May 20, 1980
Twenty-one refugees who had escaped Cuba seeking political asylum and were among the more than 19,000 who had been sent to Fort Chaffee near Barling and Fort Smith (Sebastian County) had left the camp by this date. Although they were not prisoners, those housed there were not supposed to leave the fort. Persistent rumors that the Cuban government had forced thousands of criminals and insane people to join those fleeing the regime were disturbing to the citizens of Barling (Sebastian County). The impact of the handling of the situation is believed to have influenced Governor Bill Clinton’s defeat in his campaign for reelection against Frank White.