Seven Cuban Rafters and a Dog Are Rescued Off the Coast of Mexico

Sailors from Mexico rescued the rafters and a dog near Isla Mujeres. (Semar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mexico, December 5, 2023 —  The Mexican Navy rescued seven Cuban rafters and a dog this Monday who were adrift on a boat 76 nautical miles from Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo. According to the authorities, a foreign ship detected the migrants because of the barking of a dog and provided details of several people on “a small wooden raft that was propelled by a sail” who were asking for help.

Upon arriving at the scene, the sailors found two women, five men and the pet, who were put on an official boat and taken to land. One of the rafters said that “he had not drunk water or eaten for two days” and that there had come a time when he thought they would die at sea.

The authorities told them that, after being examined by a doctor and receiving food at the Puerto Juárez naval station, they would be handed over to Immigration. One of the women asked the sailors not to deport them. “We don’t want them to put us in jail.” she said. “If they return us they will treat us like criminals.”

Immigration personnel arrived at the naval station and after talking with the rafters, they were allowed to take the animal. The Cubans asked for refuge, so the agents told them that this procedure had to be carried out at the offices of the Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees (Comar).

The closest Comar office is located in Tenosique, Tabasco, 840 kilometers away. “It is a mockery of the agents to tell them to process documents, when they took them to an immigration station and they are going to keep them locked up,” lawyer José Luis Pérez told 14ymedio. “The National Migration Institute [INM] has the obligation to inform Comar of the request of these rafters, but we know that it will be very difficult for them to do so.”

The Cuban rafters and their dog were handed over to Immigration. (Semar)

The arrival of these rafters comes a week after Cancun authorities detained 12 rafters, four women and eight men, on Chac Mool beach. Officer Jacinto Pech May indicated that these Cubans were transferred by Immigration to the state of Tabasco.

Pech May said that given the refusal of the Cubans to cooperate to identify the coyotes who transported them from Cuba to Mexico, the authorities closed the investigation: “The precedent remains of a very similar way of operating to that used by the Cuban Mafia, which “established itself in Cancún, Isla Mujeres and the state of Yucatán.”

The last week of November, Immigration suspended the so-called “assisted returns,” through which Mexico deported 789 migrants this year. An official confirmed to this newspaper that Mexico paid 4,000 pesos ($237) for the transfer of each migrant.

During the month of November, the head of Immigration Francisco Garduño stated in a document, the agreements entered into were suspended due to “lack of liquidity,” which also includes the payment of travel expenses and agent commissions.

In 2013, the INM confirmed that it annually spent more than one billion pesos ($58 million) to repatriate foreign migrants, most of them Central Americans.


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