On April 13th, 2021, 7:00pm BARC had a presentation on Zoom by Elixander Valladares W7HU AKA Alex. Alex talked about growing up in Cuba and involving himself in the hobby from his teens. He decided that he wanted to explore the opportunities that were available in the USA, but for this, he had to sneak out of Cuba on a homemade raft. Eventually, on his second attempt he did make his way successfully to the US, although not without quite a few stops along the way. Being a member of the ham radio world provided a certain amount of protection on his journey and helped him to get settled in the US.
It shows what ingenuity, determination and taking chances will get you. What he learned from Amateur Radio gave him the skills to survive. His ability to make contacts and use the radio technology saved the members on his raft. The 2 meter and HF rigs did get help when they were stranded for 18 days in the ocean and had run out of food and water 4 days previously. He survived storms in the Gulf of Mexico on a home made raft. Once he reached Mexico and was in holding cells for months, his amateur radio contacts were invaluable to get him out of that situation. His experience in a communist country like Cuba and his new found taste of freedom in the USA have a profound message to all of us that take our freedoms for granted. Have a listen: