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NPR Podcast on the Mariel Cuban Boatlift, and More: White Lies

February 21, 2023 (2 min read)

White Lies: Season 2 Trailer - "In 1991, a group of men took over a federal prison in rural Alabama. But these men weren't prisoners, they were immigration detainees, all of them from Cuba. And none of them were serving time for a sentence; they were being indefinitely detained. Who were these men? What in the world had brought them from Cuba to a prison in rural Alabama, and what became of them afterward? On the new season of White Lies, hosts Chip Brantley and Andrew Beck Grace set out to find the men who took over the prison and, in the process, unspool a sprawling story of a mass exodus across the sea, back-channel cold war communiques, family separation, and a secret list."

White Lies: The Men on the Roof - "It all started with a photograph. A photograph from 1991 of a prison takeover in rural Alabama. A photograph of a group of men on the roof of that prison holding a bedsheet scrawled with a message: "Pray for us." In the first episode of the new season of White Lies, hosts Chip Brantley and Andrew Beck Grace go searching for answers to the questions raised by this photograph. Who were these men? What on earth had made them want to take over that prison? And what became of them after? As they search, they uncover a sprawling story: a mass exodus across the sea, a secret list, and the betrayal at the heart of this country's ideals."

White Lies: The Boatlift - "The story of the men on the roof didn't start with that prison takeover in 1991. It didn't start when they were detained in federal prisons. And it didn't start when the government made a secret list of their names in 1984. Instead, it started in the spring of 1980, with one of the largest refugee crises in American history: the Mariel Boatlift."

White Lies: The Rumors - "During our reporting, we heard one story over and over again: that Fidel Castro had emptied his prisons to fill the boatlift. It's a story that's been told so often and with such conviction that of course it must be true, right? But what if this was more theater than history? What was happening in 1980 in Miami and throughout the country that made this story so compelling? Why did it feel so true to so many people? In Episode 3, we go to Miami to find out."

White Lies: The Entry Fiction - "When President Carter promised to welcome the men and women arriving on the Mariel boatlift with "an open heart and open arms," he had referred to them as refugees. But technically speaking, they weren't refugees. They were classified as entrants, an immigration status with a peculiar legal standing in the United States. While entrants are physically allowed to enter the country, legally they're still at the border, asking to come in. Their presence in the country is known as a legal fiction — specifically, the "entry fiction." So even as Cubans were disembarking boats in droves through the summer of 1980, they were officially still floating off the coast of Key West. And this immigration status followed them to where they went next: an army base in rural Arkansas. In episode 4, the curious case of the militarized border in the middle of the Ozark Mountains."