Thirty-two years ago, on July 6, 1980, the Castro regime brutally attacked and murdered at least 56 people, including several children, on an excursion boat that had been hiacked by three teenagers who wanted to escape Cuba for the United States.
The Canimar is a scenic Cuban river that flows into Matanzas Bay, near Varadero beach. In 1960, a tourist excursion service wasinaugurated using a large boat, the "XX Aniversario," with two decks of chairs and capacity for 100 passengers. It was to navigate for approximately 5 miles inland along the Canimar river.
On 6 July, 1980, the excursion boat was hijacked by three youngsters who wanted to take the boat to the United States -Ramón Calveiro Leon (15 years old at the time) and brothers Silvio Aguila Yanes (18 years old) and Sergio Aguila Yanes (19 years old). Sergio was a Sergeant in the Cuban Armed Forces (FAR). Another youngster involved in the plot, Humberto Martínez Echazabal (19 years old), reportedly never made it when the hijacking took place. Taking control of the vessel, the youngsters shouted: "To Miami!" amid screams of approval on the part of the 100 passengers aboard. The boat's security guard resisted and shot at the youngsters, who wounded him with firearms they had brought aboard the boat. Concerned for his health, they placed him on a boat with a fisherman together with a passenger who wanted to leave and sent them back to shore. When they arrived, they alerted authorities. Meanwhile, the "XX Aniversario" had turned around and entered Matanzas Bay and headed out to open seas.
Julián Rizo Alvarez, Secretary of the Communist party in Matanzas Province, commanded a chase into open seas. He dispatched two high-speed Cuban Navy patrol boats with orders to not let the excursion boat leave Cuba, sinking it if necessary. The patrol boats opened fire on the excursion boat and the youngsters defended themselves, firing back. When the patrol boat withdrew, they left some dead and wounded passengers on the deck of the "XX Aniversario." The boat was then attacked by a Cuban Air Force plane, which opened fire on the passengers on deck, leaving more dead and wounded among the innocent passengers and the deck covered with blood.
The excursion boat was reportedly very close to international waters when a huge boat commandeered by Rizo, rammed the much smaller riverboat in the middle, sinking it. The surviving passengers, now in the water, soon had to contend with sharks attracted by all the blood in the water. Silvio Aguila Yanes dove into the water and saved several survivors from drowning.
CubaArchive org has more on the Rio Canimar Massacre.