USCG Rescues 33 Cuban Migrants off Florida

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

October 29, 2014

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued 33 Cuban migrants from an overloaded boat taking on water off the southeast Florida coast on Wednesday, two days after 11 Cubans were pulled from the waters off the coast of Miami, officials said.

Some of the 33 Cubans jumped in the water when they were spotted on Wednesday morning about 7 miles (11 km) east of Boca Raton, Florida, the Coast Guard said in a press release.

"Upon our assets arriving on scene, the suspected migrants were taken aboard Coast Guard smallboat and safely transferred to a Coast Guard Cutter for basic medical attention if needed," the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard spokesman Gabe Somma said: "They were spotted by a Coast Guard aircraft that was up there searching on the other migrant case."

Two men are still missing from the group found clinging to debris from their wrecked raft on Monday. The Coast Guard is still combing the waters of Florida's southeastern coast, Somma said.

The Cubans rescued on Monday said they had spent more than a week trying to cross the 90-mile-wide (145-km-wide) Florida Straits separating Cuba from the United States.

Under Washington's "wet-foot, dry-foot policy," Cuban migrants who make it onto U.S. soil are allowed to remain under a special immigration exception, while those intercepted at sea are turned back.

Cubans are leaving the island in increasing numbers by sea as migrants flee economic reforms to modernize the Communist-controlled island's economy that they say are failing to improve living standards.

According to Coast Guard estimates, 3,722 Cubans tried to illegally reach the Florida coast by sea in the 12 months ending in September, an increase of 1,500 over the previous year.

(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson and David Adams; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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