There are more than 54 years worth of examples of why the Castro dictatorship is deserving of contempt.
One of the more egregious is the "13th of March" Tugboat Massacre, July 13, 1994, during which Castro forces murdered 37 men, women and children whose only crime was trying to escape Cuba.
The Cuba Archive has the definitive account, complete with biographical sketches about the victims:
In 1994, popular dissatisfaction with the Castro regime had deepened as Cuba endured a severe economic crisis amidst continued repression. Although the country‟s laws forbid citizens from leaving without government authorization and punishes violations with years of prison, attempts to escape by any means had been growing exponentially.
On July 13, 1994, at around three in the morning under the cover of darkness, around seventy men, women, and children boarded the recently renovated tugboat “13 de Marzo.” They planned to escape the island by making the ninety-mile journey across the Straits of Florida, hoping to reach freedom in the United States. Many also sought the means to send help back to the family they were leaving behind.
Eduardo Suárez Esquivel (Eddy), a computer engineer who had attempted unsuccessfully to flee on several occasions, came up with the idea. Obsessed with the idea of finding a way out of Cuba, he convinced his brother in law, Fidencio Ramel Prieto, to take the tugboat and serve as skipper. Ramel, who was in charge of operations at the Port of Havana, served as one of its Communist Party secretaries and had twenty-five years of commendable service at the port. This gave him access to the tugboat, which belonged to the state enterprise Empresa de Servicios Marítimos. With all vessels in Cuba under government ownership and tightly controlled to prevent escapes, this access was no small
feat. Raúl Muñoz, a friend and fellow port worker who had been harbor pilot of the “13 de Marzo” and was now the pilot for another tugboat, was recruited to pilot the tugboat for the escape. Several more men joined in to develop the plot.
The plan included numerous family members and close friends. Only Ramel had the entire list of the approximately fifty two passengers who were to go on the journey. The organizers were divided into groups and each had a leader. Each leader was in charge of getting his respective group to the pier on the designated day. To keep maximum secrecy, the children were told they were going on an excursion.
On three previous occasions, a date had been chosen, but the escape had been aborted when insiders working at the port announced unexpected security measures deemed unfavorable. Unbeknownst to hem, government authorities had been receiving information of the plan, in all probability by infiltrators.
The spies are suspected to have been part of the actual planning group -in fact two did not show up for the departure. But, the information may have leaked out to spies through relatives who knew of the plot.
On the designated date, the group quietly boarded the tugboat in the middle of the night and the motors were started. Unexpectedly, people who were not on the list showed up, a few others who were to come did not. It was 3:15 A.M. when they began to make their way out of Havana‟s harbor. Immediately, a tugboat belonging to the same state enterprise initiated a chase.
The pursuing vessel first tried to drive the “13 de Marzo” into a dock. When that proved unsuccessful, it rammed it, attempting to push it towards the reefs by the mouth of the harbor near the Morro Castle.
As its crew maneuvered skillfully, the “13 de Marzo” avoided the attacks and kept sailing forward. People at nearby piers and at the Malecón, Havana‟s seawall, witnessed the attack and were yelling to let them go.
Just as the “13 de Marzo” cleared the harbor, two other tugboats that had been waiting for them in the dark, joined the chase. With their water cannons, they started spraying high pressure jets at the escaping vessel. The wooden “13 de Marzo” was now being hounded by three modern, larger, and heavier tugboats made of steel –the “Polargo 2,” “Polargo 3,” and “Polargo 5.” They were respectively commandeered by Jesús Martínez Machín, a man named David, and one called Arístides.
As the “13 de Marzo” sailed ahead, the pursuing tugboats kept spraying high-pressure water and getting in its way to make it stop. After around forty-five minutes, when the “13 de Marzo” had reached approximately seven miles out to sea, the pursuing tugboats began ramming it. Although the “13 de Marzo” had stopped and signaled its willingness to surrender and turn back, the relentless attack continued. The pilot of the “13 de Marzo” attempted to radio an SOS, but the pounding water had damaged the electrical equipment. A vessel belonging to the Cuban Coast Guard had arrived on the scene, a Soviet-built cutter referred to as "Griffin."5 But, it stayed back, simply observing the spectacle.
The adults brought out the children on deck to see if this would deter the incessant jet streams and collisions. In desperation, parents held their children up in the air and pleaded for their lives, putting them in front of the powerful reflector lights pointed at them. But, the attackers disregarded their cries and continued to bombard the powerless passengers with the high pressure water. The mighty streams scattered them all over deck, ripped clothing off, and tore children from their parents‟ arms. Some were swept into the ocean immediately.
In a frantic attempt to find safety, some passengers went below deck to the cargo hold and the machine room, many carrying children. The "13 de Marzo" was now taking in water from the incessant ramming.
Although it had stopped its engine, the “Polargo 5” rammed it decisively one last time and it began to sink. The doors to the machine room and cargo hold were blocked by the water. With the passengers pinned down, they desperately pounded on the walls and ceilings as the children wailed in horror. Frantically, Raúl, the pilot, tried unsuccessfully to open the trap door on deck as it was quickly filling up with water. Unable to make it budge, silence soon took over. Those trapped below had all drowned. It was around 4:50 A.M. when the tugboat sank seven miles northeast of Havana harbor. Panic gripped
the stunned survivors. Mothers tried to hold on to their children to prevent them from drowning, screaming for husbands and other relatives to help. They all clung to life in high seas in the dark of night. Many floated atop a large refrigeration box, others hung onto anything that floated by or simply treaded water.
The three boats then began circling the survivors, creating wave turbulence and eddies for around fortyfive minutes. It was obvious they wanted to make sure no one would be left alive to bear witness to the horror. María Victoria García, who lost her ten-year old son, husband, and many other close family members later related: “After nearly an hour of battling in the open sea, the boat circled round the survivors, creating a whirlpool so that we would drown. Many disappeared into the seas... We asked them to save us, but they just laughed." One of the tugboats attempted to run over the floating refrigeration box holding many survivors. Fortunately, it was unsuccessful.
All of a sudden, the attackers stopped and the tugboat crews told survivors to swim toward the Cuban Coast Guard ships on the scene. Once on board, they noticed that a merchant ship with a Greek flag was close by, approaching Havana harbor. Survivors believe this is was what made the attackers stop unexpectedly. Several Coast Guard vessels then moved in to rescue those who were left.
The exhausted groups of rescued passengers were kept at high seas almost until around 11A.M. When the order was received, they were all taken to a Naval Base at Jaimanitas, near Havana, where many high-ranking members of the military had gathered. The men were put into one cell and left there. The women and children were put it another cell, where they were interrogated. Early that evening the women and children were sent home and the men were taken to Villa Marista, Havana‟s State Security headquarters. Some were kept in detention several weeks and released to domiciliary detention. Two
were kept for eight months. They were all given psychotropic drugs, visited by psychologists, and subjected to interrogations at all hours with the purpose of making them relay the story as an accident.
Read the whole thing here.