30. January 2007 · Comments Off on The Things I Miss by not Watching/Reading the News · Categories: General

Nineteen Cubans sail to Key West in home-made boat

They used fiberglass, aluminum irrigation pipes (flattened) and a 4-cylinder Peugeot motor, spent 25 hours on the ocean, and landed safely on Key West at or around 530am January 25.

Twelve men, five women, and 2 children. Upon arrival, after being given showers and meals, their first real questions were about how soon they could find work.

The link in the first sentence is to a news article about their arrival. Val Prieto blogged about it over at Babalu Blog, complete with photos of the home-made boat, which looks remarkably like an old row-boat that I would be afraid to take onto a smooth pond (full disclosure- I’m not any kind of sailor, nor a strong swimmer).

Val quotes a correspondence from a friend of his, who was present at the time. An excerpt:

We provided them with soap, towels, chairs, and washed their clothes. The local police showed up with Cuban bread and coffee, and toys for the children.

The rafters were overjoyed! They wanted to know how long before they could get a job and were jittery with excitement at the world opened before them. Some of them reported that living under a system where you fear the police and the state 24 hours a day is not living, and to not be able to enjoy the fruit of your own labor is the worst form of slavery.

They were on the water only 25 hours. They gathered their money and resources and built an incredibly well-crafted boat out of flattened irrigation aluminum pipes, Fiberglas and a four-cylinder Peugeot motor. They had tried to depart twice before but experienced mechanical problems. On this occasion the motor worked like a charm.

One of the ladies in the group reported that she had been arrested by the police several days prior under suspicion of participating in the organization of an illegal departure from the country. She kept her composure and denied everything. Since they could not find any evidence, they released her. That night, all 19 of them got back on the boat again and left.

They stated that they are now and forever a single family of 19. They enjoyed taking pictures with the boat and the various officers that were in the area.

Welcome home, freedom-seekers, until your own homeland is safe for you again.

h/t: Val Prieto

p.s. If y’all have never read Val’s blog, you need to. He writes with an eloquence that puts most of us to shame.

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