MIAMI – The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a group of 26 Cuban migrants on a raft near the Florida coast, seven of whom had bullet wounds, spokesmen for the force told EFE on Sunday.
The group of Cubans was discovered on their raft near Key West, where they were attempting to land, on Saturday.
Seven of the migrants had been shot and six of them were taken to a hospital in Key West for medical treatment.
The Coast Guard said that so far this fiscal year, which began last Oct. 1, 2,562 Cubans have been intercepted in the Florida Strait, 269 of them during February.
The Coast Guard reported last Friday that nine Cubans died recently while trying to sail to the Florida coast, according to other migrants who were rescued.
The Cubans who set foot on U.S. territory, according to the Cuban Adjustment Act and the so-called “wet foot/dry foot” policy, are allowed to remain in the country while those who are intercepted before they make it on land are deported back to the communist island.
According to the Coast Guard, the uncertainty over a possible change in U.S. immigration policy toward Cuba has spurred significantly greater illegal migration from the island since the December 2014 launching of the process to normalize relations between the two nations.
During the past fiscal year – from Oct. 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015 – more than 43,000 Cubans arrived in the United States, more than 77 percent more than the year before.