Free at Last

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GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, CUBA: 127 men and women, the last of the 29,000 Cuban refugees who had lived in tents at the American base in Guantanamo Bay, boarded a plane for Florida today. The refugees were picked up at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard as they floated on rafts, small boats and inner tubes toward the American coast in the summer of 1994. "The importantant thing about the exodus that summer is that Castro allowed it to happen," reports Caribbean bureau chief Cathy Booth. "If he did not, then no one would have been able to come. President Clinton's policy of turning back any more refugees makes it unlikely Castro will let anyone else leave. As for the conditions in Cuba, they are both better and worse. Economically, the situation is better, but politically there has been no change. Castro is still in charge, and life is still repressive."