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One dead in an attempt to leave Cuba illegally, mired in a serious migration crisis | International

Cuban migrants aboard a sinking boat 40 miles from Key Largo, Florida, on February 3, 2022.
Cuban migrants aboard a sinking boat 40 miles from Key Largo, Florida, on February 3, 2022.US Coast Guard (AP)

The number of Cubans who emigrate from their country by any means amid the serious deterioration of living conditions on the island continues to grow alarmingly. Last month there were 25,000 who entered the Mexican border after crossing various Central American countries, bringing the total to 140,000 who have illegally entered North American territory since October last year, more than during the entire Mariel exodus of 1980 ( when 125,000 people did).

More than 2,000 Cubans who tried to reach the United States by sea have been deported to the island by the US authorities so far this year (a figure that almost triples that of last year), while the Cuban Ministry of the Interior reported this Tuesday that two recent shootouts between Cuban border guards and speedboats from Florida seeking to pick up Cuban migrants, during which one of the suspected smugglers was killed.

According to the Cuban authorities, so far this year there has been “an increase in incursions of speedboats from the United States with the aim of carrying out human trafficking operations from Cuba to that country,” and 13 speedboats have been intercepted. with 23 crew. The incident in which one person was killed occurred on June 18 in Bahía Honda, in the province of Artemisa, near Havana, when the Coast Guard spotted a speedboat with Florida license plates. According to an official statement, “at the moment they were going to be identified, the offenders fired shots” and “the crew responded to the attack. One of the assailants was seriously injured and later died.

The Ministry of the Interior assures that it shared with the US Coast Guard the identification details of the boat, of the person who died and of “other people detained”, without reporting how many they were. “During the inspection of the detained boat, evidence was found of the use of firearms by its crew and the presence of drugs. As a result of the shots fired, the unit of the Border Guard Troops suffered several impacts from projectiles,” assured the authorities, who reported another shooting that occurred on the same day on the north coast of the province of Villa Clara.

On this occasion, always according to the official note, another boat was sighted and chased by a Cuban coast guard ship. “During the pursuit, unexpectedly and at close range, one of the crew members of the intruding boat opened fire on the combatants from the Ministry of the Interior, using a 5.56-millimeter caliber automatic rifle. One of the officers was injured and the surface unit of the Border Guard Troops, damaged with multiple impacts”. According to the authorities, the boat escaped and “the Cuban vessel ceased the pursuit and immediately proceeded to evacuate the injured crew member, who received medical assistance and is out of danger.” The US Coast Guard later returned a person involved “in the aggression” along with a group of Cuban migrants intercepted days earlier, the Interior Ministry said. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez accused Washington of promoting irregular migration. “The political management of migratory relations with Cuba by the United States Government and the maximum economic pressure constitute stimuli for irregular migration,” the foreign minister wrote on Twitter.

Illegal departures from Cuba have increased notably in recent months, coinciding with the serious crisis that the country is going through. Since Nicaragua eliminated the entry visa for Cuban citizens, tens of thousands of people have left the island in this way and then continue on their way to the United States, crossing various Central American borders, a very risky adventure that entails falling into the hands of mafias and coyotes. and that it can cost migrants between $8,000 and $10,000 to reach their destination. This is the most common route, but escapes by sea have also multiplied exponentially, crossings that on many occasions end in shipwrecks.

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The Cuban authorities reported that at the moment “they are carrying out search and rescue actions after learning of the sinking of a boat with 15 people who were trying to leave the country illegally.” The departure took place on June 21 along the coast of Jibacoa, about 50 kilometers from Havana, and the “vessel sank a considerable distance from the coast,” according to the Ministry of the Interior, which reported that six people have been rescued. The Cuban authorities blame the United States for these types of events for maintaining laws in force that benefit Cuban emigrants when they manage to enter US territory, even illegally. The current migratory crisis that Cuba is experiencing is one of the greatest in recent decades and occurs at times of serious economic hardship, which has made daily survival an ordeal for a large part of the population.

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