A Brief History

I was born on February 8, 1992 in Havana, Cuba. My father is an electrical engineer and my mother was a nuclear physicist in Cuba, and she is currently an educational curriculum specialist for Pre-K-3rd grade and special education.

My parents decided to leave Cuba in August of 1994. It was the beginning of the humanitarian crisis that would later be known as Operation Sea Signal. Castro had announced that he ordered the Cuban coast guard to not detain any Cubans that wished to leave Cuba through the coast. As a result, many people decided to flee the country, most as political refugees. Almost 50,000 immigrants were processed through Operation Sea Signal which spanned from August 1994 to February 1996.

My parents decided to leave Cuba the day Castro made the announcement, and it took my father 2 days to find a boat he deemed safe enough that we could afford and to find a navigator that would be willing to come with us. He bought a boat from an officer in the Cuban coast guard, and brought 16 people in total on the boat with my mom and me. We were in the ocean for about 9 hours before we were rescued by the USS Estocin, a U.S. navy aircraft carrier. My parents tell me that the aircraft carrier was equipped with hundreds of tents on the airstrip where planes would normally land. After a few days on the navy ship, we were taken to Guantanamo Bay where we spent the next 3 months.

This video shows the layout of Guantanamo Bay in 1995, including the refugee camps that we stayed in.

Guantanamo Bay 1995

We spent most of our time in Camp Mike, where the below pictures were taken (by my mother with a disposable camera).

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