The 20th anniversary of the shoot down of the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft were remembered Wednesday in solemn ceremonies across South Florida.
On Feb. 24, 1996, three American citizens -- Armando Alejandre, Jr., Carlos Costa, and Mario de la Peña -- as well as one American resident, Pablo Morales, were on a humanitarian mission over international waters when their plane was shot down upon an order from the Cuban government.
The planes of the humanitarians were taken down by a Cuban MiG-29 in international airspace.
Several lawmakers have released statements on the 20th anniversary and have tied it in with the current thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
In a statement, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio called the shoot down a "gross violation of U.S. law for which justice has not been served." Rubio added that the incident "stresses the long history of brutality by the Castro regime."
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen referenced President Obama's upcoming trip to Cuba, which she called "misguided" in a statement.
"The Obama administration continues to provide the Castro regime, the same people who murdered the Brothers to the Rescue heroes, concession after concession without even a semblance of contrition or accountability by the murderers of these brave men," she wrote, adding "The memories of the courageous Brothers to the Rescue heroes will endure as a testament to those who were willing to sacrifice everything for the cause of a free Cuba.”
A remembrance ceremony took place at the Brothers to the Rescue Monument located at Opa-locka International Airport at 11 a.m.
Later in the evening, the pilots will be remembered at a mass at 8 p.m.