Between 1982 and 2012, the United States Coast Guard interdicted 222,315 persons on the Caribbean Sea or the adjacent Florida Straits and Mona Passage. This number includes 69,355 Cubans; 36,536 Dominicans and 116,424 Haitians. Tens of thousands more reached Florida or Puerto Rico without being intercepted. Add to that the tens of thousands who died en route.
Since the early 1960s these sea farers have been setting out in a slow trickle that sometimes becomes a surging wave when political conditions in their home countries grow violent or unusually unstable. They travel in boats that are dangerously overloaded, poorly equipped and unfit for travel on the high seas.
When large numbers of Cubans were permitted by their government to set out in 1965 and 1980, they were brought directly to the United States. Following that, in the 1990s, tens of thousands of Haitians and Cubans were detained in three separate incidents at the United States Naval Station, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The Caribbean Sea Migration Collection documents the history of these mariners. The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library wishes to thank the individuals who have donated materials to the Collection including Holly Ackerman, Stephen Brown, Dr. Elizabeth Campisi, Siro del Castillo, Guarioné Díaz, Mariela Ferrer Jewett, and Lourdes Zayas-Bazán.
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This digital collection comprises selected materials from the following archival collection at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library:
Caribbean Sea Migration collection 1959-2014
Collection #RL.00191 | 3 Linear Feet; 600 Items
Materials from (or related to) the migration by sea of Cubans, Dominicans, and Haitians, including the refugee camp for Cuban and Haitian rafters that existed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, largely dating from 1991-1996. Collection includes camp newspapers and artwork created by refugees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; materials from the U.S. Coast Guard and other military sources, such as newspapers written in Haitian Creole, photocopies of camp rules and refugee intake procedures, and a transcript from an introductory video shown to refugees arriving at the camps; magazines and media coverage of refugee situations, including some material on Elián González; photographs and slides of refugees, Coast Guard personnel, and conditions in the camps in Cuba. Refugees arriving in Miami are included as are photographs of the work of the Guantanámo Refugee Assistance and Services Program in Miami and in the camps in Guantánamo Bay.