“from afar we could see black smoke rising from the raft…”

raft

I received an email today that reduced me to tears.   It struck like a bolt of lightning on a clear sunny day  — just like one I saw yesterday —  and I am at a loss for words.  I can’t fully explain the impact.  Maybe because it is an email rather than a news story, and it made me realize that what is described in it happens all too frequently, but that it has been going on for over half a century, day after desperate day, and that there is no end in sight to this, and that there is no justice, and no reply from Heaven for the suffering of those who live through this hell.  And the worst part of it is that for those who find themselves in this situation, dying of dehydration, drowning, or being eaten by sharks, may be a better option than being plucked from the sea and being sent right back to the other hell they tried to flee from.

Then, it also occurred to me that some of those who do make it across the sea in rafts turn right around as soon as they can, loaded with cash and merchandise for those who stayed behind.   Any way you look at it, it is all too absurd, and immensely sad.

Here is the email, in Spanish and English.  The writer was enjoying himself/herself on a Caribbean cruise.   I have no idea who wrote it, and where, exactly, the writer came upon this tragic scene.  But there is no doubt in my mind that it is legitimate.  And, even if it is not, it sums up many other such cases, some of which are reported by the news media.  This one probably won’t make it into a single news report anywhere.

But someone has posted an account of a similar event, that includes a video. It seems that it might describe this very same raft.  Go here for that posting and video, which also includes commentary.

“AYER CUANDO ESTABAMOS PASANDO CERCA DE CUBA, OCURRIO UN PROBLEMA ,LA EMBARCACION SE DETUVO TOTALMENTE,Y LO QUE OCURRIO FUE QUE UNA BALSA LLENA DE INDOCUMENTADOS SE ACERCARON PARA TRATAR DE SUBIR AL BARCO,RAPIDO SALIO UN PEQUEñO BOTE DEL BARCO LE LLEVO COMIDA Y AGUA Y LOS LLEVARON A MAR AFUERA, RAPIDO LLAMARON AL COAST GUARD PARA QUE LO LLEVARAN DE NUEVO A CUBA,,,ESTO ME CONMOVIO,PUES IBAN NIñOS Y A LO LEJOS SE VEIA UN HUMO NEGRO QUE SALIA DE LA BALSA,ESTUVIMOS MEDIA HORA PARADO EN EL OCEANO ESTO ATRASO LA LLEGADA,,QUE PENA ESTO OCURRE A DIARIO Y MUEREN EN ALTAMAR POR FALTA DE COMIDA Y AGUA,ESTO ME HIZO LLORAR UNA EXPERIENCIA QUE NUNCA OLVIDARE.”

Yesterday, when we were passing near the coast of Cuba, there was a problem, and the ship came to a dead stop. What happened is that a raft full of undocumented people came near us so they could try to climb aboard.  A small boat was launched quickly to bring them food and water, and they led them farther out to sea.  Immediately, they called the Coast Guard so they could be returned to Cuba… This moved me, for there were children aboard, and from afar we could see black smoke rising from the raft.  We spent a half hour without moving in the ocean and this put us behind schedule.. What a shame that this happens every day and these people die on the high seas for lack of food and water.  This made me weep.  It was an experience I will never forget.



4 thoughts on ““from afar we could see black smoke rising from the raft…””

  1. It’s high time that the Cuban people DO SOMETHING IN CUBA and fight, and stop trying to run away. The Castro machine has done an excellent job in creating humans that do not have the stomach to fight. Yes, there are a few who want to fight and have laid down their bodies and lives to fight the dictatorship, but the vast majority DO NOT WANT TO FIGHT. They either sit there and take it, or jump on the next raft out! I am not being cruel, but you compare the people of Cuba of today and the people of Cuba of 1960, who returned to fight (Playa Giron) or stayed and faught (Escambray), and you see a different type of Cuban! The Cuban people today are pure zombies. Even if you sent Brigada 2506 to land in Cuba next Monday, the people in Cuba would be less likely to fight and join them then they were back on April 17, 1961. It might seem a cruel analysis, but I would like to see any evidence to the contrary.

  2. The problem is two-fold: 1) For all practical purposes, the free world doesn’t care about Cuba’s tragedy and never has, so nothing is effectively done as was done for South Africa. 2) Cubans themselves, for the most part, only go so far as to try to solve their own personal problem or that of their immediate circle, but do little or nothing to attack the root cause of the overall problem (and often, in fact, become part of that problem, regardless of intent). It is not, obviously, a recipe for progress, let alone success.

  3. Dr. Eire; I share your pain. Having been raised in Miami, I remember the days where one would read of these rescued new arrivals in the newspaper or hear about them over the radio. They were welcomed with open arms and you were likely to see them shopping at Central Shopping Plaza -either at Zayre or the Grand Union grocery store. How times have changed. Heartbreaking.

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