Cubans released to relatives in Miami day after rescue

MIAMI - Fourteen sunburned and blistered Cubans were reunited with their relatives, a day after they were found at sea suffering from severe dehydration.

The group was rescued Friday by the U.S. Coast Guard about seven miles off Miami after their aluminum boat was spotted by a freighter.

The immigrants were immediately taken to three Miami Beach-area hospitals for treatment. The 12 men and two women were reunited with family members and friends Saturday.

''I'm here to work, and to live in a real country - a free country,'' said Alfredo Lorenzo Rodriguez, 37, after he embraced his uncle and his aunt.

The group told the Coast Guard they left the Matanzas province in a small boat they built from discarded aluminum pipes.

Shortly afterward, they stopped on a small island to hide from Cuban border patrol boats and, in the confusion, lost their rations.

For the remainder of the trip, they shared a small bag of crackers. They said they drank salt water and their own urine.

Under U.S. immigration policy, Cuban refugees who reach land usually are allowed to remain in the country. Those intercepted before setting foot on U.S. soil usually are returned to Cuba.


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