OCT. 17 — A 33-foot high-performance boat carrying 30 Cubans capsized Thursday about 50 miles south of Key West as it was fleeing the U.S. Coast Guard. A 6-year-old boy drowned in the accident.
The boy’s body was discovered underneath the boat by authorities after rescuers pulled the other passengers to safety, a news report says. Authorities reportedly believe two of the passengers are migrant smugglers.
The circumstances surrounding the boy’s death have prompted a federal investigation, the report says. Cuban-American lawmakers are apparently asking that the boy’s body and his parents be permitted to stay in the United States.
U.S. officials say this year saw a sharp increase in the number of Cubans attempting to flee the communist-controlled island. Over the 12 months ending Sept. 30, the Coast Guard intercepted 2,712 Cubans trying to reach the United States, CNN reported. Only 1,225 were caught during the same period in 2004. This year, 2,530 of Cubans made it to U.S. shores, the report says. In 2004, only 954 Cubans successfully made the journey.
Under the U.S. “wet foot/dry foot” policy, Cubans who are intercepted at sea are usually sent back to Cuba. Those who reach the United States are generally permitted to stay.
— Jason Fell