Thursday, January 26, 2006

"Balseros" are taking a detour

Traveling by balsa to Miami has not only gotten more dangerous but has also gotten a bit more complicated. Aside from having to worry about winds, enough food and water, sharks and the weather, balseros now have to also carefully plan where they land - as if this was always a decision up to them. While Mexico and the group Border Angels is distributing to illegal Mexican immigrants maps of the Arizona desert with how much distance they can walk in a day, pinpointing the dangerous areas, the areas with water and supplies and the areas where cellphones work - a distribution that has been highly criticized by the US government as "inciting" illegal migration. But as Ziva very well asked, where are the lighted buoys with food, water, and a nautical map for the balseros to safely reach land?

Well, nunca falta el ingenio de los cubanos, so now they are finding an alternate route to get to the US - Puerto Rico. Traveling first to the Dominican Republic, where authorities are already investigating a Cuban-smuggling ring, they then depart in yola (Dominican raft) to Puerto Rico. But as it is well known el canal de la Mona is not only treacherous, but it is also shark infested which makes arriving to the mainland harder. So what do you do know? You end your travels at La isla de Mona. You see, Puerto Rico has three island towns - Culebra, Mona and Vieques. All three of them are territories of Puerto Rico, so they in turn are the United States of America.

From 2003 to 2005 the number of Cubans arriving through this route has gone from 76 to 485; you do the math. You can read the whole article from El Nuevo Herald here.