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Cubans frantic to leave the misery

Regional 28 Dec, 2021 Follow News

Cuban boat people risk their lives to get out

Protesters are being persecuted now

Cuba is experiencing a new wave of citizens so desperate to leave that they are endangering their lives to cross the Florida Straits in inadequate vessels to get to the United States and some are even flying to countries thousands of miles away to seek refuge with the intention of getting to America.

A boat full of desperate Cubans found aboard a dinghy after the makeshift vessel was intercepted by the United States Coast Guard near the Florida Keys were deported back to the Communist-run nation last week.

The 18 migrants were sent back Tuesday following their arrest four days earlier about 15 miles off Duck Key. The Coast Guard's Sector Key West was alerted after a container ship crew spotted the group crammed aboard the 15-foot rustic vessel.

The migrants were medically assessed, fed and processed for their expulsion to the economically-ravaged island.

The US deported 838 Cubans who were stopped at sea in the year up to September 30 - the highest total since nearly 1,500 were sent back in 2017. The US Department of Homeland Security data shows Coast Guard crews have already stopped 462 Cuban migrants in the current fiscal year.

The spike in Cubans fleeing the island over the last two years has been primarily driven by the scarcity of basic goods, restrictions on civil liberties and the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic as residents have taken to the streets in the first mass demonstration since before former leader Fidel Castro came into power.

US Border Patrol arrested 37 Cuban migrants who landed in the Florida Keys on Saturday after they made the cross Atlantic voyage on two wooden boats.

Cubans fleeing the socialist regime had been allowed to remain in the US under President Bill Clinton’s ‘wet foot, dry foot’ 1995 policy which revised the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act. The law granted them eligibility to become residents within a year. President Obama stopped that immigration policy in January 2017, signing an executive decision as he left office.

Cubans caught in the sea by US authorities are now returned to Cuba or the country from where they originally departed under United States policy.

Russia is one of a handful of countries that does not require Cubans to obtain a visa to travel there, so some Cubans use the route as a way to cross into other countries in Europe, with the ultimate goal of eventually reaching the US.

But in recent weeks, Russia has begun to crack down on Cubans using the visa exemption to travel to third countries.

A month ago, a group of 71 Cubans were denied entry to Russia and sent back home. Pictures posted on social media by members of the group showed them huddled and sleeping in the bathroom of the Moscow airport as they awaited the return flight.

Meanwhile, the US has condemned the “politically motivated trials” of hundreds of Cubans who were involved in unprecedented anti-government protests in July. Cuban authorities are seeking prison sentences of up to 25 years for some of the protesters.

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