Saturday, January 28, 2023

Families of missing Cubans seek answers

A letter that could not be verified from an alleged migrant imprisoned in the Bahamas and reports of new illegal departures on rafts were endpoints for relatives of Cuban migrants who disappeared at sea to begin organizing, and Create a list with over 100 names of absentees and request information from officials.

On Wednesday a half-dozen women contacted the Bahamas embassy with a list that showed their loved ones – most drowned aboard rustic boats this year -; Other relatives in two WhatsApp groups indicated they could not come because they were in the provinces, while a few more assured that they had gone to the Cuban Foreign Ministry to find out.

The women, who reached out to the Bahamas embassy, ​​told The Associated Press they would not comment, insisting they were “desperate” families and had no further interest than knowing the fate of their loved ones.

Cuba is undergoing a migrant record amid a strong economic crisis, the mixed effects of the pandemic that has paralyzed the country and United States sanctions that are pressuring the island for a change in political model. Shortages, long lines and inflation mark 2021 and 2022.

There is no official figure for those missing at sea, although they will usually be humble people from fishing villages who set out on rustic boats. Migration was also nurtured during these times by Cubans with greater resources, who paid smugglers from the United States in speedboats or started air travel through Nicaragua.

The list, compiled by people who are now claiming the whereabouts of their relatives, includes 135 names and was compiled from data – including ages and departure dates – provided by families who were members of at least two WhatsApp groups. participate in and who had access to Associated Press.

A count prepared by the families indicates that out of the total number of missing persons, 70 are in the age group of 20 to 40 years, while six are below 20 years of age. The youngest would be Criss Angel Exposito Landa, who will be 3 and was taken from the island in June. 4, and the oldest, Jorge Luis Barrero (57), who died on February 6, according to relatives.

The Associated Press could not verify that the list was in fact distributed to Bahamian officials.

The WhatsApp groups that have seen thousands of exchanges in recent days already have around 800 participants.

The letter, which circulated on social networks and triggered the concern of families seeking to organize in Cuba, began to circulate in recent weeks, includes a handwritten page, in print, and includes a purported but is imprisoned in Nassau. She sought help because even the relatives of these prisoners do not know they are there, where they are treated like “wild dogs”. The Associated Press could not verify the veracity of the letter.

The families’ decision to seek answers from the Bahamas coincided with an official visit to Havana by Commonwealth Premier Philip Davis, who was received by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Tuesday night.

Davis’ travel schedule is unknown. An Associated Press request for an interview with the Bahamian premier was declined by his office.

Pain and crying “emojis” predominate in most messages circulating in WhatsApp groups. The exchange intensified last week.

“Please, do you know anything about Mirta Rosa and Rachel?” asked the man, identified as Laila. “The pain is infinite and endless,” added user Rodriguez. “Does anyone know about the boys who left for Matanzas, Cárdenas on 27 November? I need information urgently,” Yeli wrote.

“Bacha, she’s been missing for days. Her name is Leidani,” Amanda said next to a picture of a young, smiling girl wearing a red T-shirt with an image of the Tom and Jerry cartoons. Someone named Claudia confessed, “I’m desperate.”

Relatives warned about alleged scammers who ask him for money even with photo montages.

Two people indicated, on Tuesday night—as they were organizing a visit to the Bahamas embassy—that state security agents had visited them, and generally all of them stressed that the motives for these actions were not political, Rather learn something about your loved ones.

According to the United States Coast Guard, 6,182 Cubans trying to reach the United States by sea were intercepted throughout fiscal year 2022 – October 2021 to September 2022. Meanwhile, 3,450 of these meetings took place in the two months of this cycle.

An increase in dangerous departures by sea was also seen amid a migrant record, with reports of 220,000 Cuban citizens entering the United States through Mexico’s northern border.

The State Coast Guard indicated to an Associated Press request that it does not have specific information on deaths at sea, but has found migrants dead since Oct. 13—Cubans and other nationalities—and about 65 in the entire fiscal year 2022.


Associated Press Miami reporter Gisela Salomon contributed to this report.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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