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)