This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 23, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY HOST:  In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, in this age of vicious terrorism, sometimes we forget there are still entire countries in the world that deny even basic human rights to citizens.  Such a place is Cuba, (search) where the villainous dictator, Fidel Castro (search), keeps his people in a tightly guarded police state.

New York Yankee pitcher Jose Contreras defected from Cuba two years ago, but his wife and two young daughters were not allowed to join him in the USA.  Castro personally blocking any reunion.  He's quite a guy.

But now the family has escaped dramatically.  And joining us from Miami to tell us how that happened is Joe Garcia, the executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation (search).

You know, everybody knows that Cuba's a rough place to get out of.  How did these people do it?

JOE GARCIA, CUBAN AMERICAN NAT'L FOUNDATION:    Well, clearly, there's probably a smuggling occurring here.  This is one of those events where, you know, people out of desperation, they have no way out.  21 people came in that boat last -- they left Sunday night.  And as they were heading out, apparently somewhere along the line, they ran into Coast Guard cutters.  The boat turned off its lights and went for the gold.

I mean, they drove over three hours and they beached themselves at Big Pine Key, which is one of the Keys on your way to Key West in South Florida.  And they're free.

O'REILLY:  All right, we're looking at the family now.  Jose Contreras and his wife and one young daughter.  I don't see the other one.  Yes, she's standing there, I'm sorry.

But let's take it step by step, Mr. Garcia, because you know this world as well as anybody knows it.  Number one, to get in a power boat like that, and I used to work in Miami, and I know the area.  You got to have a lot of money.  You got to -- this isn't a cheap thing to do, correct?

GARCIA:  No, it is not.  It's usually on a cheap you're talking about maybe somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 a person to get on these boats.  Clearly, the U.S. prosecutors office has been very aggressive on stopping these types of activity.  But the desperation is great, Bill.

O'REILLY:  No, I know that.

GARCIA:  This is the most repressive regime in the world.

O'REILLY:  But just the craft that they used was so fast.  I...


O'REILLY:  ...one of our sources say it could have cost Jose Contreras, who's a wealthy individual now playing with the Yankees, $150,000 to get his family out of there.  Is that possible?

GARCIA:  Oh, very possible.  I mean, if this was the main objective of whoever helped get these folks out, and clearly they were the golden nugget of this group probably, it could have cost as much as that.

O'REILLY:  All right, it could have cost (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because that's what our guys are telling me.  Now who are these smugglers?  Are they Cuban nationals?  Are they people who live in Cuba?

GARCIA:  No, no, these guys are both U.S. residents.  They were in jail.  They -- from what we understand, they've been released but no prosecution or no indictment has been handed down yet.

O'REILLY:  All right, so they're...

GARCIA:  ...although you should expect one.

O'REILLY:  ..Floridian -- Cuban-Americans in Florida.

GARCIA:  Cuban-Americans.  Residents.

O'REILLY:  They get the boat.  They go to Cuba and they pick these people up at an assigned point.  It's all coordinated.

GARCIA:  Right.

O'REILLY:  They have an underground there, right, that coordinates this stuff?

GARCIA:  I think it's more than an underground.  I think clearly,  someone reached out, had to have reached out to the family.  You know, Cuba doesn't have as many patrol boats as it used to.  Most of Cuba's patrol boats can't keep up with the fast type of boat that they use here.

O'REILLY:  But if Castro catches these guys, they're...

GARCIA:  Oh, they're history.

O'REILLY:  ...yes, they're either dead or in jail forever.

GARCIA:  They're history.

O'REILLY:  So this is a big risk.

GARCIA:  There are literally several hundred people who are U.S. residents.  Therefore, they have no right to claim help from the U.S. government, who are in jail for trying to do this kind of smuggling.


GARCIA:  But Bill, I don't put it beyond that there are people who the Cuban government may even participate in some of these cases.  I don't think this is the case here.

O'REILLY:  You could bribe them.

GARCIA:  Yes...

O'REILLY:  I mean, if you have $150,000...

GARCIA:  I don't think this is the case here.

O'REILLY:  ...floating around, to get these people out.  That's a lot of cash.

GARCIA:  Goes a long way.

O'REILLY:  OK, now, the one thing I want to explain, because we only have a minute left...


O'REILLY:  ...is...

GARCIA:  Sure.

O'REILLY:  ...if Cuban refugees reach U.S. soil, they're here.  But if the Coast Guard catches them before they put their hand on the sand, they go back.  Right?

GARCIA:  They go back.  That's exactly how the policy works, which is a very dangerous policy.  Because in this case, these guys were caught three hours out.  And they just turned out the lights and they went for the gold.

O'REILLY:  They beat them to the goal post.

GARCIA:  Beat them to the beach.

O'REILLY:  Right.

GARCIA:  Yes, that's right.

O'REILLY:  It's an amazing story that our government is still playing that kind of a game.

GARCIA:  It's a ridiculous story.

O'REILLY:  I think -- you know, I understand why because of the mariels (ph) and all of that.  I got it, but it's an incredible -- it should be a movie of the week.

Mr. Garcia thanks very much.  We appreciate it.  We're very glad the Contreras family is back together again.  And to Fidel Castro, you know, the sooner you depart this earth, the better.

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