Mexican Authorities Rescue 11 Cuban Rafters Who Were Adrift in the Caribbean

The rafters were transferred to Puerto Juárez, where they received medical assistance before being handed over to Migration. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ángel Salinas, Mexico, 8 September 2022 — On Wednesday, the Mexican Coast Guard intercepted a rustic boat with 11 Cubans on their way to Isla Mujeres, a Mexican beach in the Caribbean Sea that has been identified by the authorities as one of the escape routes in use by the rafters. According to the Navy, the migrants were intercepted 12 nautical miles from the tourist area.

“They made it known that they were adrift and had left Cuba due to the crisis there,” a Navy source who preferred anonymity told 14ymedio. “After being treated by naval health personnel and, later, transferred to the dock of the Advanced Naval Station in Puerto Juárez, it was explained to them that the National Institute of Migration would define their immigration situation.

Javier Robles, who has a catamaran that he rents tourists for snorkeling, told this newspaper that the arrival of Cubans in speedboats has increased since the end of last year.

“It’s a mafia that exploits the route through the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, where surveillance is minimal,” the fisherman explained. “I don’t know the numbers, but I do know it’s in dollars. Those who don’t bring them through the reserve bring them in through Cancun and Playa del Carmen.”

On August 25, members of the Navy toured Isla Mujeres in search of Cubans who left a raft on the beach. (Semar)

Robles said that for Isla Mujeres, most of the Cubans who enter arrive on rafts. “Less than a week ago the Navy deployed several troops in search of rafters who had arrived on a raft that they abandoned on the beach.”

Last Saturday, a foreign-flag cargo ship requested the support of the Navy to rescue 16 rafters, 13 men and three women, who were adrift 78 nautical miles from Isla Mujeres, according to Noticaribe.

According to the report “Offshore: Migrants and Shipwrecks at Sea,” prepared by the United Nations, there are also other routes for migrant-smuggling in Rosarito, the beaches of Tijuana to San Diego, Puerto Nuevo-Chula Vista and Ensenada-Popotla. There, coyote networks charge between $15,000 and $17,000 for illegal transfers to the United States. These groups recruit fishermen for trips in exchange for $1,000 per person.

The transit of Cubans through Mexico in their attempt to reach the U.S. has increased exponentially. So far in fiscal year 2022, which began in October 2021, the Border Patrol has detained 175,147 Cubans.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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