Boat with 842 Haitians headed for US winds up in Cuba

May 24, 2022, 10:04 PM | Updated: May 25, 2022, 6:41 pm
Haitian migrants wait to be processed and receive medical attention at a tourist campground in Sier...

Haitian migrants wait to be processed and receive medical attention at a tourist campground in Sierra Morena, in the Villa Clara province of Cuba, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. A vessel carrying more than 800 Haitians trying to reach the United States wound up instead on the coast of central Cuba, government news media said Wednesday. (AP Photo Ramon Espinosa)

(AP Photo Ramon Espinosa)

VILLA CLARA, Cuba (AP) — A vessel carrying more than 800 Haitians trying to reach the United States wound up instead on the coast of central Cuba, in what appeared to be the largest group seen yet in a swelling exodus from crisis-stricken Haiti.

Red Cross officials in the province of Villa Clara said Wednesday that the 842 Haitians were being housed at a tourist campground. The group arrived Tuesday at Villa Blanca, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) east of Havana, and reportedly included 70 children and 97 women.

The Haitians said they called for help with light signals after being abandoned and cast adrift by their captain.

“We were on Tortuga Island for two months waiting for the trip until last Saturday, when at five in the morning they took us to the boat,” 19-year-old Joyce Paul, who arrived on the boat, told The Associated Press.

In the following days, “15 people threw themselves into the sea because they couldn’t stand hunger,” Paul said. “There was a herring for (each) 15 people and they gave us water.”

Paul was traveling with an uncle, his wife and a baby at a cost of $4,000 per person. The family said the captain abandoned them early Tuesday on a separate small boat after taking their cellphones. The ship was listing. With a flashlight, they managed to draw the attention of people on Cuba’s coast.

While the number of migrants on this single vessel seemed unprecedented, the U.S. Coast Guard and other nations have reported intercepting several boats carrying well over 100 Haitians in recent months.

It is not unusual for currents and winds to carry Haitians to Cuba, which borders most of the sea path between Haiti and the U.S. Cuba returns most of the arriving migrants to Haiti.

A crumbling economy and a spike in gang-related violence and kidnappings in Haiti has prompted thousands of Haitians to flee their country in the past year. Human rights activists in Haiti say those fleeing believe they are safer taking the risk on an overcrowded boat than staying in their country.

U.S. authorities say the number of Haitian migrants detained in and around U.S. jurisdictions in the Caribbean has doubled. On Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard said it stopped a sail freighter carrying 153 Haitian migrants near the Florida Keys.

Earlier this month, the Coast Guard rescued 36 Haitian migrants and found 11 others dead — all women — after a boat capsized northwest of Puerto Rico. The rescue came just days after 68 migrants were rescued in treacherous waters between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

In April, the U.S. Coast Guard spotted more than 130 Haitian migrants aboard a boat near the Bahamas. A month prior, 140 migrants landed in the Florida Keys.

U.S. Coast Guard crews have interdicted about 4,500 Haitians since October. Many were trying to come ashore in the Florida Keys in overloaded vessels. More than 3,000 of those migrants have been found since mid-March, signaling the pace has been picking up in the spring.

Meanwhile, Cuba’s government reported a group of 292 Haitians had reached the province of Ciego de Avila in February.

Máximo Luz, a journalist with Telecubanacan broadcaster, said that “adverse navigation conditions” brought the latest group of Haitians to Cuba, where “they sought the help of border guard troops.”

The national news site Cubadebate showed images of a gray vessel packed with people and of rescue workers carrying some of the Haitians for treatment.

Miguel Ángel Fernández, head of the Red Cross in Villa Clara province, said the 842 Haitians had received medical attention and first aid.

“They are in quarantine,” Fernández told AP, indicating that they would remain there for three to five days.

Arletys Ramos, a municipal epidemiology director, said Haitians are monitored in relation to diseases such as COVID-19, malaria and cholera, although no one among the group was seriously ill.

___

Associated Press writer Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Dutch arrest Polish suspect in killing of reporter De Vries

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch prosecutors on Monday arrested a 27-year-old Polish man suspected of organizing the killing of well-known crime reporter Peter R. de Vries, almost exactly a year after he was gunned down in an Amsterdam street in an attack that shocked the Netherlands. The man, whose identity was not released, is […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Film reveals Macron’s diplomatic bids amid war in Ukraine

PARIS (AP) — “Vladimir …. tell me what your intentions are.” Four days before President Putin ordered Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron was making a last-ditch attempt to prevent the war in a key phone call revealed in a French TV documentary. In the rare public recording of a discussion between two […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

NASA satellite breaks from orbit around Earth, heads to moon

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A satellite the size of a microwave oven successfully broke free from its orbit around Earth on Monday and is headed toward the moon, the latest step in NASA’s plan to land astronauts on the lunar surface again. It’s been an unusual journey already for the Capstone satellite. It was […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

NASA satellite breaks from orbit around Earth, heads to moon

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A satellite the size of a microwave oven successfully broke free from its orbit around Earth on Monday and is headed toward the moon, the latest step in NASA’s plan to land astronauts on the lunar surface again. It’s been an unusual journey already for the Capstone satellite. It was […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

It’s a new era for funding on both sides of abortion debate

NEW YORK (AP) — The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade has ushered in a new era of funding on both sides of the abortion debate. With the legality of abortion now up to individual states to determine, an issue long debated by legislators and philanthropists — when it was largely theoretical because only […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

It’s a new era for funding on both sides of abortion debate

NEW YORK (AP) — The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade has ushered in a new era of funding on both sides of the abortion debate. With the legality of abortion now up to individual states to determine, an issue long debated by legislators and philanthropists — when it was largely theoretical because only […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Boat with 842 Haitians headed for US winds up in Cuba