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Cuban Migrants Sailed to Florida in a Makeshift Boat They Named ‘Barack Obama’

The group of six Cubans, one of whom was pregnant, landed on the beach after nine days at sea.
Un bateau semblable à celui qui a accosté en Floride. (Photo par Cristobal Herrera/EPA)

After nine days at sea, a group of migrants fleeing Cuba landed on the shores of Florida Monday evening in a small boat made of sheet metal named the "Barack Obama."

Four men and two women, one of whom is pregnant, pulled up on the beach of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, reported the Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Bystander Cathy Crawley was at the beach when the migrants came ashore and said one of them was so overjoyed that she kissed the ground upon arrival.


"They were so happy and their faces were just like, 'we're alive and we're here,' " Crawley told the Sun-Sentinel. "I've never seen anything like it."

The pregnant woman was taken to a nearby hospital, while the other five migrants remained on the beach to be questioned by US Customs and Border Patrol, according to the Associated Press.

The distance between Cuba and the Florida shore is relatively short — about 300 miles — but a perilous journey for those seeking to come to the US in rafts or rickety boats, like the Barack Obama. In March, nine Cuban migrants died while trying to reach the US after 22 days at sea.

The US has an agreement with Cuba, known as the "wet-foot, dry-land" policy, that allows anyone fleeing Cuba who makes it onto American soil to stay in the country and eventually pursue permanent residency.

But that's only if they make it ashore. The Coast Guard still intercepts thousands of migrants attempting to come to the US every year and sends them back from where they came or to a third country. Last year, the Coast Guard interdicted 3,828 migrants, almost 3,000 of whom came from Cuba.

Related: 'A Series of Razors Waiting to Cut You': The High Cost of Doing Business in Cuba