A group of men who invaded Cuba 52 years ago to overthrow Fidel Castro have extended to famed dissident Yoani Sanchez an official "welcome to Miami."
The Bay of Pigs veterans of Brigade 2506 say they and Sanchez used different methods in different decades -- but their aim was the same.
"We wish that this encounter with Yoani will create a perspective that delves into all the complexities and feelings of
being Cuban," Brigade members said in a statement Tuesday.
Sanchez, currently on tour of the Americas and Europe, will be in Miami on Monday at public events at the Freedom Tower and FIU. Sanchez is well-known worldwide for trying to bring about change inside Cuba via social media and technology —
giving testimony in tweets to the island government's abuses.
Back in April 1961, some 3,000 brigade members, many Miami residents, staged the Bay of Pigs invasion, financed by the CIA and aimed at overthrowing Castro's young communist regime. But the effort failed.
More than 100 of the invaders were killed; 1,500 others were killed, 1,500 others were captured and jailed for 20 months.
Their release was eventually negotiated by the U.S. and Castro in exchange for $52 million in medicine and supplies. Many of those men, considered heroes by the exile community, are members of the veteran group that offered Sanchez a welcome.
“We have fought in an arena different from Yoani’s to restore democratic principles in our country. As such, we support all manifestation as a way of expression against oppressive and undemocratic regime that rules Cuba,” the news release says.
The brigade encouraged others in Miami’s Cuban exile community to welcome Sanchez.
“The Assault Brigade 2506, invites all freedom loving citizens to welcome to Miami — our second home — this fighter for democracy and human rights and show that as free men and women can respectfully have our differences, but we are united by something sublime,” said the statement, signed by group president Máximo L. Cruz González and three others.