Police Raid Rafters’ Homes Looking for a Boat Stolen From the Army

Solainy Salazar with her husband José Yans Pérez Jomarrón and their two children. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 26 April 2017 — Cuban police are searching for a boat stolen from the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) and to find it they are raiding houses of former rafters, according to Solainy Salazar, whose husband tried to leave the island several times. That was the justification given by the authorities, including several State Security agents, who searched her home on Monday.

«I was resting next to my four-year-old boy when the neighbors called me and I discovered the officers who were searching my yard,» says Salazar by phone from San Miguel del Padrón in Havana.

«They came into the house and told me they were going to search everything because they were looking for an inflatable boat and that I and my husband were accomplices to the theft,» she adds.

José Yans Pérez Jomarrón, Salazar’s husband, has tried unsuccessfully to escape from Cuba six times, but has been intercepted by the Cuban Coast Guard or returned to the authorities of the island by its American counterparts. On his last voyage he took refuge, with some twenty Cubans, in a lighthouse 30 kilometers northeast of Key West.

José Yans Pérez Jomarrón, Salazar’s husband, has tried unsuccessfully to escape from Cuba six times, but has been intercepted by the Cuban or American Coast Guard and returned to the island

Although most of the rafters managed to be admitted a special program that gives them the opportunity to be relocated in a third country, because they were able to demonstrate «credible fear» of being persecuted in Cuba, for Pérez Jomarrón the outcome was different.

«When I finished my military service they offered me a job with the Ministry of the Interior (MININT). As an inexperienced boy I agreed and when the immigration agents in the United States learned that I had once belonged to that repressive organ, they returned me to Cuba,» explains the rafter-turned-entrepreneur who at the moment is in Guyana looking at the possibility of some business linked to his commercial activity.

Police and State Security agents accused Solayni Salazar of being an accomplice in the theft of the boat and described all the members of her family as antisocial and counterrevolutionary. «They offended me with their words as much as they wanted and when I threatened them with filing a complaint they were indifferent, because they know nothing is going to happen to them,” says the wife, age 31.

«They threatened to arrest me. But they never brought the witnesses (required by law) when they did the search and they never showed me a court order to enter my home. And they did all this in front of my little boy,” she says.

In addition, she says, she was told that her husband was in Guyana escaping from the law, an argument that Salazar considers «completely false.»

Salazar believes that the authorities are persecuting her family due to her husband’s multiple attempts to illegally exit the country and because of his opposition to the government

«I fear for what will happen to my husband when he returns from the trip. Surely they will try to arrest him or persecute him for a crime he has not committed,» she says.

Salazar believes that the authorities are persecuting her family due to her husband’s multiple attempts to illegally exit the country and because of his opposition to the government.

«They do not want to give me jobs in state institutions. It’s a way to persecute those who disagree with official politics,» says José Yans from Georgetown via telephone.

The situation is increasingly complex for the Cuban authorities. «Now not only do we have to pay for a ‘crime’ we didn’t commit but we are suspected of everything else that happens in the country.”

Alfredo Mena, a rafter who tried four times to leave the island, was also searched last Wednesday.

Alfredo Mena, a rafter who tried four times to leave the island, was also searched last Wednesday

«They came to my house and broke down the door without a search warrant. They took me to the police unit and accused me of having stolen a boat belonging to the FAR (National Revolutionary Police),» says Mena, nicknamed El Pelú, by the locals.

«The officers who were dealing with me asked me why we wanted to go to the United States, because there they killed people like us and another series of lies,» he adds.

Mena, 50, a native of Granma province, says he was threatened with being «deported» to the East, because he resides in Havana without having an address officially registered in the capital.

Mena was fined 2,000 pesos for the crime of “receiving” for buying supplies for his work as a welder. Although he swears he is innocent, those metal parts are an indispensable component in the manufacture of the makeshift boats used to emigrate.

«Nothing they took had anything to do with the supposed theft of the boat. The only thing they do with these things is to reaffirm one’s desire to escape from such garbage,» he adds.