MARQUESAS KEY (CBSMiami) — Dozens of Cubans have found freedom recently on the shores of South Florida but one recent group of refugees is unique because of who was on board the small boat used to cross the Florida straits.
Two members of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police Force, still wearing their uniforms, made it to the U.S. this week.
“I didn’t have time to change my clothes. Everything was so fast,” a man named Michel said.
Michel says he was a police officer on the island.
Law enforcement in Cuba is known for corruption and aggression, often against peaceful protesters on the streets of Havana.
Michel says he and many of his colleagues hated the violence.
“There’s corruption in a sense because of salary. If you pay well, I won’t be corrupt,” he said.
Michel and his fellow refugees join another group of Cubans who came ashore Saturday on Marquesas Key, recording the moment they arrived on dry land on a cell phone camera.
The blue boat, named Emmanuel, had the words “Dios con nosotros” or “God is with us” written on the side.
The refugees can be seen on video falling to their knees, grateful to have made the treacherous voyage safely.
It’s a journey many of their loved ones have yet to make.
Michel says his family back in Cuba has been threatened because of his choice to flee.
“It’s a decision I made. They have nothing to do with that. They’re my family, my wife, kids, parents,” he said.
Customs and Border Patrol officials checked out both groups and U.S. law allows them to stay here.
A local charity put them up in a hotel as they can figure out their next steps.