Saturday, February 18, 2006
A cruise ship sailing near this Caribbean resort city on Friday rescued 22 Cubans who became lost in international waters while attempting to reach the United States. The Carnival Cruise lines ship made the afternoon rescue and dropped the Cubans off on the nearby island of Cozumel, where immigration authorities were discussing their fate. Plucked from a makeshift boat were three children between the ages of 5 and 8, as well as eight woman and 11 men. Those onboard were treated for dehydration but were otherwise in good health, according to officials at the National Institute of Immigration's Cozumel office.
The Cubans told investigators they left Havana aboard a homemade boat several days ago and had hoped to reach the U.S. Mexcio's Caribbean Coast is located just west of westernmost Cuba and, because of currents and wind patterns, it is not uncommon for Cubans attempting to sail to Florida to end up in Mexico accidentally. At least one rescued man told Mexican authorities he was a member of a group opposing Cuban President Fidel Castro and that he decided to leave his homeland after suffering repression and threats of imprisonment at the hands of the communist government there.