Nineteen Cubans reached freedom in Florida yesterday, and the local cops, and newspaper, act like a crime was committed. The News-Press (Ft. Myers) headlined the story "19 Cubans smuggled to Sanibel." (Sanibel Island is a resort island in the Gulf off Ft. Myers)
The locals were surprised to see the Cubans at Sanibel - it's far farther north than the usual places Cubans land. They came from Pinar del Rio, which is about 250 miles from Sanibel.
"This is the most daring and brash that these smugglers have been," said Brian Beach, operations officer for the Fort Myers Beach office of the U.S. Coast Guard.
"They caught us by absolute surprise."
Fifteen men, three women and a boy were dropped off on the beach. They walked over to the road and waited for authorities. A construction worker told police he saw a large, twin-engined boat drop them off. So, the authorities are upset that these folks were not balseros, but were given a lift. Beach called it a well-funded, well-organized operation.
"We'll be working in the days, weeks and months ahead to remedy the situation," Beach said.
To remedy the situation? What has happened to U.S. policy? 19 people escape to freedom, are referred to as though they are a product in an illegal operation, and they are treated as a problem in need of a remedy? This is sad, sad, sad.
"We're fine," one told reporters in Spanish.
"We don't want to go back," said another.
The refugees were taken to Miami for a health checkup, then, as Pam McCullough of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement put it, they will be released into society.
Simply a disgusting attitude.