Thirteen Cuban migrants who arrived on Big Pine Key Tuesday morning may be the first group to make it to South Florida since Fidel Castro’s death.
The migrants left the island nation on a homemade boat and made it ashore just after 4 a.m. Tuesday.
One of the migrants on board said the trip took them nearly 26 hours. “We would guide ourselves with the stars and the moon and kept looking south,” said migrant Eddie Gonzalez Amargo.
Their homemade vessel was docked behind Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge. When Monroe County deputies arrived, the law enforcers snapped a picture of the group.
The migrants were turned over to Customs and Border Protection. All 13 are said to be in good health.
Castro’s death on Nov. 25 was apparently not enough to keep the migrants in Cuba. “The death of Fidel — no. We came here to better our lives, work and fight and help our parents,” said Jose Ramon Mestre, one of the migrants. “We have nothing against him.”
Tuesday night, 7News cameras captured the migrants as they got out of a bus that pulled up at Church World Service in Doral, where they will be processed and released.
The images of Cuba during nine days of mourning showed thousands of people grieving, but at least a handful of Cubans were making plans to leave, seeking freedom.
The migrants told 7News they have family in the U.S. and were looking to reunite with them. Because they made it to land, they will most likely be allowed to stay.
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