MIAMI – Two of the seven Cuban migrants with bullet wounds who were rescued on the weekend along with other rafters near Key West said on Monday in Miami that a group of gunmen fired at them in Cuba trying to steal their raft.
At a press conference at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, Denny Rumbaut and his wife Yarelys Rios, who is 16 weeks pregnant, said that, despite the attack, the group – made up of 26 people – decided to take to the sea from the coast in Matanzas province and try to make it to the United States.
The woman said that they could not remain in Cuba because they did not know how the people who fired at them would react, and her husband said that “they came down from the hills” when the group was boarding their raft to set sail.
Rios denied claims that the wounded people had shot themselves so that if the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted them at sea they would not be repatriated to Cuba immediately.
She said that she would never have done anything that would risk the life of her unborn child.
Rumbaut and Rios, dressed in hospital gowns, said that before this trip he had tried 11 times to travel to the United States and she had tried three times, adding that they wanted to leave Cuba for economic reasons.
The 26 Cubans were discovered on their raft by the Coast Guard on Saturday in Key West just as they were trying to land.
Of the seven people with bullet wounds, six were taken to South Florida hospitals for medical treatment. The seventh did not need to be hospitalized.
The Coast Guard says that, so far this fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, 2,562 Cubans have been intercepted in the Florida Strait.