He paid $7,000 to get on a boat with 35 rafters and was returned to Cuba

He paid $7,000 to get on a boat with 35 rafters and was returned to Cuba

One day, I don’t know why, I woke up very upset. I watched time go by, one more day of my youth in Cuba go by, without being able to do anything. So I decided to take a step and look for new dreams in another place where I wouldn’t feel condemned just for being young and living in a dictatorship.

He took the risk: he would try to reach the country of freedom, the United States, by sea. Thanks to some friends, I got in touch with those who could make it possible. The cost would be high, $7,000, but it was the only way.

They had assured me that it would be on a fishing boat that left the United States and entered Cuba, something that had been done on other occasions. We all fell for the lie. Since the person who told me about it was trustworthy, he gave me security. Nothing could be further from reality: the boat turned out to be Cuban (quite good, but domestically made).

The trip, moreover, was postponed for two weeks for reasons beyond our control. In those days, two agents of the special troops they had disappeared after jumping into the sea by parachute near Baracoa, Artemisa.

The day of the march there was a lot of crying, but when I set a goal, I focus on achieving it. I had no choice to overthink things

The day of the march there was a lot of crying, but when I set a goal, I focus on achieving it. He had no choice to overthink things.

The day after receiving the long-awaited call that served as a signal to leave, very early in the morning, I went in a car to the place where we would set sail. I was about two hours from my house, in Havana, in the direction of Artemisa.

Seeing the ship, we all feel very safe because of its size and capacity. She was 10 meters long by 2.50 meters wide and sailed very well, as she had a very powerful multi-speed motor. We were a total of about 35 people, five of them children.

Among those people, who I deduced were family, they were talking about how the boat had only been bought in January.

The nerves caused that, shortly after unmooring, most of the passengers began to vomit. The nerves and the weather: the clouds and the wind caused waves up to three meters high.

But the surf was not the only wall that would stand in our way. About twelve miles traveled, we were intercepted by the Cuban Coast Guard. They tried to convince us to return, but our decision was made: continue until the end.

They followed us until we had completed the twelve miles and, according to the owner of the boat, they sent our coordinates to the United States Coast Guard. A while later, around 40 miles, we were located by the Coast Guard plane. He followed us in a circle until a boat caught up with us.

Of those who had been detained, only less than ten people were left on board. The rest were immediately returned to Cuba

On board our boat the vomiting did not stop and hopes began to fade. From the Coast Guard boat, they threatened to open fire. There were four agents and none spoke Spanish but, despite the fact that we did not speak English, they understood us somewhat. We stood firm in our quest. I suppose that having children on board prevented them from using their weapons, at least directly, against us.

We realized that they just wanted us to stop, since for no reason could they let us continue on our way to the mainland. Despite everything, we decided to continue. The agents continued their march, in search of another ship, coming from Matanzas, which apparently had more risk, and we believed that they were letting us go. innocent.

Within an hour, federal agents came to us, and after a good while doing 360-degree turns around us to get us to stop, we decided to explain to them that we wanted to apply for political asylum.

We were at mile marker 20 of Key West, or very close to it, according to our GPS. The conversation was an opportunity that, in the long run or the short, would be better than nothing.

They put us on the Coast Guard boat and we spent two days on it. Of all of us who applied for asylum, only two of us were interviewed the next day. Of those who had been detained, only less than ten people were left on board. The rest were immediately returned to Cuba.

A short time later we were transferred to another ship. There we met an inordinately large group of Haitians who had also been intercepted and, to my surprise, I was able to converse with three of them in Spanish. Although they were very young, they had great command of our language. I asked myself: how is it possible that in the most underdeveloped country in the world they can dominate several languages ​​and we, with free education, handle Spanish badly?

After three hours, we were taken to a third ship, on which we spent about five days. We slept on the lower deck the first day, but later, once the Haitians were taken to the boat headed for the Bahamas, they put us on the upper deck, with more space to sleep a little better.

In any case, they only gave us a sheet to cover us. The conditions were terrible. We are cold and hungry. The food was always rice with pepper and beans, from the first to the last day. You can’t have people like this who just want to have a better life.

We wanted our family to know that we were fine, and the only thing that relaxed us was being in the sea, where we saw beautiful sunsets.

In addition, everything was anguish, not knowing what would happen to us. We wanted our family to know that we were fine, and the only thing that relaxed us was being in the sea, where we saw beautiful sunsets.

When we asked if they were going to return us to Cuba, they told us that they knew nothing about this matter. My point for political asylum was that I had participated in the peaceful protests of July 11 and the risk of being prosecuted in Cuba if they opened any investigation.

A week later, we finally found out that they would return us. All a dream truncated, after suffering so much during that time.

However, those days taught me to stay calm. The officers who greeted us taunted us with questions like “what did you eat, meat or fish?” I replied: “The same thing that many Cubans wish they could eat.”

It wasn’t all bad. There were also fun times and I met very good people. For example, two rafters who were reported missing, who told me that they spent several days drifting with water for 15 days and that, thanks to the good will of fishermen from Key West, they were able to eat.

I also heard of other dramatic stories. Like a group of rafters who lost their motor near the 12 Cuban miles due to a technical problem and they improvised a sail. With it, they approached 12 miles from the United States, but were betrayed by some American fishermen who had precisely helped them before, giving them food.

If they ask me if I would do it again, I would answer that it may be. You have to feel very sure, yes, of the boat you are going to use. In any case, no one would blame that decision. This country does not give us the possibility to fight for our dreams. Cuba makes us flee to feel safe.

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