According to a photo published by the U.S. Coast Guard on its official website, three Cubans were rescued in South Florida waters while trying to illegally reach the U.S. on a very curious boat, a recreational water bicycle.
The Coast Guard also reported another round of repatriations executed on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.
The photo, which has gone viral, was taken July 9 just over 100 kilometers south of Key West during one of seven rescue operations Coast Guard units conducted between Saturday and Monday.
The boat’s crew members were presumably returned to the island, although the official Coast Guard statement does not go into detail about their fate.
In the past, there have been stories of escapes by sea from Cuba using surfboards and other types of vessels not recommended for offshore and sometimes recreational sailing.
Despite repeated warnings from U.S. authorities about the dangers of sailing in small boats, Cubans continue to build homemade and unreliable rafts in an attempt to reach the Florida coast.
Four groups of rafters, all in precarious boats, were detained on Saturday, July 9, two on Sunday and two on Monday. All were included in the latest repatriation operation.
According to Lt. Travis Poulos, Coast Guard District Seven, “Coast Guard crews maintain an active presence with air and sea assets every day in the Florida Straits to help save lives.”
“Our crews help prevent lives from being lost in these risky activities,” Poulos said.
U.S. statistics show that since Oct. 1, 2021, the Coast Guard has interdicted 3,369 Cubans, which exceeds the total number of rescues that occurred between 2017 and 2021, and is second only to the 5,396 migrants identified in fiscal year 2016.
The largest wave of migration from Cuba in fifty years is underway. More than 140,000 Cubans arrived in the United States across land borders between the end of 2021 and last June, according to official statistics.
This provides insight into the current migratory dilemma, which forces Cubans to escape the economic crisis by various routes, including destinations in Europe and South America, despite the fact that their preferred destination is the United States, where the largest Cuban community outside the island is located.