Balseros in Guantanamo bay.
On Monday September 5, 1994 I was rescued at sea together with a group of Cubans escaping from the island. We spent the whole day on a coast guard cutter rescuing other rafters until our boat was full of people. After the rescue the coast guard took us to a huge ship in the middle of the ocean where we were processed an asked a few medical and basic questions such name and place of origin.
Since I knew English I was able to help the US military in their efforts. This was known at the time as Operation Sea Signal, Joint Task Force 160. We spend a day aboard this big “mother ship” and after that we were transferred to the USS South Carolina.
The South Carolina was an impressive war ship with nuclear propulsion. They took us to Guantanamo Bay on this ship, you could feel the raw power of this machine just by standing on its deck. I found this picture online and I read the ship has been decommissioned.
Also, here is my picture when I arrived in Guantanamo bay, you can compare side-by-side with a picture taken at my old business warehouse in 2006. I was 125 pounds then…
USS South Carolina
Picture taken at Guantanamo Bay 1994
Me in 2006 at our warehouse
We arrived at Guantanamo Bay on the morning of September 9, 1994, the place looked like nothing you are used to seeing in Cuba. Guantanamo Bay looked like a well kept and maintained place to me. The lawns, the buildings and pretty much every thing appeared to be in good condition.
We were further processed and our picture and finger prints were taken. We were assigned ID numbers and a watch-like device was attached to our wrist, this device had a magnetic strip they used to ID us. We were assigned to tents and given blankets and other supplies. At that time we were approximately 35,000 Cuban immigrants on the base.