Publication History:

Place of Publication: Refugee Detention Camp, Base Naval de la Bahía de Guantánamo (Spanish), officially known as U.S. Naval Station, Guantánamo Bay (commonly called GTMO, or “Gitmo,” in military jargon), Cuba

Frequency:  Irregular

Volume and Issue Data:  1994-1995

Size and Format:  Variable

Editor/Publisher: Juan Avilés Castaigne (PoLO) (?) and others

Title Changes and Continuation: None; see other (related?) Cuban Refugee papers from this same place and period: Exodo and El Bravo

General Description and Notes:

The cover and additional pages from one of the Cuban rafter refugee newspapers entitled El Balsero (The Rafter) are part of a collection of handwritten papers published by Cuban refugees detained at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, during the so-called “Cuban Refugee Boat Crisis” in the mid-1990s. Intercepted by U.S. Coast Guard ships, as many as 30,000 Cuban refugees floating on makeshift vessels were taken to U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, under the orders of U.S. President Bill Clinton’s administration. While detained and unsure of their futures, some of the Cuban detainees produced handwritten newspapers and other political and cultural materials on the base. Beginning in May 1995, the Clinton administration decided to allow the majority of the detainees to immigrate to the USA.

The caption on the newspaper’s front page (shown above) reads “Goodbye Guantánamo, the most beautiful land that eyes have seen.”

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  “The Cuban Rafter Phenomenon,” website, (accessed, December 1, 2022), University of Miami, Miami, Florida; see also the Caribbean Sea Migration collection, 1959-2014, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University, Durham, NC: (contains original black-and-white pen and ink drawing by Juan Avilés Castaigne (PoLO) showing Bill Clinton as a spider with rafters caught in net, 1995 March 14,

Locations:  From the collection of Siro del Castillo, Cuban Heritage Collection, University of Miami