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I-Team: Brothers To The Rescue Declassified

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Even as the administration of President Barack Obama has begun reaching out to Cuba and relations between to two countries move closer and closer to thawing; the CBS4 I-Team has obtained once secret documents that raise questions about whether Fidel Castro ever truly wants normal relations with the United States.

Among the hundreds of once classified and secret cables the I-Team has now reviewed is evidence that Castro himself, with very little knowledge of other Cuban officials, ordered the shoot down of two Brothers to the Rescue airplanes and the killing of four people 15 years ago to drive a wedge politically between the US and Cuba; and to divert world attention from a more serious crackdown on dissidents inside Cuba.

The documents also show the Cubans initially thought they had shot down a third Brothers to the Rescue plane.

That is a story that’s completely new to the person who was flying that plane who survived to tell his tale.

“He (the MIG pilot) might have thought that he might have hit me,” said pilot Jose Basulto who helped found and lead Brothers to the Rescue, a search and rescue group who flew hundreds of missions over the Florida Straits in the 1990’s, looking for Cuban refugees who had fled the island.

“I didn’t see any explosions or anything (the day of the shoot down),” said Basulto. “The only thing I saw was a canister of smoke next to my plane which to me was a marker (meaning the MIG might be shooting at him next.) So I decided it was time to, you know, leave.”

Basulto was flying that third plane back on February 24, 1996, when the Cuban MIG fighter jet’s shot down two of the three Brothers to the Rescue Cessna’s flying over international waters in the Florida Straits.

I-Team investigator Stephen Stock asked Basulto “So you did not know that you had been shot at?”

“No. No,” said Basulto. “I did not have an indication of a missile or anything.”

But now, for the first time, the CBS4 I-Team uncovers once secret documents that show, at least at first, the Cuban MIG’s thought they had also shot down Basulto’s plane.

These new revelation can be found in the 238 pages of once classified and secret cables from the US State Department to various embassies and American Interests Sections around the world. The documents chart the time before, during and after the shoot down of the Brothers to the Rescue planes in February, 1996.

The documents were declassified at the request of the CBS4 I-Team.

I-Team Related Links

Foreign Cable 1
Foreign Cable 2
Foreign Cable 3
Foreign Cable 4
Foreign Cable 5
Foreign Cable 6
Foreign Cable 7

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