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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 11:20 GMT
Cuban stowaway granted US asylum
Miami International Airport
The woman was discovered at Miami International Airport
A Cuban migrant who reached Miami by hiding inside a wooden cargo crate has been celebrating after being granted asylum in the US.

Sandra de los Santos curled herself up inside the box at Nassau airport, in the Bahamas. The box was then flown to Florida by the DHL courier service.

Judge Rex Ford ruled that she could be persecuted if sent back to Cuba.

Cubans who reach US soil are usually allowed to stay, while most of those picked up at sea are sent home.

Since October last year, the US has stopped more than 2,000 Cubans reaching Florida.

Ms De los Santos, 25, said she felt touched by happiness.

"Now I really feel that I am firmly here, without fear," she said after her hearing in Miami immigration court.

Freezing temperatures

The woman, a former law student at the University of Havana, left the island for Nassau in May 2004.

Three months later, she tucked herself into the DHL crate and remained in a foetal position for six hours, at times braving freezing temperatures, until the box arrived in Florida.

She was discovered by a crew unloading the crate at Miami International Airport.

The US judge granted her political asylum on Monday after her attorney successfully argued that the media attention Ms De los Santos had received because of her unusual means of travel would make her a target for persecution in Cuba.

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