Happy Fourth of July - Enjoy Your Freedom

Happy Fourth of July!

Two hundred and thirty-five years ago - on July 4, 1776 - the Second Continental Congress voted to declare the independence of the thirteen colonies from Great Britain. 

In the 1700"s my family's ancestors got in a boat and sailed from Great Britain to the U.S.  I have always thought about what that must have been like, to leave your homeland and embark on a voyage to a new world.  A world of liberty. 

Independence Day is a symbolic day of the break from tyranny and the emergence of a new nation based on concepts of freedom and self-determination.    

Independence Day remains a great American tradition - associated with fireworks, family barbecues, picnics, and baseball games. 

But there are many people who do not enjoy freedom from tyranny.

Cuban Rafters - Oasis of the Seas This weekend saw seven Cubans "rafters" trying to escape Cuba and come to the U.S. for a better life.  But they were stopped by a cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas, and taken aboard and then handed over to the U.S. Coast Guard.  Rather than celebrating the 4th of July in Little Havana in Miami, these rafters are back in Castro's Cuba.   

Newspapers and television stations in South Florida called this a "rescue."  

According to an agreement between the U.S. and Cuba, often called the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, Cubans who reach U.S. shores are allowed to stay.  But those intercepted by the Coast Guard at sea are forced back to Cuba. 

This is not the first time a Royal Caribbean cruise ship "rescued" Cuban immigrants. 

On May 15th, the Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas stopped to pick up nine Cubans as the cruise ship sailed back to Fort Lauderdale.

On May 1st, the Navigator of the Seas picked up eight Cubans 40 miles north of Cuba.  You can see the dramatic photos here.

Last December, the Monarch of the Seas picked up six Cubans who had been at sea.  You can read about that ordeal in Royal Caribbean Intercepts Cuban Immigrants.

In all of these cases, the U.S. Coast Guard sent the Cubans back to Cuba. In all of these cases, the Miami press called the interceptions a "rescue."    But these are no rescues.  These are interceptions.  As we light fireworks, attend family reunions, and watch our favorite baseball teams, these brave people who risked their lives seeking freedom and liberty are likely in a Cuban jail.  

     

Photo credit:  Cruise passenger Christi Nasser via the Miami Herald 

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Bob - July 9, 2011 7:00 PM

Jim

Critize your Governments policy all you like over this but do not suggest that the RCi Ships are doing anything other than fulfilling a fundemental obligation of all seafarers - that of providing assistance to others in difficulty or distress at sea.

No doubt you would be more than ready to call for stringent penalties against the Master of any of these ships had they not rendered assistance.

I am a professional seafarer who is under no illusions regarding the nature of the Cruise Industry and it is unfortunate to see your work demeaned by what is either tunnel vision against RCI or plain ignorance which does not become a Maritime Lawyer. It is not as if RCI would be mounting "patrols" specifically for this purpose - it wouldn't help the bottom line much would it?

Yours aye
Bob

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