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Posted November 07, 2005 by mattlawrence in Castro's Cuba

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2 Cuban migrants drown

Two Cuban women drowned in an alleged smuggling attempt off Key West as a Coast Guard crew was attempting a rescue.

The Associated Press

Two Cuban women died when they were trapped underneath a boat that capsized during a suspected migrant smuggling operation in the Florida Straits, the U.S. Coast Guard said Sunday.

The 28-foot, center-console speedboat with 37 people aboard was taking on water in four- to six-foot seas Saturday when a Coast Guard cutter found it, Petty Officer Dana Warr said.

A rescue boat was launched and crew members gave life jackets to everyone aboard, Warr said. The crew removed 15 people from the boat and transferred them to the cutter on the scene, about 65 miles south of Key West.

As the rescue crew returned to the boat, it capsized under a wave and dumped 22 people into the water.

All but two people were rescued, and the bodies of two women wearing life jackets were found early Sunday under the boat, the Coast Guard said. The women were identified by relatives in the group, but their names were not released.

‘‘There were 37 people on a 28-foot boat, and it was grossly overloaded, probably beyond the specifications of that boat,’’ Warr said.

The 35 Cubans and the two bodies have been transferred to a Coast Guard cutter. The bodies were being taken to the Monroe County medical examiner in Key West, Warr said.

One suspected smuggler was among the group on the cutter, Warr said. The group will be interviewed by U.S. officials to determine their status.

Under U.S. policy, Cuban migrants intercepted at sea are usually returned to Cuba, though some are also taken to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay for possible resettlement in a third country. Those who reach U.S. soil are generally allowed to stay.

This weekend’s incident is the second in less than a month where a Cuban migrant died at sea.

On Wednesday, two men pleaded guilty to organizing a smuggling trip that resulted in the death of a 6-year-old boy. In that case, a speedboat loaded with 31 people capsized as it fled the Coast Guard, but only the boy died.

Alexander Gil Rodriguez, 25, and Luis Manuel Taboada Cabrera, 28, Cuban nationals who had immigrated to Miami, will face a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine at a Jan. 24 hearing.

And on Saturday, the bodies of three women washed ashore on Pompano Beach, possibly victims of a Haitian migrant-smuggling operation.

Shortly before the bodies were discovered, a Broward Sheriff’s deputy spotted about a dozen migrants running from the water. Five were later caught. Eight others were reported to have escaped.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on November 07, 2005 by GregoryHavana with 196 total posts

    Deaths as sea by Cubans might end when the United States government ends its ridiculous wet-foot/dry-foot policy. Of course as long as Cuba is poor, Cubans will try to make it to the United States, just as do Dominicans, Haitians, Mexicans, Salvadorans, Columbians, etc. Refusing to give special treatment to Cubans (ie. automatic residency if they are lucky enough to get a foot on the sand…)when they arrive will lower the numbers of immigrants and thus consequently lower the number of deaths at sea. Have you called your local congressman to press for the elimination of this obtuse policy?
    Gregory, Havana Cuba
    p.s.By the way, how many Mexicans have died trying to get to the United States over the past five years? I would think more than the number of Cubans….

  2. Follow up post #2 added on November 08, 2005 by mattlawrence with 69 total posts

    Hey Gregory,

    Thanks for the note!  Yes I’m well aware of migration issues to the USA and well aware of the numbers of those that die in the desert trying to cross our Southern border. (as well as the Haitian and Dominicans too)

    I agree with you on the wet foot /dry foot policy, however I witnessed hundreds of dead when I flew rescue searching for balseros in the early 90’, before Clinton changed the policy to WET FOOT/DRY FOOT, so I doubt it’ the policy that makes Cubans flee the island.

    My local congressmen and women know me well and how I feel on the subject but as you know they are unmoved in the way they wish to uphold the decade old policy of WF/DF…..

    Have a great day….pray for the safety and freedom of Cuba.

    Matt Lawrence, Author
    Dying to Get Here: A Story of Coming to America

  3. Follow up post #3 added on November 08, 2005 by yumaguy with 176 total posts

    Apparently, Cubans are willing to die for U.S. citizenship.

    Matt Lawrence asks “when will it end?”

    Here’ your answer Matt: it will end when a substantial number of Cubans are willing to die FOR FREEDOM IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY.

    Only the people of Cuba can redeem their country; not Uncle Sam and certainly not the frustrated exilios who have been failing for over 45 years. . .

    Sorry if that sounds a little mean but someone here has to spell out the not-so-pretty realities.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on November 08, 2005 by GregoryHavana with 196 total posts

    Matt…It is good to hear that you do not support the wet-foot/dry-foot policy. You mention that before Clinton did this policy, there were many Cubans that risked their lives and died at sea trying to reach the United States (you were apparently flying balsero missions). This is obvious because before the wet-food/dry-foot policy, the previous policy was to give asylum and residency to Cubans even while they were in the water! Can you imagine how many Haitians, Brazilians, Mexicans, etc would get onto rafts heading for the United States if that meant they would get residency? The obvious solution is to treat Cubans as the United States treats other countries in Latin America and the rest of the Third World. Economic immigrants are sent back (thus discouraging such immigrant flows) and only true polical refugees are accepted. The vast majority of Cubans are going to the U.S. for economic reasons, the same reasons that motivate other Latinos. I would assume you understand this.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on November 08, 2005 by mattlawrence with 69 total posts

    Hello to you Gregory and Mr. Robledo, thanks again for the discussion.  I agree with you both and firmly wish the CUBANS in CUBA would rise up and kick a little butt, however for whatever reason they’d prefer to die on the sea rather than fighting to be free.

    It is true I flew the balsero missions and also agree if all migrants had the same opportunity as Cubans do, the ocean would beawash with FREEDOM seekers…whether they seek to live free politically or to have the freedom to earn a real living, it’ apparent they want to live here. 

    Sadly, this week there were also Hatians found dead on the beach in Fort Lauderdale although five in that group made it to shore alive….they die in the desert and die on the sea…seeking to live a life in America like me.

    Matt Lawrence, Author
    Dying To get Here: A Story of Coming To America

  6. Follow up post #6 added on November 09, 2005 by GregoryHavana with 196 total posts

    Matt…It is good to see that we agree on certain things. I guess where I differ with you is in regards to your explanation that prosperity in the United States is due to “freedom” per se. There is unquestionably greater economic opportunity in the United States, but that is for historical reasons (the United States is a developed country that was not colonized and exploited the same way as Latin America) and for structural reasons (the global political economy favours the economies of the First World. It has nothing to do with greater freedom in the US, because there is just as much freedom in Mexico (which as a free-market economy), yet poor Mexicans still try to get to the US. The issue is that the United States has been lucky and developed its economy at a different historical period (along with extracting resources and wealth from many countries over the past 100 years) and thus has more wealth to spread around. But if we were talking about standards of living, Canada and Sweden are more prosperous than the US, but this has nothing to do with more “freedom”. The world is more complex than you think…

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