United States Coast Guard repatriates 50 Haitians

The United States Coast Guard says it has repatriated 50 Haitian migrants following an exercise at sea last week in which a vessel was intercepted with 127 Haitians.

The Coast Guard said it located an overloaded 70-foot sail freighter last Saturday about 20 miles off the northeast coast of Cuba and transferred 50 Haitian migrants.

It said the other 77 migrants refused lifejackets and that the vessel entered “Cuban Territorial Seas.”

The US Coast Guard said the Cuban Border Guard “took custody of the remaining 77 migrants for further disposition.

“This case is one of many inherently dangerous voyages interdicted this year in the unforgiving waters of the Caribbean Sea and Florida Straits,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jeremy Montes, 7th District duty enforcement officer.

“These ventures are ill-advised because they place the people aboard in grave risk of injury or death due to the unsafe loading of the vessel and lack of adequate lifesaving equipment. The Coast Guard and our partner agencies continually monitor the maritime border of the US to deter, detect and rescue migrants who embark on illegal and life-threatening voyages,” he added.

The US Coast Guard said about 1,334 Haitian migrants have attempted to illegally migrate to the US via the maritime environment since last October compared to 1,869 Haitian migrants in fiscal year 2017.