Women hope to display Cuban migrants' boat in museum

12 migrants, dog came ashore Miami Beach Tuesday

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter, Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The homemade boat that brought a dozen Cuban migrants to freedom is now finding safe harbor.

Some of the people who watched those migrants swim safely to shore Tuesday made sure the boat didn't get destroyed.

The boat is now dismantled and has a temporary home at Miami Beach Ocean Rescue.

Two women who saved the boat from being destroyed said they hope to put it in a museum.

The vessel came ashore Miami Beach Tuesday, carrying 11 men, a woman and a dog.

"Having met the people, I just couldn't believe that they were going to destroy this," Ofelia Colunga said. "I came through Peter Pan. I came on an airplane. All of that emotion came forth."

Given just four hours, the women rallied favors from friends, pleaded with police and found a way around permitting.

"All of a sudden, somebody from the city of Miami Beach came in and said, 'Don't worry, we'll get this done,'" Betty Ortega said.

The boat is now parked at a city facility.

"We're very young to be doing this at a time when all I hear is that things in Cuba are going to be better, so I'm trying to make sense out of that," Colunga said.

The women told Local 10 News that they hope the Cuban Museum will call them back and take the boat in as an exhibit.

If not, they said they are prepared to put it out on their front lawn for people to see it.

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