Up to 1994, Cuban emigrants reaching the United States could claim the privilege of unconditional sanctuary. Unless, that is, they numbered among the 125,000 Mariel Boat Lift refugees who made their escape in 1980. The Immigration and Naturalization Service clearly had a beef with them, because any time one was detained for any kind of felony, he'd find himself locked up indefinitely, awaiting deportation. Some 5,000 'Marielitos' were still languishing in prison when Bravo began her film. One deportee has served 11 and a half years; another ten for stealing $43; and while inside they received treatment, including injections with the anti-psychotic Thorazine, that a Congressional Committee characterised as 'brutal and dehumanising'. Admitting its breach of international law, the US nevertheless claimed exemption from upholding such law at home. This steady, damning exposé won the 1997 One World Award.
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