Twelve Cuban migrants and their dog washed up on Miami Beach between two luxury hotels on Tuesday after sailing in a makeshift boat for six days across the Florida Straits.
The group included 11 men, a woman and a dog named Chiquitica, according to the Miami Herald. As the boat approached the shore, the group leapt out of the small, rust-colored boat and into the surf. They were greeted by several bystanders. “Welcome!!!” shouted one in Spanish.
One of the Cuban migrants told the Herald the group set sail from Cuba on Thursday.
“The trip was very bad,” said 22-year-old Carlos Alberto Brana Garcia. “There was a lot of wind, a lot of squalls, a lot of swells.”
He said the group ran out of food and water on Monday. “God helped us and brought us here,” he said. “I can’t believe we made it. My head is spinning.”
The group will likely remain in the U.S. under the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy which allows Cuban migrants who reach U.S. soil to remain in the country. The policy has not changed as part of the opening of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
The number of Cuban migrants trying to reach U.S. soil by sea has surpassed last year’s tally, according the U.S. Coast Guard. Over 4,000 Cubans have been caught or intercepted since the fiscal year began Oct. 1. That compared to 3,731 in the 2014 fiscal year.
“Now I want to drink a cold beer, watch good television … and trust in God to give me a better future,” said Brana Garcia.