Monday, December 8, 2008

Death by firing squad

Rosa Maria Garcia
Barbaro Sevilla
In April 2003, 11 men hijacked a ferry in Cuba and made a break for Florida, but the boat ran of fuel. Fidel Castro himself went to the scene to negotiate and authorities captured the men without incident. 
Then, just nine days later, authorities executed three of the hijackers. Extreme measures were needed to prevent a mass exodus and a potential military confrontation with the United States, Fidel Castro said at the time.
The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights or IACHR and other organizations condemned the executions and said the Cuban government should compensate relatives of the men who were executed. A typical award in such cases can reach $600,000, the Miami Herald reported. But the Cuban government did not respond to the IACHR, news reports have said.
The mother of one of the executed hijackers told me she would have rather had a shark eat her son than have the socialist government execute him.
Barbaro Sevilla "was a good boy," his mother, Rosa María García, told me for a story published in the Dallas Morning News. "He only wanted a better life for himself and for me."

U.S.-Cuba relations were tense back then and they remain strained now. President-Elect Barack Obama takes office soon and he promises of a fresh start. Still, I wonder how the Cuban government would respond now if there were a spate of hijackings.

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