A fleet of small boats has ferried more than five hundred Cuban refugees to Florida in the United States.
GV EXTERIORS Cubans in Mariel, Cuba talking on walky-talky to flotilla of ships moored in background (2 SHOTS)
SV Cuban soldiers on wharf
CU Finishing vessels Tote and Lucy and Cuban soldiers standing near small fishing boats (3 SHOTS)
GV Refugee son quay-side
GV AND SV Larger vessels in harbour waiting to pick up refugees (3 SHOTS)
SV AND GV Refugees arriving in army vehicles and buses (3 SHOTS)
GV PAN Refugees boarding small fishing boats (3 SHOTS)
SV Man taking photograph
GV Fishing boat leaves wharf on coast of Cuba
SV PAN Refugees crowded on decks of fishing boat arrive in Key West, Florida, USA. CUS of refugees on board (4 SHOTS)
GV AND SV Refugee giving victory sign (3 SHOTS)
GV NIGHT SCENE Trawler crowded with refugees
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Background: A fleet of small boats has ferried more than five hundred Cuban refugees to Florida in the United States. The trip could be the beginning of a mass exodus from Cuba as the United States has said it will take up to three and a half thousand refugees.
SYNOPSIS: The five hundred would-be emigrants boarded the boats at the port of Mariel 50 kilometres (31 miles) west of Havana on Wednesday (23 APRIL) They included some of the ten thousand Cubans who poured into the Peruvian Embassy three weeks ago when the government of Fidel Castro removed security guards on the mission's gates. Twelve small privately owned boats, ranging from cabin cruisers to fishing vessels, made the ninety mile (145 kilometres) crossing to pick them up. Two of them, the "Lucy" and the "Tote" were chartered by the Miami-based liberal exile organisation known as the "Alliance of Workers from the Cuban Community".
The exodus follows two years of talks between Cuban groups living in American and the Cuban Government. The talks have led to Cuba's freeing most of its political prisoners and enabled exiles to go to Cuba to visit relatives.
The refugees are being landed at Key West in Florida. while the scheme appears to be going smoothly at the Cuban end, there are problems for both the refugees and boat owners when they arrive at Key West. The State Department says the sealift is illegal and the government cannot accept the refugees arriving in this manner. Some boat owners are reported to be charging as much as one thousand dollars for each person.