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Home_____Chevy Si, Cuba No

Take 12 Cubans. Give them one 1951 Chevrolet pickup truck. Let them mount it on 55 gallon oil drums and attach a boat propeller to its drive shaft.

Call up the US Coast Guard, which intercepts them 40 miles (65 km) from Florida, over half the distance from Cuba.

Then repatriate them back into Fidel's arms, nine men, two women, and one child.

The pickup was spotted by a US plane and intercepted by the Coast Guard. It had been traveling at eight miles per hour (13 km/hr).

They were sent back under United States law, which requires that passengers must be returned home if on vessels stopped at sea. (This was a vessel? I suppose.)

They were quite resourceful, these Cubans, having driven the truck to the beach, and making it "sea-ready" in six hours. They chose a forecast of calm seas and clear skies.

Perez Gras told the Associated Press that if they had gotten to Key West, they could have driven it onto the sand. (Perhaps, even to Miami, after refueling, of course.)

The Coast Guard stopped it after they had been at sea 31 hours. One Official said that the sailors couldn't believe their eyes.

He explained that the drive shaft had been dropped from the rear axle so that it could reach into the water to turn the propellor.

Several of the men sat atop the green truck and others were apparently under the bright yellow canopy that covered the back of the vehicle.

One of the Cubans expressed disappointment, saying, "We thought that they would let us in because it was so outrageous."

It had suprised the Coast Guardsmen, but not enough. The migrants were sent back to Cuba and the Chevie was sent to the bottom.

The US Coast Guard deemed it "a hazard to navigation."

(Derived from BBC News, 24 July 2003)

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