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Balseros in Guantanamo bay. 

By  Alexis Martin

On Monday, September 5, 1994, The US coast guard rescued me at sea, together with a group of Cubans escaping from the island. We spent the whole day on a coast guard cutter recovering other rafters until our boat was full of people. After the rescue, the coast guard took us to a massive ship in the middle of the ocean, where they processed us an asked a few medical and fundamental questions such as name and place of origin.

Since I knew English, I was able to help the US military in their efforts. The name of the operation was Operation Sea Signal, Joint Task Force 160. We spend a day aboard this big “mother ship,” After that, they transferred us the USS South Carolina.

South Carolina was an impressive warship 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.

Here is my picture when I arrived in Guantanamo Bay,  I was 125 pounds then.

Alexis Martin At Guantanamo Bay

Alexis Martin second from right.

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 to me. The lawns, the buildings, and pretty much everything appeared to be in good condition.

The immigration officers interviewed each of us and assigned us 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.

Alexis Martin


I'm a first-generation Cuban immigrant. I have a passion for everything Cuba. I love to share our culture and my expertise in the world-famous Guayabera Shirt. On December 18, 2002, I sold my first Cuban Guayabera shirt online. I fell in love with the process and the fact that this is a business, you always have to be willing to learn. Many things have changed since then, new software services, new concepts. At Mycubanstore.com, we had been able to ride different market waves. We are always humbled and grateful for this privilege of building a future in this great country.

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