MIAMI – The US Coast Guard repatriated 50 Haitian migrants out of a total of 127 intercepted on board an overloaded boat northeast of Cuba, the institution reported on Wednesday.
The repatriation of the 50 Haitians was effected on Tuesday after a joint interception operation conducted last Saturday by Cuban and US coast guard units.
The boat the Haitians were on was 21 meters (70 feet) long and the two nations’ coast guard vessels encountered it about 32 kilometers (20 miles) off the Cuban coast. At that time, 50 Haitians were transferred to the US Coast Guard cutter.
The remaining 77 migrants refused to don life jackets so that they could be transferred to the US vessel and remained on board their boat, which was towed to Cuban territorial waters, where its occupants were taken into custody by the island’s authorities.
“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,” Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jeremy Montes said.
The Coast Guard and other associated agencies, he said, continually monitor the US maritime border to dissuade, detect and rescue illegal migrants who are risking their lives attempting to get to the US, Montes added.
A reported 1,334 Haitian migrants have tried to illegally enter the US by sea since Oct. 1, 2017, almost 30 percent fewer than tried to do so via that route during Fiscal 2017.