This Day in History

  • April 20, 1980: Castro announces Mariel Boatlift
    on April 20, 2018 at 4:00 am

    On April 20, 1980, the Castro regime announces that all Cubans wishing to emigrate to the U.S. are free to board boats at the port of Mariel west of Havana, launching the Mariel Boatlift. The first of 125,000 Cuban refugees from Mariel reached Florida the next day. The boatlift was precipitated by housing and job shortagescaused bythe ailing Cuban economy, leading to simmering internal tensions on the island. On April 1, Hector Sanyustiz and four others drove a bus through a fence at the Peruvian embassy and were granted political asylum. Cuban guards on the street opened fire. One guard was killed in the crossfire. The Cuban government demanded the five be returned for trial in the dead guard’s death. But when the Peruvian government refused, Castro withdrew his guards from the embassy on Good Friday, April 4. By Easter Sunday, April 6, some 10,000 Cubans crowded into the lushly landscaped gardens at the embassy requesting asylum. Other embassies, including those of Spain and Costa Rica, agreed to take a small number of people. But suddenly, two weeks later, Castro proclaimed that the port of Mariel would be opened to anyone wishing to leave, as long as they had someone to pick them up. Cuban exiles in the United Statesrushed to hire boats in Miami and Key West and rescue their relatives. In all, 125,000 Cubans fled to U.S. shores in about 1,700 boats, creating large waves of people that overwhelmed the U.S. Coast guard. Cuban guards had packed boat after boat, without considering safety, making some of the overcrowded boats barely seaworthy. Twenty-sevenmigrants died, including 14 on an overloaded boat that capsized on May 17. The boatlift also began to have negative political implications for U.S.President Jimmy Carter.When it was discovered that a number of the exiles had been released from Cuban jails and mental health facilities, many were placed in refugee camps while others were held in federal prisons to undergo deportation hearings. Of the 125,000 “Marielitos,” as the refugees came to be known, who landed in Florida, more than 1,700 were jailed and another 587 were detained until they could find sponsors. The exodus was finally ended by mutual agreement between theU.S. andCubangovernments in October 1980. […]

  • The Ludlow Massacre (1914)
    on April 20, 2018 at 5:00 am

    In the spring of 1914, the Colorado National Guard machine-gunned and torched a tent colony in Ludlow, where striking coal miners and their families had been living after being evicted from their company-owned homes some months earlier. Nineteen people, most of them women and children, were killed. For the next 10 days, the strikers attacked nearby mines and battled mine guards and militia. Federal troops were needed to put an end to the violence. Which side eventually prevailed in the strike? Discuss […]

  • Mae West Sentenced For Obscenity (1927)
    on April 19, 2018 at 5:00 am

    In 1926, American actress Mae West, mistress of the double entendre, began to write, produce, and star in her own Broadway plays, the first of which was the sensation-creating Sex. The notorious production did not go over well with city officials, who prosecuted West on morals charges. She served eight days of her 10-day sentence, getting off two days for good behavior. Still, the punishment did not deter her from tackling taboo subjects, as evidenced by her next play, named what? […]

  • Paul Revere's Midnight Ride (1775)
    on April 18, 2018 at 5:00 am

    American patriot Paul Revere was a member of the Sons of Liberty and a participant in the Boston Tea Party, but he is chiefly remembered for his late-night horseback ride to warn the Massachusetts colonists that British soldiers were setting forth on the mission that, as it turned out, began the American Revolution. Two others also rode out with the news, but it is Revere who is celebrated as the midnight rider, despite having been captured before reaching his final destination. Why is this? […]