The name of José Andrés Rodríguez Terrero is etched onto a small square, one of thousands lining the black marble walls of the Cuban Memorial honoring martyrs of the Cuban regime.
Rodríguez Terrero’s brother, José Oscar, pointed proudly to the black square at Tamiami Park bearing José Andrés’ name, noting that he had been executed by a firing squad on Jan. 23, 1963, after being captured during a guerrilla uprising against Fidel Castro in eastern Cuba two years earlier.
José Oscar was one of the more than 300 Cuban exiles on Sunday who honored people like his brother, José Andrés, during an emotional ceremony at the Cuban Memorial. The ceremony recognized those who were executed, or rafters who fled the island and drowned while trying to escape. Also honored were exiles like four members of Brothers to the Rescue whose small planes were shot down by a Cuban MiG in 1996.
The ceremony, organized by the Assembly of Cuban Resistance and other exile groups, was meant to convey the message that Castro’s real legacy was the thousands of people killed after he seized power in Cuba.
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It took place only a few hours after the ashes of Castro, who was 90, were deposited into a crypt in a cemetery in Santiago de Cuba — nine days after he died and was cremated in Havana.
About 10,000 names are etched onto the black marble squares at the memorial, but one of the organizers of Sunday’s event, Sylvia Iriondo, said the total number of victims far exceeds that number.
“We are here gathered at the monument of the Cuban Memorial to honor the martyrs and victims of dictator Fidel Castro and the Castro tyranny,” said Iriondo, president of the group MAR for Cuba, which stands in Spanish for Mothers and Women Against Repression. “In this sacrosanct site are the names of who died and offered their lives for freedom or in search of freedom. This is the legacy of dictator Fidel Castro.”