Imagine that you are sitting on your dock enjoying your coffee watching the sun come up over the reef and in the distance you see a boat (if that is what you want to call it) heading your way and it is full of people. Well that is what a former Memphian/now Belizean saw a year ago this past March and the boat was full of 13 Cuban refugees that had been 20 days at sea. Elbert Greer had posted these pictures on the message board and it gave you a good feeling in your heart. Now the Cubans were slightly disappointed that they did not reach the US but Elbert and Kate gave them what money they had on them, some food and water, directions on how to get into town and where the Cuban doctor was located should they need medical attention. Below is Elbert’s post from the message board;
I was having coffee on my dock getting ready for my morning jog at 5:30 and noticed a strange small boat coming over the reef. Men where jumping out and pushing to hurry the boat ashore. When it grounded close enough all of its 13 passengers jumped out and swam the rest of the way in. They began to kiss the ground. A little disappointment went over the crowd when I told them this wasn’t the united States. Twenty days at sea will cause that emotion I’m sure.The short lady is drinking the rest of my Coffee.
Well unfortunately the country of Belize has an agreement with Cuba that they will return any refugees that are found on Belizean soil as Cuba provides medical and financial aid to the country of Belize. There are some ‘stories’ of Belizean’s helping a Cuban boat by making repairs and heading them back outside the reef (with additional food and water) but that was not the case for these 13. Apparently the Cubans were detained and shipped over to the mainland and sadly that was the last that we heard of them. Now there was a public outcry on the island and the message board (Hell I will admit that I even wrote Steve Cohen and got nothing) but that flame dwindled and they were forgotten, much like a lot of our news worthy crusades.
Now fast forward to last week when Elbert gets a Facebook friend request from some Jose Luis Gonzalez that lives in Houston and low and behold it was one of the refugees! He is in the US, has a full time job and is going to take HVAC classes to better himself. I for one can not fathom being on a boat for 20 days not knowing if you would make it or not and leaving everything you ever had behind to make a new life for yourself. Agree or disagree with illegal refugees in our country, I say we welcome them but if they cause trouble then we ship their asses back but if they can contribute then we welcome them with open arms. I mean aren’t all of our family generations linked back to another country?
Ok, I will get off my soapbox now.