Almost a year after he smuggled his way out of Cuba on a homemade boat, Jose Caballero was reunited late Thursday with his wife who survived a harrowing sea voyage of her own last month. The two embraced tightly at the Greyhound bus terminal in Austin, Texas, hours after Mailin Perez crossed the border from Mexico, taking advantage of a U.S. policy that allows entry to Cubans arriving by land.
Perez, 30, was one of a group of Cuban migrants rescued at sea by Mexican fishermen this month badly sunburned and dehydrated after three weeks adrift. Only 15 of the 32 passengers on her boat survived the journey, with 15 dying at sea, and two more dying after they were rescued. "It was such a battle to get here," she said. Caballero left Cuba by the same route in December and is now a maintenance worker at a trucking company in Austin. The couple left two children behind with relatives in Cuba, a boy aged 11 and a girl aged four. "That's our hope now, to bring them to the United States," said Caballero. "But not the way we came. Not by sea."