Villa Clara, Cuba (AP) — Some of the more than 840 Haitians who tried to reach the United States by boat, but arrived in Cuba, fled violence in their own country and guided them to the smugglers for thousands of dollars. I said Thursday that I was charged for a dilapidated boat and later dumped it in the sea.
With increasing escapes caused by gang violence and other problems, it is the largest single arrival of people from Haiti to the Cuban coast.
“They tricked us. In my case (trafficker), I said that 200 or 300 people would be on the boat, which is normal for big boats. I don’t know how many people will appear when I’m there, “said Maximaud Cherizard, a 34-year-old engineer who traveled with his 7-year-old son, wife and sister.
“We were embarrassed when we arrived,” Cuba said. The boat was so full that some people were on the roof of the boat, he said.
On Tuesday, 842 people were rescued by the Cuban Coast Guard and other government agencies near Caibarién in the province of Villa Clara, about 300 km (185 miles) east of the capital Havana. They were taken to a temporary center in a former summer camp and quarantined as a health precaution.
The group left after waiting almost two months for a trip on Tortuga Island in northern Haiti, according to reports of at least three migrants spoken by AP. News of the opportunity to go to Florida spread by word of mouth, and some said they paid $ 4,000 each for boat spots.
According to immigrants, they were taken on a small boat to a large boat and taken away by smugglers. The smuggler claimed that the signal could be detected by the United States Coast Guard.
Shelizard said he was shown a picture of a cruise liner taking immigrants. When he saw the dilapidated boat, the promise he realized was wrong. He and other immigrants said he did not see his name on the ship.
Shelizard said he and his family were put in a hut with others and had little access to the rest of the ship. When the captain abandoned the ship at sea early Tuesday morning, they learned that some immigrants tried to control the boat in an attempt to reach their destination.
Another immigrant, 19-year-old Joyce Paul, said the captain was left on a small ship and the ship on which the immigrant was aboard began to lean forward. The Haitians used a flashlight to signal rescue to the Cuban coast.
According to Paul, every day at sea, as the situation became more desperate, 15 people threw themselves into the water.
Cuban officials reported that some of the immigrants had 70 children, including babies.
“In Haiti, there is no future for babies,” said Loverie Horat, a 30-year-old mother of a 24-day-old baby. She told The Associated Press that she and her husband boarded a boat after leaving Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Her comments in Creole were translated into Spanish by Shelizard.
Immigrants said Haiti’s anxiety and poverty had fled them. 19-year-old Paul said a member of the gang killed his two sisters.
“I can’t get out on the street” because of the violence, Shelizard said.
Due to ocean currents and wind, some smuggler ships aiming to reach the United States end up on the Cuban coast. Not all arrivals have been officially reported, but in recent months Havana officials have acknowledged an increase in arrivals. Immigrants are usually returned to their home country in accordance with bilateral agreements.
Haitians arrived in Cuba when the island itself was suffering from a serious economic crisis due to food, medicine and fuel shortages and high immigration to the United States.
“Humanitarian aid was a real challenge,” said Andy Borges, a member of the municipal civil protection office in Corralillo, where the Haiti camp is based.
The US Coast Guard crew has intercepted approximately 4,500 Haitian immigrants since October last year. Many tried to land on the Florida coast in an overloaded boat. More than 3,000 of these migrants have been intercepted since mid-March, demonstrating a faster pace this spring.
“We don’t want to go back to Haiti,” said 30-year-old Leverly Horat, one of the Haiti immigrants who wanted to arrive in the United States but arrived in Cuba.
Rodriguez reported from Havana.