So one day I was glancing over Oscar Corral's blog (Miami's Cuban Connection) and he mentions that he's going to highlight a story he wrote back in 2005 in conjunction with the release of a new report from the Institute of Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami. Oscar writes: "Now that UM is trying to link Cuba with Al Qaeda through their Polisario connection, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the story of some of the victims."
I, just like Oscar Corral, had not heard about the Polisario Front in Morocco. So, after a little research I found not only a "Cuban connection" with Polisario, but also "Miami's Cuban connection" with the "constitutional monarchy" of Morocco. It seems that the story is much larger than what Oscar presents. Furthermore, the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front involves many international actors, and has left countless victims, not just a few that happened to visit Miami in 2005. Let's go over the story.
On September 19, 2005, Oscar Corral wrote a piece for the Miami Herald about refugees from the Polisario Front who had been sent to Cuba as children. The ever-resourceful CubaNet has the whole story here (second article). But, Corral's story was second to an earlier Miami Herald piece by David Ovalle, printed in May 21, 2005. Ovalle interviewed men who were former POWs in the camps of the Polisario Front. According to the article, the former POWs just happened to be in Miami and "sat in a circle with exile leaders and Cuban ex-prisoners at the Miami office of the Civil Society of Cuba." Ovalle quotes only one of those leaders, Ana Carbonell, the chief of staff of US Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart's office.
These visiting POWs were part of a larger media campaign that began around May of 2005. The two Herald articles were just a few among many headlines that year. The final headline was a celebration of success that came on August 18, 2005, when 404 POWs of the Polisario Front were finally released. The campaign had worked. But some would decide to continue their fight against the Polisario and their Cuban connection nonetheless.