Posted on Sat, Feb. 23, 2008
BY JOSE PAGLIERY
Twenty four Cuban refugees landed in Key West on Saturday morning, the
first rafters to reach the United States soil since Fidel Castro
announced Tuesday he would cede presidential powers.
The group guided their 16-foot, homemade boat to Key West's Smathers
Beach after navigating through Caribbean waters for more than 26 hours,
according to Key West police spokeswoman Christie Phillips.
Phillips said the boat, equipped with a Mercedes diesel engine, departed
from an area east of Havana carrying 20 men and four women.
''They were pretty dehydrated, but all in good condition,'' she said.
All the refugees, including a pregnant woman, were on shore when Key
West police arrived after being alerted to the landing at 6:30 a.m.
Police said the group was given food and water before being taken by
Border Patrol officials three hours later.
Also Saturday, four Cuban migrants were repatriated to Bahia de Cabanas,
Cuba. They were part of a group of 33 intercepted by the Coast Guard
nine miles south of Dry Tortugas on Feb. 9. The other 29 were
repatriated last week.