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Posted January 19, 2005 by publisher in Cuban Culture

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By Author Matt Lawrence

Dying to Get Here is based upon my own experiences as director of special projects for Freedom Flight International during the Cuban rafter exodus of the early 1990’s.  My witness to the desperation of these families on the sea, and meeting a few of these brave souls who were fortunate enough to be found alive, was my impetus to tell this tale of tragedy in the tropics. 
One that still continues to this day.

My story begins in a Havana barrio with the Robaina family struggling to meet their daily existence, and it chronicles their final weeks in Cuba preparing for what ends up to be a harrowing life-altering escape from Cuba aboard a home made raft. 

It is an emotional detailing of the human suffering at sea, and the loss of life that all too often occurs.  I segue to the Robaina’s rescue by the Coast Guard and the family’s first feast in freedom on July 4, 1994; a red, white and blue ending. 

In September 2004, Dying to Get Here was featured on The Morning Show with Staci Spanos on WJXT in Jacksonville, Florida, and as the cover story in the Latitudes Entertainment section of the Florida Keys Keynoter. 

Jessica Machetta, host of the Morning Mix on WGMX-FM in Marathon, Florida gave my book two thumbs up during our recent interview; saying, “You inspired me to reach out to our less fortunate neighbors who come seeking freedom.” And, “the best part of the book is the authenticity of voice.  I think it’s a book that will appeal to female and male readers alike.”

Late in 2004, Dying to Get Here was featured in a segment on Comcast Cablevision’s, South Florida Newsmakers with Spero Canton. My segment was shown over 50 times on CNN Headline News in October and November to Comcast Cable’s 600,000 subscribers in the South Florida market.

So far this year, I’ve been the keynote speaker for Friends of the Library in the Florida Keys; an event that drew 75 supporters to an afternoon tea that resulted in me signing fifty books for readers in that group.  I’ve also been featured on Today in South Florida, a news magazine hour produced live each weekday morning on South Florida’s NBC6.  My interviewer, journalist Bob Mayer and meteorologist Lonnie Quinn called my segment, “awesome”, “inspiring” and “compelling”.

Jeff Mackler, a film packager and executive producer with over 25 years of success in the entertainment industry thought so highly of Dying to Get Here that we signed an agreement last November allowing Jeff to begin the initial steps of bringing this story of coming to America to film. 

Lieutenant Jorge Martinez, Commanding Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sitkinak says, “Matt recounts the horrors of the Florida Straits as if he’s had to undertake the unfortunate task of taking to the seas for the sake of freedom himself.” 

Between the hurricanes in September and the election in November, the subject has been on the back burner locally; yet with the arrival of freedom seeking Cubans becoming almost a weekly, the need for this story to be told has been reiterated again. 


Matt Lawrence, Author
Dying To Get Here: A Story of Coming To America (iUniverse 2004 232 pages)

To read excerpts

  1. Follow up post #1 added on January 19, 2005 by YoungCuban with 409 total posts

    Great job,now can you please write a book about every single Peruian in Peru who is also dying for a better way?

    You should go to Peru,people there do truly live like animals,no electricty,no running water,the take baths in disease infected waters and not to mention they also drink that water,they do not get rations,they live in houses made of boxes and scraps,so with all that said,anyone who complains in Cuba should try living in Peru and they will see just how good they have it in Cuba!

    Get real,there are worse living enviroments and conditions then Cuba, but yet they seem to be ignored,I wonder why? Could it be because those countries have a democratic system in place that has obviously failed their people?

    Think about that the next time you and others want to bash Cuba and it’ people!

  2. Follow up post #2 added on January 20, 2005 by mattlawrence with 69 total posts

    I wrote Dying To Get Here based on my experiences as director for special projects with Freedom Flight International.  Cuban rafters is my genre and i wrote it from the perspective of my first hand experience in the field, flying search and rescue.

    Unfortuantely, I have no experience with Peruvian issues (or the many other issues) affecting people in other countries who wish to come to America; except to say I know they exist. 

    While Dying To Get Here is written about a Cuban family, it serves as a testimonial for all those that die trying to come to America seeking a chance at the freedom many of us take for granted.  I hope you enjoy the read.  TC

  3. Follow up post #3 added on January 20, 2005 by Cubana with 282 total posts

    It is not the democratic system that has failed the Peruvian people but the people they elected, like Fujimori who bribed and intimidated his political opposition. However, the Peruvian people do have the opportunity through the democratic system to remove from office the incompetent and corrupt, unlike in Cuba where there is no possibility of any alternative to the Castro regime.

    And this is not a bash at Cuba or its people, only against the Castro dictatorship.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on January 20, 2005 by YoungCuban with 409 total posts

    In all hoensty if I had to live one way or another,I rather live with Castro and his ways beofre living like the people from Peru,at elast Castro does do some good for his people.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on January 20, 2005 by Cubana with 282 total posts

    We will have to disagree YoungCuban. As someone who’ parents lived through and survived the Second World War when the UK’ very existence as a free nation was on the line in 1940 I have ingrained in me the notion that freedom is paramount.

  6. Follow up post #6 added on April 28, 2007 by runforjustice

    Hi, I would be very interested in watching the film. Whatever happened with the production (it’s been over two years)?  I never heard of such a movie but I’m dying to see it.

    Thank you

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