Los Angeles Times: Cubans Find Backdoor Route to U.S. Soil
To leave Cuba legally, Cubans must generally get a visa from the country they’re going to visit, plus a letter of invitation from a citizen of that country. They then must seek an exit visa from the Cuban government, which is sometimes denied. The process can take months.
The Cubans — who couldn’t simply fly from the Dominican Republic to the United States without a U.S. visa — then paid between $1,500 and $2,000 to be taken by boat to tiny Mona Island. That’s at least $12,000 total for one boatload.
The trip aboard low-slung boats called yolas is hazardous and many have died in the 80-mile-wide Mona Passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where the Atlantic collides with the Caribbean and is often stormy.