Six Cubans fleeing to the United States on a 30-foot boat were blown onto a beach near Port Aransas, Texas, after spending two months at sea.
The six survived on dried fish and rainwater, and at one point had to resort to drinking their own urine, according to Eddie Flores, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in McAllen, Texas.
“From what we’ve been told, they were catching small fish, slicing them up into thin pieces, and sun-drying them on the deck of the boat,” he says. The five men and one woman were emaciated and dehydrated, but all were out of the hospital within a day.
The group left Manzanillo on Cuba’s west coast June 25 on a makeshift boat, heading first to the Cayman Islands, where they bought the 30-foot motor skiff, water and fuel, Flores says.
He says the migrants told Border Patrol agents they were headed from the Caymans to Mexico, and planned to walk to the border to enter the United States. Cmdr. David Torres of the Corpus Christi police, who rounded up the six on the beach, says they told his officers they were bound for Florida when storms blew them off course and currents carried them across the Gulf of Mexico to Texas.
“It became a long trek,” Torres says. The boat carried two 55-gallon drums for fuel and water, but those supplies ran out along with other provisions. “They only took a couple days’ worth of food,” Flores says.
Torres says the boat was unseaworthy. “It was a miracle that they floated on that for so long,” he says. “It was in very, very poor condition, and it had six people in it.”
He says police found the woman and a man in the boat on the beach, both too weak to walk. The others were walking down the beach looking for help.
Flores says Cuban migrants landing by boat on the Texas coast are a rarity. “It’s the first that I’ve heard of it, and I’ve been here in the Border Patrol for 18 years,” he says.