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Frozen Funds Used To Pay Pilots’ Families

The families of four private pilots killed when their planes were shot down by Cuban jets have received $300,000 each in compensation - paid by the U.S. government out of frozen Cuban funds, The Miami Herald reported Saturday.

A U.S. State Department official, who was not identified, told the newspaper the payment was a “humanitarian gesture. … It does not mean the families waive their right to sue the Cuban government.”

The newspaper said the money came out of Cuban funds frozen in bank accounts since 1961, when diplomatic ties between the two countries were severed.

Relatives of three of the pilots - Armando Alejandre Jr., Carlos Costa and Mario de la Pea - sued the Cuban government and its air force in U.S. District Court on Oct. 31.

The pilots, all members of the Miami-based exile group Brothers to the Rescue, were killed when Cuban MiGs shot down two of the group’s planes. The Cuban government said they were shot down in Cuban territory. The U.S. government said the planes were over international waters.

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