14ymedio, Havana, 10 October 2022 — The United States Border Patrol in coordination with Florida county officers arrested 10 balseros (rafters) who managed to reach Marathon this Monday. Cubans pointed out to the authorities that the boat in which they were traveling “sank near the coast, but they were able to swim to the shore,” according to the chief officer of the Miami sector, Walter Slosar.
In the first ten days of October, the Border Patrol has placed 117 rafters in custody. These Cubans have the option of applying for asylum, which implies demonstrating before an officer or judge that they are afraid of returning to their country. If they don’t manage to convince them with their arguments, they will be repatriated to the Island.
Last Friday, a group of 21 rafters reached land at the Fort Zachary state park in a rustic boat with an adapted vehicle engine. The migrants, four women and 17 men, were detained and taken to the Krome Detention Centre in Miami for processing.
Slosar said that the U.S. authorities have increased surveillance along the coast of Florida to prevent illegal immigration.
Flights of the Clearwater C-130 planes belonging to the Coast Guard air station, which located several rafts with Cubans on the high seas, have been added to the land routes. The information collected has allowed 232 rafters to be intercepted since October 1, the date on which the fiscal year began.
This Sunday 58 Cubans were returned to the Island aboard the ship Richard Snyder. These balseros were intercepted in Cayos Marquesas and in Tortugas Secas National Park. Lieutenant Caleigh Cobb warned migrants that they do surveillance in teams and urged them to “choose a safe and legal route.”
A day earlier, the Coast Guard had repatriated another group with 174 Cubans on the Raymond Evans ship. The authorities then warned of the danger of crossing on homemade boats.
At the end of September, seven Cuban balseros drowned in their attempt to reach Florida, 11 more disappeared on the high seas and nine managed to survive after the boat on which they left Matanzas was shipwrecked.
Carolina Bárbara Gutiérrez, 19, was traveling on that boat. The young woman’s body has not yet been identified by her grandmother, Noemí Alfonso; however, the image of a torso with a piercing and clothes have been the first indication that she is one of the deceased migrants.
Alfonso requested support to be able to return the remains of his granddaughter. His voice was heard by Dayana Sosa Reyes, owner of National Funeral Homes, who is waiting for confirmation that the remains are those of Gutiérrez.
“The family member has not yet presented himself to the Monroe County coroner, but it’s a process, and I suppose that on Monday they should already be contacting the grandmother to identify their loved one,” Sosa told Telemundo 51.
They took a sample from Carolina Bárbara Gutiérrez’s grandmother for a DNA test. As Sosa explained, the body will be cremated and returned to the Island. “For any other family that wants to do the same, we have the doors of the funeral home open to assist them.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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