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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 12, 1996


Tomorrow a commemoration will take place of the second anniversary of the sinking of the Thirteenth of March vessel off the Cuban coast, in which 41 innocent victims died. A flotilla of vessels and aircraft organized by the Democracy Movement intend to take part in a peaceful demonstration of support for democracy in Cuba. This event can be an eloquent expression of the American and Cuban peoples' yearning for democracy and human rights in Cuba.

Peaceful protests are part of the long American tradition to effect change. We fully support the right of the Democracy Movement and other organizations seeking to promote democracy in Cuba to employ the non-violent civil action method as long as they do so in a manner consistent with American and international law.

We urge the Democracy Movement and all the participants in Saturday's flotilla to observe U.S. law and refrain from entering Cuban territorial waters during this event.

Later this month the U.N. Security Council will consider the recently released report of the ICAO on the February 24 shootdown by the Cuban Government of two unarmed American civilian aircraft over international waters. We will look to the Council to reaffirm the ICAO's condemnation of the use of weapons against civil aircraft in flight, and to take steps to ensure against any repetition of such outrageous and unacceptable behavior on the part of the Cuban Government. We call upon those participating in tomorrow's flotilla to demonstrate their own respect for the rule of law even as we seek to mobilize international opinion to hold Cuba to a similar standard.

We applaud the Democracy Movement's willingness to work with the Administration, the United Nations, and the rest of the International Community to find ways to end totalitarian rule in Cuba and to foster the construction of a civil society for all its citizens. Existing American laws provide an excellent framework for this partnership between the U.S. Government and groups seeking to promote democracy in the country of their birth.

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