Exodus From Cuba Continues With Six Migrants Arriving in the Keys Thursday morning


MIAMI — A group of six people arrived on a small fishing boat in the Florida Keys Thursday morning in an attempt to migrate from Cuba.

The five men and one woman made it to shore near Sombrero Beach around 5 a.m. in the Middle Keys city of Marathon, said U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Adam Hoffner.

They told Border Patrol agents they are from northern seaside city of Matanzas, Hoffner said. They will likely be processed for removal by the Border Patrol and taken back to Cuba aboard a Coast Guard cutter.

Their arrival comes two days after 13 Cubans — 12 men and one woman — landed on Higgs Beach in Key West on a homemade boat.

Four days earlier, 14 migrants arrived in the Upper Keys in a small wooden boat after being at sea for six days, according to the Border Patrol.

And, last Saturday, a boater spotted a man floating on a small makeshift boat near Fowey Rocks, off Key Biscayne. That man, who needed immediate medical care, said he left Cuba with three other people onboard the unseaworthy vessel 10 days earlier. The people with him died, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

In the beginning of the month, Aug. 3, the Border Patrol detained six men from Cuba after they landed in the small incorporated Middle Keys city of Key Colony Beach.

The Coast Guard and Border Patrol have seen a significant increase in maritime migration attempts from Cuba since the beginning of the fiscal year that runs from October to September after years of declining tries in the years following the end of the “wet-foot, dry-foot” U.S. immigration policy for Cubans.

Experts say the exodus is due to deteriorating economic and political conditions within the island nation, including a worsening COVID-19 situation.

Last fiscal year, the Coast Guard reported it caught only 49 people en route to South Florida from Cuba. This fiscal year, that number is above 700.

Wet-foot, dry-foot allowed those who arrive from Cuba and set foot on land above the high-water mark to stay in the country and apply for permanent residency after a year. Those caught at sea were sent back. The Obama administration ended the policy in early 2017 in one of its last foreign policy decisions.

©2021 Miami Herald. Visit at miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.