Coast Guard returns 29 migrants to Cuba after intercepting 4 vessels

Two Cubans in a 10-foot styrofoam hull rustic vessel are intercepted near Key West, Aug. 3, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

MIAMI – Two Cubans with a complicated tale of woes attempted a voyage to South Florida in what the U.S. Coast Guard described on Tuesday as “a 10-foot styrofoam hull rustic vessel.”

They were among the 29 Cubans the U.S. Coast Guard returned to the Communist-run island after failed attempts to get away from economic ruin during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year alone, the Coast Guard reported intercepting 49 Cuban migrants at sea. Last week, the Coast Guard intercepted 32 people in four vessels coming from Cuba off the Florida Keys.

The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a vessel with five people on Aug. 3, about 11 miles off Key Largo. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
  • On Aug. 2, there was a creaking vessel with 20 Cubans. Agents didn’t return one of the Cuban migrants after determining there was a “valid manifestation of fear.”
  • On Aug. 3, crews found five Cubans at sea in an inflatable raft with a motor. They were wearing life vests with the U.S. flag. A day later, they found the vessel with the hull made out of styrofoam.
  • On Aug. 6, they found a vessel with five people, two of whom were human smuggling suspects.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported crews have interdicted 648 Cubans since Oct. 1st. In 10 months, they more than doubled the 259 Cuban migrants found in 2018 and the 313 Cuban migrants found in 2019.

Lt. Cmdr. Mario Gil, Coast Guard Liaison officer released a statement Tuesday with a warning the survivors of the Cuban exodus are all too familiar with: “Taking to the seas in a less than sea-worthy vessel is dangerous and can result in loss of life.”

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For more about the situation in Cuba, visit the Local 10 News’ “en español” page.

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.