June 1, 2010.
By Adonis Subit Lamí, Gaceta de Jagua
May 17, 2010.
On February 24, 1996, Cuba's Air Force shutdown, on its territorial waters, two Cessna pirate airplanes, who flew from Oppaloka Airport in the state of Florida, USA. They were flying over Cuba's airspace. The two airplanes fell between five and eight miles north of Baracoa Beach, west of the City of Havana. The pilots belonged to the organization “Brothers to the Rescue.”
The day of the shoot-down, just after the three planes took off from Oppaloka Airport in Florida, the air traffic controller at the airport radioed Jose Basulto, the president of Bothers to the Rescue, and told him: “Good luck.” Basulto's response was: “We are going to need it.” The question is: “Why does a a pilot with 30 years of air experience and holder of a professional air pilot license would need luck on that day?”
The president and founder of “Brothers to the Rescue” has a long history with Cuba, which dates back to 40 years ago, when he was an operative of the C.I.A. The agency infiltrated him into Cuba in the late fifties and and the early sixties to foment armed insurrections. After those actions he participated in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. He returned to the United States. Later, he returned to Cuba during the sixties, when he participated in an air attack with a cannon against a hotel. There were people inside the hotel. He has admitted all of this and is proud of all of this.
Basulto was involved in the manufacture of home-made bombs which would be dropped over Cuba to injure people, and he has admitted all of this to the Federal Bureau of Investigations. These are facts which can be found in documents.
The objectives of Brothers to the Rescue since 1994 is to engage in acts of provocation against the government of Cuba. They would file flight plans which said that they would be looking for sea rafters, but they would not follow those plans. They would fly toward Cuba, penetrating its air space one and more times, something which is totally illegal, violating international laws, Cuban laws and the regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration [of the United States].
They dropped, over Cuba from their planes, propaganda leaflets which would incite the population to take arms against Fidel Castro. They dropped a great quantity of leaflets, flying very close to the roofs, over highly populated areas.
The Cuban government obviously was very alarmed over these activities. When it showed serenity, it never shutdown the violators when they started their activities. Various diplomatic notes [to the U.S. government] show that the government of Cuba told the U.S.: “You have to stop that man. You can not allow him to fly over Havana, over Guantanamo, and over other provinces, and let him drop leaflets, and allow him to do what he is doing. That is dangerous, it is against all our regulations, that is prohibited, you have to stop him.”
What did the U.S. do? Amazingly, they did absolutely nothing, and everything got worse on July 13, 1995. That was the day when a big flotilla [from South Florida] went towards Cuba to protest against the Cuban government. “Brothers to the Rescue” announced that they were going to send an air squadron of their planes to fly over Havana and surrounding populated areas. At that moment Cuba said: “Observe, we have to take very strong measures.”
Basulto and his planes flied over Havana at low altitude, violating the rules of air traffic. It is not only the risk of a collision, also there was the problem that they interrupted the radio frequencies in Havana, they utilized the frequencies of the air traffic controllers, to talk all kinds of political things, like “I am a free Cuban, my brothers,” and all kinds of nonsense, which divert the attention of the air traffic controllers, who are directing the jumbo jets, and must know their altitude, their routes, etc.
The Cubans sent to the Federal Aviation Administration notes of warning about Basulto and the pilots of “Brothers to the Rescue,” so they would not violate any more Cuba's air space, which is limited to the 12 miles outside Cuba. They were told that they were prohibited from coming down and flying over Havana. To do that is something dangerous. We advised them that if they did that, they ran the risk of being shot down.
What did Basulto do? He ignored the warnings; he came down and he took his squadron of planes. Special centers of command were established in Miami and Havana, and all commercial airplanes were advised to synchronize to different frequencies on that day in order not to obstruct communications due to Basulto's interference. They had to take appropriate measures.
What is surprising about the incident of July 13th is that it has been recorded in video. They had an NBC video camera and reporters inside their planes, and they filmed everything. They flied over the rooftops of Havana, over a refinery, which greatly worried the Cubans, because of previous incidents of machine-gun strafing against hotels and things.
The video shows Basulto playing a cat and mouse game with Cuban MIG's over Havana. In the video you can see the planes go down and they throw things out the window, propaganda. That day calm was shown. No one was shot-down.
A 30 minute transcription of the conversation of Basulto with the Havana air traffic controllers reveal that they could not guarantee his security, that the Cuban Air Force was in the area and that they could shoot him down. Again, they repeat: we can not guarantee your security. What did Basulto do? He ignored them completely. He flew over Havana when they returned to the United States and he triumphantly appeared in the 6 o'clock news. He was vaingloriously about how he had penetrated Havana, and how the [the U.S. government] did nothing. He was making fun in Cuba's noses; it came to be a humiliation.
In those moments, Cuba sent a very clear diplomatic note to the U.S. Department of State, and it was personally delivered to Basulto. The public announcement published on the 8th of August, 1995 said: “The State Department warns that the entry of Cuban territorial waters or its air space, without previous authorization of the Cuban government, could be conductive to being arrested and subjected to Cuban laws.”
Because Cuba had previously issued this alert, they warned any foreign vessel that it could be sunk and any airplanes could be shot down. The State Department took this announcement seriously, except Jose Basulto, who led four men to their tragic deaths.
Now, what happened after July 13th? Although there was a video of Basulto involved in this provocative activity of overflying the capital of a foreign country, nothing happened. His license was not suspended. They permitted him to continue to fly. Therefore, what happened was that he continued with his attitude and continued with the non-authorized flights. They were missions of provocation.
On January 9 and 13th he flies over Cuba and throws 500,000 leaflets, and after this action he went to Radio Martí, [a propaganda outfit of the U.S. government] and bragged about how he had violated Cuba's airspace, and the radio commentator ridiculed the Cubans, because even though they had a MIG in the air, they could not respond to the activity. A taunt in Cuba's face.
On February 24th, 1996, the day of the shutdown, Basulto and other planes flew to challenge again the Cuban government, to provoke then and to mount a show. That was their intent.
The State Department contacted the FAA the day before the shutdown and sent them the following communique: “... it is probable that “Brothers to the Rescue” will try a non-authorized flight inside Cuba's airspace, as an act of defiance of the Cuban government...”. At the end, the State Department “also indicated that the Cuban government will be less tolerant with non-authorized flights on their scene, at that moment”.
They knew, all knew, that the shutdown would take place. It was known to the FAA and to the State Department. In Cuba, they knew it, and Basulto knew it also. He was warned by the FAA and the State Department. If you continue to press, this could happen, and that is exactly what happened. On that day Basulto did not follow the flight plan. He submitted a false flight plan. He left Oppalocka and went straight to the interior center of Florida, and later on he exited the Everglades by the Thousand Island area, headed south, ascended to the west and headed for Cuba.
On that day, over Havana, there was an area called mud-9. This zone was restricted, it was activated, and the Cuban government had issued a
When Mr. Basulto crossed the 24th parallel, he entered area mud-9 and right behind him the other planes. The air traffic controller from Havana spoke with Basulto and told him: “you are running a risk”, to which Basulto responded: “ I know the danger, I am a free Cuban, and will do what a free Cuban would do, but I am warned of the risk and of the danger”. He said, “We face danger every time we run this mission”. He knew clearly what he was doing. It is not like the U.S. government tried to portray, that he was merely looking for sea rafters in international waters. That is what they allege, but that is not what happened.
In any way, they entered that zone, and the evidence shows that no sane pilot would fly inside a military zone which had been activated, except Basulto and the other two planes, because they were involved in a mission of provocation.
What happened after this? All the world agrees with one thing, the experts, the radar technicians, and it is that the planes were inside Cuba's airspace, which triggered the alert that the Cubans would shut down any planes which penetrated its space. And they were shut down.
On the first few days of June 1996, the Council of the International Organization of Civil Aviation (OACI) convened, in Montreal, Canada, a work session to analyze the report of the commission which was in charge of investigating what had happened.
The United States did not achieve its purpose of passing a motion condemning Cuba for the shut down of the pirate planes.
The OACI document, approved by consensus, reaffirms the right that every State has of taking measures to prohibit the use by civil airplanes registered on its territory with ends that are incompatible with the International Civil Aviation Agreement.
The reference is an implicit censure of the United States government's responsibility in the activities of groups which reside in its territory who are implicated in violations of the Cuba's airspace. Also it turns down the attempt to blame Cuba for the consequences of that action which was done with full recognition of cause by the organization Brothers to the Rescue.
Five years and a few months later, on September 11, 2001, North Americans would suffer on their own flesh the devastating effects of civil aircrafts which overflew their own air space. A tragedy which the whole world lamented.
JG: Basulto = Basura. He did not have the necessary cojones to face the Cuban Air Force on February 26, 1996. He abandoned his “buddies” to a certain death. A typical Miami captain spider.