Protests, Cruise Ships and Rafters

Yesterday, a group of Cuban exiles here in Miami protested the Bahamian government’s treatment of detained Cuban migrants. They headed out to Government Cut where the ships make their way from the port out to sea, and targeted the long row of cruise ships lined up at the port ready to head to destinations such as the Bahamas. One such ship was Carnival’s Imagination.

I found this protest quite ironic in light of recent rescues of rafters by that very same cruise line.

Please read the following as posted by NetForCuba:

The Democracy Movement wishes to thank Carnival Cruise Lines and its employees for its sense of responsibility in saving the lives of humans drifting in the sea, as well as its great humanity in its treatment of those rescued.

The ship Carnival Imagination of Carnival Cruise Lines saved the lives of a group of ten Cuban rafters who had escaped Cuba in a self-made rustic boat made of zinc plates and other materials.

The rafters were picked up last Sunday at 7:30 AM in the Gulf of Mexico after having spent 5 days on the high seas. According to a couple who were passengers on the ship, and who provided us with this information, the rafters were very sunburnt and one of them was very dehydrated.

Immediately, the ship’s crew attended to the rescued rafters and gave them very good care, according to Dominador and Pastor Pacheco, the passengers who witnessed the rescue.

“We were on the ship, and along with other Cubans who were on board, we made arrangements with the captain so that he could allow us to see the rescued rafters, get to know their names, and to contact their families to let them know that they were alive, said Mrs. Pacheco, who exhorted that arrangements be made so that the rafters would not be repatriated to Cuba.

Saturday afternooon, the group was turned over to Mexican immigration authorities in Playa del Carmen where the cruise ship docked.

The rafters left from the Batabano area (southern coast) of Cuba.

Their names are:

Lazaro Perez Cardenas
Luis Alberto Fernandez Sardiba
Raul Arias Romero Santos
Rene Soto Delgado
Yorgac Rojas Valdes
Caridad Galvan Perez, (wife of Jorge Garcias Romero)
Jorge Garcias Romero
Karen Iriza Garcia
Misael Azahares Sanchez
Nelson Romero Rodriguez

The Democracy Movement wishes to express its gratitude to Carnival Cruise Lines for their compassion, kindness and dignity.

Only a few days ago, another ship, the Carnival Conquest picked up a group of 22 Cuban rafters on the high seas. Among the rafters were 12 dissidents, members of Christian Democratic Party of Cuba. They were disembarked in Mexico as soon as a Good Samaritan on board the ship by the name of Malcolm communicated via Internet with Ramon Saul Sanchez, delegate of the Democracy Movement, informing him of the rescue and asking him what could be done to resolve the situation. Malcolm then directed the rafters to make sure that Mexico accept them before being repatriated back to Cuba by American authorities. The rafters are all currently in Mexico. All possible efforts will be necessary to make sure that they are not repatriated since most of them are political dissidents, and therefore should receive protection according to international law.

The captain and the crew collected clothes and other humanitarian aid for the rafters. The grateful rafters wrote a letter to the captain and the crew of the Carnival Conquest expressing their deep debt of gratitude to them for having saved their lives and treating them with great dignity.

Read more here (in Spanish only).

1 thought on “Protests, Cruise Ships and Rafters”

  1. Beautiful post, Robert! How edifying to know that there are human beings out there on the high seas who have compassion for their fellow man, people who have nothing, what Mother Teresa called ‘the poorest of the poor.’ I am glad they are not all just thugs full of trickery, brutality, and officiousness to the point of lawlessness like the U.S. Coast Guard.

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