We Are the Abandoned Ones

Cuban prisoners and lawmen face off in a tense hostage drama

The images seemed phantasmagoric. Red-orange flames licking the nighttime sky. Helicopters slicing through clouds of black smoke. Tough-looking men in T shirts and blue jeans roving through smoldering ruins with makeshift clubs, knives and spears. Phalanxes of helmeted riot police gathering outside the gates as groups of frightened women and children look on, implore, pray. At federal institutions in Georgia and Louisiana last week, more than 2,000 rebellious Cuban inmates holding a total of 120 hostages were protesting an accord that could send them back to the impoverished, Communist-ruled island they fled seven years ago. Their precise demands shifted and wavered...

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