The Miami Herald

Mariel Memory: We were made to leave in the middle of a storm, but we made it

We came in a little boat named the Tauka -- a 24-footer that carried 36 passengers.

There were two people in my party -- Luis Morera Acosta, who was 65 at the time and a political prisoner of over 15 years; and me, I'm a Chinese Cuban.

We were at El Mosquito, the processing camp, for several days waiting to get on a boat to the United States. Then, the weather turned bad.

That's when out boat was forced to leave the island, just as a tropical storm was hitting: ``If you don't leave, you stay,'' the militia men barked at us.

So we chose to leave.

The crossing took over 30 hours and we were finally rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. I think it was May 30, 1980. We were processed in Opa-Locka on June 1.

My relatives took us home.

It is nice to see that not all the Marielitos were as bad as people thought at the time, and by the way, I stepped off my boat speaking English.

-- Nereida Sujo Rodriguez

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