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Posted June 10, 2005 by mattlawrence in Cuba Human Rights

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Another unusual automobile-turned-vessel almost made it to the Florida Keys from Cuba this week ó but was spotted by the U.S. Coast Guard and sunk.

Citizen Staff

The Coast Guard first spotted the converted powder-blue vehicle about 20 miles off Key West on Tuesday after the group of 13 Cubans sailed their makeshift boat across the Florida Straits, according to WTVJ- NBC 6.

Rafael Diaz, his wife and two children were among those intercepted at sea, failing to reach U.S. soil, relatives in South Florida told the television station.

The relatives said it was Diaz’ third attempt to leave Cuba and that he was aboard an earlier unsuccessful attempt to reach the U.S. on a 1951 Chevy pickup that had been converted into a boat, WTVJ reported.

A Coast Guard spokesman confirmed Wednesday that an “aqua-taxi” had been sunk as a hazard to navigation, but offered no further details.

“U.S. policy prohibits me from discussing the details of an ongoing migrant interdiction case.” said the spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Chris O’Neil. Only once the final disposition of the incident is resolved will the agency discuss it, he said.

In 2003, a group of migrants tried to cross the Florida Straits aboard a bright green 1951 Chevy pickup, which a Cuban named Luis Grass had converted into a boat. They were intercepted by the Coast Guard and sent back to Cuba. The Coast Guard then sank the Chevy-boat.

In February 2004, Grass made a second attempt to get to the United States illegally ó this time aboard a Buick sedan powering another homemade barge. Grass and his family had more success sticking to land: on March 12 they entered the U.S. though the Texas-Mexico border and were allowed to stay.

Under the U.S.‘s wet-foot, dry-foot policy towards Cuban refugees, those who reach U.S. soil are allowed into the country. Those intercepted at sea are treated as refugees from any other nation who, in order to be admitted to the U.S., must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution upon return to their homeland.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on June 11, 2005 by GregoryHavana with 196 total posts

    Recent reports have said that the family in this car was given asylum in the United States. If this is in fact true, it is yet another example of the hypocritical double standard that the US government has towards Latin American migrants. If you are fleeing economic hardship from Cuba, you are given a welcome in the United States. If you are fleeing bloody repression,  violence, and extreme poverty in Haiti or Colombia or the Dominican Republic, you are sent back. Moreover, those Cubans that are interdicted at sea on simple rafts get returned to Cuba, as the migration agreement stipulates. Why do some fools in a aqua-taxi get special treatment? Moreover, these people brought along young children on such a risky voyage, which should be considered criminal.


  2. Follow up post #2 added on June 11, 2005 by mattlawrence with 69 total posts

    FYI- The four family members given asylum in the States were all holding valid VISAS to come to the USA from Cuba, the other NINE freedom seekers were sent back to Guantanamo.

    If you don’t like the U.S. policy (which includes your freedom of speech to voice your opinion) perhaps YOU should find a country you appreciate as much as those that are DYING TO GET HERE!

    Matt Lawrence, Author
    Dying To Get Here: A Story of Coming to America
    [url=http://www.mattlawrencebooks.com]http://www.mattlawrencebooks.com[/url]


  3. Follow up post #3 added on June 12, 2005 by GregoryHavana with 196 total posts

    Mattlawrence…
    Whereas it is true many people risk their lives to find the American dream on US soil (and many more would if the cynical wet foot/dry foot policy was offered to people other than Cubans), it is also the very policy of the US government that supports, props-up, or tolerates brutal right-wing regimes around the world that torture, disappear, and repress their people.
    US policy support freedom to voice my opinio…unless of course I am stuck in the Guantanamo Base prison, with a right to a lawyers nor any charges against me. I guess everyone has skeletons in their closet, right Matt?
    Finally, thank you for edifying us on which people were given asylum and which were not. What I am perplexed about is if the four people in the car ALREADY had visas to the US, why did they risk their lives doing an illegal crossing? I am talking of course about the recent water-taxi.
    One more question: why doesn’t your US government apply the wet-foot/dry-foot policy to other nations? Why only Cuba? You should be able to educate us on this one…


  4. Follow up post #4 added on June 12, 2005 by mattlawrence with 69 total posts

    My brother Gregory, I don’t disagree with your “skeletons in the closet” statement about the US. . .I only believe I live in the best place to live FREELY.  (I of course could be wrong, however I have traveled in this hemisphere a bit and find it EASIER in the US.) I am fully aware of the situations in the Carribbean and the poverty that exisits in my country and OTHERS.

    As far as US TYRANNY. . . we’ve all heard the stories and I am sure many are true, however, I still feel we are better off because of “the American way”.  (At least here you and I can agree to disagree and not be persecuted) 

    From what I understand, the four people allowed to stay had approval and VISAS but the CUBAN GOVERNMENT was doing what it does best. . . playing games with them.

    My feelings are based only on what I saw flying search and rescue in the early 90’ (1992-1994)and I’ll ask you as I’ve asked others, “How BAD must it be to take your baby to sea; just for a chance at freedom?”

    As far as “wet foot/dry foot”. . .I’ve NEVER supported or encouraged anyone to risk life to get here, I disagreed when Clinton changed the policy and still disagree with the policy today. . . the problems in the world are caused by POLITICS and IDEALS. . .none of which are perfect.

    Thanks for your concern and your postings in the forum!

    Matt Lawrence, Author
    MURDER OVER THE HIGH SEAS: Complicity and Castro in the shootdown of Brothers to the Rescue (late 2005 release set)
    [url=http://www.mattlawrencebooks.com]http://www.mattlawrencebooks.com[/url]


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