Elected officials and Cuban-Americans commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Cuban Exodus, when some 35,000 rafters left the Communist nation and came to the United States.
Miami-Dade County Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa, Commissioner Esteban Bovo Jr. and members of Fundacion Exodo 1994 marked the occasion with a ceremony at Amelia Earhart Park at 401 E 65th Street in Hialeah.
Many of the rafts people used to try to cross the Straits of Florida were home-made or even inner tubes. It’s estimated that 30,000 of the people who fled the Castro regime made it to the United States. Many of those survivors were at the Wednesday event.
“When you feel oppression from the government you know, you must make one decision to change your life; sot that’s what I do,” said Armando Marrero of his decision to leave Cuba in 1994.
There were hundreds of stories to be told by the survivors. The one unifying message was the motivation of what drove the people to attempt such a desperate act some 20 years ago.
“There was no future for us,” said Pavel Cusco. “You have dreams. I wanted to make music. I want to say what I think. I could not say anything and I wanted to know what was beyond the ocean.”
The 1994 influx of refugees led to the establishment of the “wet food, dry foot” policy for Cubans trying to reach the United States. The policy allowed any Cuban who made it to the United States shore were allowed to stay in the U.S.