annually via a visa lottery and Fidel Castro's government had agreed to prevent rafters from from fleeing. But during the height of the rafter crisis a Miami-based humanitarian organization called "Brothers to the Rescue" made up of Cuban exile pilots had been spotting rafters, dropping water and other supplies to them and coordinating Coast Guard rescues. Now their humanitarian role had greatly diminished since the U.S. had agreed to repatriate any Cubans interdicted on the high seas.
So Brothers to the Rescue began more overtly political sorties and occasionally flew into Cuban airspace to drop leaflets. February 24, 1996 was not one of those occasions but that did not stop Cuban Airforce MIG jets from shooting two unarmed civilian aircraft out of the sky over international waters killing all four aboard.
This short film (in Spanish with English subtitles) contains actual recordings of radio transmissions between Castro's Cuban Air Force pilots and their superiors on the ground. You can hear them begging for authorization to shoot down the unarmed propellor aircraft and their glee when the planes disintegrate upon impact of their missiles:
Fidel Castro admitted that he was responsible for the shoot down but tried to justify it as seen in this trailer for a documentary film about this crime.
Even the New York Times, which is hardly ever critical of the Castro regime, denounced the shoot down with an editorial:
The Cuban Government made prophets of its most caustic critics Saturday by shooting two American civil aircraft out of the sky. There can be no justification for deliberately killing four civilians who posed no military threat to Cuba.