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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Two charged in Cuban smuggling attempt that killed boy

Posted October 21, 2005 by mattlawrence in Cuba Politics.
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Two charged in Cuban smuggling attempt that killed boy

By CURT ANDERSON
Associated Press
Posted October 21 2005, 4:00 PM EDT


MIAMI—A Cuban smuggling attempt that ended with a capsized speedboat and killed a young boy has resulted in federal charges against two men who allegedly organized the ill-fated trip, U.S. authorities said Friday.

A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court charged Alexander Gil-Rodriguez and Luis Manuel Taboada-Cabrera with conspiring to bring illegal migrants to the United States. Both were described in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement document as Cuban nationals who had been paroled into the United States.

The pair was allegedly responsible for loading 28 Cubans onto a 33-foot, Florida-registered speedboat on Oct. 12, including 6-year-old Julian Villasuso and his parents. The boat sank shortly after it was intercepted in the Florida Straits about 45 miles south of Key West by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Everyone aboard the boat was rescued except for Julian, who drowned after he was trapped underneath when the boat capsized. The boy was buried in Florida and his parents, Julian Villasuso and Maizy Hurtado, were allowed to enter the United States.

Under the government’s wet foot/dry foot policy, Cubans who set foot on U.S. soil are generally allowed to stay, while those intercepted at sea are usually returned to Cuba. Coast Guard officials said the 25 remaining Cubans from the capsize incident were still aboard a Coast Guard cutter Friday and would be repatriated.

ICE Agent Jeffrey Barber said in an affidavit filed federal court that the speedboat first tried to evade the Coast Guard and then stopped. The Cubans on board suddenly moved to one side of the vessel, shifting the weight on board and causing water to pour over its stern.

The two alleged smuggles were in ICE custody on Friday and could appear in federal court as early as next week. ICE officials said the investigation was continuing and that further charges or arrests were possible.

During the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, the Coast Guard intercepted 2,712 Cubans trying to reach the United States.

That compares with only 1,225 during the same period in 2004 and is by far the most since 1994, the year a massive Cuban exodus led to a new agreement for more orderly migration between Cuba and the United States

 

Member Comments

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On October 22, 2005, yumaguy wrote:

So this is what the CAA spawns. . .

a shady smuggling business where the price for a quick Green Card from Tío Sam is $10,000 per person.

I’ll probably get slammed for saying this, but I think they should prosecute the parents too! There must me some kind of international law about child endangerment that applies here.

If an adult wants to risk their life, that’ fine, but putting a child’ life in danger, who isn’t capable of making such an adult decision, is WRONG!

Fact of the matter is, for all the poverty and oppression in Cuba, CHILDREN ARE NOT DYING.

There’ no starvation in Cuba, no pogroms, no humanitarian crisis. This is NOT Haiti, or Niger, or Darfur.

Now if the parents were on that boat, that means SOMEBODY PAID AT LEAST $20,000 TO PUT THEM ON THAT BOAT plus something for the kid too.

Hmmmm, could it be the relatives that they’re staying with now??

If they had access to that kind of money, they certainly could have stayed in Cuba and get by with a monthly remittance of $150-200.

Like I said, I have no issue with adults who want to take that risk, but as far as I’m concerned, to put a child’ life in the hands of shady smugglers (and what else do they smuggle? drugs? are they armed?) is WRONG. To dump that child in a raft that’ barely seaworthy is WRONG.

You can’t blame everything on Fidel. People have to be responsible for their own actions. There’ a lot of serious problems in Cuba, but it’ not at the point where it’ impossible to live; unless the child’ life was already in danger in Cuba, it’ morally wrong to put children in a life-threatening situation.