Seventeen Cubans found at sea over the last week, some in in home-made rafts, were returned to Cuba Saturday morning. An eighteenth would-be migrant was taken to the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to determine if asylum in a third country is possible.
While most were intercepted by the U.S Coast Guard, six were saved from a sinking raft by Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas last Monday when a passenger on board spotted them in distress. “We gave them medical treatment. They were dehydrated,” said Royal Caribbean’s Cynthia Martinez adding “They were on the ship for less than 24 hours”
The Miami Herald reports that in the course of the week they were moved first on Monday to a 45-foot response boat, the 87-foot patrol boat Cutter Shrike, and then to the 110-foot Ocracoke out of St. Petersburg, Florida.
Shipping would-be migrants back to Cuba falls under the United States Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy. Dating back to the Clinton administration, the policy states that Cubans intercepted/rescued at sea are taken back to Cuba while those who make it to shore are allowed to stay.
Flickr photo by gnr