20 years later: Cuban raft exodus

20 Photos

Rolando Pujol Rodriguez photographed the Cuban raft exodus in 1994, and 20 years later Enrique de la Osa took portraits of some of the people who made it to the United States. Cuba lifted restrictions on rafters in 1994, opening the flood gates for anyone who wanted to leave the communist-led island. Some 31,000 Cubans were detained at sea by U.S. ships that summer in the largest exodus since the 1980 Mariel boatlift, which brought 120,000 Cubans to Miami. The 1994 crisis led to a major shift in U.S.-Cuba policy and an accord under which Washington agreed to grant visas to 20,000 Cuban migrants a year. Rafters have kept coming in smaller numbers, though these days they make few political or media waves. Photos and text by Reuters.