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The Press : Making Waves Over Dissidents

August 16, 1994

With trouble in the streets of Havana, visions of a repeat performance of the 1980 Mariel boat lift, one of Fidel Castro's more unpopular exports, were raised on editorial pages around the world.

In radio and television broadcasts from the Cuban capital, Castro, now in his 34th year as Cuba's president, warned that he might open the gates and let malcontents on his island set sail for Florida. The Clinton Administration responded by threatening to order a naval blockade of Cuba, keeping its people ashore and preventing Florida-based Cuban Americans from seeking to deliver them.

In the 1980 boat lift, about 125,000 Cubans fled to Florida in a motley flotilla. Some of them were prisoners or mental patients.

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