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American Freighter Arrives in Florida With 922 Cuban Refugees

Dec. 27, 1962 - The American freighter African Pilot arrived in Florida today with 922 Cuban refugees, the largest single mass exodus from Premier Fidel Castro’s communist island. The refugees, mostly women and children, are relatives of the 1,113 Cuban invasion prisoners Castro freed under a $53 million ransom deal. The ship, on loan to the Red Cross from the American Steamship Lines, docked shortly after 9 a.m. at nearby Port Everglades after an uneventful 13-hour trip from Havana. Within three hours of their arrival, the Cubans were taken by bus to Dinner Key auditorium in Miami, where they were joyfully reunited with their relatives. Some of the refugees were outspoken in their happiness and gratitude. Others could not believe they no longer had to fear Castro’s communist terror. “It’s a miracle we are here,” said Mrs. José Delgado, whose son, Roman, 28, was captured in the invasion. Her husband said, “Anything outside of Cuba looks like heaven.”


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