December 26, 2013
President Obama gave the Castro brothers a propaganda victory when shaking hands with counterpart Raul at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. But that victory and Obama’s bumbling good intentions meant nothing to six ordinary Cubans who, on Christmas Eve, were declared lost at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Cubans — three men and three women — were no doubt aware of the handshake brouhaha when they departed the Dominican Republic on December 17 on an illegal boat trip to Puerto Rico, after alerting relatives in the United States to their estimated arrival date. To them, Obama’s handshake wasn’t a gesture likely to improve their dead-end lives — not in a country designated by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism and regularly condemned by human rights groups.
Relatives of the Cubans alerted the Coast Guard when their boat failed to arrive, thus setting off a four-day air search as two aircraft flew a total of 22 hours over 22,000 square nautical miles, but on Tuesday evening the search was called off. “While the fate of (these) people may never be known…our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones during this difficult time,” said Coast Guard Capt. Drew Pearson in a statement on Christmas Day.