CubaBrief: Havana weaponizes migration. Surge in Cuban refugees tops 1980 Mariel boatlift numbers. 52 Cuban refugees stopped at famed Southernmost Point in Key West.

The New York Post, in their August 16, 2022 article “Surge in Cuban border-crossers tops number from 1980’s Mariel boat lift” reported that “Immigration officials stopped more than 175,000 Cuban migrants who entered the US since October — easily eclipsing the number who arrived during the massive Mariel boatlift of 1980, according to the latest figures released by US Customs and Border Protection.”

Local10.com reported on August 15, 2022 that 52 migrants were stopped at Key West’s famed Southernmost point. “The Southernmost Point is an anchored concrete buoy that announces to visitors they are 90 miles away from Cuba.”

This was not unforeseen.

In a June 3, 2021 CubaBrief the following was stated: “A Democratic Administration enters the White House and there is an uptick in the number of Cuban migrants trying to enter the United States. This was the case during the Carter, Clinton and Obama Administrations. It also appears to be occurring now with the Biden Administration.”

The talking point that it is the economic crisis that is driving this unprecedented migration ignores history.

The outgoing Obama Administration in January 2017 ended the Wet Foot Dry Foot policy, further gutting the Cuban Adjustment Act, and shut the doors on Cuban doctors seeking asylum at U.S. embassies around the world.

When Trump took office on January 20, 2017, the number of Cuban migrants dwindled, but this was also the case with other Republican administrations. By April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse of tourism were already doing their worst on the Cuban economy, but there was no upsurge in Cuban migration.

Prior Cuban migration crises, such as Mariel in 1980 and the Central American exodus (2014-2016) , occurred following years of economic sanctions relief under the Carter and Obama administrations. What changed between May 2020 and May 2022 to account for the new and troubling exodus of Cuban refugees?

A new administration that had promised to return to the Obama Cuba policy entered the White House on January 20, 2021. This started a modest increase in Cuban migrants arriving at U.S. shores, but it was the messy exodus from Afghanistan in August 2021 that coincided with a marked increase in Cubans arriving in the United States a month later.

In November 2021, the Ortega dictatorship in Nicaragua lifted the visa requirements for Cubans. There is an interesting correlation that when U.S. officials met with Venezuelans, a client state of the Castro dictatorship, on March 5, 2022, It coincided with the month that the exodus from Cuba doubled, from 16,657 in February 2022 to 32,398 Cubans arriving in the United States in March 2022. This was followed by a further increase in the month of April 2022 to 35,080 Cubans entering the United States when the Biden Administration announced migration talks with the Cuban government.

What was going on to explain this massive increase?

In a policy about face, U.S. officials visited Caracas on March 5, 2022 to meet with the government of Nicolás Maduro, despite not recognizing them as legitimate due to a stolen election. On April 21, 2022, Washington and Havana held migration talks, the first in four years, and on May 16, 2022, the United States announced changes to Cuba policy that included measures viewed as concessions to the regime in Havana. These actions by Washington, beginning with the exit from Afghanistan, were viewed as signals that Havana could do what it liked, and there would be no negative consequences.

Thus far, they have not been wrong.

To understand what Havana is doing, policymakers should read the work of Kelly M. Greenhill, an American political scientist and an associate professor at Tufts University. Specifically, her 2002 paper “Engineered Migration and the Use of Refugees as Political Weapons: A Case Study of the 1994 Cuban Balseros Crisis” described a pattern first established by the Castro regime in the 1965 Camarioca crisis during the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration to use “coercive engineered migration” to create instability in the United States and gain leverage.

In September 1965, Castro announced that any Cuban who had relatives living in the US could leave the island via the port of Camarioca, located on Cuba’s northern shore. Castro also invited exiles to come by sea to pick up family members who had been stranded on the island, following the suspension of commercial flights between the two countries during the Cuban Missile Crisis three years earlier. Two days later he began offering two flights daily from Havana to Miami. … By unleashing his “demographic bomb,” Castro demonstrated to the US government he could disrupt its immigration policy and the opening of the port at Camarioca carried with it a “lightly-veiled” threat, namely that Havana, not Washington, controlled Florida’s borders. Almost overnight, and with little warning, the Castro regime had presented the US with a major refugee crisis. President Johnson initially responded with contempt to Castro’s move, making a speech before the Statue of Liberty in October 1965, in which he proclaimed that the US would continue to welcome Cubans seeking freedom “with the thought that in another day, they can return to their homeland to find it cleansed of terror and free from fear.” However, after the numbers of those leaving the island began to escalate, Johnson quickly changed tack and began a series of secret negotiations with Castro. The result, announced the following month, was a “Memorandum of Understanding,” a formal agreement that established procedures and means for the movement of Cuban refugees to the US.

Unlike the Johnson Administration, which had taken a relatively strong position on Cuba, advocating containment with military force, the James E. Carter Administration had been pursuing an agenda of normalizing relations with Cuba that began in 1977, but this rapprochement did not lead to a better outcome for the United States in 1980.

Juan Reinaldo Sanchez, Fidel Castro’s former bodyguard, wrote a tell-all book published in May 2014 about his time with the dictator titled, The Double Life of Fidel Castro: My 17 Years as Personal Bodyguard to El Lider Maximo that included a remarkable passage on the events of Mariel. In a June 8, 2015 op-ed in The Miami Herald reviewing the above book, Brian Latell, a former U.S. intelligence analyst and academic at the University of Miami, touched on how Castro dealt with the Mariel boatlift during the Carter presidency:

For me, Sánchez’s most appalling indictment of Fidel concerns the chaotic exodus of more than 125,000 Cubans in 1980 from the port of Mariel. Most who fled were members of Cuban exile families living in the United States. They were allowed to board boats brought by relatives and to make the crossing to South Florida.

But many of the boats were forcibly loaded by Cuban authorities with criminals and mentally ill people plucked from institutions on the island. Few of us who have studied Fidel Castro have doubted that it was he who ordered those dangerous Cubans to be exported to the United States. He has persuaded few with his denials of any role in the incident. Yet Sánchez adds an appalling new twist to the saga. We learn that prison wards and mental institutions were not hurriedly emptied, as was previously believed. Sánchez reveals that Castro insisted on scouring lists of prisoners so that he could decide who would stay and who would be sent to the United States. He ordered interior minister Jose Abrahantes to bring him prisoner records.

Sánchez was seated in an anteroom just outside of Fidel’s office when the minister arrived. The bodyguard listened as Fidel discussed individual convicts with Abrahantes.

“I was present when they brought him the lists of prisoners,” Sánchez writes, “with the name, the reason for the sentence, and the date of release. Fidel read them, and with the stroke of a pen designated which ones could go and which ones would stay. ‘Yes’ was for murderers and dangerous criminals; ‘no’ was for those who had attacked the revolution.” Dissidents remained incarcerated.

A number of the criminal and psychopathic marielitos put on the boats to Florida went on to commit heinous crimes — including mass murder, rape, and arson.

Underestimating the Castro dictatorship has gotten Americans killed.

The Carter Administration’s naivete towards Fidel Castro and his criminal machiavellianism led some innocent Americans to gruesome deaths. Fidel Castro did not open prisons and asylums in 1980, as some in the media have claimed. He didn’t want any dissidents or counter-revolutionaries to be accidentally freed. He personally selected mass murderers, rapists, and arsonists who would wreak havoc in the United States. For the sake of brevity, I will focus on one murderer, Mr. Jesús Aguilera, who arrived in New York City in 1981 and went on a killing spree, and his four identified victims.

Mr. Jesús Aguilera was a serial killed sent by Fidel Castro to the United States.

He lured the victims to their deaths with promises of good deals on Calvin Klein and Jordache jeans to remote locations in the Bronx. Murderpedia describes the crimes Mr. Aguilera committed.

“Guillermo Graniela [age 30] was found dead in the basement of 417 Bronx Park Avenue [on August 29, 1981]. His hands were bound together with rope, as were his feet. A rope tied around his neck had a screwdriver inserted in the knot, twisted to strangle his victim. Aguilera was convicted of Murder in the 2nd Degree for this crime.”

“On September 17th, the body of Josefina Cepeda [age 24] was found near the 207th Street Bridge in Manhattan. She was strangled to death by a wire wrapped around her neck. Once again, Jesus Aguilera was convicted of Murder in the 2nd Degree.”

“On September 17th, the body of Josefina Cepeda [age 24] was found near the 207th Street Bridge in Manhattan. She was strangled to death by a wire wrapped around her neck. Once again, Jesus Aguilera was convicted of Murder in the 2nd Degree.”

“Tolila Brown, a 36-year-old mother of four, was found [dead] on November 2, 1981. She had been strangled to death with a scarf that was tightened with a chisel, hands and feet bound together, her partially-clothed body left in a shack at 1445 Minford Place, not far from Crotona Park. There was DNA recovered from under her fingernails. But it was not until some 30 years later that advances in DNA technology made it possible for samples taken from Aguilera during his incarceration for the two earlier murders to match with that found under his third victim’s fingernails.”

“20-year-old Janet Agosto of the Bronx, who was first reported missing by her family after she failed to show up for Thanksgiving dinner in 1981. She was found in an abandoned building on Feb. 11, 1982, strangled with a ligature. Her body was frozen and partly skeletonized.”

Janet Agosto, age 20, murdered by serial killer sent to U.S. by Fidel Castro in 1981.

Why did Fidel Castro do this? He was humiliated when over 100,000 Cubans who had grown up under his revolution decided to flee the country. Castro called those seeking refuge “scum” and “worms.” He took children and youths out of school to take part in acts of repudiation. Cubans who simply wanted to leave the country were brutally assaulted and forty lost their lives in lynchings. In order to demonize the exodus, he spiked it with violent criminals and psychopaths, then highlighted the crime wave created on his official media channels, and with the aid of his friend Oliver Stone, who wrote the screenplay for Scarface, promoted this narrative to an international audience. Changing the main character from an Italian immigrant in Chicago who becomes a gangster in the 1930s to a Cuban refugee from Mariel who becomes a drug kingpin in Miami in the 1980s. In later years, Stone would whitewash Fidel Castro’s crimes in three documentaries.

The Cuban government is a totalitarian dictatorship that through brutal means has held on to power for 63 years and successfully exported its repressive model to Nicaragua and Venezuela, causing refugee outflows from those two countries as well.

The Castro dictatorship’s disregard for American lives is equaled by its disregard for Cuban lives. Consider the following documented instances of Cuban government agents killing Cuban migrants:

In 1993 U.S. officials charged that Cuban marine patrols repeatedly tossed grenades, strafed fleeing swimmers with automatic weapons fire, and recovered bodies with gaff hooks, within sight of the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Clinton Administration filed a formal protest to the Cuban government regarding the brutality visited on Cuban migrants. According to the U.S. protest, U.S. military guards surveying the bay witnessed five separate incidents:

* On June 19 at 2 p.m., U.S. guards, startled by the sounds of detonations, saw Cuban troops aboard patrol boats dropping grenades in the paths of several swimmers headed for the U.S. base.
* On June 20 at 1:30 p.m., Cuban troops repeated the action, then strafed the water with machine-gun fire.
* On June 26 at 11 a.m., three patrol boats surrounded a group of swimmers, lobbing grenades and spraying them with automatic weapons fire. At least three corpses were lifted out of the water with gaffs.
* On June 27 at 11:30 a.m., guards aboard patrol boats lobbed two grenades into the water.
* The same day, just before 3 p.m., a patrol boat opened automatic fire on a group of swimmers, who were later seen being pulled from the water. The swimmers’ status was unknown.

On July 13, 1994, a group of Cubans, including children and women, tried to escape from Cuba aboard the “13 de marzo” tugboat. State Security forces, and four Transportation Ministry boats of the Cuban government intercepted the “13 de marzo” seven miles off the coast of Cuba, with water jets from pressure hoses knocked people off the deck, tore the children from the arms of their mothers and sank the tugboat. 37 people were murdered, 11 of them children.

A 1995 monograph by academics Holly Ackerman and Juan Clark, The Cuban Balseros: Voyage of Uncertainty reported that “as many as 100,000 Cuban rafters may have perished trying to leave Cuba.”

Yuriniesky Martínez Reina (age 28) was shot in the back and killed by state security chief Miguel Angel Río Seco Rodríguez in the Martí municipality of Matanzas, Cuba on April 9, 2015 for peacefully trying to leave Cuba. A group of young men were building a small boat near Menéndez beach to flee the island, when they were spotted trying to leave and were shot at by state security. Yuriniesky was left for two days in the lagoon, before being found by his brother.

Yuriniesky Martínez with his dad, and son. On (right) how he was found

On March 26, 2016 “seven Cuban migrants, all with gunshot wounds, were interdicted at sea and taken to south Florida hospitals,” reported The Guardian, adding thaat “the US coast guard’s public affairs office told [ the Keynoter ] newspaper the wounded were on a makeshift raft with another 19 migrants, who were not injured.”

Considering the above history, the claims made below should be received with skepticism. Andrea Rodriguez, of the Associated Press based in Cuba, published an article on June 28, 2022 titled “Cuban troops report fatal clash with Florida speedboat.” When Castro regime officials make claims “they have intercepted more than a dozen speedboats arriving from the United States [in 2022] — including two shooting incidents and at least one death.” Their claims cannot be taken at face value. This makes their statement that “U.S. authorities have handed over a suspect in the shooting of a Cuban coast guard officer” deeply concerning, if true.

The New York Post, August 16, 2022

Surge in Cuban border-crossers tops number from 1980’s Mariel boatlift

By Bruce Golding

Immigration officials stopped more than 175,000 Cuban migrants who entered the US since October.

Katie McTiernan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Immigration officials stopped more than 175,000 Cuban migrants who entered the US since October — easily eclipsing the number who arrived during the massive Mariel boatlift of 1980, according to the latest figures released by US Customs and Border Protection.

The overwhelming majority of the CPB’s 177,848 “encounters” with Cuban nationals recorded during the past 10 months took place along the southwest border, where 175,674 were stopped by Border Patrol agents or at established crossings between the US and Mexico, the statistics show.

Single adults accounted for 137,435 of the migrants from Cuba, with 39,731 made up of various family members who entered the US together.

The numbers, posted online Monday, are part of a migrant surge that’s expected to result in a record 2 million-plus apprehensions when the federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, even though monthly arrests declined in both June and July.

In April 1980, the late communist leader Fidel Castro allowed disenchanted Cubans to flee their island nation from the port of Mariel amid unrest that erupted when thousands of people flooded the Peruvian embassy in hopes of being granted political asylum.

A fishing boat loaded with Cuban refugees heads towards Key West in 1980. Bettmann Archive

Vessels crammed full of freedom-seeking Cubans ferried around 125,000 “Marielitos” to Florida before Castro ended the operation in October 1980.

The immigrants included some released from mental hospitals and prisons, helping inspire the 1983 remake of the movie “Scarface.”

In it, Cuban ex-con Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino, rises from a job as a dishwasher to become a filthy rich Miami drug dealer who eventually dies in a furious, cocaine-fueled gun battle with his supplier’s henchmen.

The gory, climactic scene includes Pacino delivering the memorable line, “Say hello to my little friend!” before opening fire with a grenade launcher.

Serial killer Jesus Aguilero murdered at least three women during the early 1980s. HANDOUT

A real-life Marielito, Bronx resident Jesus Aguilero, became a serial killer who lured his female victims to their doom with the promise of selling them designer jeans at bargain-basement prices during the early 1980s.

Aguilero was convicted of three murders and is suspected in a fourth.

The number of Cubans who’ve crossed the US border this year was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

https://nypost.com/2022/08/16/surge-in-cuban-migrants-eclipses-1980s-mariel-boatlift/

Local10.com, August 15, 2022

Dozens of Cuban migrants stopped at famed Southernmost Point

About 50 migrants were stopped at Key West’s famed Southernmost point. (Migrant boats (@USBPChiefMIP))

By Janine Stanwood, Anchor/Reporter

KEY WEST, Fla. – One of Florida’s most famous places became the center of the recent migrant crisis this weekend.

52 migrants were stopped at Key West’s famed Southernmost point.

The Southernmost Point is an anchored concrete buoy that announces to visitors they are 90 miles away from Cuba.

The Southernmost Point group was one of 10 migrant landings in the Florida Keys over the weekend.

The United States Border Patrol says 187 Cuban migrants in total were stopped just in the Florida Keys over two days.

U.S. Coast Guard crews have intercepted nearly 4,000 migrants at sea this fiscal year, amid an upsurge in migration from the economically-distressed island.

Copyright 2022 by WPLG Local10.com

https://www.local10.com/news/local/2022/08/15/dozens-of-cuban-migrants-stopped-at-famed-southernmost-point/

From the archives

Latin American Herald Tribune, December 3, 2020

Carlos Alberto Montaner: 40 Years have Passed since That Infamy

The “Mariel exodus” occurred 40 years ago. One hundred and twenty-five thousand Cubans arrived in the United States between April 15 and October 31, 1980,” writes Cuban exile Carlos Alberto Montaner. “Jimmy Carter was not re-elected as president in the elections of November of that year as a consequence, at least in part, of his handling of the crisis. He refused to follow the advice of a ruthless admiral. ‘I have not been elected President of the United States to kill refugees,’ he said. Nor was Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton elected to a second term in Arkansas. He was accused of being “soft” for hosting hundreds of Cubans in Fort Chaffee.”

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

The “Mariel exodus” occurred 40 years ago. One hundred and twenty-five thousand Cubans arrived in the United States between April 15 and October 31, 1980. Jimmy Carter was not re-elected as president in the elections of November of that year as a consequence, at least in part, of his handling of the crisis. He refused to follow the advice of a ruthless admiral. “I have not been elected President of the United States to kill refugees,” he said.

Nor was Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton elected to a second term in Arkansas. He was accused of being “soft” for hosting hundreds of Cubans in Fort Chaffee. Less than 10% were crazy or criminal, but the stigma affected all the “Marielitos,” and even Cubans in general. Forty years later, the “Marielitos” have an economic and social performance similar to the American white population’s average, but they have also revitalized the Hispanic artistic world in the United States.

It all started before April, when a young Peruvian diplomat named Ernesto Pinto-Bazurco Rittler arrived in Cuba. He was the new Chargé d’Affaires of his country’s legation in Havana. Fortunately for Cubans, the incumbent ambassador was off the Island. Otherwise, everything would have probably been different.

On April 1, half a dozen Cubans, desperate to leave the country, were traveling in a bus driven by Héctor Sanyustiz. They crashed the vehicle into the embassy’s entrance and managed to cross the gates. The guards opened fire, injuring Sanyustiz, but one of the policemen lost his life. He was a victim of “friendly fire.”

As a consequence of the incident, Fidel Castro asked Peruvian diplomats to hand over the new asylees. Pinto-Bazurco refused, and the “Maximum Leader” of the revolution decided to teach them a lesson –– he would lift the custody of the Embassy so that the Peruvians suffered the uncomfortable presence of a few dozen legitimate dissidents among whom he would camouflage a few of his security agents.

Gross mistake. In three days, 10,856 people entered the Embassy, 5 people per square meter in the gardens. It was a unique case in the history of relations among countries. They were an absolute sample of society –– there were doctors, engineers, farmers, lawyers, highly educated, less educated and uneducated people. There were people linked to the revolution, including members of the Communist Party, and disaffected individuals. There were children carried by their parents, teenagers excited by the adventure and elderly people. They weren’t just Havanans. Word spread throughout the island.

Pressure continued being exerted on the diplomat Pinto-Bazurco. One night he was picked up in the embassy. The Commander wanted to see him. He intended to intimidate him personally. Fidel was kind at the beginning. Pinto-Bazurco stuck to his guns. He was a lawyer and a diplomat. He clung to the defense of law and Human Rights. He dared to tell Fidel that the person responsible for the asylum of almost eleven thousand people in three frenetic days was the one who eliminated the guard in the diplomatic compound, violating international law. But when, in order to save lives, the Peruvian rejected the proposal to request the army to enter the embassy, Fidel was outraged. “I am the one who decides in this country who will live and who will die,” he said.

Finally, Fidel accepted, in fact, that he had been wrong. He organized a command post near the Embassy. He asked Víctor Bordón, one of his commanders, how many people were against the revolution. Bordón told him that he had heard it was half the country. Fidel insulted him and kicked him out. It was amazing that the more he shone, the greater the rejection. He had triumphed in Angola, in the Ogaden and in Nicaragua, he had become the head of the Non-Aligned countries, despite being an accomplished pro-Soviet, and in Cuba the protest was growing. Fidel did not understand that the cost of his leadership and the island’s presence in international affairs was immense. Cubans wanted to be reasonably happy, not heroes forced to sacrifice their lives for a thirsty-for-glory individual.

Fidel immediately thought of transferring the problem to the hated Gringos. He had done so in 1965. He provoked a crisis, he allowed Cuban exiles to pick up their relatives, which became a headache for Lyndon Johnson administration, and he released them through the port of Camarioca. Washington reluctantly gave in. It established a legal exhaust valve and called it “Freedom Flights.” Between 1965 and 1973, 300,000 Cubans left in an orderly fashion. Another two million remained dressed up and ready to go.

In 1980 he insisted on the same scheme. First, he created the conflict. Once again, he authorized the flotilla of exiles to pick up their relatives, but to avoid hesitation he used Napoleón Vilaboa to start the trips. Vilaboa was an intelligence lieutenant colonel infiltrated among the exiles who was very useful to Havana. Fidel just changed the port of departure. This time it would not be Camarioca but Mariel.

He took the opportunity to insult all the alleged emigrants. He called them “scum,” “worms,” and he took children and youth from schools to participate in “rallies or acts of repudiation.” The students killed a teacher they caught “running away.”

Granma, the newspaper of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, compiled a list of one hundred insults to shout at the “bastards” who had decided to emigrate. It was a terrible time. From the rostrum, Fidel spoke of a revolutionary “gene.” He was a kind of unleashed Nazi. A cameraman told me in Madrid, crying, that when he said he was leaving the country, he was forced to walk on his knees among coworkers who spat on him and insulted him.

Everyone must smear their hands with blood. Singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez participated in an act of repudiation that lasted several days against Mike Porcel, his partner in the Nueva Trova. Rodríguez never asked for forgiveness for his miserable behavior. Porcel could not even leave Cuba. He had to remain on the Island, as a “non-person”, for nine years. The academic Armando Álvarez Bravo was not allowed to leave with his wife and daughters. His wife was sent to Peru. A few years later, Armando was allowed to emigrate to Spain. The Cuban regime, under Fidel’s lead, was dedicated to dividing and breaking up families.

Castroism hated homosexuals, to the point of locking them in concentration camps in the sixties to “cure” their perversity through intense agricultural work. The regime had to postpone that monstrosity and close the camps due to international pressure, which in this case came from the left. But Fidel Castro saw in the Mariel exodus the opportunity to get rid of thousands of homosexuals accused of being “counterrevolutionaries by nature.” Were there not, according to Aristotle, “slaves by nature”? Well, there were also people genetically incompatible with a political process inspired by Marxism-Leninism.

It is worth noting that there was no real purpose of amendment when he closed the UMAP concentration camps where gays and religious believers were crowded together. The homophobia of the 1960s was still intact in the 1980s. Homosexuals were mistreated during and after the Mariel exodus. Labor and student meetings, in which they were publicly accused of this “improper conduct,” were frequent in the 1980s.

Fortunately, the crime and the cruelties that they did to the “Marielitos” were documented in the press, books and movies. One of the books that caused the most impact was Mañana, by the journalist Mirta Ojito. She was 15 years old when she boarded the ship that gave its name to the book. There is a detailed description of what happened in that terrible episode in the history of Castroism.

Another valuable book was Al borde de la cerca (On the Edge of the Fence) by Nicolás Abreu, a writer of the so-called “Mariel’s Generation”, to which, among others, belong his brothers Juan and José, the poet and narrator Vicente Echerri and Luis de la Paz, although they did not necessarily go through the trauma of “Cayo Mosquito” (the inhospitable and desolate place where they waited for the boat that would take them to freedom.)

Among the films on those events, I choose En sus propias palabras (In Their Own Words) by filmmaker Jorge Ulla and let him put an end to this painful account:

“The movie In Their Own Words was an assignment from the Carter administration. The idea was to document how different government agencies provided their services in the midst of the crisis. When what the newcomers’ stories were heard, another film was revealed to all, that of a choral testimony that dismantled a series of ambiguous myths about Cuba –– many social cracks became visible, and through them many lovers of the “Cuban project” could suddenly question or reassess that project in a critical way. In the 29-minute documentary many people spoke with dismay, from a worker and an ordinary citizen to a novelist of the stature of Reinaldo Arenas. It would be the first time that Arenas spoke on camera. It was an unusual phenomenon that would find its best repercussion between the intelligentsia and the most enthusiastic left. Suddenly paradise was a source of disillusionment.

President Carter grew fond of that film and was showing it to different guests at the White House. USIA showed it in more than 50 countries. Jack Anderson wrote in The Washington Post a sentence somewhat exaggerated, “29 minutes were enough to reveal what is happening in Cuba.” As it was USIA material, it could not be exhibited in the United States. A Congress resolution allowed it to be shown here and, furthermore, to file it in the Library of Congress. After that, it was seen in hundreds of universities and public libraries.”

There, in less than half an hour, Ulla recounts Mariel’s infamy. Forty years later the documentary retains all its vitality.

http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2490979&CategoryId=13303