A group of six Cuban exiles landed in Lauderdale-by-the Sea, Florida, Monday on a raft named “The Tremendous Barack Obama.” The group, including one pregnant woman, was greeted by a crowd who offered them hamburgers, clothing, and a Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” hat.
The Cuban news site Cubanet reported that the group reached Florida on the small vessel and touched land before authorities arrived, guaranteeing that they can stay in the United States. In addition to reading “Barack Obama el 3men2” on its side – “3men2” meant to be pronounced “tremendo,” or “tremendous” – the back of the vessel had “Miami 305” written on it. (They missed – Lauderdale-by-the Sea uses the area codes 754 and 954.)
The Miami-based network America TeVe caught up with the exiles the day after their landing. While they provided little comment, one of the women said they were very happy to have made the dangerous trek successfully. “We are better now; we are in the country of our dreams,” she told the network.
The network also played footage of their arrival on the shores of Florida, where locals were quick to feed and cloth them. One of the exiles was gifted a white cap with the words “Make America Great Again” on them – the iconic hat popularized by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Locals told America TeVe they were happy to see more Cubans escape the yoke of communism. “The oppression in Cuba is every day worse,” one of the men interviewed, who also recently arrived from Cuba, said.
While President Obama has seen his popularity among average Cubans rise since his visit to the island in March, the Cuban government has taken an aggressive stance against the President. President Obama did not mention political prisoners in his speech to the nation in March, though he did denounce so-called American imperialism, but his meeting with dissident leaders like Ladies in White head Berta Soler and the government’s approval of his visit to the Plaza of the Revolution appear to have inspired a dangerous amount of affection for the United States. President Obama was the first U.S. head of state to visit the island since Calvin Coolidge.
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez described President Obama’s visit to Cuba as “an attack on … our culture,” while an open letter to the President allegedly written by geriatric former dictator Fidel Castro accused President Obama of racism against Native Americans and refused “gifts” from “the Empire.” A government-controlled publication ran an opinion piece accusing President Obama of being a “negro” seeking to “incite rebellion and disorder.”
Cubans caught up in pro-America fervor and saying so publicly have faced arrest and disappearance. In May, Daniel Llorente, a Cuban national, was arrested after greeting a Carnival Cruise ship arriving from Florida by waving an American flag and shouting, “Yes, we can,” President Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan. “Obama said it; if the people want freedom, they have to take it,” he told a crowd who had gathered to jeer him and drown out his pro-America chants with “viva Fidel.”