A Good Place for Killing Children and Living Peacefully / Dora Leonor Mesa

In Cuba there are two ship sinkings that captured public opinion. One of them (1994), the ferryboat 13 de Marzo, was presented in 1996 to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (1,2,3). The other occurred years earlier (1980), known in the press as the Slaughter of Rio Canimar (4,5,6), which merits investigation by the Cuban government despite the passing of years, because the facts have not been clarified.

The media reported that the Canimar River pleasure boat was carrying between 70 and 100 passengers, including children. The incident (7) was reportedly published in a three-line note on an inside page of Giron, a Matanzas  provincial newspaper, which described it as an unsuccessful attempt to leave the country illegally.

The ferry “Sewol” (8) sank in April 2014 leaving more than 300 dead, mostly children. The captain and 14 crew members of “Sewol” have been brought to trial. The South Korean government recovered more than 285 bodies (9) after the catastrophe off the coast of South Korea.

In the sinkings of the two Cuban boats mentioned above, the role of the police authority, the measures taken to administer justice, and whether the bodies of the victims were recovered, is unknown.

The number of Cuban rafters under age 18 who have disappeared in the sea crossing is deemed unknown, but due to the difficult economic situation facing Cuba and the difficulties confronting citizens to receive a tourist visa, it would be alarming if the casualties increase.

Every July, thousands of voices beg the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the experts from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to ask the Cuban government, in particular the National Assembly of People’s Power (Parliament), to:

1. Investigate the incident in Rio Canimar involving the pleasure boat “XX Anniversario” and explain the measures taken before the sinkings of that boat and the “13 de Marzo” ferry boat.

2. Comment on the creation of a comprehensive system of data collection (CRC.C.CUB.CO.2, Cuba. 2011 par. 15, p. 4) to facilitate the review of the situation of all deceased Cuban boys and girls, including children who disappeared in other circumstances.

3. Comment on the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations (CRC.C.CUB.CO.2, Cuba. 2011 par.37 and 38 p. 8), in particular that concerning cooperation with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, and other UN organizations specializing in the subject of violence against children.

4. Explain whether the Committee’s recommendation (CRC.C.CUB.CO.2, Cuba. 2011 par. 12 and 13) is appropriate to ensure the independent, comprehensive, and systematic oversight of the rights of Cuban children.

The Virtues of the Good Place

Waves, lights, and Cuban angels fly over a South Korean vessel filled with almond-eyed cherubs. A bandage-covered face watches in silence, while tears grow fearful. The sword and the scales rust in the Cuban seabed where droplets of blood mix with tourists, missiles, and sugar. (10)


1. OAS. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (October 16, 1996) Report No. 47/96. Case 11.436. Victims of the Tugboat “13 de Marzo” vs. Cuba. Available at: https://www.cidh.oas.org/annualrep/96span/Cuba11436.htm.

2. The Cuban Government did not respond to Confidential Report N1 16/96, approved by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at its 921st regular session.

3. Carlos A. Montaner. (July 14, 2014). The night of murderers. Available at: http://www.elblogdemontaner.com/la-noche-de-los-asesinos/

4. Karel Becerra. (July 6, 2014). The massacre of Canímar River: 34th anniversary. Available at: http://www.karelbecerra.com/2014/07/06/la-masacre-del-rio-canimar-34-aniversario/

5. OAS. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. CHAPTER VII. Recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 3. The Commission recommends to the Member States that they delineate the role of the Armed Forces and security in the context of the rule of law. Available at: https://www.cidh.oas.org/annualrep/98span/Capitulo%207.htm

6. Tomas Regalado (September 11, 1985). More at Radio Martí. http://www.sigloxxi.org . Available at: http://baracuteycubano.blogspot.cz/2010/07/cuba-una-masacre-casi-olvidada-del.html

7. Occurred July 6, 1980.

8. See http://www.miamidiario.com/sucesos/muertos/corea-del-sur/tripulacion/juicio/sucesos/hundimiento/sewol/325293

9. See http://www.miamidiario.com/sucesos/muertos/corea-del-sur/cadaveres/sucesos/hundimiento/sewol/324224

10. INTERPOL (2014) AGAINST ORGANIZED CRIME. INTERPOL TRAFFICKING AND Counterfeiting Casebook 2014. Available: http://www.interpol.int/Media/Files/Crime-areas/Trafficking-in-Illicit-Goods/Against-Organized-Crime-INTERPOL-Trafficking-and-Counterfeiting-Casebook . #Smuggling, #North Korea, #Cuba, #Panama, #missiles, #weapons. THERE’S A MISSILE IN THE SUGAR. 2013. 92. pp.- CNN coverage of the Chong Chon Gang http://cnn.it/leG4eQN .

“Safety does not just happen: it is the result of collective consensus and public investment. To our children, the most vulnerable citizens in any society, we owe a life free of violence and fear.”

Nelson Mandela

13 July 2015