Recently Added Memories
This is a list of memories people have recently shared. If you'd like to add your memory of Mariel, please search for your boat and click 'add your memory' on the boat's profile page.
Elsio Suengas's memory of Time
It was a horrible journey in the ocean and not a pleasant experience leaving your homeland.
As a 13 year old boy, the best memory that I have is seeing the american flag the morning that we arrived and knowing that we had arrived to a land tha (read the rest of this memory)t offered us freedom and a future.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to this country and thank you for allowing me to joint you in freedom to the American people.
Mildred Perdomo's memory of Rosa B. Murray
My name is Mildred Perdomo. My friends call me Milly. I am an Asylum Officer working for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security with the
Asylum Division of the Refugee, Asylum and International Op (read the rest of this memory)erations Directorate. My story is not very peculiar, but I always wanted to share it with those that might understand. I arrived to this country as an eight years old child. I
was wearing a white top and red shorts. This is my story.
It was a hot morning on May 25, 1980, when my family left Cuba on the Rosa B. Murray shrimp-boat during the Mariel Exodus (“the Freedom Flotilla”). I guess that now you know my age, although in my culture, a lady never reveals her true age, it is too late now. In Cuba, we suffered oppression, persecution and hunger. We left with the clothes we were wearing. The Cuban government would not allow us to take even the documents that evidenced our personal history. By the time we reached the United States coast, our clothes were wet from the sea. Somehow, the Caribbean Sea baptized us. Thus, we became part of my adopted land, the United States of America. We arrived at the refugee camps in Florida without a cent. All we had was each other and the desire to work hard. The ride in the boat changed the destiny of my family. In Cuba, we endured terrible conditions at a refugee camp. Families waited for months for authorization from the Cuban government to leave the Island. Everybody slept in the grass, without a roof or sanitary facilities. On the meantime, political prisoners were harassed with German Sheperd dogs. Later that summer, the boat in which my aunt, uncle, and small cousin left Cuba, began to drown due to an excess of people. The American Coast Guard rescued them just in time to avoid another tragedy. These were the memories left of Cuba for the eight-year old girl who went to college, business school, and law school and now works for DHS. These experiences triggered a desire in me to protect refugees without neglecting the security of the American Homeland. The “adventures” of my childhood cultivated my curiosity in Immigration Law, developing my ability to work with people of different backgrounds. These adventures also shaped my life forever, not with bitterness or resentment, but with love and appreciation for this great nation, the United States of America.
My family comes from very humble beginnings, as evidenced by this story. In about three decades, the older generation managed to make a life for their children and for themselves in a new country where they did not speak the language, knew their customs, or share their history. They produced law-abiding children who went on to become lawyers, pastors, actors, librarians, engineers, accountants, and even an aspiring scientist. The road was not always easy. Sometimes at home, there was not enough to eat. Other times, Mom worked so many extra shifts at her factory that when she arrived home, her legs were stiff with pain. My father lost a finger working at his own factory. Without his finger, he later on pushed a hot dog cart down the streets of Puerto Rico (where we eventually moved to) to support the family. The stories are many, and if I was to write them all down right now, they would become a book. I know that you are a busy person, and my intent is not to bore you with details. I only wanted to thank this great nation and my uncle Mario Jordan and my aunt Luisa Jordan (our sponsors) for allowing me and my family to find happiness in this amazing country. My story has a happy ending. It was President Carter, who welcomed the Cuban refugees back in 1980 with open arms, as his famous words stated back at that time. The USA saved my life, ours lives. My parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and my sister, Ileana, would always be grateful. The alternative would have been to continue surviving in a sad island where freedom has become an empty word. Thanks to an act of generosity, I now work helping others to achieve their dreams in this country. I also work protecting this country by preventing those who want to harm this nation from staying here. Thank you, again. God Bless America.
ps-If anyone wants to get in touch with me, do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONSUELO GOMEZ ECHEVARRIA's memory of Singleton Fleet56
ES LA EMOCION MAS GRANDE QUE E TENIDO EN MI VIDA ..TENIA 13 ANOS ...DE EDAD Y JAMAS SE ME AN BORRADO ESOS TRISTES Y LINDOS RECUERDOS ..
YO LLEGUE CON MI HERMANA, MI HERMANO , MI MAMA Y MI PAPA ..UNA TIA FUE A BUSCARNOS ....
HOY E RECORDADO PASO (read the rest of this memory) A PASO Y NO PUDE CONTENER MIS LAGRIMAS .....CADA VEZ QUE HABLO DEL MARIEL LLORO ..MUCHAS GRACIAS AL HERALD POR ESTA INFORMACION TAN BUENA ....
ana maria jorge's memory of Lucky Cracker
yo tenia 19 anos nunca me havia separado de mi familia ,para mi fue un viaje horrible nos mandaron en mal tiempo me pase el viaje pensando en mi madre que mas nunca volveria a verme ,cuando alfin llegamos lo primero que veo que vemos son personas ves (read the rest of this memory)tidas iguales que los policia de cuba ,pense que no haviamos salido de cuba, fue horrible .despues que salimos del barco nos dieron una coca cola entendi que estabamos en estados unidos .nunca me arrepiento de haver tomado la desicion de dejar a mis padres y hermanos .
Lazara Maria Tamayo's memory of El Cid
I was 16 years old when I was in the concentration camp called El Mosquito. It was a very bad expierence, the food was rotten eggs and dirty water, the children were given the same food. We couldn't go to the bathroom because of guard dogs were being (read the rest of this memory) used to attack us every time we tried. There were also criminally insane people mixed in with us. We had to sleep on dirt floor and had no way of taking showers or keep ourselves clean, this went on for several days I can't remember everything it was a terrible time. Fortunately, we finally left on the boat El Cid. At first we were thrilled but then we realized there were too many people on board and the vomitting was non stop on each other. I remember helping Alicia hand out medicine and water and when the water ran out we drank lime juice, and the waves just kept coming over the boat. I finally arrived in Key West, half passed out and I remember President Carter placing an apple on my stomach but I couldn't even speak or see him to well. Even this day I give thanks to everybody the came with me and shared our experience no matter how bad and I always think about that day and tears still come down my face. God bless everybody no matter where they are and light our way throught dark times. Thanks to the Captain and Alicia for their sacrifice. Never Forget.
Judith Garcia's memory of Teresita
......We finally reached the pick up point to take us to El Mariel, and while we waited the bus didn’t show up. It was late afternoon when an officer came to tell us we were not leaving and should all go back home. Back home? We had no home to go (read the rest of this memory)back to. My parents decided to stay and wait, it was an open yard with nothing but a beautiful Mango tree.
We got some boxes to sleep on. What I remember most clearly were the monster cockroaches squirming away. That night my dad told us about the place we were going to. For the first time we talked politics and the night passed. Another day came and another night passed. The next day followed with rain.
Suddenly I felt something happening in my body I went to the port a potty in site and notice a reddish brown stain on my panties, I showed my mom, “Oh my God you killed the rabbit”. I got my period for the first time. I had one pair of panties, my hair smelled like rotten eggs and I started to wonder if this place we were going to was worth all this shit. My mom talked to a lady outside who let us use her home to wash up. My grandmother brought some food everyday, bread, rice, scrambled eggs. Everyday the guards would encourage the people to leave and everyday more people did, less remained, but we stayed, we were there for about 6 days and finally the mighty bus picked us up.
There were other busses like the one we traveled on, carrying people from all walks of life: different faiths, delinquents’ right out of jail, mentally disturbed, prostitutes, homosexuals. We were all anti-revolutionaries, trash and unwanted in our own country.
The Mariel was beautiful when you focused on the ocean and the sunset. It was like the great masters of the universe wanted our last days in this beautiful country to be memorable, not in the worse way, but in the way of Cuba, with its beautiful blue sky, warm waters, soft sand, and the romantic and sensual dance of the royal palms and coconut trees. We were there for another week.
In the end, we were lucky. On May 27, 1980 we lined up like every afternoon, hoping to be called. My mom heard, “ GIVE ME FOUR MORE.” She jumped and screamed, “HERE WE ARE, WE ARE FOUR!”
An officer instructed us to hurry and get into a shrimp boat, way too small to carry the amount of people on it
We found a good spot close to the edge, close enough to be splashed, to hear the ocean’s sounds, letting us know who was the mightiest; close enough to hear the vessel cry. By the great, loud squeaking of its body we could feel it was giving all its strength, determined to reach the point that all these Cubans were longing for.
Night came fast, pitch black I couldn’t tell where the sky and the ocean met,. We were tired, my stomach hurt from vomiting and my throat burned, my brother layed with my mom and dad and I told myself, “Sleep Judy, just sleep”.
The morning of May 28 was quiet. Marines stood proud, welcoming everyone out of the boat. My brave little brother, whom I don’t mention enough, but without a doubt the bravest young man I have ever met, woke up from resting on my dad, looked around and asked, “Are we still in Cuba, Papi? - “No Julio, this is the United States.” Julio reached his arm up and breaking the silence he screamed, “Viva Carter”! everyone cheered on, we had finally reached FREEDOM.
Moraima Pedroso's memory of Rubber Duck
Jamas podre lovidar nuestra travesia, vine con 17 anos y mi hermano mayor, y le doy Gracias America por recivirnos,y que dios vendiga hoy y siempre a todos mis hermanos en esta travesia
Jose Escobedo's memory of Vaya Con Dios
Increible que despues de 31 anos y con 45 anos de edad todavia mire esta pajina y llore como un nino desconsolados. Lo unico que quiero decirle a todos es que todos los que atravezamos esas aguas y los que nos fueron a buscar somos heroes y no import (read the rest of this memory)a lo que halla pasado despues con nuestras vida. Solo atravezar esa adventura si es que se le puede llamar aventura es una grand triunfo. Nunca se me ha olvidado el dia ni el barco en que vine, ni la memoria de El Fontan y el mosquito como nos trataron sin humanidad, pero llegamos y le ensenamos que valemos mucho mas de lo que ellos no dieron. Vivan los Marielitos......
CARLOS's memory of Lucky Cracker
EL NOMBRE DEL CAPITAN ES CHUCK TAYLOR,YO FUI A BUSCAR A MIS PADRES
VICTOR VILLAREAL's memory of America
Yo, llegue a keywest, el dia 12 de mayo de 1980 con mi esposa y mis dos hijas de 4 y 5 anos. Era el dia de las" MADRES". Llegamos ese dia mas de cinco mil refujiados, aunque el dia seis de mayo se outorizo a nuestro barco america a zarpar y esperar e (read the rest of this memory)n la boca del rio por los demas, nuestro capitan decidio partir sin esperar y fuimos regresados por lanchas artilladas cubanas, que apuntando a la cabina de mandos, le gritaron al capitan que si no regresaba, le volaban la cabina, asi que regresamos al mariel y nos retuvieron, hasta el dia 11 de mayo, y en horas de la tarde, salimos y junto a cientos de barcos , camaroneros y lanchas pequenas, fuimos sobrecargados con casi setecientas personas, un destroller americano, en el trayecto, tuvo compartir la mitad de los tripulantes de nuestro barco, por temor al naufragio. Desde el parque de la embarcasion, yo vi, una marina flotante que nos seguia, con grandes olas que los sumergia, pero afortunadamente, salian victoriosos de las aguas imponentes, para seguirnos aflote. llegamos a los cayos el dia de las madres a las seis de la manana. Por eso nunca lo olvido, aunque se nos registro el dia 13 de mayo. hoy, todos somos ciudadanos. Mis hijas estudiaron, la mayor es enfermera, la menor se graduo de estudios biblicos en la universidad, mi esposa estudio peluqueria y yo, me gradue en el ano 2000, con un associate degree en Computer Network Engineer. gracias a esta GRAN NACION.
SILVIA BECERRA's memory of Rubber Duck
Recuerdo que cuando salimos de Cuba,yo empece a cantar la Barca de Oro,en la cubierta del barco,y no se me olvida que en ese momento todos los que estaban en cubierta comenzaron a llorar.
Idelsy Rodriguez's memory of El Camino
30 years ago my life changed thanks to my uncle Roberto Gonzalez and my aunt Erena Gonzalez! At the ripe age of 5 years I made the journey from a repressed country to the freedom land (USA) on "El Camino" with my parents, grandmother, brother, and a (read the rest of this memory) cousin. Today, that journey is like a hazy dream to me; I have snapshots of moments but they are like a jigsaw puzzle with many pieces missing.
On this 30th anniversary of the Mariel Exodus, I think back and understand the sacrifices that were being made at that time. A mother and father making the heart-wrenching decision of allowing their only daughter to reach freedom without them because their only son had to stay behind and serve in the Cuban armed forces. My parents and grandmother leaving their life behind in order to pursue a new one filled with hopes and dreams and especially a better future for their kids. And my uncle Roberto having to take two trips to Cuba in an attempt to take us out of the island while his wife and daughter stayed behind in Miami praying for his safe return. It didn’t matter to him that we were not blood related, we were his family. Not only that, it didn’t matter to him that all the other passengers on that boat who had come from different walks of life were not related to him, he treated EVERY single person as if they were one of us. He was just that kind of man!
I know that I speak for my parents, brother and cousin when I say that we will forever be grateful for my Aunt Erena and Uncle Roberto’s sacrifices to bring us to this country. THANK YOU!
In loving memory of Juana Padron and Roberto Gonzalez…you will always live in our hearts!
Gisela Peiro Alvarez's memory of Daddy's Lady
Este barco era un langostero recien estrenado, a pesar del mal tiempo en la travesia, no hubo mayores problemas. Sali de mi pais con 24 años y un baul lleno de ilusiones futuras, embargada por la tristeza de dejar atras mi familia. La vida me daba un (read the rest of this memory)a nueva oportunidad y tenia que enfrentarla sola, pero mis lagrimas valieron la pena. Aqui en este maravilloso pais eche raices, nacieron mis hijos y hoy disfrutamos de la libertad, que tanto dolor y sufrimiento han dejado, a traves de los años, en la historia de mi pueblo.
BEATRIZ GONZALEZ DELGADO's memory of Jaroqui
What a memory... the pictures have brought tears to my eyes..... I was 3 years old and I can close my eyes and vividly feel that day as if it were now. It was my mother, father, older sister and I on our journey. I was given a Juicy Fruit gum (the (read the rest of this memory) one in the yellow package) by the crew and till this day whenever I see or taste that gum it takes me back to September 11th, 1980. It's incredible how that memory is so vivid after so many years and only being 3. I was inside the cabin with my mother and sister along with other women and children, while my father was outside with the men. I would look out and see the massive waves behind the boat. I am not at all ashamed to say I arrived in "El Mariel" on the contrary, I'm very proud to say how my family and I arrived in this country for a better life. My parents sacrificed plenty to get us out of Cuba and worked very hard in the US to start a new life with two small children. It saddens me to know that many families were separated, including my own since my older brother had to stay due to el "servicio militar" but how many have come to reunite with their loved ones after years. I hope that SOON all families that have been separated due to the political issues in Cuba are reunited with their loved ones. CUBA LIBRE!!!!
Policarpo Rodriguez's memory of Crazy Horse
llegue con mi esposa Carmen y mis dos hijos Barbara MIlagros,con 18 anos y Alexis, con 12.Fue un viaje con un poco de miedo,pues el mar estaba un poco picado. Habia olas muy grandes.
Madelyn's memory of Cristina
MI BARCO SE LLAMABA CRISTINA, YO TE TENIA 11 ANOS NUESTRO VIAJE DURO 15 HORAS YEL BARCO SE UNDIO EN EL GOLFO NOS RESCATARON Y SALIMOS EN HELICOPTERO PARA KEY WEST.
Jose R. Martin Alfonso's memory of Stephen Joe
DOS DIAS ANTES ESTABAMOS LISTOS PARA SARPAR PERO NO NOS DEJABAN SALIR ESPERANDO QUE LLEGARA UNA TERRIBLE TORMENTA QUE SE NOS VENIA ENCIMA. EL CAPITAN DEL BARCO A TRAVES DE LA RADIO LES PIDIO QUE NOS DEJARAN SALIR QUE EN ESTE MOMENTO EL TIEMPO ESTABA (read the rest of this memory)BUENO Y PODIAMOS LLEGAR A MIAMI EN 8 o 10 HORAS PERO QUE SI NOS COGIA LA TORMENTA SERIA MUY PELIGROSO EL VIAJE. LE DIERON ORDENES DE SEGUIR ESPERANDO. POR FIN EL 30 DE MAYO A LAS 6 AM LE DIERON SALIDA A LAS 62 EMBARCACIONES QUE ESTABAMOS ESPERANDO. COMO A LAS 4 HORAS NOS ENCONTRABAMOS EN MEDIO DE AQUELLA TORMENTA QUE PARECIA UN HURACAN. AQUELLO FUE TERRIBLE TUBIMOS QUE AMARRAR DOS LANCHAS PEQUEÑAS QUE SE LES HABIA ROTO EL MOTOR Y A TRAVES DE LAS SOGAS UN TRIPULANTE NORTEAMERICANO RESCATO A UN NIÑO DE MESES QUE VENIA EN LA ULTIMA LANCHITA. POR FIN PUSE MIS PIES EN TIERRA DE LIBERTAD A LAS 10.30 PM
jorge prieto's memory of Super Blue
I was 24 years when I left Cuba in this boat,
and was one of the sadest and at the same time joyfull day of my life,as a part of the crew's family we were at the bow of the ship, we start our journey at 12.00 pm, I remember watching how my beatifu (read the rest of this memory)l Havana
was turning small and small until disapear
completly in the horizon, that was the sad part of that journey, a new life and hope was
ahead , the day was beatiful , for the first
time in my life I was in the middle of the ocean in a trip to the unknown, with only one thing in my mind " at last freedom". I will never regret the decision I made to come to this country, I remember the flyingfish, and when we stop to tow an small
boat that until today I don't know if one of the passenger was sick or dead, the captain called the coast guard, and my god
what a huge ship, everybody remain silence
when that ship docked almost a few yards
from us, then we continue our trip to key west, the Superblue docked at 12.30 am of
May 26, 1980, I will never forget that day.
God bless all the "marielitas"
Carlos R Cabrera's memory of Super Blue
I was 11 years old when I left Cuba on this boat. The voyage took 12 long hours. I remember that there were many refugees on this boat as indicated in the boat information. I stayed 2 days in Abreu Fontan and 3 hours in El Mosquito. The stay there wa (read the rest of this memory)s horrible as we slept in the floor and had very little food to eat. But I was very happy to meet my family members back in Miami.
Luis Jorge Saez Rosete's memory of Reef Queen
The Reef Queen was loaded with its full load of 360 refugees 24 hours before departure from Mariel. We were starving for those 24 hours and cramped in that "lake boat" without even a compass for the trip, waiting for the order to go.
My mother (read the rest of this memory)and I had been stuck in the concentration camp for 15 days prior eating 1 meal a day of rice and scrambled eggs and 1 yogourt and going to the bathroom in holes on the ground that were overflowing with excrement everywhere.
Someone had to be awake all the time not knowing when your name was going to be announced on the loudspeakers at any time of night of day. Being awake was not so difficult since sleeping in that dusty tent city dessert by the ocean was not much rest anyway.
The boat was supposed to carry a maximum of 100 passengers and it was loaded beyond its flotation mark. As was the case with most of the boats I saw departing the next day.
My mother Georgina Rosete and I were sea sick for the 48 hour trip to Miami. The boat could not handle the rough Gulf currents or go at a normal speed since it was overloaded.
I fell asleep on the top deck under a bench and woke up in the middle of the night with the beautiful sight of a huge Coast Guard Ship towering over our Reef Queen and booming directions for our Captain to correct its course cause we were heading for the middle of nowhere in the Gulf of Mexico, without even a working compass.
We could have very well have gone missing and sank without no one ever knowing had not been for that coast guard's help. Not unlike the unrecorded tragedies of hundreds of thousands of people in Castro's paradise island.
Just after arriving at that concentration camp we were ordered to surrender any identity documents, money or valuables.
When we finally reached Key West it was like a dream to touch land there. I tried for a short time to see if my aunt was around but as the crazy story goes she was still waiting in Mariel, for me and my mother to be released without her knowing.
So we spent a night sleeping under an airport hangar and next morning we were flown to Fort Indian base in Pennsylvania.
In the plane I was very proud to speak with an agent in English. I had spent a few years prior trying to learn as much as possible cause I knew I had to leave Castro's prison jail somehow.
I have never gone back to Cuba since May 23rd 1980. (July 9th 2010) 30 years later I write my memories