Synopsis by Mark Deming
In 1994, after local protests against his regime had reached a fever pitch, Cuban leader Fidel Castro made a surprising announcement -- that any ships that wished to leave Cuba would not be stopped by his seagoing forces. Before long, dozens of jerry-rigged vessels were attempting to make the 90-mile journey to the United States across shark-infested waters, but American president Bill Clinton responded by announcing the Cubans would not be given asylum, while those who had already arrived were sent to a refugee camp in Guantanamo Bay. The Cuban expatriates at Guantanamo Bay had to wait nine months before they were allowed to enter the U.S. and begin the long process of finding new homes in America. Filmmaker Carlos Bosch followed the stories of the Cuban exiles, and, in 1999, tracked down a handful of them to see how they had fared in their first five years in their new country. Balseros is a documentary which shares the stories of the Cuban settlers and the surprising places (both good and bad) where the dream of freedom has taken them.
boat-people, immigration, political-asylum, political-refugee, rafting, refugee-camp, refugee