Pure Evil

Please click here and listen very carefully.


The Shootdown – a documentary on the murder of four Brothers to the Rescue pilots on February 24, 1994 (the audio which you have just heard is of the Cuban pilot cowards) – opens today.
Here’s a list of theaters. You can view the trailer here. You can read a bit about the pilots here.
There’s been a bit of controversy and disagreement over certain aspects of this film, but I urge you all to put these aside and go experience the movie for yourself. Spread the word about the film and hopefully, whether you agree with everything in it or not, it will help get this film more exposure and playing in more theaters across the country.

Murder in the Florida Straits
No One Gives a Shit
Angels on Our Shoulders
You can read my tribute from 2005 below the fold.

In Memoriam
I don’t recall whether it was a Saturday or a Sunday but I recall noticing it had turned out to be a beautiful South Florida day as we made our way through the tunnels and ramps at the Orange Bowl. The clear sky and light breeze went unnoticed by most as the previous few days in Miami had been ill-weathered and marred by pain and anger and protests and tears and more pain.
I was there with my girlfriend at the time, a Colombian girl who despite having lived her whole life in Miami had never really delved into the Cuban psyche of its diaspora. She was there with me for me. She knew what it meant to me. I had to be there. I had to go regardless of the hurt. She’d seen me crying for days. Seen my father depressed and my mother somber. She’d seen the anger build up in me and turn into a rage, then, as quickly as it had begun, lulled into a whimpering sob.
There were thousands of people there. I remember I had to fight back tears the moment we made it through the ramp and up into the stands. So many people, I thought. So many flags.
There were hundreds and hundreds of Old Glory’s waving alongside the red, white and blue of the Cuban flag. The colors of Venezuela waved there, and Colombia. Argentina and Brazil chimed in with the light breeze. Puerto Rico and Nicaragua represented. Dominican flags waved alongside flags from Jamaica and Mexico. It was a sea of solidarity. Symbols of our neighbors offering condolences and support.
On the stage below were red, white and blue wreaths and large photographs. Pictures of four men who had just been murdered. Men whose only crime was wanting freedom for the people of Cuba and who spent their days flying over the Straights of Florida seeking those seeking liberty. Men who saved countless lives. Who spent hours upon hours searching the ocean for the speck of a human trying to survive it.
An old couple came and sat next to us. Someone’s grandparents who had braved the parking and the crowd and the stairs and the ramps because they knew they had to be there. This was their fight. Their battleground and they came to make a stand. To be heard. I remember I helped the old woman sit. She held my arm as her years made her legs tremble when she bent to sit.
I dont think I will ever see or remember a more heartfelt “Gracias” as the one she gave me at that moment. She was sad and glad and proud all at the same time. There were alot of years in her eyes. Both her and her husband dressed to the nines, old school, just like my grandparents had always been.
Speeches were made. Roars of “Libertad! Libertad!” resounded through the stadium over and over again. Madeline Albright came up and assured us something would be done. The pressure would be put on the murderer. The world was with us, she said. They didnt seem like empty promises then.
The old folks next to us, their white hair gently dancing to the breeze never wept. They consoled my tears instead. The woman held my hand, softly ran her thumb across its back. No llores, mijo, she said. Dont cry. As if to say they had already run out of tears. Understood already what was incomprehensible to me.
We have been here before, the old man told me. We saw Kennedy here. We shed our tears then.
A moment of silence was announced, the din of the crowd slowly wanned. I helped the old woman up from her chair. My girlfriend held one hand, the old woman, this new Abuela of mine, held the other. I could hear her whispered prayers amid the sound of flags in the wind.
A faint sound approached from the South. It grew louder and louder. The crowd slowly began looking toward the sky. And then, during this moment of silence, four twin engine Brothers to the Rescue Cessnas appeared. The Missing Man Formation flew directly above us in honor of their fallen brothers.
My new grandmother looked up and squeezed my hand, then began to cry.

8 thoughts on “Pure Evil”

  1. The murder of 3 U.S. citizens and a resident alien was 14 years ago! The Clinton response was to sign the Helms-Burton Act, weakened by not enforcing Titles III and IV. The Bush response was to indict the pilots, who have not been brought to justice. No wonder U.S. policy toward Cuba has always been so incompetent.

  2. About a year ago I was lucky enough to have seen an early cut of the film in New York City. I found the film enthralling, emotional and factual. I encourage all to see the final product (although I haven’t yet seen the final cut).
    A story that needed to be told and which was done in true class, with great respect.

  3. Hell, I’ll go one step further and just say what’s on my mind. I’ve got absolutely NO moral problem whatsoever with the idea of taking down a Cuban Mig with a shoulder-fired rocket. Trouble is getting a hold of one of the damned things. The de-facto government was NEVER held accountable, nor were the murderers involved. Although, I would imagine those guys (the Mig pilots) are absolutely terrified now that the revolutionary government is finally on its last legs. Their blanket of security is now unraveling more rapidly.

  4. In the past, the BTTR planes had in fact once crossed into Cuban airspace to drop pro-democracy leaflets over Havana – not a great idea but I applaud their efforts.
    This time, according the research available, it seemed as though the planes had flown south and then banked along the edge of Cuban airspace, but as far as I’ve read – they did not cross into Cuban airspace.
    A little while after heading back north, the planes were intercepted by the Migs and shot down over international waters.
    The U.S. government was not consulted before this action. When you listen to the recording of the flight controllers and pilots that Val has posted, it becomes very clear that this was (for the mig pilots)
    1) a game
    2) something done very quickly without consultation and without respect to the consequences – and there were unfortunately NO consequences for the Cuban “government.”
    Hope that helps!

  5. These particular plans did not cross into Cuba. I cannot defend what BTTR did by dropping leaflets – we told a friend in BTTR that it was insane to do so. We never predicted what would happen but we feared it.
    Nonetheless violation or not during the Cold War the Soviets would consistently violate our airspace with military aircraft and all that would happen is that their plans would be escorted back over international airspace. Incidentally Putin recently sent a plane Nothing justifies what occured.
    TJ Marti is right in one aspect. Time and time again Fidel has antagonized the US when we tried to reach out to him. Is it to slap us away and have an excuse for his failures or just a way to make sure we knew that we would have to deal with him on his terms – we will never know. All I do know is that he had to know that Clinton’s efforts for rapprochment would be destroyed by his action – this shootdown was a deliberate act aimed at punishing the exile community and even humiliating a president – served him right for kissing Fidel’s behind.

  6. To CubaWatch:
    The Reagan Administration provided Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Nicaraguan Contras, Sabimbi’s UNITA in Angola, and the Mujahadeen in Afganistan, but never to Cuban exiles, who instead where persecuted and prosecuted for conspiring against the Castro regime. Ask Ramon Saul Sanchez, who spent nearly five years in a federal prison for merely refusing to talk before a grand jury.

  7. My husband and I just listened to the audio. First, Que clase de chuzmas! As my hubby said, what kind of military officer speaks that way? Fidel’s.
    what’s with the enthusiasm in shooting down a damn Cessna with their MIGs? Tt’s like using an AR-15 to shoot a squirrel in our yard. . .
    Pathetic pieces of sh^t.

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