MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the wake of Fidel Castro’s death, the Brothers to the Rescue organization is promising to take action. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the groups planes being shot down off the coast of Cuba.
The group has been largely inactive in recent years but Monday the organization’s founder pledged to change that.
Jose Basulto looks at the death of the Cuban dictator as an opportunity.
“Well the fear master of Cuba has died. And I think this opens a series of opportunities. This man has been more myth than a reality. And think it’s the time to explore possibilities together with our brothers on the island and if anybody can call them brothers it’s me,” he said.
Basulto, who has led a life of action, is promising to take more action.
In the 90’s he was responsible for starting up a grass roots organization of exiles to rescue those fleeing Communist Cuba.
They rescued many at sea, dropped supplies to those in need and leaflets to their brothers back in Cuba.
They may be best known though for that fateful day in 1996 when Cuban Migs shot down two of their planes off the coast of Cuba.
Four of their brothers died: Mario de la Pena, Pablo Morales and Armando Alejandre Jr. and Carlos Costa.
Mirta Costa Mendez, Carlos Costa’s sister, says Fidel Castro’s death Friday opened up old wounds. She says it was on Castro’s orders her brother’s plane was shot down.
“Yes, I’m happy, but at the same time I’m sad that I never saw this man go to trial,” said Costa Mendez.
Alejandre’s daughter, Marlene Alejandre-Triana, says Castro’s death did not bring her closure.
“For me, nothing will bring my father back so nothing that happens after has really done anything for us. It doesn’t bring justice for his death,” said Alejandre-Triana.
Alejandre’s sister, Maggie Alejandre Khuly, says the family’s hope is that the other men responsible for shooting down the plane will some day pay.
“Someday we hope there will be justice because the death of Fidel does not bring justice to our case,” said Alejandre Khuly.
Now that Castro is gone, Basulto is looking to start up again.
“We are action people. Brothers to the Rescue, we are known for action. Not for talking. Talk too much. We do what we have to do and we are going to reach the Cuban people with messages similar to the ones we had before,” he promised.
When pressed on whether he would fly again, he replied, “No. Certainly things require certain responses,” he explained.
Basulto plans to meet with advisors and devise a plan.
He told CBS4 News whatever it is, it will be civil and nonviolent.
Basulto said, “We are brothers. So we are going to appeal to the brotherhood that is in us. To bring about that change. To help bring about that change.”
He would not elaborate on what they would do, only that the opportunity is here.
“It’s time for the people of Cuba to see there are things that they can do to bring about the resurgence of Democracy in the island.”
Basulto stressed that whatever they do, they will do it without the government’s help. As he put it, every time the US has gotten involved, it’s ended badly.