Seagull One - by Lily Prellezo - Official Site
 

Preface

Brothers to the Rescue log on side of a plane

There was a special moment in time in Miami during the 1990s when the entire community came together, when nineteen nationalities of people united as one brotherhood to help another community of people suffering ninety miles away. We did it because we are our brother's keeper. Thousands of people stepped up to the plate to board a plane, captain a cutter, film an event, write a check, save a life. We were all Brothers to the Rescue. It would take volumes of recorded history to mention you all by name, as you well deserve, but each and every one of your spirits have left an imprint in the few hundred pages of this book, this story, our story.

Thank you, my brother Billy, for making the call. Thank you to everyone else for answering the call.

Thank you to all the pilots who risked their lives every week to save the life of someone they would rarely, if ever, meet. Special thanks to those pilots who donated of their own planes, paid their own fuel, and prayed for us through every mission. My deepest appreciation to all the observers: your pair of eyes saved a life. Thank you to the United States Coast Guard for being the first to welcome so many to freedom. Thank you to the press—radio, television, newspapers, magazines—from every country in the world who witnessed what was happening just ninety miles away from the freest nation on earth. Brothers to the Rescue would, literally, never have gotten off the ground without you.

Jose Basulto and Billy Schuss
José Basulto & William "Billy" Schuss, founders of Brothers to the Rescue. (Photo courtesty of BTTR archives)

Thank you to the funeral homes who gave dignity to our dead rafters. Thanks to the volunteers who welcomed those found alive, giving them food, clothing, shelter—and hope. Thank you to the writers, printers, poets, authors, publicists, technicians, and mechanics who helped us stay on task. Thank you to those who provided radios, phones, electronics, life vests, shoes, and toys that brought smiles to detained children.

All of you provided our every financial need, from the retired elderly giving five dollars a month, to those who sponsored fundraisers, and others who gifted us with planes. Thank you to the recording artists, the singers and songwriters, and the performers who gave of their talent to increase our treasure. Thank you to those who fed our pilots, volunteers, and rafters—from the well-known restaurants to the mothers who made arroz con pollo.

Thank you to every balsero who showed us what courage is all about. Thank you to the dissidents who bravely stayed behind to claim their heritage. My greatest appreciation to the lovers of nonviolence, to the believers in “I am the change,” to those who put down their weapons to fight the good fight. Thank you to all the exile organizations who supported Brothers for so many years, to the elected officials who lifted our voices to the highest authorities in the land, to the attorneys and judges who stood on the side of truth and justice. My gratitude extends to the police and local government who protected and guarded and watched over our brotherhood.

Thank you, Lily, for telling everyone's story, for weaving together such a magical moment in time.

Thank you to the Alejandre, Costa, and de la Peña families, and to Eva Barbas, for your unwavering strength and tremendous witness to the world after losing Armando, Carlos, Mario, and Pablo. Thank you for continuing your quest for truth and justice.

Thank you to my sons, José, Felipe, and Alberto, my daughters Ana and Monica, my brother Alberto, and all their families, for putting up with me some of the time, but most of the time, for doing without me. Thank you, Rita, for your support, patience, steadfastness, and unconditional love.

I thank God for giving me every single one of you. We were—we still are—Brothers to the Rescue.

José Basulto