Synopsis by Sandra Brennan
Between 1994 and 1995, over 40,000 impoverished, under-educated Cubans made a desperate attempt to navigate the dangerous waters between the their island and the Florida coast. They were called balseros for the make-shift rafts they built. Originally, this feature length documentary was to be an expanded television episode of the Spanish news series 30 Minutes. Filmmaker Carles Bosch began this project in August of 1994 at the dawn of the mass exodus and followed the ordeals of a few would-be rafters as they struggled to find materials for their ramshackle crafts. Very few of the balseros successfully made it to Florida. Most were stopped by unseaworthy crafts, hunger, thirst or capture by the Coast Guard. Those who were intercepted were sent to an American holding compound in Guantanamo Bay where they remained for eight months. Just after Castro and President Clinton reached an agreement about the prisoners, filmmaker Bosch returned to find those he had interviewed before to get their thoughts and feelings about their plight. By December 1995, all of the refugees in the camp had been admitted into the United States. Ironically, most find themselves faced with the kind of living conditions and options they fought so hard to escape.
boat-people, immigration, political-asylum, political-refugee, rafting, refugee-camp, refugee