May 15, 1980 – A day so busy with news it was hard to know where to begin. The tide of refugees fleeing Cuba via boats had risen to some 41,000 arriving in Key West alone, with no sign of ending anytime soon. A humanitarian crisis, an immigration crisis and a political bag of nails. The refugees were winding up in Miami and points throughout southern Florida; where ever the boats landed without first being picked up by Coast Guard ships. But a bit less than a month after it started, President Carter blew the whistle on the makeshift sea-lift from Cuba to Florida and was turning to a process of registration to receive the names of close Cuban relatives of permanent U.S. residents; those family members who would be eligible for immigration. That was part of the legal and orderly process the Carter Administration decided to put into effect the day before. But much of the plan depended on the cooperation of the Castro government; an airlift or sealift, as well as acceptance of the prisoners who were shipped out of Cuba; the criminals the administration said represented a danger to U.S. society. The U.S. was willing to accept the refugees, just as long as they did it within accordance of U.S. laws. The announcement had an immediate impact in Miami, with thousands rushing to immigration centers to register relatives.
In other news – Secretary of State Muskie arrived in Vienna from Brussels and immediately shot down a proposal from the Soviet-backed government in Kabul to initiate talks with Iran and Pakistan on withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The word on the Muskie plane, between Brussels and Vienna was that the proposal on Afghanistan was “propaganda”, with U.S. officials saying the Russians were simply “trotting the same horse around the track with new colors”. Muskie himself joined in the cold shoulder once he got on the ground in Vienna. He said he regarded the proposal as “cosmetic and not a meaningful proposal at this time”, though he did find it interesting that the proposal did include the subject of a proposal of a Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, though only in the most ambiguous terms. At the moment, there was no expectation that these talks would go anywhere and that nothing would be changing with regards to the East-West chill happening anytime soon.
Along somewhat similar lines – the West German Olympic Committee met in Düsseldorf earlier this day to vote 59-40 in favor of a German boycott of the Summer Olympics, thus joining the U.S. in being no-shows.
And South Korea was having it’s day of bricks and teargas as rioting continued on the streets of Seoul in protest to the government of Chun Doo-hwan ahead of a declaration of martial law, expected soon.
All that, and a whole lot more, for this May 15, 1980 – as reported by CBS Radio News throughout the day.