The Mariel Boatlift Begins
APRIL 20TH 1980
The massive emigration of cubans started with a surprise announcement by Fidel Castro.The emigration began from Cuba's Mariel Harbor. Castro announced that all cubans who want to migrate to U.S can board boats from Mariel Harbor west of Havana. While news of the situation was not broadcast in Cuba, Cuban exiles in the United States rushed to Key West and to docks in Miami to hire boats to transport people to the United States. Cuban reaching US were granted refugee status.Initially Jimmy Carter administration had a open door policy towards Cuban immigrants. Fidel Castro later released the prisoners and inmates from mental health facilities who also migrated to U.S. Jimmy Carter faced criticism when this came to light.Nearly 125,000 people migrated of which 1700 were jailed.