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Posted July 26, 2005 by mattlawrence in Cuba Human Rights

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A group of Cuban migrants attempted to reach Key West near Smathers Beach Monday afternoon, but were apparently thwarted by the United States Coast Guard.

Citizen Staff

The small boat was on shore at Smathers Beach Monday afternoon. Key West police said the Cubans who had been aboard the boat were picked by the U.S. Coast Guard after they abandoned the boat while still offshore.

The Coast Guard would not release any information about the attempted landing Monday.

“It is government policy not to discuss any migrant interdiction that may have happened at sea until resolution of the situation,” said a Coast Guard representative.

Keith Hernandez, a local bartender, said he saw a small vessel come toward the shore.

“It was a very unique looking handmade vessel that looked like it ran off of diesel power,” he said. “The contents in the boat looked a bit foreign.”

On Sunday, 25 refugees were found on the north end of Card Sound Road in Miami-Dade County, according to a Border Patrol agent.

Then, a total of 50 were found Monday: 31 in the Dry Tortugas; 14 at Mile Marker 25; and five more in the Tortugas. The ones located at Mile Marker 25 arrived on a raft. The other landings are under investigation.

All were reported in good condition.

The five in the Tortugas had jumped from a boat and attempted to swim ashore along with five other refugees, but the Coast Guard intercepted the second set before they could reach shore, the agent said.

Under the federal wet-foot, dry-foot policy, any Cuban refugee who makes it to American soil may remain in the country; those intercepted in the water are repatriated.

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