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Republican Lawmakers Demand Cuba Pay for 1996 Plane Shootdowns

Marco Rubio - El American

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A senator and four Republican congressmen of Cuban origin urged on Wednesday to “keep up the pressure” on the Cuban regime as long as justice is not served for the downing of two Brothers to the Rescue planes by Cuban Air Force planes 25 years ago.

“Each passing year serves as a reminder that this murderous, narco-terrorist, anti-American regime has not changed at all,” said Sen. Marco Rubio and Reps. Maria Elvira Salazar, Mario Diaz-Balart, and Carlos A. Gimenez in a statement marking the 25th anniversary of what they called “a cowardly and barbaric act of terrorism.”

On February 24, 1996, Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre Jr., Mario de la Peña and Pablo Morales, pilots and volunteers of Brothers to the Rescue, were killed while flying aboard two Cessnas over the Florida Straits in search of rafters to rescue.

Missiles launched from Cuban Air Force fighter planes hit the civilian planes and destroyed them.

“The Castro regime must face consequences for its criminal acts. Specifically, the assassin Raul Castro who ordered this atrocity, as well as the three individuals already indicted in a U.S. Federal Court: General Ruben Martinez Puente and fighter pilots Lorenzo Alberto Perez-Perez and Francisco Perez-Perez,” the Cuban congressmen said.

Rubio, Salazar, Díaz-Balart and Giménez stressed that it was precisely this act that prompted the U.S. Congress to “codify the sanctions against the Castro’s Communist regime, guaranteeing that U.S. dollars would not enrich the vile and murderous dictatorship that represses the Cuban people and threatens national security.”

The four legislators assured that they will not allow “the world to forget the massacre of February 24, 1996”, nor will they remain silent “while some individuals attempt to ignore the true despotic nature of the Cuban dictatorship.”

“The regime has repeatedly demonstrated that it has no respect for human life or the most basic human rights. As long as the murderers responsible continue to walk the face of the earth we will continue to demand justice for the victims of the regime: Carlos, Armando, Mario and Pablo,” they proclaimed.

The statement ends with a revalidation of the signatories’ commitment “to freedom and democracy in Cuba” and against “legitimizing or financing the repressive apparatus of the dictatorship.”

“Our obligation is to keep up the pressure and to stand in even greater solidarity with the Cuban people and their yearning to be free,” they said.

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