Cuban rafters braving the Florida Straits in record numbers
Over 3,000 Cuban "migrants" in "rustic vessels" have been picked up by the US Coast Guard in the past thirty weeks.
That's a rate of 100 per week.
Take that in, Diana Nyad! They do it in "rustic vessels" without escorts or shark-repelling technology.
Which wonderful achievement of the Revolution could they be fleeing?
Is it because Raul is such a visionary leader and his "reforms" have been such an improvement....?
Or... is it because of the free health care and limitless educational opportunities.....?
Or... is it the overabundance of colorful characters: cigar ladies, stilt walkers, santeros, and such....?
Or... is the pressure of having to live as role models for Venezuela and the rest of Latin America.....?
Or....is it the total absence of racism....?
Or...is it the aesthetic angst caused by living in an architectural and automotive museum that the whole world hankers to visit?
Awwwwww. Something is wrong with these ingrates. The louts just don't appreciate the utopia created for them by the Revolution.
Chalk it all up to original sin. As St. Augustine might say: "ecce unde" -- behold, here's the proof! Every one of those "rustic vessels" is proof of original sin. Like Adam and Eve, they think there is more than what paradise can offer.
From Trib Live
U.S. notices surge in Cuban rafters
MIAMI — One morning in April, Dairon Morera climbed onto a raft of aluminum tanks with 22 other people, revved up a Volvo car motor and pushed off the Cuban shore, joining a never-ending stream of islanders desperate to reach the United States.
“The biggest dream a Cuban has is to leave,” said Morera, who was frustrated by government limits on his pizza business. He lacked money for airplane tickets or smugglers, so he risked his life at sea.
Morera's journey was turbulent; many people vomited, but all made it alive in just 20 hours. They ran ashore in the Florida Keys, hugging each other and shouting, “Libertad!”
The number of Cubans trying the journey is up sharply this year, with nearly 3,000 picked up by U.S. authorities so far, double last year's pace.
The special status Cuban migrants enjoy, thanks to U.S. efforts to undermine their communist government, is a constant pull. While illegal U.S.immigrants fleeing poverty or violence in other countries are deported, Cubans are welcomed.
The trip can take two or three days if all goes well. Storms, strong currents, sharks and jellyfish abound. Without navigational tools or powerful engines, people can be swept far from any coast, running out of water and dying in the merciless sun.
“If we don't find them and they don't land, their chances of survival decrease every day they are out there,” said Capt. Mark Fedor, the Coast Guard's enforcement chief in Miami.
Twenty years have passed since Fidel Castro eased political pressure on his communist government by telling Cubans they were free to leave. His declaration in August 1994 triggered a sudden exodus of 35,000 islanders.
Thousands were picked up by the Coast Guard and spent months behind barbed wire at the U.S. Navy base on Cuba's eastern edge.
Finally, President Bill Clinton reached a deal with Castro: The migrants at Guantanamo could come to the U.S., and at least 20,000 other Cubans a year could get U.S. visas. But Cuban authorities would resume patrolling to keep people off unseaworthy rafts, and the United States would enforce a “wet foot, dry foot” policy: Anyone intercepted at sea would be returned to Cuba; any Cuban reaching American soil could stay.
It was a political compromise, meant to resolve a humanitarian crisis. But it never stopped Cubans from risking their lives to cross the 90-mile Florida Straits: Another 26,000 Cubans have tried it since 1995.
The death toll is unknown. Scholars estimate that at least one of every four rafters doesn't survive.
That would mean at least 16,000 people have perished in the waters between Florida and Cuba since the 1959 revolution, said Holly Ackerman, a librarian at Duke University who has extensively studied the 1994 crisis.
A more accurate toll is possible, and even a list of the dead, since the U.S. knows who arrived and Cuba knows who left. But a real accounting has never been on the agenda of the governments' migration talks held twice each year, she said.
“It is shameful that the two countries have not done this,” Ackerman said.
The latest arrivals come mostly on makeshift rafts, and have no close U.S. relatives, said Oscar Rivera, director of the Church World Service's Miami office, which helps newly arrived Cuban migrants.
“They come smelling like fish and gasoline,” said Juan Lopez, associate director for Cuban and Haitian resettlement with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Miami. “You can tell by looking at them how difficult, the things they have gone through to get here.”