A group of 20 Cuban refugees landed near Marco Island Tuesday morning. The group consisted of 16 men, 3 women – one of whom was pregnant – and a 1-year-old child. They told authorities they’d left Cuba 3 days ago, on Fidel Castro’s birthday. University of Central Florida Professor of Caribbean Studies – Luis Martinez-Fernandez – says Sunday was when the first pictures of Fidel Castro were released since his surgery two weeks ago.
“That was the day in which it became public…so that really strikes me. Perhaps they had been planning to do this for a long time and they were holding off just waiting to see what would transpire and whether Fidel Castro would return…”
A spokeswoman at the International Refugee Committee in Miami says there’s been no change in the pace of arrivals since Fidel Castro handed over power to his younger brother Raul. Authorities say the group was exhausted and dehydrated, but otherwise O.K. Half were taken to local hospitals, the others to a federal processing facility near Miami. Under the so-called wet-foot-dry-foot policy, it’s likely all 20 refugees will be allowed to stay in the U-S.
Two boats carrying 20 Cuban refugees landed in Collier County near the bridge leading to Marco Island Tuesday morning. 10 of them were taken directly to a federal processing facility near Miami…the others to local hospitals to be treated for dehydration. They told investigators they’d left Cuba Sunday…which also happened to be Fidel Castro’s birthday AND when Cuban officials released pictures of the communist leader for the first time since he handed over power to his brother Raul. Luis Martinez-Fernandez is Professor of Caribbean Studies at University of Central Florida…
“Perhaps…and this is just speculation…once they found out publicly that Castro was doing very well and his pictures, the pictures that were taken of him actually showed a healthy looking Castro, perhaps that triggered their decision to leave the island?”
Investigators are looking into whether the 2 boats the group arrived in were stolen. Both are registered in Florida. According to a spokeswoman for International Rescue Committee, there’s been no fluctuation in the number of Cubans arriving on Florida’s shores in recent weeks. Cuban refugees who make it to dry land in the U-S are generally allowed to stay under the so-called wet-foot-dry-foot
Wednesday, 16 August 2006 01:00
RefugeesWritten by WGCU Newsroom