The Miami Herald
May 8, 1999

Relatives: Charges fall short

Herald Staff Writer

At first, family members and friends of the four fallen fliers from Brothers to the
Rescue felt joyous relief at the announcement of the indictment of a group of
alleged Cuban spies in connection with the deaths.

''Oh my God! That is so great,'' exclaimed the frail mother of Pablo Morales, who
got the news from a Herald reporter.

Then, the skepticism set in immediately: ''Do you think there will really be
justice?'' Eva Barbas asked.

Parents of the two pilots killed also said they were happy about the news, but
that they wanted more.

''It should not stop here. They should indict Castro and the pilots,'' said Mario de
la Peña, who lost his son and namesake.

''It all depends on whether this government wants to stop right here for political
reasons or whether they want to do justice. If they stop now, we will know it was
all politics,'' he said.

Mirta Costa, the mother of pilot Carlos Costa, said she could not understand the

''We know their names. We know who gave the order. Fidel Castro himself took
responsibility. They need to suffer.''

Said Barbas: ''All we want is justice, not just for my son and his friends, but for
the thousands who have died at the hands of Fidel.

''He is smeared with blood.''

Brothers founder Jose Basulto, the pilot of the sole surviving Cessna that day,
applauded ''any action no matter how small to bring whoever did this to justice.''

But he said the spies were bit players and that justice would not be done until
others -- in Cuba and the U.S. -- were charged.

''These guys are just the mechanics,'' Basulto said. ''We want the architect of this
assassination, who is Fidel Castro, to be indicted in Florida courts.''

He said the United States government, which he claims allowed the shootdown to
happen, is also responsible for the deaths. ''I would also like to see the people on
this side of the Florida Straits who made it possible for there to be no defense,
who let Fidel Castro have the state of Florida all to himself for an hour, to see
them be brought to justice too,'' Basulto said.

Basulto has long said that someone in the U.S. government gave an order to
''depart from standard operating procedure'' that day and not respond with military
interceptors after the Cuban MiGs crossed a particular point, an accusation the
U.S. has rejected.

Family members also stressed that the joy of promised justice could never
eclipse the pain they feel still over their loss.

At the Costas' Hialeah household, pilot Carlos Costa's old bedroom has barely
been touched. His books are still on the table. His clothes are still in the closet.
A notebook with random things he jotted down, messages and phone numbers,
lays on his desk, open to the last page he used.

''I don't think I can ever get rid of anything,'' his mother said. ''Sometimes, I give
myself the idea he's still here, because the reality is very hard.''

Barbas said she welcomes death so it can end the pain.

''I am waiting for my life to finish so I can be with Pablito again.''