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The Assembly of Cuban Resistance (ARC), formed by organizations from inside and outside Cuba, demanded on Monday an independent investigation into the death of at least five people who “were fleeing the country” in a boat and collided with a Cuban Coast Guard vessel in Bahía Honda (Cuba).
In a press release, the assembly describes as a “massacre” what happened on October 29 and condemns “the systematic violence exercised by the Castro dictatorship against the Cuban people”.
Diana Meizoso, one of the occupants of the sunken boat, who saw her two-year-old daughter die in the collision, told Radio Television Marti on Monday: “They rammed the boat and broke it in half”.
ARC emphasized “the massacre of Cubans at sea, as they did with the Tugboat 13 de Marzo”, a reference to a vessel so named that carried people who were leaving Cuba and on July 13, 1994 sank off the coast of Havana resulting in 37 deaths, after being rammed by another tugboat in a maneuver in which a third vessel participated.
The exile community blames the Cuban authorities for that tragedy, who in turn say it was an accident.
“We urge the international community, the U.S. government and human rights organizations to demand an independent investigation of the facts and to condemn the excessive violence and impunity of the dictatorship’s coast guard,” the opposition organization said in a statement.
The Cuban Resistance Assembly “accompanies in its grief the people of Bahía Honda”, who massively attended the funeral procession of the deceased, three men, a woman and a girl.
According to the version of the Cuban authorities, “a speedboat coming from the United States, which violated Cuba’s territorial sea in a human trafficking operation, sank north of Bahía Honda, Artemisa, when it collided with a surface unit of Border Guard Troops during its identification”.
In her statements to Radio Television Martí, the mother of the deceased girl said: “we got on the boat and when we left, he (the driver) slowed down because it was closed on all sides because another boat was coming”.
“When we passed them, he (the border guard officer) said, ‘Now I’m going to split you in the middle,’ and then he rammed us and split you in the middle,” he said.
During the fiscal year 2022, a total of 6,182 Cuban migrants were intercepted in Florida Straits waters, well above the 838 apprehended in the previous fiscal period, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics.
So far this month, 1,132 Cubans have been intercepted at sea in the vicinity of this state, according to the Coast Guard.