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Man defects from Cuba as a cargo stowaway on Miami bound charter flight

A while back, I received a Twitter notification of a Cuban stowaway hiding in the cargo section during a charter flight from Havana to Miami.

Cuban cargo stowaway at Miami Airport tarmac
The cargo stowaway sitting on the ramp next to the airplane at Miami Airport. Photo: Twitter.
Cuba cargo stowaway in Miami on Swift Air
Swift Air is an American airline based in Miami. Photo: Swift Air.

As the Twitter video shows below, the man’s name is Yunier Garcia. In what I could call in his realistic “mission impossible” to get to freedom, the 26-year-old man placed his life at risk on that Swift Air Charter Flight to Miami. Based on the footage, you could distinguish the lack of preparation for the flight by him asking for water:

Stowaway processing

According to Miami ABC channel 10, he was being kept in the Krome Detention Center in Miami. Mr. Garcia was released from jail the day after hew as granted asylum. The asylum was granted by a federal judge who decided that his return to Cuba could face harsh repercussions due to his employment position of trust in Cuba. He worked as a baggage handler at Havana Airport.

The position of the U.S. government was that thousands of Cubans had already been deported to Cuba. The deportees were not jailed, tortured, or killed upon their return.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has 30 days to appeal the judge’s decision.

Mr. Garcia’s testimony was riveting, according to his attorney Mr. Allen, who expects that the government will appeal the judge’s decision.

Cuban airplane stowaway in Miami
Yunier Garcia with relatives after his release from detention. Photo: ABC Local 10 News.

The return to the era of maximum pressure on Cuba

While I write about aviation at Captain Jetson, in reality, I study International Relations, which lets me talk about things related to aviation.

The previous U.S. administration opened the embassy at Havana, and it was reciprocated in the US on the part of the Cubans to allow us to travel under “people to people” trips. While this was around 2016, however, the current administration decided it was time to snap back the policy “to starve the Venezuelan Maduro regime infrastructure existing in Cuba.”

As the Miami Herald article points out, that would later include the cruise ship expansion into Cuba.

What happened with the Cuban “Wet Feet Dry Feet Policy”?

President Obama ended the “Wet Feet Dry Feet Policy” in 2014. At that time the government of Cuba agreed to accept the return of Cuban nationals without repercussions.

The policy, which was a 1995 revision of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, stated that anyone emigrating from Cuba to the U.S. would be allowed to pursue residency after one year.

Current Cuba policies

One of a few things that continued with the current administration was the full-fledged U.S. Embassy presence in Havana.

However, although the U.S. and Cuban embassies are open, Congress hasn’t officially lifted the embargo against Cuba. To avoid alienating the Cuban-American vote in the United States I don’t believe that a lifting of the embargo will happen unless there is a generational change in Congress

Author’s Footnote

My sincerest apologies to my worldwide audience! I had a stressful couple of weeks which we can all relate at some point in our lives. My struggle is completing a double Bachelors at two universities while writing to all of you. I’ll make my best effort to keep you up to date in the aviation world in the future.

Alex Martinez Rivera

Featured Image: Swift Air.

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