Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Brothers To The Rescue shootdown:
“Nineteen years ago today, three American citizens and one U.S. resident were flying civilian planes in international airspace when they were murdered in cold blood by missiles from Cuban MiGs. Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre, Jr., Mario de la Peña and Pablo Morales were killed in the prime of their lives as members of a humanitarian organization called Brothers To The Rescue whose mission was to fly over the Florida Straits looking for Cuban rafters fleeing from Castro’s Cuba in the mid-1990s.
“Anyone who has not heard the chilling audio recording of the Cuban MiG pilots celebrating the assassination of these four young men should do so on this day of remembrance. One doesn’t even need to speak Spanish to understand the unadulterated glee in their voices about murdering the four civilian pilots the way they did, on then-Defense Minister Raul Castro’s orders.
“At a time when the U.S. and Cuba are preparing for the next round of normalization talks in Washington this Friday, the Brothers To The Rescue story matters even more because of how this entire normalization process began. It started in December 2014 when President Obama released a Cuban spy who was convicted in U.S. courts of conspiracy to commit this murder.
“I made a formal inquiry to Attorney General Eric Holder over a month ago, and it remains unclear if the U.S. Justice Department ever conducted a formal assessment of the consequences the release of this convicted spy, along with two other Cuban intelligence agents would have on the credibility of the U.S. justice system. To date, no public explanation or apology about this prisoner release has been made by President Obama to the families of the murdered Brothers To The Rescue victims.
“Instead, the Obama Administration now sits at the negotiating table with a Cuban regime run by a murderer of Americans who has been running circles around President Obama and his negotiators, as well as testing his weakness through a new wave of repression that has landed hundreds of Cuban democracy activists in jail or on the receiving end of beatings by Cuban officials.
“President Obama and his negotiating team need to stop looking so desperate to secure a deal with the Castro regime to open an embassy in Havana, at any cost, before this April’s Summit of the Americas. Ultimately, the goal of any negotiation about Cuba’s future must guarantee the Cuban people’s human rights and Cuba’s abandonment of hostile activities that threaten America’s national security interests. The goal can’t and shouldn’t be for President Obama to get a deal done – even if it’s a bad one – in time to be greeted as a hero at this April’s Summit of the Americas.”