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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

UF professor moderates talk with ‘Mariel Boatlift’ authors

<p>Kathleen Hawk, center, speaks with Adolfo Leyva de Varona and Lillian Guerra in Pugh Hall on Tuesday night at a discussion panel about the Mariel Boatlift of 1980.</p>

Kathleen Hawk, center, speaks with Adolfo Leyva de Varona and Lillian Guerra in Pugh Hall on Tuesday night at a discussion panel about the Mariel Boatlift of 1980.

Hundreds of Cuban spies infiltrated the U.S. when up to 125,000 Cubans immigrated to Florida in 1980.

The disaster’s impact on the U.S. was discussed Tuesday at the Graham Center by Kathleen Dupes Hawk and Adolfo Leyva de Varona, authors of “Florida and the Mariel Boatlift of 1980: The First Twenty Days,” and Professor Lillian Guerra.

“To the best of our knowledge, they are still in different parts of our government,” Hawk said. “Unfortunately, they infiltrated the highest levels of government.”

De Varona said some spies were sent to the U.S. with various tasks, including observing and collecting information from the U.S. government and military and Cuban-American groups.

Katalya Liu, a 20-year-old UF political science sophomore, said she found it disturbing that there could be Cuban spies high up in U.S. government positions.

“It could probably make a big difference in the few years that are coming now between Obama and Castro,” Liu said, adding that even after Obama leaves office, there could be issues with spies remaining within the government.

With relation policies changing between the U.S. and Cuba, Guerra said she believes Americans visiting Cuba could lead to a democratizing effect in the country.

“(Americans) create debate, they bring knowledge of what life is like in the United States” and it leaves Cubans wishing for the same political freedom Americans have, she said.

[A version of this story ran on page 3 on 1/28/2015 under the headline “UF professor moderates talk with ‘Mariel Boatlift’ authors"]

 

Kathleen Hawk, center, speaks with Adolfo Leyva de Varona and Lillian Guerra in Pugh Hall on Tuesday night at a discussion panel about the Mariel Boatlift of 1980.

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