Brothers to the Rescue is a pro-democracy, humanitarian organization in Miami that promotes and supports the efforts of the Cuban people to free themselves from dictatorship through the use of active nonviolence. An integral part of their effort is to save the lives of refugees escaping the Island and to assist the families of political prisoners.
Brothers to the Rescue was founded in May 1991 after several pilots were touched by the death of a fifteen-year-old adolescent named Gregorio Pérez Ricardo, who fleeing Castro’s Cuba on a raft, perished of severe dehydration. The organization, a small, non-profit corporation, conducts its humanitarian missions searching for rafters in the Florida Straits, through the efforts of a group of pilots, observers and volunteers from numerous countries, including Argentina, Cuba, Perú, France, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, the United States, Venezuela and former Cuban rafters.
Brothers to the Rescue has conducted over 2,400 aerial search missions. These operations have resulted in the rescue of more than 4,200 men, women and children ranging from a five-day old infant to a man 79 years of age, and the rescue of thousands of others during the refugee crisis of 1994.
On February 24th 1996, Armando Alejandre Jr, Carlos Costa and Mario de la Pena – all American citizens – and Pablo Morales, a Cuban-born American resident, carried out a mission over international waters near Havana when their planes were shot down by a Cuban MiG-29 upon orders from the Cuban government. All four pilots died on the spot.
It has been estimated that Brothers to the Rescue pilots have saved one life for every two hours of flight time. This is considered a record rate among professional search and rescue organizations such as the Civil Air Patrol and the United States Air Force. Additionally, there have been flights to drop food and water supplies to stranded rafters in deserted Bahamian Islands, as well as weekly deliveries of emergency food, medicine and clothing to a Cuban refugee detention camp in Nassau, Bahamas. The organization has also conducted search missions for survivors of shipwrecks of U.S. citizens, Bahamians, Haitians and missing divers.
Brothers to the Rescue plans to maintain an active program that addresses the most basic human needs of those struggling for freedom.