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Cuban tries crossing on Styrofoam boat

A Cuban refugee used this boat of Styrofoam in a bid to reach U.S. shores. (Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Over the years, Cubans have used just about every kind of craft imaginable to make the 90-mile crossing to the Florida coast. There was the floating 1951 Chevrolet pickup, the floating taxi, the wooden cargo crate -- and untold numbers of wobbly rafts.

Some of these jury-rigged vessels have actually worked. In many other cases, people fleeing Cuba have perished at sea.

Now, as the Miami Herald first reported, a Cuban migrant has attempted the crossing in a "makeshift, seven-foot vessel" made of Styrofoam.

"A U.S. surveillance aircraft patrolling the Florida Straits spotted the ... vessel 51 miles south of Marathon and, on closer inspection, discovered a man aboard who turned out to be a severely dehydrated Cuban migrant," the Herald reports.

The U.S. Coast Guard picked up the man before dawn Tuesday. He told authorities he left Havana on June 20.

A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Juan A. Muñoz-Torres, said the man was given an IV for hydration purposes but that no hospitalization was required. He will be repatriated some time this week.

The vessel was destroyed, Muñoz-Torres said, because it was "a hazard to navigation."

A surveillance image of the Styrofoam boat before it was intercepted. (Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

By Jason Ukman  | July 14, 2010; 12:20 PM ET
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If they picked the man up on Monday night, why does the screen-shot from the video suveillance bear a date-stamp of July 13?

Posted by: bmaa5 | July 14, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to bmaa5 for sharp eye. A source provided incorrect information earlier. The post has been updated.

Posted by: Jason Ukman | July 14, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

where are all the illegal immigration nuts on this one? Oh yeah, the gov't was caught doing it's job and this guy wasn't mexican. After all, the immigration issue only has to do with mexico because Cubans overwhelmingly vote Republican. Can't piss off the illegal immigrant base.

Posted by: TUCK117 | July 14, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

LOLOLOLOL! Repatriated means sent back to Cuba?

Posted by: forgetthis | July 14, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

would be nice if they brought the guy here, I need someone to cut the grass

Posted by: griffmills | July 14, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Yes better to send him back and keep Obama's grand mother.

Posted by: askgees | July 14, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I hope when they say destroyed, they meant they took it to shore and stuffed it in a landfill. Hate to think that now we have thousands of bits of Styrofoam floating around the Gulf

Posted by: DannyP1 | July 14, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I am sure nobody in this country has family roots that traces back to those people who stepped off boats/planes coming from Europe or elsewhere!

US Foreign Policy needs some Post-Cold War updating.

Posted by: amerviet2008 | July 14, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

For being at sea for three weeks, he didn't get very far.

Posted by: googleguy | July 14, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I would have made a StyroJetski to expidite the trip and shorten the exposure.

Posted by: JimB20009 | July 14, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

The "corrected" post states:

"The U.S. Coast Guard picked up the man before dawn Tuesday."

The man is still clearly in the boat in the photo. The time stamp on the frame is 11:31:07UTC which would be 07:31:07EDT. Sunrise in Marathon, Fl on 7-13-10 was 6:43AM and sunrise in Havana was at 6:51AM. So the guy was obviously not picked up before dawn.

Posted by: googleguy | July 14, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Most Cuban refuges don't bother making these things anymore. They now pay smugglers of speed speedboats (a couple hundred dollars a head)to drop them off on U.S. mainland to take advantage of the wet foot dry foot policy concerning Cuban refuges.

It's a regular thing down here for authorities to find 20 Cubans walking around the beach with no sign of a raft or boat.

Posted by: moebius22 | July 14, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Ha ha ha. These poor people risk their lives to come here and live free and you morons are joking about it?
The waters that they cross to get to Key West are treacherous, as the currents are very strong. One can only imagine how many have died, without notice, and they've never been missed or discovered. I recently met a landscape worker who was successful. He and four others rowed for over a week to get here. When I mentioned it to a co-worker (a rightwing christian I might add) he said "Well, you know he's ILLEGAL."
Funny how such a staunch patriot didn't even have the faintest clue about the law and how it applies to those who are fleeing Castro.
Grow up people. You're ruining a good thing.

Posted by: TOMHERE | July 14, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Ruining what? Most non-Hispanics or non-Spanish speakers I know here in Miami are leaving the city or the state altogether, becuase of the rampant discrimination against non Hispanics and non-Spanish speakers- and I'm Hispanic.

Posted by: moebius22 | July 14, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

He should have built a styrofoam jet plane -- much faster.

Posted by: hc2254 | July 14, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Every time I hear an Irish complaint about immigration I feel like taking that person, tying them to a chair and show them every single caricature and newspaper article that labeled them "monkeys" and "lower than n(e)gros" to REMIND THEM not but 4 generations ago THEIR ancestors were being welcome with rocks and knives.

"And the hand that tries to push us out from this land will be swiftly cut down."

The Dead Rabbits, Five Points, New York.

Posted by: Mighty7 | July 14, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

The really sad thing is this guy has more ingenuity and guts than some of the semi-illiterates who choose to comment on this story. If you don't know the meaning of the word repatriate, you probably shouldn't broadcast to the world. Try next time.

Posted by: scubanut | July 14, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

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