Ten believed-to-be Cubans aboard a homemade vessel resembling a large wooden bathtub with an engine and an orange sail fought the U.S. Coast Guard as they tried to reach land throughout the morning and early afternoon Friday, about three miles west of Haulover Beach.
At about 12:15 p.m., a boat labeled ‘‘Homeland Security’’ rammed the men’s boat, knocking four of them into the water. Within five minutes of that, the boat was stopped and officials were putting plastic cuffs and lifejackets on the men.
The defiant group, all men, continually had kicked away several Coast Guard vessels, some that rammed them lightly several times. The Coast Guard also tossed a line to try and tie up the engine and sprayed water on the group which inched toward the shore as the morning wore on.
Several times the Coast Guard almost tipped the boat.
Then men—there was no word yet where they left from—waved to television cameras aboard helicopters, touching their eyes as if to say we see you, then pointed at the Coast Guard boats.
The Guard also tried to coax them aboard their vessel with lifejackets. As the boat inched closer to Haulover several of the Coast Guard assets maneuvered around trying to direct it back out toward the ocean.
The U.S. Coast Guard has the right to board a vessel and take control inside a 12-mile limit if it feels people’s lives are at danger. According to the federal Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy, if Cubans are captured before touching land in the U.S. they can be repatriated. If they reach land, they get a hearing and are permitted to stay more often than not.