Crowd grows at Tamiami Park for rally in solidarity with ‘#SOSCuba’ protesters
Hundreds were arriving at an #SOSCuba rally Tuesday afternoon at Tamiami Park, just west of Miami-Dade County’s Westchester neighborhood.
Hugo Sanchez, a Cuban-American protester, said it is time for the South Florida community to stand in solidarity with the protesters who risked their lives in Havana and other Cuban cities Sunday.
“Miami is the key because we are the majority,” Sanchez said about the Cuban influx that for decades turned Miami-Dade into a haven for exiles from the Caribbean and Latin America.
The organizers of the event said they were also there as a tribute to the Cuban victims of the July 13, 1994 sinking of the “13 de Marzo” tugboat off Havana. Human rights organizations reported evidence indicated Cuban authorities’ use of excessive force resulted in the drownings of people who were trying to leave Cuba.
The testimony of Janet Hernandez Gutierrez, who was 19 when she survived, is part of the U.S. congressional record. She said Cuban authorities saw there were women and children aboard when they hit the tugboat. She said they pleaded with authorities to stop when they used a cannon of water.
“When they continue to hit our boat, a second tugboat comes up from behind. The biggest one of the tugboats. It was green with a red stripe, a red line. He hits us and breaks half of our boat from behind,” Hernandez Gutierrez said in Spanish, according to the record. “It was sinking, with all of its weight.”
There were about 72 people on board when a whirlpool created by the tugboats swallowed her sister-in-law, Pilar Almanza Romero, her nephew Yasel Perodin Alamanza and her uncle Manuel Gayol. She said that when the Cuban Coast Guard picked up the survivors she insulted them.
“I told them they were murderers … I told them they have no mercy,” she said.
Marly Dalmoral said the Cuban people are tired of the abuses at the hands of Cuban authorities. Cuban-American families in South Florida have stories about the authoritarian regime’s willingness to kill Cubans to establish and maintain a one-party system.
Dalmoral and other Cuban Americans say the solution to the food and medicine shortages that their Cuban relatives are experiencing is to get rid of a system that has already proven inefficient.
Many of the demonstrators at Tamiami Park used signs and T-shirts to display the “Patria Y Vida,” or “Homeland and Life,” motto of the #SOSCuba protests Sunday.
The phrase is meant to antagonize the late Fidel Castro’s rallying cry of “Socialism or Death” and the late Che Guevara’s “Homeland or Death” speech at the United Nations in the 1960s.
“We are not asking for more food or more medicine or more any other help. The only help we need is to take down the communists in Cuba,” Dalmoral said. “That’s the intervention we need.”
The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) and the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FHRC) shares photos of some of the victims of the 1994 Cuban tugboat massacre.
List of 40 victims killed in the sinking of the “13 de Marzo” tugboat
Helen Martínez Enríquez was 6 months old. Cindy Rodríguez Fernández was 2 years old. José Carlos Nicole Anaya was 3 years old. Angel René Abreu Ruiz was 3 years old. Yisel Borges Alvarez was 4 years old. Juan Mario Gutiérrez García was 10 years old. Yausel Eugenio Pérez Tacoronte was 11 years old. Yaser Perodín Almanza was 11 years old.
Mayulis Méndez Tacoronte was 17 years old. Midalis Sanabria Cabrera was 19 years old.
10 victims in their 20s
Odalys Muñoz García was 21. Yaltamira Anaya Carrasco was 22. Juliana Enriquez Carrasana was 23. Liset Alvarez Guerra was 24. Joel García Suárez was 24. José Gregorio Balmaceda Castillo was 24. Ernesto Alfonso Joureiro was 25. Leonardo Notario Góngora was 27.Miralis Fernández Rodríguez was 28. Jorge Arquímides Lebrijio Flores was 28.
8 victims in their 30s
Pilar Almanza Romero was 30. Rigoberto Feut Gonzáles was 31. Omar Rodríguez Suárez was 33. Lázaro Borges Priel was 34.Julia Caridad Ruiz Blanco was 35. Marta Tacoronte Vega was 36.Caridad Leyva Tacoronte was 36. Eduardo Suárez Esquivel was 39.
7 victims in their 40s and 50s
María Carrasco Anaya was 44. Reynaldo Marrero was 45. Guillermo Cruz Martínez was 46.Rosa María Alcalde Preig was 47. Amado Gonzáles Raices was 50.Fidelio Ramel Prieto-Hernández was 51. Manuel Sánchez Callol was 58.
The age of Elicer Suárez Plascencia wasn’t included in the record. Four others victims were not identified.
Coverage on July 12
Cuban Americans in Miami warn China-Russia intervention could cause ‘bloodbath’ in CubaAlleged witness asks Florida friend to let world know police brutality followed Havana protestCuban government aggressively suppresses protestsBiden calls ‘remarkable’ Cuba protests a ‘call for freedom’Cuban leaders beef up police patrols after rare protestsCuba’s internet cutoff: A go-to tactic to suppress dissent#SOSCuba: Local celebrities, artists react to Cuban protests
Coverage on July 11
For more about the situation in Cuba, visit the Local 10 News’ “en español” page.