[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 96 (Thursday, July 21, 1994)]
[Page H]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[Congressional Record: July 21, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from New Jersey [Mr. Menendez] is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday, July 13, 1994, a group of 
approximately 72 people tried to escape from Cuba on the tug boat ``13 
de Marzo'' 13th of March. Just after sailing from dock 06 at the Port 
of Havana, they were discovered and chased by the Castro regime's coast 
guard about 7 miles from the port. They were sunk by the regime's 
  What follows that I want to share with my colleagues is testimony, 
living testimony of Janet Hernandez Gutierrez, 19 years of age, a 
survivor of the intentional sinking of the tug boat ``13 de Marzo'' 
that took place before dawn on July 13, 1994. She said:

       When we set sail everything was going very well. There was 
     no one, nothing in our way, no obstacle. When we were coming 
     out of the bay we saw two tugboats at the mouth of the bay. 
     They let us through.
       When we reached the seven miles the cannons of water were 
     high pressure, a terrible force. We were holding the 
     children, fearful that they would fall. The men were with us, 
     fearful that we would fall. But so that they would see that 
     there were women and children aboard, we had to come out on 
     deck, so that they would be certain of that and would not 
     commit murder.
       When we were at 7 miles, we see that they speed up and they 
     pull up alongside of us. And then we could not see the Cuban 
     coast, because we could see nothing; not the lights of the 
     Malecon [Havana seawall] or of the lighthouse, nothing. They 
     start hitting our boat, the tugboat ``13 de Marzo''. We were 
     afraid, not for ourselves, but for the children.
       Children from 5 months of age and up. When we lifted the 
     children, they saw them--because they did see them--we 
     started to scream, ``please, please don't do this'', but they 
     did not listen. Even a young man who was with us, Roman, who 
     is currently in prison, yelled at one of the ones in the 
     other tugboat, ``Chino, don't do that. Look, we have 
     children'', and he showed his three-year-old step-daughter. 
     If he does not lower the child at that moment the little girl 
     would have been killed with the cannon of water.
       They simply let us exit the bay and they attack us at seven 
     miles where there would be no witnesses. You know that in the 
     open sea there are no witnesses, she says. ``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.
       It was sinking, with all of its weight in the middle from 
     from all those people who were in the hold. There were around 
     72 people, most of them women and children. Men made up the 
     least fatalities. Then the Whirlpool created by the tugboats 
     swallowed them up. My sister-in-law, Pilar Almanza Romero and 
     her son Yasel Perodin Alamanza were there. Uncle Gayol, 
     Manuel Gayol, was in the hold of the boat. Those are three of 
     my family that I lost.
       When my husband saw this, you can imagine, he went mad. My 
     brother-in-law too, but he was trying to save the other boy. 
     Then we both tried to reach the other boy. But when I tried 
     to move I feel that my nephew, the one who drowned, is 
     holding me by the foot. When I reach for him, he was clinging 
     to my tennis shoe, and he was swept away. I could not reach 
     him. It was terrible.
       When I boarded the ``grifin'' [The Cuban coast guard which 
     subsequently came] I insulted them. I told them they were 
     murderers, I told them everything I could think of. I told 
     them they have no mercy with children, because here in Cuba 
     they say that there are many privileges for children and the 
     old. But they even let old people drown there. And many 
     children. Nearly 23 children dead there.
       The town is in an uproar she is back in Cuba mind you with 
     the will and courage to talk about this. People are desperate 
     for a bit of information, anything that is known about the 
     corpses that remain captive in the hold of that boat. Roberto 
     Robaina [Cuba's Minister of Foreign Relations who lied to the 
     world press about this tragedy], he says that we knew the 
     boat had a malfunction when we left port. Do you really think 
     that we would have risked the lives of children and women 
     knowing there was a malfunction? Knowing that there is so 
     much sea to cross?
       They called me every kind of name * * * ``Worm, 
     counterrevolutionary.'' And I accepted that because I am 
     against this government. And I will say that anywhere. I know 
     that I will be persecuted, because all of the survivors are 
     under intense surveillance* * * But I asked them in Villa 
     Marista,'' The National Headquarter for State Security ``that 
     what will become of those responsible for sinking us, the 
     murderers of our children and relatives.''

  There is no answer.
  Ladies and gentlemen, this is her lingering question. To those who 
want to lift the trade embargo against the Castro regime, those who 
want to do away with the Radio and TV Marti to those who want to do 
business with the Castro government, I say answer Janet Hernandez 
Gutierrez's question: What will become of the murderers of those 
children and relatives?
  It is time to break the silence. It is time for those who stand up 
for human rights in this Congress to speak out, and it is time for the 
entire national and international press to end their deadly silence 
about the atrocities of Castro's Cuba.