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Boy Survives, Family Drowns After Boat Capsizes While Fleeing Cuba With PM-Cuba-Boat

August 16, 1994

MIAMI (AP) _ Eight-year-old Daniel Buzo of Cuba likely would have died along with his parents in the choppy waters if his mother hadn’t given him their only life vest moments before their boat overturned.

Fellow Cuban rafters found the boy floating alone, clinging to a piece of wood in the Florida Straits. The U.S. Coast Guard picked up the boy and the rafters Monday afternoon about 60 miles southwest of Key West.

Daniel’s is but one of hundreds of stories of Cubans who try to make it the United States to escape the communist regime of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

On Monday, 270 rafters were found in the Florida Straits, bringing the total for the year to 6,056, the Coast Guard said.

Daniel was in a boat with his parents and three friends, said Arturo Cobo, director of the Cuban Transit Center in Key West, who spoke to the boy.

The boy’s mother gave him her life vest just before the boat overturned after running into rough weather and choppy seas, Cobo said.

Both Juan Carlos and Julia Ester drowned; their son made it to freedom and was listed in serious condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami early today with gasoline and acid burns.

Cuban rescue and activist groups say most refugees who take to the seas do not make it - some say as few as one in four makes it. And many other would-be refugees are caught before they leave.

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