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Posted December 02, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

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Associated Press

A man who gained attention while trying to reach Florida aboard a 1959 Buick converted into a boat was among 20 Cubans held by U.S. authorities who were granted refugee status in Costa Rica, authorities said Wednesday.

image
A group of twenty Cubans who have been held at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo, Cuba, arrive at the Juan Santamaria International Airport outside San Jose, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2004. (AP Photo/Kent Gibert)
The Cubans were transferred this week from the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay Cuba to Costa Rica.

Luis Grass Rodriguez first attempted the trip across the Florida Straits in a seagoing Chevrolet pickup in July 2002 and was sent back to Cuba. He tried again the following February, this time in a converted 1959 Buick sedan, and U.S. officials brought him to Guantanamo.

U.S. officials first asked the government to accept the 20 refugees last summer, shortly after they arrived at Guantanamo along with a larger group of rafters, all of whom originally had set out for Florida.


Grass Rodriguez and several others went on a brief hunger strike in September to protest their detention while awaiting the chance for asylum.


Costa Rica chose the 20 arriving Wednesday based on personal interviews with government officials, said Rogelio Ramos, this country’s foreign minister.


The refugees include a medical anesthesiologist, mechanics, and tourism experts among others, Ramos said, adding, “We’re talking about a majority of people with very high education levels.


The United States has agreed to provide financial help to the refugees while they adapt to life in Costa Rica, Ramos said.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on December 02, 2004 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    What?

    “...following February, this time in a converted 1959 Buick sedan, and U.S. officials brought him to Guantanamo.”

    Brought him to Guantanamo? I thought we brought rafters back to Havana.

    and

    “U.S. officials first asked the government (of Costa Rica) to accept the 20 refugees last summer..”

    and

    “The United States has agreed to provide financial help to the refugees while they adapt to life in Costa Rica, Ramos said.”

    What?

    Are we now intercepting rafters, bringing them to Guantanamo then negotiating a deal with a third country to take them in and then giving the rafters some spending money to get settled?

    Sounds like the underground railroad from the days of Black slaves in northern US. Is this the “underground cruiseline”?

    Can I get free transportation to Costa Rica and some spending money too?



    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on December 02, 2004 by Dana Garrett with 252 total posts

    I recall that there was some favorable USA public reaction to the story of the very innovative ways these people tried to twice come to the USA…by rigging their truck. 

    It was election time and since these people didn’t quite qualify under inane wet-foot/dry-foot policy, this compromise “solution” was hit upon. 


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