During a vacation in the Florida Keys this past June, I had an eye opening experience.  While on a fishing boat about 40 miles south of Marathon Island, we came upon a small, abandoned and clearly home-made boat which had no one in it. And it was an eerie feeling.

An abandoned, homemade escape boat from Cuba south of the Florida Keys.

As we circled the boat, we saw CGOK spray-painted on the boat.  There was an assumption we made that CG probably stood for Coast Guard, and there was no sign of people or abandoned cargo (possibly indicating someone went overboard)–so we moved on.  Later, as we got closer to shore (and back in Cellular range), we discovered that our assumption was correct: CGOK stands for “Coast Guard, O.K.” When a boat carrying refugees from Cuba is discovered by the United States Coast Guard, they evacuate the people on the boat to their ship, and make sure they are provided for medically, nutritionally, etc.  Prior to taking the refugees to shore, they spray paint these letters on their watercraft to inform other boaters that it is knowingly abandoned–and that all occupants have been extracted.

Encountering homemade escape boats like this is evidently, from what I can determine, not an unusual experience.

What surprised me later on as I continued investigating this, is what happens after the refugees from Cuba get to shore.  Prior to 2012 (during the Obama administration, and prior to normalizing relations with Cuba), the refugees would have had a chance to file a petition for political asylum to stay in the U.S. as political refugees. As a condition to normalization of relations with the United States, Cuba demanded that the U.S. return all refugees. The United States agreed.

Since then, relations have been normalized. Now, even those Cuban citizens who risk their lives at sea to get to freedom from Communist tyranny and oppression–are automatically returned to Cuba.

This was truly sad to discover.  I spent six years living in (West) Berlin Germany when I was in the Air Force.  West Berlin was inside communist East Germany (aka The German Democratic Republic), and there were constant attempts by East Germans to cross into West Berlin (or into West Germany itself) to escape communist rule–for the entire 28 years the Berlin Wall was standing.  There is still a museum in Berlin near the old Checkpoint Charlie border crossing to East Berlin, named The Checkpoint Charlie Museum.  It is one of the best places in the world to discover how ingenious the human spirit can be, in its drive to be free.

When a person made it out of communist East Germany, asylum in the West was nearly automatic. And the exodus was consistent, up to when the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989. This brought about the demise of all the Communist regimes in Easter Europe.

This boat should serve as a warning. The country which was the light of freedom to the world, which embraced those running from tyrannical, oppressive governments–has allowed itself to become an enforcer of tyranny. That’s a drastic change from just over 30 years ago. In fact, the lockdowns (including thought control) which were a staple of Communist rule, have now made their way deep into the West–including the United States.  If you can’t see through the façade of controlling and suppressing misinformation, you have a lot of catching up to do.

I used to joke about it, but I can’t anymore.  Ask yourself this, the next time you see the Status of Liberty (Lady Liberty) in New York harbor. Does she still embody the phrase, “Give me your tired, your poor, your weak in Spirit, who yearn to be free.” Or, is she now yelling…

“Taxi !!”