Off the Coast of Miami
HAVANA TIMES — Six immigrants were rescued this Wednesday floating on inner tubes near the coast of Miami, the US Coastguard Service reported.
The six men were found five miles from Key Biscayne after a good Samaritan informed the Miami Beach coast patrol station of his discovery. A 45-feet long vessel was immediately sent out to the rescue.
All of the castaways appeared to be in good health. They were sent to a small watercraft to determine their migratory status.
“The alleged immigrants were rescued at sea without difficulties and transferred to a watercraft belonging to the Coastguard Service. Their cases are being evaluated,” a communiqué reported.
Though authorities have yet to confirm where the group comes from, everything seems to indicate the men are Cuban migrants. Those rescued said they were traveling on a makeshift raft and that they abandoned the vessel and held on to the inner tubes.
Should their Cuban nationality be confirmed, the men would have to demonstrate a history of persecution or political harassment on the island to avoid repatriation.
Shortly after, the coastguard came upon a rustic vessel made of polyethylene foam and wrapped in a blue sailcloth. The men used this makeshift vessel to reach the Miami coast area.
The first images made public of those rescued do not appear to be individuals who have made a long sea voyage.
During the present US fiscal year (which began this past October), the US Coastguard Service has intercepted as many as 1,561 Cubans in the high seas, the highest figure reported since 2008. The summer months have been particularly active in terms of Cuban sea voyages towards Florida. As many as 218 rafters were captured in June and 337 in July.