Lt. Kevin Connell, commanding officer of the [Coast Guard cutter] Charles Sexton, said his crew saw a "significant spike" in rafters fleeing Cuba after the thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations in December. Connell said information, "or misinformation," in Cuba led many to believe that their guaranteed entry once on U.S. soil might soon end, prompting a rush to sea.What, won't the opening of embassies make it easier to leave?
Some [of the captured Cubans] said they couldn't afford to pay for a visa to the USA, let alone an airline ticket. They wondered whether Cuban authorities would ever grant them permission to travel to the USA now that they'd been caught trying to flee Cuba illegally.
In a country where the average salary is about $20 a month, just an interview for a visa to the U.S. costs $160 and round trip flights to Miami cost several hundred dollars.The Castros don't want anyone messing with their export business.