14ymedio, Havana, 26 September 2022 — Last Friday, a family of Cubans stole a boat belonging to the Cuban government from the port of Mariel, with the aim of leaving the country and heading to the United States. According to Daniel Calvo, a resident of Miami, he has no details of how they stole the boat; the only thing he knows is that his brother Evelio left with family members and that “there are many minors.”
Calvo told journalist Mario J. Pentón his worry about the lack of information about his brother, who stole the boat. “I don’t know what happened. Nothing is known so far. The Government of Cuba says nothing, and neither does the United States Coast Guard.”
State Security agents, Calvo said, are creating rumors about the event. Among the accusations that the Cuban political police are spreading are that the Island’s coast guard chased the boat, then returned it to the place where they usually maintain it, and that the crew members were taken to the Villa Marista prison.
However, relatives haven’t been able to confirm any rumors. “What I believe is that they were rescued by the American Coast Guard, who themselves returned the boat,” Calvo confided. “In any case, we fear for my brother’s life. This is not the first time this has happened in Cuba.”
Calvo expressed his fear that his brother and the people who went with him will be punished by the Cuban government, and as has happened on previous occasions, “they use violence to punish those who try to leave the country in this way.”
People remember that fateful April 11, 2003, when Lorenzo Copello, Bárbaro Sevilla and Jorge Martínez were found guilty and sentenced to death for the crime of terrorism, while seven other detainees were sentenced for participating in the attempted hijacking of the Baraguá ferryboat, which was making the journey between Regla and Old Havana, in order to reach the United States.
Cuban lawyer Laritza Diversent detailed that in the legal process that was followed against Copello, Sevilla and Martínez “there was a complete violation” of their rights. “The judges who signed the sentence, and the intellectuals who expressed their approval in a document that was made public at the time, managed a tremendous injustice,” she told Radio and Television Martí.
Copello, Sevilla and Martínez were shot nine days after their arrest. Ramona Copello, mother of one of the defendants, revealed to the same media that the families of the young people were never notified of the sentence. “A colonel told me on Thursday that we had to wait for the papers to come down from the Council of State; however, the next day, Friday, they woke up dead,” she said.
The flight of Cubans by sea has not decreased despite the hurricane season. According to figures for the fiscal year that began in October 2021, the number of 6,052 rafters intercepted in their attempt to reach the United States already exceeds the total of the previous five years. In 2017, they arrested 1,468; in 2018 there were 259; in 2019, 313; in 2020, 49; and in 2021, 838, according to official figures.
On Monday, the Border Patrol reported that last weekend, 50 Cubans were placed in custody after making landfall in Key West. The three improvised boats in which they arrived in Florida endangered their lives, Officer Walter Slosar warned.
The data are even more alarming if one considers that in the year since last October, 180,000 Cubans have entered the United States by land, and that record does not into account those who have emigrated to Europe and Latin America.
Translated by Regina Anavy
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.