The US Border Patrol Takes 256 Cuban Rafters into Custody in Two Days

Arrival in Florida of a boat with 21 Cuban balseros [rafters]. (Yandy’s Lawn Maintenance/Facebook/Screen capture)
14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 15 November 2022 — On Tuesday, the US Border Patrol took into custody 150 Cuban balseros [rafters] who had managed to disembark in the United States. According to the chief officer of the Miami sector, Walter Slosar, these people are the ones who in the last two days managed to “touch land on remote islands outside the Florida Keys.”

Slosar shared on his social networks a video in which Island nationals are seen being taken to migration stations where they are given the opportunity to demonstrate “credible fear.” If they convince the judge, they can pay bail and apply for asylum. In the best case, they are released and given a document that legalizes their entry into the country.

On Tuesday morning, a raft with the inscriptions Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life] and Ok arrived at Smathers beach, located south of Key West. The agents found 21 migrants from Havana. “The investigation is underway,” Slosar said.

The Facebook user identified as Yandy Katie shared on his account the video of another arrival of a boat, also with 21 nationals from the Island, among whom were three women and 18 men, who, after touching the ground, ran away: “Don’t worry, you’re already here,” one of the witnesses is heard saying.

The exodus of balseros continues to increase this month. On Monday, Slosar documented that 85 other balseros, including 10 minors, were placed in custody after disembarking last weekend in various parts of Florida.

These arrivals of balseros were announced on the same day that the Governments of Cuba and the United States held a second meeting in Havana to address the migration issue. According to a statement from the US embassy on the Island, “problems that have been obstacles to meeting the objectives of the agreements” were identified.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard repatriated 91 Cubans on board the ship Richard Etheridge on Monday. The Lieutenant of District Seven, E’bria Karega, urged the balseros to “reconsider their decision before going to sea, since sometimes it is very dangerous.”

Since October 1, US Coast Guard crews have intercepted 1,920 Cubans. Through its social networks, the institution pointed out that last Monday they prevented three other rafts from continuing their journey to Florida.

According to official figures, so far in November, 318 Cubans in five groups have been repatriated. District Seven non-commissioned officer Nicole Groll detailed that eight migrants have died this month in their attempt to reach the United States illegally.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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