Cuba’s 'balseros' risk their lives to set foot on US soil

 
A recent video of stranded Cuban boat people that were rescued by the crew of a luxury cruise ship is a stark reminder of the risks illegal immigrants are willing to take to take to set foot on American soil.
 
On Sunday, December 5, as the Royal Carribean cruise ship Monarch of the Seas was returning from Coco Bat, Bahamas to Cape Canaveral, Florida, someone on board the ship spotted a sinking raft. On board were five men and one woman, all Cuban nationals. The crew rescued them and gave them food, water and medical assistance.
 
Despite the many perils of the journey, thousands of Cuban “balseros” (from the Spanish word balsa, for small boat) risk their lives to cross over to the US with the hope of obtaining one of the 20,000 visas Washington delivers each year to Cuban immigrants. A few succeed, many are turned back.
 
Video posted on Live Leak by jpbnw
Contributors

“You cannot imagine the risks Cubans are ready to take to set foot on US soil”

Maykel Crespo is Cuban immigrant who has lived in the US for the past nine years. He attepted the dangerous maritime crossing seven times before finally reaching the United States at age 19. He attended college in the US and is now employed in a bank. He writes the blog Diversionismo Ideologico.
 
The southernmost tip of the United States is Key West, Florida. It’s about 90 miles [140 km] from the Cuban coastline. Every Cuban “balsero” seeks to set foot there when he sets out on his journey. 
 
The kind of boat used by an illegal migrant depends on his financial means. Those who can afford to pay 10,000 dollars travel on a safe, well-built boat that can carry 12 or so people and a ferryman. They have GPS navigation and usually take about eight or nine hours to get across. The rest, on the other hand, are forced to build makeshift rafts themselves with anything they can find: car parts, tyres, wooden boards, a sail made of sheets… These migrants rely on a compass for navigation, and the journey can take several days – if they arrive at all.
 
There is a “wet foot, dry foot policy” concerning illegal Cuban migrants: a Cuban caught on the waters between Cuba and the US is summarily sent home or to a third country, while one who makes it to shore (“dry feet”) gets a chance to remain in the US and apply for legal permanent resident status. You cannot imagine the risks Cubans are ready to take to set foot on US soil. They sell everything they own and get into debt; they leave their wives and children behind.
 
In some exceptional cases, migrants found at sea are still allowed to enter US territory: for example, if they need immediate medical assistance, they will be sent to a US hospital, then allowed to remain in the country. My cousin was allowed into the country because one of the passengers on his boat died during the journey. When US coast guards intercepted them, they had to open an investigation into the cause of death. My cousin was kept in the country to serve as a witness, and he has been here for three years. It’s terribly cynical, but in his case one person’s tragedy was another person’s chance.
 
Living condiitons in Cuba are very bad, and many Cubans see the United States as a land of opportunity. The hardest part, for us, is not being seen by US coast guards. Once in America, we're saved."
 
Video posted on YouTube by Psychogrl238.
 
Another group of Cuban "balseros". Photo publiée sur le profil Flickr de Zehndragon.

Comments

cuban in safe

this article is great. t really feel pity for those who is Cuban. the living is not fulfill, it is not enough what people like.

Wet foot Dry foot policy

I'm a very liberal person, however sorry but if any more cubans come to Florida, we'd have to change the name of this state to Cubida. Life in Cuba is not horrific as it is in many places. In fact, a Cuban friend of mine told me you have more liberties & freedom there than we do here in FL. The only caveat is you can not bad mouth Castro. Cubans come here, don't learn the language and are a drain on our economy. I am also tired of going into stores & having to use my limited spanish to find what I need because the employees don't speak english.

Im sorry but if you are

Im sorry but if you are living in Florida and do not know enough spanish to get by, there is a problem. And the drain in the economy? How about we look to the unproductive Americans with Lexus cars and iphones, who do nothing all day but collect their welfare money in the evening. Dont put this "economic drain" on the hard working cubans. Take a look at your own kind first :)

I'm sorry you have to go

I'm sorry you have to go through so much trouble when shopping, but do not be discouraged, it's always good to learn a second language ;) ... I don’t know in what Cuba your friends lived, but what he/she said to you, it is absolutely wrong. If things were as you were told, there would be no need for Cubans to risk their live at sea, and therefore, you could make purchases in your native language :)

Cuban balseros know the score

That is precisely why they seek desperate means to leave the Cuban communist "paradise" that many leftist Europeans and Americans find so "cool." Let us not forget the easily available flesh, of course. What can Euros buy? In a serious vein, do we need any further evidence that communist/socialism is nothing more than utopian failure, and always has been? If the U.S. ever loses its marbles and becomes socialist (over my dead body, I add!), where will American balseros set sail for?!

It’s a matter of finding the

It’s a matter of finding the freedom that we have never had in our country…. Cuba's government, unlike the government in other countries where citizens try similar things, is a dictatorship that lasted for over 50 years, where the Cubans, despite obtaining a visa to immigrate to any foreign country, must obtain a permit to leave the island from the Cuban government , in many cases, as was the case of my father, is denied base in the simple fact of being a professional, thus violating one of the most essential rights (freedom of movement). Cubans must ask permission and also pay high fees to the Cuban government to enter or leave the country of our birth.

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