Front Door to Cuba Front Door to Cuban History

Los Marielitos

by Jerry A. Sierra

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Hearing news reports of the Flotilla events on a sleepy Sunday morning, I was somehow compelled to go to Florida and photograph these new refugees. I'm still not sure why. It wasn't just the impersonal media reports, or my desire to hear the refugee's stories. Nor the fact that having been a refugee myself I could understand the immigrants' fear and excitement.

On the first Monday night of May, 1980, I flew to Miami Beach, and continued on to Key West. The Flotilla had begun on April 20, and would bring 123,000 new Cuban refugees in a short five months, including about 5,000 who were said to be hard-core criminals, and an even larger number of others who had been political prisoners.