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When Fidel Castro told Cubans they wouldn’t be punished for leaving back in the summer of 1994, some 50,000 men, women and children set out for Florida on rafts strung together with rusted out bits of roof tops, inner tubes wrapped in canvas, and wood snagged from the back rests of park benches.

By the time President Bill Clinton convinced Castro to close the coastline in exchange for allowing a set number of Cubans into America each year, thousands of the balseros, the rafters, had been detained by the U.S. Coast Guard and sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Spanish journalist and documentary film maker Carlos Bosch followed seven of the rafters, from the slums of Havana to new lives in the new world. He joins me to share their stories about making it to America.

Balseros will premiere in Boston on Januray 26th at 7:00 pm at the Coolidge Corner Movie Theatre.


Carlos Bosch, director, “Balseros,” a documentary about the rafters who left Cuba in the summer of 1994

Juan Carlos Subiza, one of the rafters who left Cuba in 1994