These photos, provided by Fort McCoy and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's Murphy Library Special Collections/ARC, are from the summer and fall of 1980, when thousands of Cuban refugees stayed at the Fort McCoy military base in Sparta, Wisconsin, after coming to the United States via the Mariel Boatlift.
Refugees could not get out of Fort McCoy without a family member or sponsor vouching for them. They stayed at the base until getting sponsored, or until being transferred to Fort Chaffee in Arkansas or Wyalusing State Park near Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
"Fort McCoy is a perfect example of how living in the middle of a secluded, guarded military base with barbed wire fence around you and being looked over by military police for months would send that message to future migrants from the Caribbean and Central America to not engage in migrating into the United States," said Omar Granados, associate professor of Spanish and Latin American studies at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and co-host of "Uprooted."
While parts of Fort McCoy were dangerous, some refugees made lifelong friends and found ways to create community.
Lee episodio 5 en español aqui.