More Cuban Rafters Arrive in Mexico Because of Difficulties Entering the United States

A group of 34 Cuban rafters detained on the high seas awaits a response to their request for asylum. (Semar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ángel Salinas, Mexico, 13 April 2023 — The crew of the Mexican Navy ship Comet notified the captain of Puerto Juárez last Tuesday about a “raft” drifting 90 miles north of Isla Mujeres, one of the illegal landing points for Cubans in recent years, a fisherman told 14ymedio.

According to a statement from the police, 34 Cubans were traveling on the home-made boat, including a woman and 33 men, who were trying to reach Mexico when they were intercepted by two coast guard boats.

The Cubans were treated by naval health personnel, who indicated that they were all in good health. They were transferred to the naval station of Puerto Juárez, where they were handed over to agents of the National Institute of Migration.

A municipal security officer identified as Horacio Márquez, confirmed that the Island’s nationals requested asylum. Migration picked up their identity cards and seven passports. “When applying for asylum, the law allows them to remain in Mexico until the case is resolved.” Article 7 of the Law on Refugees, Complementary Protection and Political Asylum emphasizes that “no sanction will be imposed” for illegal entry.

Márquez specified that this group of Cubans is the first known to arrive in Isla Mujeres this year. “The last week of October 2022, a similar group arrived. On that occasion, 30 rafters, who were linked to coyotes, were detained, but nothing was verified. Most continued on their way to the United States.”

The Migration Law establishes in article 69, paragraph V, the possibility of “regularizing their situation,” but several Cubans have denounced extortion, arbitrary detentions and imprisonment in Mexican immigration stations.

This arrest of 34 Cubans comes a week after journalist Fátima Vázquez said that at least 15 nationals of the Island had disembarked on San Miguelito beach, located near kilometer 13.5 of Kukulcán Boulevard, the main avenue that connects with the hotel zone of Cancun.

Municipal security officer Horacio Márquez said he did not know of any investigation by the Attorney General’s Office on the routes taken by migrants. “There is nothing out of the ordinary. We see it with this group, which was sighted by sailors on the ship Comet, but not through surveillance.”

Another rescue of rafters was recorded this Thursday. The Norwegian ship Bow Summer provided assistance to seven Cubans whose boat was adrift 100 miles from the Yucatan. “They were without food or drink, about to be swept even further offshore. We took them on board and provided them with dry clothes, food and drink,” said Captain Tor-Gisle Bjerknes.

The arrival of these 49 Cuban rafters in Mexico occurs just when the United States Coast Guard has reiterated that the borders are not open. The agency specified on its social networks that “a strong maritime presence is retained to detect and intercept anyone who tries to migrate illegally by sea.”

This Thursday another group of 28 people were returned to the Island aboard the ship Isaac Mayo. According to official figures, in the last six months the United States has returned more than 2,200 Cubans.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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