Todays Miami Herald has an update on the Cuban refugees found in the Bahamas.
By Oscar Corral

The eight Cuban migrants found alive on Elbow Key Thursday had been afloat for seven days in the Florida Straits, their food and water supply gone.

Then the sea turned on them, slamming their makeshift vessel against a jagged reef, and sending them all tumbling into the water, said Manuel Felipe Prieto, who lives in Miami and is the uncle of one of the victims, Yuley Parra, 22.
That’s when six of the Cubans may have died, Prieto said.

”Everyone jumped into the sea,” Prieto said. “They started swimming, but the sea was choppy. Yuley, the girl, was very skinny, and that’s when she disappeared.”

Prieto’s account comes from his conversation Thursday night with Raidel Martinez Chavez, the migrant taken to a hospital in Marathon to treat an infected thumb and lacerated arm. Prieto said Martinez lost part of his finger as he swam toward land through the razor-sharp reef, and that many of the other migrants were injured.

Mariners Hospital said Martinez was not taking phone calls.

The survivors told Coast Guard officials that six others had died while attempting to reach shore after their homemade vessel broke apart.

This group of Cubans was not the group of 15 that the Coast Guard had searched for last week. ”The two had no correlation,” said Coast Guard spokeswoman Gretchen Eddy. “That other group is still missing.”


For 13 days, the survivors ate snails and other mollusks, seaweed and other edible things that washed up on shore, Prieto said.

The Coast Guard said the survivors claimed they had left Cuba Jan. 13, and desperately swam to the island after the shipwreck Jan. 20.

Seven of the survivors were awaiting their fate Friday afternoon aboard a Coast Guard vessel, said Petty Officer James Judge. Judge said no bodies had been recovered, and that the Coast Guard planned to turn the migrants over to Bahamian authorities because they had been found on Bahamian territory.

The Coast Guard rescued the survivors after receiving a report from the Bahamian fishing vessel Sea Explorer, the Coast Guard said. Judge said no bodies had been recovered.

William MacDonald, assistant director for the Bahamas immigration agency, told the Associated Press the migrants would have to prove they faced persecution in communist Cuba to be granted political refugee status in his country. Otherwise, they will be deported.

Martinez will likely be allowed to stay in the United States because he was taken for medical care to the Florida Keys.


Meanwhile, the Cuban American National Foundation sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asking him to conduct an immediate review of the controversial wet-foot, dry-foot policy, which mostly allows Cubans who reach U.S. shores to stay, but demands the repatriation of those picked up at sea unless they can show they qualify for asylum.
It has been two weeks since the White House promised Cuban exile leaders that federal officials will meet with them to discuss concerns they have with the policy.

So far, no date has been set for a meeting. (my emphasis)

UPDATE– George at the Real Cuba has photos of Elbow Key. Looking at them, how bare and rugged the landscape of the key is you’ll agree it’s amazing they survived. View these photos here

Please everyone, keep up with the letter writing and the phone calls.

Email the White House
or telephone 202-456-1414

22 thoughts on “*Update”

  1. Not new to this, you really need a new moniker. I will play along with you for a moment just to see how deep you’re willing to did that shit hole you are standing in. Please explain to us exactly how ending the wet foot dry foot policy will end your families chance for a better life.

  2. Oh I see, it’s not your Cuban family your concerned about, it’s your Chinese or Haitian family. Which is it? I’m not even going to mention Mexicans because in case you haven’t noticed they get a “get out of jail free card” as they walk across our border.

  3. New to this try again. Roam the countries? What the hell are you talking about? Come back when you can make sense.

  4. Ziva,
    A word of advice: Never get into a confrontation with a skunk, because whether you win or lose, you will probably end up a stinker.
    As a corollary of that principle, don’t lower yourself to arguing with an idiot. Because they are just unable to understand reason. Just let them fester in their own ignorance. They are a hopeless breed.

  5. Thanks Julio- I was sort of having fun, you know kind of like a cat playing with a mouse. But you’re right, better to take the high road.

  6. Val, everyday I visit you site, and everyday I am amazed by your persistence with this issue. As you know I have been working on making my feature film “90 Miles” for a year now, and the stories continue to amaze me. Andy Garcia has become evenm more interested in the film now and we plan to move forward soon. The story of the balsero is one of the most moving in the world. The percentage of people lost at sea in those 90 miles is truly amazing. Finally, hopefully, my film will show some of most grueling aspects of the trip from Cuba to freedom.

    Keep on Val!

  7. Quincy, Val didn’t post this one, I did, but all of us here at Babalu are in agreement about the importance of this life and death issue.

  8. Am I the only one not understanding where “new to this” got the idea that we wanted the Wet foot/Dry foot policy to be eliminated so all Cubans can be repatriated? Did I miss a meeting or are we not vouching for exactly the reverse, that all Cubans CAN STAY, that there is NO DISTINCTION?

  9. Julio,
    You are so right! 🙂 “New at this” just “roams” around in the comments from wet-foot/dry-foot policy to claiming property in Cuba … to name-calling… to 9/11 … more likely just to provoke … Val & company do a great job at keeping us aware of relevant issues … I believe that “civility” and respect are imperative in our exchanges of opinions and disagreements! I wish you well/ Melek

    “When you respond to an unreasonable person by getting emotional, you give them victory. How do you manage unreasonable people? You dismiss them. Like shadows.”- David Viscott

  10. Obviously we should just invade Cuba and make it the 51st state. Then we could vacation there and they wouldn’t have to try to make it to Florida on rafts. Everyone would be happy…except for those who like to call us IMPERIALISTS.

  11. God forbid that Cuba would become the 51st state!
    Cuba needs to be free and INDEPENDENT!!!
    I love the USA, but I love my old Cuba more.
    BTW, Max see my follow up on the thread on Bush getting tough. You’ll see we are basically on the same page. Let me know what you think of my desperation position regarding the demoncrats. I am fiscally and morally conservative. If the demoncrats had one of those who hated castro and would free Cuba my vote would probably be available. I haven’t left the GOP, but they are making it real tough lately. I am very disappointed that we have a lame duck president who has nothing to lose and everything to gain. If he would get involved in Cuba the GOP would OWN the Cuban vote as well as great relations with Cuba. But in reality neither party gives a rip about Cuba. I hope I get to eat my words someday, I really do.

  12. the pics with the rafter names is eery. If we were to lay wreaths in the ocean as many do by the roadside it would create an island of tears.

  13. Val,

    Thanks for deleting “not new to this’ posts”

    I know what these trolls are doing. I also now that while I won’t change them, I may influence a passerby from having an incorrect view of Cuba simply by reading a trolls misinformation.

    I also enjoy “shooting” down a troll from time to time. Its easy, just use the truth.

  14. Pototo,

    You’re right, we are almost totally on the same page.

    We are both fighting for virtually the same things.

    God bless..


  15. Poto hit the nail squarely on the head.

    Cuba needs to be free and INDEPENDENT!!!

    The more idiots mention Cuba being another Puerto Rico the more the chances of actual reconcilliation will be pushed away.

    No one self-respecting patriot wants to see his/her country become a part of another.

    Marti didn’t want it.

    Maceo didn’t want it.

    No real Cuban wants that.

  16. MTF:

    I don’t want Cuba to be like Puerto Rico either!

    I want Cuba to be sovereign, that goes without saying.

    HOWEVER, I would prefer Cuba be a state in the US than what it is now, a SLAVE STATE.

    That clear enough for ya?

  17. Max

    What is clear is that you don’t know what you want.

    There is no middle ground.

    Cuba was not free when the US treated it like a giant casa de relajo and it will not ever be free if we go back to the Ostend Manifesto wet dream of Cuba as a state.

  18. You know what MFT get off of my post. Batista was bad, we all know that, but compared to castro he was a saint. Cubans were free to come and go, Cubans were free to read, write, say, and think what ever they wanted.Cubans were free to educate their children as they saw fit. Cuba was a 1st world country BC with a waiting list of would be immigrants, unlke today those rafts are only going one way,and nothing your ignorant mind can formulate into words is going to change that fact. Take your soapbox someplace else.

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