A Cruise Ship Rescues Eight Cubans in a Raft Made with Barrels and Air Chambers

Cuban rafters are rescued in their attempt to leave the Island, which is experiencing one of its worst economic crises. (Instagram/USCG)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 September 2022 — A group of eight Cubans were rescued last Wednesday night by the cruise ship Scarlet Lady, when they were trying to cross the Florida Straits in a small, makeshift raft.

A couple on board the cruise ship, coming from Cozumel and bound for the Bahamas, spotted a raft built with water barrels and air chambers, moved by a blue plastic canvas sail.

My partner and I were among the first to see them say hello. If you look closely, the youngest woman, possibly about 20 years old, is lying on the deck, and a man next to her holds a homemade intravenous bottle. She was injured and was wearing a cast,” one person wrote in a post accompanied by the video where Cubans are seen adrift.

Three hours after the rescue, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) was in charge of the transfer of the migrants. The couple said they didn’t know what happened to them, but “fortunately they received food and treatments.”

The Border Patrol in the South Florida sector also rescued 26 Cuban migrants stranded last Friday in Marquesas Keys, an uninhabited U.S. island west of Key West, Officer Walter Slosar reported. In another operation carried out that day, several people jumped into the water in an attempt not to be arrested, but were finally rescued.

The U.S. Coast Guard records that between October 2021 and September 2022, 5,689 rafters were intercepted, but this week alone more than 230 were repatriated in different operations.

For the Cuban virologist based in Brazil, Amílcar Pérez-Riverol, the huge upsurge of rafters trying to leave the Island is a “migration catastrophe.” At this rate, 2022 will be the year with the most migrants detained by the authorities since 2016, when 5,396 were intercepted.

The statistics indicate that the migratory exodus already surpasses the 1980 Mariel Boatlift (125,000) and that of the 1994 Rafter Crisis (35,000) together. Pérez-Riverol believes that those who consider that this situation is not serious are “wrong” when they see it as “thousands of more remittances” for the Island.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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