Cubans report horrors of journey to Mexico

| 06/10/2014

(CNS): A group of Cuban migrants drank their own urine and blood after the engine of their homemade boat failed, leaving them adrift in the Caribbean for three weeks without food or water, according to survivors who reached the United States this week. Six passengers are missing after they tried to swim to shore, while 11 others died of dehydration. The group set off from eastern Cuba in early August, but ran into trouble about 40 miles from the Cayman Islands when the boat's motor – a Hyundai diesel car engine, attached to a homemade propeller – failed on the second day at sea.

The group was eventually rescued by Mexican fishermen 150 miles northeast of the Yucatan peninsula and were briefly detained in Mexico before being released. Their story was told to Reuters by some of the survivors.

The migrants were in a 20-foot, home-made craft, made from aluminium roofing sheets riveted together and sealed with cloth and resin. When the engine failed, the vessel drifted up the Cuban coast as the passengers tried to flag down passing ships.

"No-one stopped even though they could see we were desperate," said Mailin Perez, 30, another survivor recovering in Austin, Texas.

The passengers heaved the engine overboard to reduce weight and fashioned a makeshift sail from sheets sewn together with cord. Six of the men decided to swim for the Cuban coast clinging to inner tubes, but have not been heard from since. Brief rain showers every three or four days provided the only water, rationed out in doses by medical syringes. One woman who was six months pregnant received extra rations. Eleven passengers died and their bodies were slid overboard.

More Cubans than ever appear to be leaving Cayman’s neighbouring island but their journey to the US is becoming even more treacherous. US authorities said last month more than 16,200 Cubans arrived without visas at the border with Mexico in the past 11 months, the highest number in a decade.

Last month Cayman signed a new MOU with the Cuban authorities to repatriate any Cubans who land in Cayman. However many opt to press on with their journeys regardless of the stateof their boats or their limited supplies.

The US Coast Guard has virtually shut down the shorter route through the Florida Straits, which separates Cuba and Florida by only 90 miles at its narrowest point. So the longer western route to Honduras via the Cayman Islands, which is around 675 miles, is increasingly popular as the Honduran authorities give the refugees temporary visas allowing them to head north for the United States.

Boats that can withstand the journey charge around $500 and take around 10 days to cross the sea but with boats leaving weekly many do not make it and Cuban officials blame the US policy for encouraging migrants to risk their lives. The migrants told Reuters that economic reforms in Cuba have so far failed to improve living standards and conditions are getting worse. Those seeking to leave legally were told it could take five years before their cases would be determined by consular officials.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I feel sorry for those people who suffered and died while trying to get to another country.

    My experience with Cubans have not been good.  The vast majority of them that I have encountered in the USA displayed an ungrateful attitude and one of intitlement.  In the USA they are in an english speaking country and no matter how many years they have been there they refuse to learn english.  They always approach you speaking spanish.  They talk about you in spanish because they believe you cannot speak or understand their language, and that is while you are in their presence.  They have turned their neighborhoods in Miami into a "little Havana". So much for wanting to leave Cuba. 

    While it is humane to want to assist them in their attempt to get to 'a better place' it would quickly become a financial burden on this country.  Once word got out that they were welcomed to Cayman the boat loads would not stop and all those people who were happy to help would soon find out that they had opened "Pandora's box". Remember, nogood deed goes unpunished.

    And for all those who insist on helping, may God bless you.

  2. Notch says:


  3. Anonymous says:

    I know its fictional but, from Aaron Sorkin's 'The West Wing'


    [Reporing the information from a wire note]

    "Navel Intelligence reports appoximately1200 Cubans left Havana this morning. Approximately 700 turned back due to severe weather, some 350 are missing and presumed dead, 137 have been taken into custody in Miami and are seeking asylum.[pause] with the clothes on their backs they came through a storm. And the ones that didn't die want a better life.

    And they want it here. Talk about impressive"

    * People should not be dying *



  4. Anonymous says:

    For the people that really want to help. When they are sent on their way. Just hop on your boat and help them out from there. You are helping them boat to boat and not from land. Would that loophole work? 

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am cuban and i can't take this, it hurts me so much when i have to read about them dying on the sea just because they wants a better life, if they knew that Cuba is the most wonderful place to live they wouldnt riske their lifes like that. Money is not everything in life, my life doesnt cost anything!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well how about this one….legally we can't help them. So….just keep the cops and immigration officers busy while we provide them with whatever they need. This is one time the churches should be up in arms. Not over Sunday trading. Boozing and partying after midnight on Saturday or whatever else.  They should be pushing the govt to help real life human beings. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    It's really simple, help those that want to move on and move those that don't back to Cuba.

  8. Anonymous says:

    What is all the fuss about.The story says they made it to within 40 miles of Cayman;it does not say that they landed or wer turned away .

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s this particular incident I think we’re talking about some of the past “boaters” that have arrived in desperate situations and never set foot off the boat but were in dire need of water / food

    • Anonymous says:

      It is yet another human lottery where hopeful migrants risk it all for a better life.  Countless lives have been lost in the 61 years since the revolution, and if you had any humanity, you ought to have some compassion about their plight.  Instead of doing the right thing, the Christian thing, Cayman continues to allign itself politically with the dictatorship that repells these desperate people from their homeland.  In exchange, Cayman Airways gets to land in Havana once a day.  That's what the fuss is about.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your mind is the problem. You think because it did not happen in Cayman it dosn't matter.

      Well it all matters and it happens in Cayman all the time.

      Dont those people believe in the same GOD? Is your God special?

      The world and life is difficult you have the chances to save lives in your own back yard.

      Yet you turn a blind eye and if anything participate in the demise of some people fleeing for there lives.


      God dont like ugly

      • Anonymous says:

        Please do your own research, if you ask the majority of Cubans, they never grew up believing in God and did NOT believe in God prior to coming to Cayman, therefore, lets not bring their beliefs into it! Why not look into the percentage of locals that witness all those literally dying to leave yet still travel by air to Cuba every other weekend to make contact with underage prostitutes! Or how about those that are bringing in the Cuban protitutes to work in their bars! Those persons actually came here "legitimately" through a permit! IN FACT they are ONE of the countries that DO NOT have any issues getting permits, yet countries like Jamaica and Honduras are given a harder time! Maybe you should look into THAT!

  9. Anonymous says:

    If they had an E.P.I.R.B. on hand, some of those lives might have been saved!

    • Anonymous says:

      12:23, clearly they had access to obaining one when constructing a boat from scrap that incuded a car engine…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh yes, an $250-1500 EPRIB, from the WestMarine warehouse stores of Cuba!  They don't have this stuff.  They didn't even have money for a reliable form of propulsion.  Countries of this region need to step up and provide water, food, lifejackets, and rescue migrant humans in distress if and when necessary.  Turning a blind eye to these poor souls is unconscionable.    

      • Anonymous says:

        You missed the point. Why can they not be given an EPIRB here, then turn it in upon reaching honduras(We hope). That EPIRB can then be returned to Cayman by Honduran authorities. What price one human life, or are they not of value? Would that breach the Cuban / Caymanian memorandum of agreement? I only ask simple dumb questions. Can someone in the administration answer these questions please?

        • Anonymous says:

          Because any aid counts as 'landing'. So when they got to Hondurus or wherever and said 'we got this in Cayman' they could then be returned to Cayman as 'here's your people back'. Which serves neither the refugees nor Cayman. The solution, which no one seems to call for, is for Castro to let his people go. Give them a legal way to emigrate that's not harder than jumping in a jalopy and trying to drive across the sea.

  10. Anonymous says:

    God is my only Judge and jury I can tell immi/police if I see they need water / food if I got it I’m giving it to them this us a load of bullshit all of the past /present legislators are (so called church going people) a law that they can’t land here is one thing but to not offer food and water! They should be set out in a boat with a gallon of water and crackers for a week see what they would do, then change the damn law

    • Anonymous says:

      So true! We live on an island in the middle of the ocean what if our loved ones went fishing and ran into trouble (men women and kids go out fishing) and let’s say drift into foreign waters and we’re told after days at sea that they weren’t allowed to get any assistance what so ever and lil kids were on board too what then? Our govt some past most present are so ass. fomous it amazing the chap they do and what they consider priority – I’m not saying allow them to land here but come on water and food at the end if the day they are HUMANS.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Very sad indeed.!!! and all we hear about is how much money it costs the government to throw them on a randown shack with chain link fence n deny them passage so we can be in good standing with a dictator who has a lot of blood in his hands. Ofcouse politicians want to be able to visit Cuba on these fancy trips and be treated like kings playing politics while people drink their urine and blood under scorchin sun in the middle of the ocean on a makeshift raft to stay alive on the journey to freedom. Ask any one of them what they want and is simply the basic, can we not hear their cries that they go to these lenghts risking it all for simply a dream as most dont even make it.. not only crossing oceans they then spend months treking thruogh South America/Mexico under contol of cold blooded killers (coyotes/human smugglers). Is that not eough, why do we need to contribute to this @#*&^&*# and hardship

    "To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity." NM

    "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concern of all humanity" MLK

    • Anonymous says:

      Pretty sure we are wasting about $1mio per year sending these people back to Cuba, all Cayman has to do is not make it illegal to offer assistance, let them tie up, make repairs and any donations of food, water and gas that are offered be accepted.  It's not ideal that you would let them continue on their trip in some of the 'boats' but we also can't take in everyone.  This way it doesn't cost anyone anything other than basic human decency and we don't make ourselves a favoured destination for anyone trying to leave Cuba, maybe a quick stop-off point but so what?

      • Anonymous says:

        there are enough people here willing to help these humans in suh a life or death cituation. Have you stopped to think what they might have been going through and the desperation estate that you wll have to be in that you will gamble your life an sometims the life of your young children in such a manner to then reach a neighborng nation with so many resources and they negate you such things as a glass of water. come on partner.. and then a lot of these cubans end up makin it to Miami and could very easily be coming back here someday as tourists to thank such a nation as suppose to look back at us in scorn.

        Up to this day, in The Isle of Pines, Cuba,  there's a small town named Jacksonville. Still inhabited by Caymanians and their descents who Cuba took in with open arms and up to this day it is sill there even wth a fully functional Turtle Farm.. look it up, i saw it in a bbc documentary about a year ago

        • Anonymous says:

          I think we are in agreement here, I'm saying we should offer the basics, food, water, fuel, repairs and not make illegal to do so, which it currently is.  Right now they are given no choice, carry on and face an uncertain future at sea with no supplies, or land and be sent back to who knows what future or reprecussions.  I know every one hates ECHR law (human rights) but I can't see how we can be signed up to human rights laws and turn these guys around and send them back to a country where no-one knows what happens to them, or push the boat out and let them carry on knowing they aren't sea-worthy.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I am at a loss These people are dying because there journey to freedom is cut off instead of giving a helping hand

    When will the people of Cayman demand that this behavior stops

    Back in the day safe harbor was given to the runaway slaves from jamaica when they arrived in cayman. They were not sent back to face the wrath of there former masters.

    God does not like Ugly


    • Think B4 you type says:

      How exactly do you propose that Cayman accomodates all of the want away Cubans? Once we start to let them in many many more will follow.

      • Anonyanmous says:

        We are letting the entire world in so why not Cubans, they let Caymanians in their country in the 30s, 40s and 50s.  How many others did we not let in here during the late 80s that have over populated the place; now many follow them daily.  

        You need to Think B4 you type, you are just being selfish, you probably came here from somewhere else or I am sure if you are born here your parents came from somewhere else.  All I will say to you live and let live.

      • Anonymous says:

        U dont have to let them stay, only help them with water and food and clothes if they need, u dont have any idea why cubans risk their lives like that, when u wake up one day and dont have 1 dollar to feed your childs then u realize that anything could work out even lose your life, i rather to die fighting for my dreams and be free than to stay there suffering what castro do to us.

    • Anonymous says:

      08:41, so I take it you are happy with the current immigration situation in Cayman that you are fine with allowing thousands of Cubans to come live here? Because that is exactly what will happen. Then all these unemployed Caymanians will be crying that Cubans are taking their jobs.

      • Anonymous says:

        If I did not love you I would wish the same fate upon you and your family 10x

        I am sure your life is so fullfilled as it is.

        Happy arent you?

      • Anonyanmous says:

        Less people come here from Cuba 14:03 than those that come from thousands of miles away to take away jobs from Caymanians if that is what you are worried about.  Many of the places that people come from to get jobs in Cayman our people did not go there to workor seek employment.  Many Caymanians went to Cuba to work and many Caymanians have families in Cuba so I would much rather have an influx of people that we have family ties with come here than those that don't.

        • Anonymous says:

          I have to agree with you. We have people here from all walks of life. Even from Syria I understand seeking Political assylum. None theless I would not like to see what happened in Miami happening in Cayman. However these Cubans do not want to be in Cayman, they just want to reach Miami.

    • Anonymous says:

      Such a horrible tragedy.  I seen this same boat in South Sound last month and the authorities wouldn't let anyone give them food or water!!!  Disgusting!!!  Where are the human rights issue now?

  13. Anonyanmous says:

    So sad, I pray for the day that Cuba will become great once more.  Cuba's day and time will come it happened in the Soviet Union, the Berlin Wall came down, the iron curtin opened so very soon the blockade will stop and Cuba will once again be free.  Not to worry Cuba many times the people you pass going up will be the same ones you pass going down.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is very sad to read about the fate of the Cubans on that boat, but the law is the law.  we cannot be seem to be helping refugees get into another country even someof us have taken the risk to help them in the past. Cayman is a 2×4 island, we cannot accomodate every one who wants to come here.  Yes, I understand that the Cubans only want to use Cayman as a safe port to fix their boats if necessary, get some food, water, and fuel and be on their way but it is not that simple. Sometimes these people are here for months waiting on their Government to accept them back.  We are strapped for cash as it is.  Many of our own citizens are having problems surviving. I am not against helping the Cubans but people in Cuba are not starving, they might not want what's  for dinner for they have good food in Cuba They have good water, utilities are very cheep(may even be free), good medical service,very little crime. I contribute to the Church that I attend  to allow them to take clothes, food stuff and money to the Cubans. Some of   my fellow church members travel to Cuba several times a year to assist them to fix up their homes, churches, schools, etc.  It is true that our people left Cayman to go to Cuba, but they went there to work, they were not refugees.  I don't have the t figures on this but I believe if all of the people who left Cuba had stayed and fight for their rights in Cuba they would probably be much better off. You are comparing the Cubans to the Soviet Union, the Berlin Wall etc. and while a lot of the polulation of Russia and Germany left their countries in droves, what really turned the tide in those countries were when the citizens banded together and took a stand for their country. I trust too  that they will soon be free but they have to make that happen. Running away to someone's else country might not be the answer.