Cuba Politics

Woman takes Castro to court for her father’s death

Posted November 15, 2004 by Dana Garrett in Cuba Politics.


MIAMI - Janet Ray Weininger was only 6 when her father - piloting a CIA plane during the Bay of Pigs invasion - was shot down and killed on April 19, 1961.

Thomas “Pete” Ray’s body was frozen and kept in a Havana morgue for 18 years before it was shipped home to his family.

This week, Ray Weininger, of Palmetto Bay, Fla., is hoping to win “justice” for her father. A trial begins Monday in Miami-Dade County in a wrongful-death lawsuit she filed against Cuban President Fidel Castro, his brother Raul and the Republic of Cuba.

“I think Fidel Castro has to answer,” Ray Weininger said. “My father was never given the opportunity to go into a court of law. I’ve given the Cuban government and Fidel Castro and Raul the opportunity to come into a court of law. I just want to meet on an equal playing field.”

Avenging her father’s death has been a personal mission for Ray Weininger, who says in court papers that instead of dressing up in her mother’s clothes as a young child, she would raid her daddy’s flight gear.

“To me he was my world. We always had a very special bond and when he left on this mission and the day my mom told me he wouldn’t be coming back, my world imploded.”

Ray’s plane was heavily damaged during the invasion, but he survived the crash landing, the suit says. “His plane went down near Fidel Castro’s headquarters. He made it out of the plane alive, was injured in a gun battle and then executed at point blank range.”

The court complaint says that as Ray was being treated by Cuban doctors for his initial wounds, the army carried out the orders of the Castro brothers and killed Ray with a single shot to his right temple.

“Unknown to us, he was kept and his body was desecrated for 18 years,” Ray Weininger said.

The body was kicked, spit on and displayed for political purposes over that period, the suit says.

Notified of his death, the family was told only that he had died in the Caribbean Sea, with no other details.

Ray Weininger began her search for information as a child, researching the Bay of Pigs in the library until late at night, questioning members of the Alabama National Guard who had served with her father, and writing letters monthly to Fidel Castro.

He never answered. But in 1978, he admitted that he had the body of an American pilot killed in the 1961 invasion.

In December 1979, after the remains had been identified through dental records as those of Thomas Willard Ray, they were shipped home to the United States.

An autopsy report upon the body’s return to the United States said the cause of death was shock and hemorrhage as a result of multiple gunshot wounds.

The lawsuit uses the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which allows victims of designated terrorist states - including Cuba - to sue for damages.

Ray Weininger’s attorneys say it’s unlikely that Cuba will be represented in court. Attempts to reach the Cuban Interests Section in Washington were unsuccessful.

Lawsuits on similar grounds have been successful in recent years, most notably when a federal judge ordered Cuba to pay $187 million to relatives of three Brothers to the Rescue fliers who had been shot down by the Cuban air force over the Florida Straits in 1996.

But one legal expert insists that the case has no merit.

University of Miami law professor David Abraham said, “You cannot invade a foreign country and expect a warm welcome. And if you’re captured or imprisoned, you can also be sentenced to death by execution.”

But Ray Weininger counters that “Cuba was part of the Geneva Convention. You do not execute a wounded man.”

In the other trials, millions of dollars have come from frozen Cuban assets or were diverted from telephone payments to the island.

But more important, Ray Weininger said, is the symbolism of a victory.

“Over the years, I realized that it was time to seek justice. And yes, it’s been many years, but Fidel Castro is still in power and I want justice for my father.”


Member Comments

On November 15, 2004, YoungCuban wrote:

As sad as this case may be,this lady must understand that War is War!

War is an equal playing field, you shoot them,they shoot back etc..

The Cuban government has done nothing that other countries haven’t done, many countries display their enemies bodies to their citizens as a sign of vicotroy etc..

I don’t see anyone trying to sue the Batista family?

What,was Fugencio a saint? Yeah right!

What next? Japanese families will sue the U.S. for killing thousands when the big one hit Japan?

I hate to sound cold hearted,but those are facts of war we must live with,she should stand proud of her father for risking his life for something he believed in instead of trying to gain financially from it.

Only in America!

On November 16, 2004, curt9954 wrote:

this woman’ case has no merit. Her father participated in an attack on a foreign country & he should have known the consequences for participating in an act of war. This woman doen not deserve a dime!

On November 19, 2004, Greg Binsky wrote:

United Fruit Co.
by poet Pablo Neruda (Nobel Laureate) from Canto General

When the trumpet blared everything
on earth was prepared
and Jehova distributed the world
to Coca Cola Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors and other entities:
United Fruit Inc.
reserved for itself the juiciest,
the central seaboard of my land,
America’ sweet waist.
It rebabtized its lands
the “Banana Republics,”
and upon the slumbering corpses,
upon the restless heroes
who conquered renown,
freedom, flags,
it established the comic opera:
it alienated self-destiny,
regaled Caesar’ crowns,
unsheathed envy, attracted
the tyrannical reign of the flies:
Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,
Carías flies, Martínez flies,
Ubico flies, flies soaked
in humble blood and jam,
drunken flies that drone
over the common graves,
circus flies, clever flies
versed in tyranny.

Among the bloodthirsty flies
the Fruit Co. disembarks,
ravaging coffee and fruits
for its ships that spirit away
our submerged lands’ treasures
like serving trays.

Meanwhile, in the seaports’
sugary abysses,
Indians collapsed, buried
in the morning mist:
a body rolls down, a nameless
thing, a fallen number,
a bunch of lifeless fruit
dumped in the rubbish heap.
See the chronology:

See the chronology:

On November 19, 2004, Greg Binsky wrote:


To Fidel Castro (by Pablo Neruda, Song of Protest)

Fidel, Fidel, the people are grateful

for words in action and deeds that sing,

that is why I bring from far

a cup of my countryís wine:

it is the blood of a subterranean people

that from the shadows reaches your throat,

they are miners who have lived for centuries

extracting fire from the frozen land.

They go beneath the sea for coal

but on returning they are like ghosts:

they grew accustomed to eternal night,

the working-day light was robbed from them,

nevertheless here is the cup

of so much suffering and distances:

the happiness of imprisoned men

possessed by darkness and illusions

who from the inside of mines perceive

the arrival of spring and its fragrances

because they know that Man is struggling

to reach the amplest clarity.

And Cuba is seen by the Southern miners,

the lonely sons of la pampa,

the shepherds of cold in Patagonia,

the fathers of tin and silver,

the ones who marry cordilleras

extract the copper from Chuquicamata,

men hidden in buses

in populations of pure nostalgia,

women of the fields and workshops,

children who cried away their childhoods:

this is the cup, take it, Fidel.

It is full of so much hope

that upon drinking you will know your victory

is like the aged wine of my country

made not by one man but by many men

and not by one grape but by many plants:

it is not one drop but many rivers:

not one captain but many battles.

And they support you because you represent

the collective honor of our long struggle,

and if Cuba were to fall we would all fall,

and we would come to lift her,

and if she blooms with flowers

she will flourish with our won nectar.

And if they dare touch Cubaís

forehead, by your hands liberated,

they will find peopleís fists,

we will take out our buried weapons:

blood and pride will come to rescue,

to defend our beloved Cuba.