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Coast Guard Repatriates 23 Cubans Intercepted in Florida Keys

Growing Number of Cuban Refugees Fleeing Island by Sea

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The U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday repatriated 23 Cubans who tried to reach the country illegally after intercepting the vessels in which they were traveling in three operations in the waters off the Florida Keys, it has emerged.

The first operation was carried out by the Coast Guard at the Islamorada base in waters near Key Largo (the southernmost tip of Florida), where they intercepted a small boat with Cuban immigrants on board.

The second interception occurred last Friday, when the Coast Guard at the Marathon station located an immigrant vessel after an aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Miami reported the presence of a boat about 15 feet (4 meters) 36 miles (57 kilometers) southeast of Marathon.

In the third, a “good Samaritan” located a group of immigrants in a boat south of Key West.

Since last October 1, the Coast Guard has stopped 183 Cubans at sea attempting to reach the U.S. coast, compared to 40 in fiscal year 2020.

“We have seen an 80 percent increase in immigration activity since last January, relative to the last few years,” Captain Adam Chamie, commandant of Coast Guard Sector Key West, said in a statement.

In most cases, he added, immigrants attempting to illegally enter the United States do so aboard “makeshift vessels that are not seaworthy.”

These are boats that most of the time, Chamie warned, “are dangerously overloaded, waterlogged and not equipped to safely transport people.”

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