Published in the July issue of Contributoria
Put together the words refugees and Mediterranean Sea and most people will have the same image in mind: old fishing boats packed with people, human smugglers with dollar signs in their eyes and hundreds of drownings. Another continent, another sea; a similar situation has been going on for decades. Ever since the Cuban revolution people have used boats, often made by themselves, to make the 150 km sea crossing to Florida – by comparison, the distance between Tripoli in Libya to Lampedusa in Italy is roughly twice as long. Cubans arriving in the US are automatically granted political asylum, according to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.
To curb the amount of rafters coming to the US, the Clinton administration added the wet foot/dry foot policy, which states that anyone intercepted in the waters by the US Coast Guard is automatically sent back to Cuba. The theory behind this is that Cubans can apply for one of the 20,000 visas the US issues yearly to Cubans, so they don’t have to take the dangerous trip through the shark-infested waters of the Florida Straits.