Posted: Sunday, June 27, 2021. 4:01 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Increasing numbers of Cubans are trying to make it to the United States across the waters of the Atlantic but many fail in their attempt and those caught by the United States Coast Guard are returned to Cuba.
CNN reports that many Cubans risk their lives by trying to cross the 90 miles that separate Cuba from the United States, in overcrowded speedboats or flimsy, jerry-rigged boats known as ‘rústicos.’
According to the report, the US and Cuba authorities are confronting the highest number of Cuban migrants since 2017, when President Barack Obama put a stop to what was called the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy that allowed Cubans who made it to the United States to stay.
In the 2021 fiscal year, the US Coast Guard said it had detained nearly 500 Cubans at sea while the US Border Patrol Miami Sector said they had arrested 124 Cuban migrants.
The number has been increasing when compared to the last few years, though it’s not as bad as in the 1990s, but US authorities fear that it can happen again.
The economy in Cuba has been severely hit particularly because of the pandemic and increased US sanctions imposed by the Trump administration which Biden has not lifted.
Cuban Border Guard major Yoandry Castro Fernandez told CNN that the Cubans flee in the ‘rusticos’ endangering their lives.
“They really don’t meet the standards for navigation,” said Castro Fernandez who participates in the handover of the returned migrants from the US Coast Guard to Cuban officials.
“They put people’s lives at risk, they have too many people on board. Then you have people trafficking with speed boats and they also overload those boats to make more money.”
CNN reports that US and Cuban officials say human traffickers charge Cubans US$10,000 a person to smuggle them in speed boats which are overcrowded.
Cubans who don’t have relatives in Florida to help pay the smuggling fees sometimes have to sell everything they own.
The US Coast Guard had reported cases where people are found dead trying to make the crossing.
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