14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 1 November 2022 — Héctor Meizoso’s life has taken a tragic turn since last Friday. Ten of his relatives were traveling in the boat sunk by the Cuban Border Guards north of Bahía Honda, in Artemisa, and three of them died in the attempt to leave the island, in an incident that the man classifies as “murder.”
“They [the rescue brigades] are no longer searching. The relatives are the ones who are finding the deceased,” the young man, a graduate of the Maritime Fishing Institute, in Mariel , told 14ymedio . “That was not an accident, that was murder, because it was on purpose,” insists the Artemiseño, who lost his niece Elizabeth Meizoso and his cousins Yerandy García Meizoso and Aimara Meizoso in the sinking.
“They had to have let it [leave],” he now reflects on the boat in which at least 25 people were trying to leave the country and reach the shores of the United States, seven of them have been confirmed dead and at the moment one is missing . “In any case, it was not the first and it will not be the last,” adds the young man, who confirms that several of the survivors are still being questioned by the police.
The girl’s mother, Diana Meizoso, told Radio Martí that the boat they were traveling in received a premeditated impact from the Border Guards. “We got on the boat and, when we got out, he [driver] slowed down because he was closed on all sides, because another one was coming. When we passed them by, he [the Border Guard officer] said: ‘Now I’m going to split you in the middle, and then he rammed us’.”
The days that have passed since that October 28 have been for Diana’s brother and Elizabeth’s uncle “a nightmare and constant pain, since among those people who were on the boat ten are my family and three of them are among the deceased,” he tells this newspaper.
Meizoso fondly remembers his niece, whom he affectionately calls “fluff” in an emotional text he posted on his Facebook account a few hours after learning that the girl had died. “Thank you for learning to say uncle before you go, my life, beautiful,” he added along with a group of photos that review the little girl’s brief life.
In Bahía Honda, dozens of residents joined the funeral procession of several of those who died that day. The municipality “is in shock, nothing else is being talked about,” Maritza, a local resident who knows the Meizoso family and feels “devastated” by what happened, told 14ymedio by telephone.
“A lot of people are leaving along this coast, every day you find out about someone who left on a raft or that they came looking for them, but nobody thought that the Border Guards were going to do something like that. Nobody thought it,” reflects the woman. “Here people are going through a lot of trouble and young people have no future.”
Maritza considers that there is “a lot of popular unrest in Bahía Honda, because this thing about the dead girl has emotionally touched a lot of people, especially families who have small children and who know what it means to lose such a young life,” laments the neighbor, who adds that there is “a lot of solidarity with the relatives of the deceased and a lot of rejection of what the government did.”
However, the majority prefers to avoid voicing their opinion out loud because “this town has already been completely taken over by State Security since Saturday.” Along with the interrogations of the survivors, the neighbors detail “threats to people who were near the coast when all this happened, people who know what happened.”
“In Bahía Honda nothing happened. Here, the ordinary day was spent standing in lines, buying food, knowing that a neighbor’s son went along the route of the volcanoes or jumped into the sea, but this type of thing, it doesn’t happen. That they kill people like that, without them having weapons, without their shooting at the border guards. That can’t be.”
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.