Twenty Cuban Rafters to be Sent to Guantanamo Base

four were repatriated

By Cafe Fuerte

One of the two pages of the letter stuffed in a bottle and thrown into the sea from the Coast Guard cutter where the Cubans are held.
One of the two pages of the letter stuffed in a bottle and thrown into the sea from the Coast Guard cutter where the Cubans are held.

HAVANA TIMES —The case of the 24 boat people who arrived to a beacon on Sugarloaf Key off the Florida coast took a radical turn Thursday afternoon, when federal authorities decided to reconsider the claims of the group and send 20 of them to the US Guantanamo Bay Naval Base as political refugees.

“The authorities have informed us that they reviewed the case and will send 20 of the group to the Guantanamo base after demonstrating a credible fear of reprisals if they are returned to Cuba,” said lawyer Willy Allen, who represents the boat people in their petition to remain in United States.

Allen added that the remaining four would be repatriated to Cuba at any time. On Friday, the Coast Guard issued a statement officially announcing the return of the four Cubans as part of a group of 63 in the custody of US authorities.

The Coast Guard confirmed that the remaining 20 rafters will be sent to Guantanamo in the near future without providing a date.

The group of 24 rafters was at the mercy of imminent deportation after an adverse court ruling on Tuesday. They revived their claim for asylum during a special hearing before federal Judge Darrin Gayles. The key to the reassessment of the case was a letter released yesterday, in which the Cubans denounce abuses committed during their presence on a Coast Guard cutter after being arrested on May 20.

An SOS message in a bottle

“We have spent 37 days sleeping on the floor, the food is fit for a dog, they mistreat us including violence and some of the group are sick from the stress, this is Hell,” states the handwritten letter, which was released into the sea from the Coast Guard cutter.

The letter, two handwritten pages stuffed in a bottle, was found in the sea by a fisherman who does not understand Spanish, but understood the distress message through its international symbolism, written on one of the sheets of paper: SOS.

The fisherman handed the message to Coast Guard agents, who put it in the hands of Dexter Lee, representative of the Department of Justice. Lee confirmed the validity of document and gave it to the legal team representing the rafters.

The letter was written on June 26th and has now become key evidence in the case before the federal court in Miami.

The lawyers filed an emergency motion to stop the deportation order, but judge Gayles denied the motion on grounds that he lacks authority to stop it.

The Lawyers, who had filed the petition for the boat people, maintain they should be considered “dry feet” [for having reached the US Cay] and be allowed to stay in US territory. The believe that a new chapter in the legal arguments now opens with the appearance of alleged mistreatment after the arrest of the group.

Investigation underway

“We need to speak to the detainees but the government argues that being on a warship, they are constitutionally barred from reaching them,” said Luis Fernandez, a constitutional lawyer and member of the legal team.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has opened an internal investigation into the allegations of the Cubans.

The judge said he will soon make a decision on the type of procedure that will apply in the case. The issue, which will be determined by Gayles, is whether he will make a summary determination on the lawyers request to let the 20 rafters be admitted as “dry feet” or if he chooses to extend the process to trial, for which the preparation would take about two months.

The group of immigrants reached the US Shoal lighthouse, eight miles from Sugarloaf Key, and clung to the structure as a lifeline to justify that had touched “United States soil”. After a lawsuit was filed on an emergency basis by nine lawyers of the Democracy Movement, judge Gayles ruled Tuesday against the arguments of the rafters, opening the way for repatriation.

The option of taking them to the Guantanamo base leaves open a possibility that they could be brought back to the United States at a later date if they win the pending legal case, or be sent as refugees to a third country, as has happened on previous occasions.

Thanks to the letter released on Wednesday, for the first time the names of the group -two women and 22 men, and their origin was made public. The list is as follows:


15 thoughts on “Twenty Cuban Rafters to be Sent to Guantanamo Base

  • July 5, 2016 at 12:08 pm
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    You raised the subject of coffee, not I My knowledge of Cuba is based upon the reality of living there. Mr. Trump has been voted by Americans to be the best candidate to represent the Republican Party in the Presidential election. His views upon Hispanics appear to be reflected in your own. You like Mr. Trump use the word “they” to indicate those whom you like Mr. Trump wish to reject. The reality of “what’s going on in the world” is that Cuban refugees are seeking safety from persecution and seeking a better life for themselves and their families – is that so offensive to you?
    Trying to indicate that I have a drug addiction is unworthy even for you. I can understand your reluctance to contribute taxes to support others less fortunate than yourself, but that is a personality trait.

  • July 5, 2016 at 1:49 am
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    And “wake up and smell the coffee” is not a reference to Cuban coffee production!!!!!!!!!

  • July 5, 2016 at 1:46 am
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    You are making an assumption that my opinion of the so called Cuban refugees are the same for ALL refugees. You are WRONG Sir, I have just stated my opinion regarding the Cuban refugees. AND you are assuming that I concur with Trump’s beliefs.
    We are a nation of refugees, however, that doesn’t mean that we sit idle and allow anyone who wants to come in though the gates, to be permitted to get in and then live off our hard earned tax dollars. If and immigrant wants to be a member of this society, then they have to “earn” it, and not be given free passage without putting in the work.
    I don’t think that our forefathers came to this country expecting a handout from the government, and they had no desire to go back to their respective mother countries to invest that income.
    Wake up and smell the coffee. P L E A S E

  • July 5, 2016 at 1:13 am
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    Yes, THANK YOU. It appears that Carlyle is going off topic!!!!!!
    And on the completely different/separate topic of Trump, who is the bigger evil in that race??? We are yet again stuck in the dilemma of who is the less evil of the two? Although I am of the opinion that Trump is a bit on the crazy side, maybe, just maybe, that’s what our great nation needs to get just a little back on track. If he could set his ego aside once elected, and he picks the right people to “seriously assist” him in running the affairs of the country, he just might be able to pull it off. After all he is a successful businessman, and maybe that’s what is needed to run the “business” of the country. May God help us all 🙂

  • July 5, 2016 at 1:01 am
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    AGAIN, what does Trump’s position have to do with my opinion of the “Cuban refugees???” You, Sir, just don’t seem to want to accept the reality of what’s going on in the world. Are you smoking pot before you reply????? AND where did the coffee thing come in????????? Are we even conversing about the same issue????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • July 4, 2016 at 10:16 pm
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    What did you think of the pictures of Pope Francis clasping the hands of the ex-communicated Fidel Castro?
    Ronin clarified his opposition to refugees as has Mr. Trump, so the comparison is quite justified. With the exception of the North-American Indians, the people of the US are either immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, but some would deny that opportunity for others. There is another similarity that such people writing in these pages, support continuing repression, negation of human rights and freedom of speech for the people of Cuba, but enjoy and use it themselves.

  • July 4, 2016 at 10:07 pm
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    You may not have noticed Mr. Trump’s bigoted opposition to Spanish speaking refugees entering or indeed remaining it the US, but the rest of the world has.
    No doubt if all the “so-called refugees” were ejected from the US, crime would be almost unknown and the lives of 30,000 US citizens being shot annually would be saved?
    Regarding the coffee, I like Cuban coffee, but unfortunately due to the agricultural policies of the Castro regime, production is decreasing and GAESA subsidiaries are having to import coffee packed in Spain. So wake up to reality!

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