Cuba

Three decades after Mariel Boatlift repatriations continue

 

achardy@elnuevoherald.com

It was still dark when federal agents knocked on the door of a residence in Columbus, Ohio, on an early January morning.

They told Yuneqca Bryant that they were looking for her husband, Marcos Diaz Hernandez, a Cuban exile who arrived during the 1980 Mariel boatlift.

Diaz was not home, so the agents told Bryant to tell her husband to report to immigration authorities as soon as he returned so they could place an electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle.

After Diaz returned home, he promptly went to the nearest U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office where he was placed in detention.

Today Diaz, 54, is back in Havana after being deported last month. His name was on a repatriation list of 2,746 Cubans who either had criminal records in Cuba or ran afoul of the law after arriving in the United States.

President Reagan and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro agreed on the list in 1984, and every year since then, small groups of Cubans who arrived during the boatlift are deported.

Currently there are 502 names left on the list, ICE said recently in a statement.

This means that it may take another four or five years before ICE works through all the names on the list.

On average, about 90 to 100 Cubans on the list have been deported every year.

Bryant said her husband had a criminal record related to a robbery case a year after he arrived in Florida.

The Diaz deportation provides a glimpse into how ICE officials remove some of the names on the repatriation list.

ICE officers who put Diaz in detention told him that within 30 days he would be back in Cuba, Bryant said. But at the end of 30 days, Diaz was still in the United States.

Bryant, 35, said officials at first told her husband that Cuba would not take him back, so he would be released after 90 days.

That didn’t happen. Instead, Diaz was moved around to various detention facilities and eventually wound up at Krome detention center in west Miami-Dade County.

He was deported to Cuba from Krome on Aug. 7.

Bryant said she has been unable to talk to her husband since he was sent to Cuba.

“I don’t have a phone number where I can reach him and he has not been able to call me,” she said in a telephone interview last week from her home in Columbus.

Bryant had an address in Havana for Diaz’s mother and wrote her a letter. She did not get a response.

“I don’t know where he is in Cuba,” said Bryant. “I’ve lost contact with him.”

Besides his wife, Diaz also left behind their two young children — a son, 3, and a daughter, 1 — as well as an 8-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.

During the Mariel exodus more than 125,000 Cubans arrived aboard exile boats that flocked to the port of Mariel to pick up relatives and friends but sometimes left with whomever Cuban authorities decided to put aboard.

Among them were some criminals who went straight from jail to the port.

The Reagan administration pressed the Castro government to allow the deportation of Mariel arrivals with criminal records, resulting in the agreement that led to the repatriation list.

After the so-called rafter exodus in 1994, the United States and Cuba reached another migration agreement under which Washington promised to issue at least 20,000 visas annually to Cuban who wanted to emigrate to the United States and Havana agreed to accept the repatriation of Cubans intercepted on the high seas as they tried to make their way to the United States.

Read more Cuba stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
This is the raft on which 16 Cubans sailed from Cuba to Alligator Reef Light off Upper Matecumbe Key this week.

    THE KEYS

    Cuban migrants found suffering from dehydration off the Keys

    Sixteen Cuban migrants were intercepted off the Upper Keys on Wednesday afternoon, and seven of them needed medical attention after suffering from extreme dehydration.

  •  
Sixteen migrants are found crammed in this tiny boat around Alligator Lighthouse, which is about four miles offshore of Islamorada in the FLorida Keys.

    IMMIGRATION

    More than a dozen Cuban migrants rescued at sea in Keys; several taken to hospital

    A small blue homemade boat with a blue-and-white sail was discovered floating near Alligator Reef Lighthouse, about four miles offshore of Islamorada, on Wednesday. Crammed inside the motorless vessel were 16 Cuban migrants lying down, suffering from dehydration, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

  •  
Elsa Lopez looks at her clothes and shoes she wore when she left Cuba with her parents at the age of two at the time. Her items are among several donated by Exiles on display at the VIP opening and presentation of the The Exile Experience: Journey to Freedom, at the Freedom Tower. The exhibit is a pictorial account of the struggles that the Cuban exile community has endured since Fidel Castro's rise to power, and the successes they have achieved in the United States, organized and curated by the Miami Dade College and The Miami Herald, on Wednesday September 10, 2014.

    MIAMI

    Exhibition chronicles Cuban exiles story

    More than 1,000 people crammed into the Freedom Tower Wednesday night for a peek at an exhibition that honors one of the city’s oldest buildings – and captures the tales of hundreds of thousands of Cubans who fled the island and made Miami their new home.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category