Cuban man who stowed away on plane that landed at MIA reunited with family

MIAMI (WSVN) - A Cuban man who was granted temporary political asylum after being found in the cargo hold of an airplane at Miami International Airport has been reunited with his family.

Yunier Garcia Duarte, 26, and his family were reunited at MIA, Wednesday.

He said he could not speak much about the incident, but he hopes that one day he will be reunited with his daughter.

“I was afraid I wouldn’t survive the journey, but here I am,” Duarte said through a translator.

Wilfredo Allen, his attorney, said a judge granted Duarte asylum to stay in the U.S. on Tuesday.

7News cameras captured Durarte and his family smiling and embracing each other.

“For me, returning to Cuba hasn’t been an option, honestly, because thinking about it hurts me psychologically,” Duarte said.

The 26-year-old said he worked at the airport in Havana for several years.

Allen said Duarte knew he had a chance to escape while he stood between two planes. He then climbed into the cargo hold of a Swift Air flight.

“The other folks could not see him, so he had one chance, one opportunity, unplanned. He took it,” Allen said.

Speaking in Spanish, Duarte said the journey was difficult and thinks he would do it again — but is not sure.

He said it was dark inside the cargo hold, and at times, he could barely breathe during the flight from Cuba to Miami.

“No, after what I lived through, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone,” Duarte said.

Allen added that his hearing on Sept. 11 lasted four hours, and the judge decided his fate this week.

“I’m very grateful to the government, and I’m very grateful to the way the judge ruled, but at the same time, I believe in our system,” Allen said.

Security and law enforcement then surrounded the 26-year-old at the airport.

“Miami Tower 704, apparently somebody came over in the belly on our aircraft,” the pilot told air traffic control.

Allen said government officials have 30 days to appeal the judge’s decision.

Duarte said he may move to Georgia to stay with family.

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