The Tragedy of a Cuban Rafter Who Saw Her Eleven-month-old Baby Die

Yudeimi Rodríguez recounted the nightmare she lived with her family and two other Cubans in an attempt to reach the United States on a boat. (Image Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 10 November 2022 — The younger son of Yudeimi Rodríguez died in her arms. The raft on which she traveled with her husband, Yoandri Espada, her two sons and two other Cubans, “burst” on the crossing. One passenger fell into the sea, and they couldn’t rescue him. The rest were adrift for four days. As she herself told América TeVé, broken from grief, her eleven-month-old baby “couldn’t take it and died.”

The group left the Island on October 30 through the port of Mariel, the young woman said, but the precarious boat shattered. “The waves were immense, the sea turned black, there was a strong current.”

The balseros [rafters] were rescued by a fisherman. In a video disseminated on social networks you can see how her husband asks for help from the approaching boat, with her dying and the remains of the raft surrounded by sharks.

The two deaths are in addition to the eight deaths of Cuban balseros announced last Monday by the sub-commissioned officer of District Seven, Nicole Groll. Of these ten, seven lost their lives at the end of September after the boat on which they were crossing was shipwrecked near the island of Stock, neighboring Key West.

Republican congress members María Elvira Salazar and Mario Díaz-Balart, recently re-elected, now manage the release of Yoandri Espada, while the other balsero was released to a family in Florida. Meanwhile, Yudeimi and her daughter have received medical aid  for their dehydration.

Yudeimi Rodríguez and her daughter Claire, 11, who have sun-induced injuries, are being helped by the religious organization Hermanos de la Calle and a Cuban, Manuel Milanés, who urged people to support this family.

Rodríguez would like to go back in time, but he accepts, in tears, that his little one is “no longer here” and “we have to move on.”

The case was made public on the day the American Coast Guard confirmed the rescue by a good Samaritan of a group of 13 balseros in front of Elbow Cay, Bahamas, in the middle of Hurricane Nicole, which degraded to a tropical storm after making landfall in Jacksonville, Florida. The migrants were transferred to the William Flores ship and were not “reported injured,” the Coast Guard posted on Twitter.

United States authorities have warned that balseros who are detained on the high seas will be returned to their country of origin. So far in November, the Coast Guard has repatriated 227 Cubans in four groups.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.