The Associated Press
Friday, January 12, 2001; 8:53 AM
HAVANA The Cuban government identified as teen-age boys the two Cuban stowaways who were killed last month when they hid inside the landing gear of a British Airways jet before it left Havana on Christmas Eve.
After identifying the boys Thursday on state television's nightly public affairs program, participants read a letter from one, 16-year-old Michael Fonseca, to his family.
It indicated that he and Alberto Vazquez, 17, planned to go to the United States, where they hoped to live and work.
After the jet took off for London, both boys died from subfreezing temperatures and lack of oxygen in the compartment.
Cuban authorities said the boys were in the 11th grade at the Camilo Cienfuegos military school in Havana.
News reports from Britain earlier reported on the deaths, saying one body was found Christmas Eve on a Surrey farm, evidently falling out as the plane flew over the British countryside, and the other fell from the same British Airways jet as it took off from London for Mexico.
British authorities initially identified the boys as male adults who appeared to be in their 20s and that one was carrying Cuban currency.
The victims' identities and ages were made public Thursday, the first time Cuban media reported on the incident.
One of the program's regular moderators, Randy Alonso, blamed the deaths on what the government here calls the "killer law" the Cuban Adjustment Act. The 1966 law allows all Cubans who reach U.S. soil to avoid deportation.
Cuban authorities say the law encourages its citizens to make dangerous journeys, usually at sea, in the hope of reaching American soil.