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U.S. sends first flight of deported migrants to Cuba: 40 rafters and 83 border crossers

Cuba receives 123 migrants from the US on the first deportation flight in two years

Vista de un grupo de personas deportadas procedentes de Estados Unidos, en una fotografía de archivo.
Vista de un grupo de personas deportadas procedentes de Estados Unidos, en una fotografía de archivo. | EFE/Esteban Biba

April 27, 2023 12:10am

Updated: April 27, 2023 12:11am

A group of 123 Cuban irregular migrants deported from the United States arrived in Havana on Monday, on the first flight of its kind since December 2020, according to the Cuban Ministry of the Interior (MININT).

Of the total number of migrants deported, 40 were rafters who were intercepted before reaching the coast, and 83 were Cubans who did not pass the "credible fear" interview on the U.S. southern border with Mexico, according to government reports.

Most of the deported Cubans are originally from the provinces of Havana, Artemisa, Matanzas and Granma, and left between 2019 and 2022, some by sea, and others by air, using the Nicaragua-Mexico route, with the aim of reaching the U.S. border to request asylum.

Regime officials detailed that two of the deportees were on probation when they escaped from the island and will be prosecuted. One Cuban, they said, is reportedly being investigated as an "alleged perpetrator of an act of international drug trafficking" was also returned.

According to the page "Razones de Cuba," operated by the political police of the Castro regime, "all the returned individuals were treated by the medical services and received lunch after their registration at Customs." Shortly thereafter, they were sent to "different points" to be sent home to their places of residence. Another group was received and picked up by their relatives at the Havana Airport.

After his arrival, one of the deportees, the Cuban Elier Martínez Torres, spoke with the AmericaTeVe channel and confirmed that the flight left Miami on the morning of April 24 and that, although he had been detained for six months, he never thought he would actually be deported.

According to data issued by the Cuban regime, so far the U.S. government has returned hundreds of Cubans by sea in 37 operations, and that with this flight, a total of 2,514 Cubans have been repatriated sthis year so far.

Carlos Fernández de Cossio, vice minister of Foreign Relations of the regime, recently assured the AP agency that, although there was no express agreement on the frequency of the flights, they could return to what was planned in 2020, which was two flights a month.