TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Yusel Quesada has been working for years to get his son from Cuba into the United States. On Wednesday, his dream came true with the arrival of his 17-year-old son Brayan at Tampa International Airport.
Brayan will soon turn 18 and would have faced mandatory service in the Cuban military if he had stayed. For his father, the arrival of his son means everything.
“It’s the better thing that happened in the world,” Quesada said.
However, the journey was not easy. After leaving Cuba, Brayan traveled to Guyana and then to the United States. Rafael Pizano with Casa Cuba in Tampa said he is just one of many doing the same thing.
“He’s one of thousands and thousands — there are many that are trying to get out. They can’t,” Pizano said. “Some are unfortunately dying at sea.”
This year, many are risking their lives to travel by boat or through South America to make it to the U.S.
“This year if you add them all up, we are well beyond 150,000, maybe even 200,000 for the year alone. We calculate the same for 2023,” Pizano said.
The journey by boat is dangerous in many ways. With new U.S. policy, the U.S. Coast Guard reported they have picked up more than 6,000 Cuban refugees at sea and returned them to Cuba.
Pizano said the migration will continue because of conditions in Cuba.
“You have people who have no hope, they’re just no future, no way to raise your family with dignity,” Pizano said.