With Signs of ‘Freedom’ and ‘Christ, My Guide’, 108 Cuban Rafters Arrive in Florida in Two Days

On Thursday morning, 31 Cuban rafters were reported by the U.S. Border Patrol. (Twitter/@USBPChiefMIP)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 5 August 2022 — The exodus of Cuban rafters to the United States seems to have no limits. In just two days, on August 3 and 4, 108 people from the island made landfall in the Florida keys. The Border Patrol recorded the 12 boats in which the Cubans arrived, most of them fishermen’s boats and rustic boats, with signs of “Freedom” and “Christ, my guide.”

Several agents arrested the migrants, who were taken into custody, according to Walter Slosar, head of the border police force, on Twitter. On Thursday morning, 31 rafters arrived aboard three fishing boats, with five individuals arriving at Playa Sombrero, in Marathon, 15 at Isla Valores, in Cayos Bajos, and another 11 at Cayo Largo.

The spokesman for the Monroe County Sheriff’s office, Adam Linhardt, indicated that this flow of rafters responds to the worsening of the humanitarian crisis on the island, with an intensification of repression and the economic crisis, which includes an increase in the cost of living, the devaluation of the Cuban peso and an increase in uncertainty about the future of the country.

On Wednesday, Officer Slosar reported the arrival of 25 rafters in a wooden boat lined with a tarpaulin, which they had adapted the engine of a vehicle that was refueled with two small drums, and in which oars were also found.

The group, coming from Artemis, was made up of three men and two women, who were placed in federal custody after a health examination. That same day, 20 more people arrived in two more rafts.

Faced with the number of landings, the Rescue Evangelical Church, based in Hialeah, used the study rooms it had available on its premises to provide shelter to the rafters. Thanks to the donations received by Pastor David Monduy, leader of the church, the dormitories have been provided with mobile showers, and other signs of support for Cubans are planned, according to Local 10 News.

Coast Guard data indicate that since October 1, 2021, crews have intercepted 3,739 Cubans.

The Cuban government insists on demanding that the Washington Administration comply with the migration agreements signed between the two countries. It attributes the increase in illegal migration to the United States to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which allows island nationals to apply for permanent residence in the United States after a year and one day of staying in that country.  In reality, not everyone who manages to cross U.S. borders can apply this regulation.

In an attempt to prevent the exodus of Cubans, Lieutenant Mario Gil of the U.S. Coast Guard invited “families and friends to encourage their loved ones to seek a safe and legal path to the United States.”

Three Cuban rafters, who were sighted five miles from Isla Pérez in the Gulf of Mexico, were rescued by the Navy.

The Cuban exodus is also carried out by other means and is subject to many penalties. On Thursday, a fishing vessel sighted a raft with several people five miles from Pérez Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, a fact that they immediately reported to the Mexican Navy. Three of the rafters had signs of dehydration and hadn’t eaten in two days. The group was handed over to Mexico’s National Institute of Migration.

On the other hand, the Central American “bridge” continues to be one of the most frequent ways to get to the United States. The official figures offered by Honduras record the passage of 44,000 people, most of them from the island, who were fined $200.

On Thursday, the official newspaper La Gaceta announced that the Honduran government published a legislative decree that exempts migrants from the payment of this fine, which applied to any migrant who entered through unauthorized border points and to whom article 104, paragraph 1, of the Migration and Aliens Law was applied.

With this suspension, the Migration Institute of Honduras also ordered that necessary humanitarian assistance be offered to migrants passing through, in addition to identifying international protection needs for those groups that are in a vulnerable situation, such as women, children, LGBTIQ+ communities and the elderly.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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