Coast Guard – Nine Cuban rafters perish at sea; 18 survivors saved by cruise ship
Coast Guard: Nine Cuban rafters perish at sea; 18 survivors saved by
MARCH 19, 2016 12:13 AM
A crude YouTube video went up Friday claiming to show a portion of the
The Coast Guard said 18 Cubans were saved, but nine others lost their
lives at sea
The survivors were headed to Cozumel in Mexico, the Royal Caribbean
cruise ship’s next port of call
BY CAROL ROSENBERG
A Royal Caribbean cruise ship saved 18 Cuban migrants from the sea
Friday, who then told the Coast Guard that nine other members of their
group died attempting the treacherous journey to Florida.
The U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement that the Brilliance of the Seas
picked up the 18 people west of Marco Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, off
Southwest Florida. The survivors in turn reported that they lost a third
of their group in the ill-fated crossing from Cuba.
They “were reportedly suffering from severe dehydration and claimed they
left Cuba 22 days ago where nine of the migrants perished at sea during
the journey,” the Coast Guard said. The 18 survivors were being taken to
Cozumel, Mexico, the next port of call for the 14-year-old,
A crude homemade video posted on YouTube Friday by a man identifying
himself as a ship passenger appeared to show crew members in a rescue
boat helping exhausted people onto the cruise ship — and two rafts in
the distance with sails.
“It’s crazy how desperate they were to get to the U.S. It makes me feel
so grateful for being an American,” wrote the videographer, identified
as Nick deMatteo. He said a ship passenger spotted the “refugees” at
about 5:30 Friday morning.
The Coast Guard’s Miami division chief of enforcement, Capt. Mark
Gordon, issued a statement of “our deepest condolences to the families
of the nine people who recently did lose their lives.” He cautioned that
“unfortunately, tragedy is all too common when taking to the sea in
homemade vessels with no safety or navigation equipment.”
The Coast Guard says it has detected a steady increase in “illegal
maritime migration attempts” from Cuba to the southeastern United States
since the two countries began normalizing relations 15 months ago. At
issue may be fears that, with normal relations, the U.S. would repeal
the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows Cubans who reach U.S. soil to
stay as refugees. Those who don’t reach the United States, however, and
are intercepted at sea are typically repatriated under the so-called
wet-foot, dry-foot policy.
“The dangerous waters of the Florida Straits can be unforgiving for the
unprepared on ill advised and illegal voyages,” Gordon said.
“Immigration policies have not changed, and we urge people not to take
to the ocean in un-seaworthy vessels. It is illegal and extremely
The Brilliance of the Seas is among the older and smaller ships in a
fleet that includes the largest cruise ships in the world.
Carol Rosenberg: 305-376-3179, @carolrosenberg
Source: Coast Guard: Nine Cuban rafters perish at sea; 18 survivors
saved by cruise ship | Miami Herald –