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7 immigrants to be sent back to Cuba after being rescued at sea

General7 immigrants to be sent back to Cuba after being rescued at sea

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Apr. 4, 2024

The Ministry of Immigration is currently investigating a group of 7 immigrants who were recently rescued out in the open sea and brought to Belize.

The incident occurred on Monday, April 1, after a Celebrity Apex Cruise Line, which was on its way to the Jewel, spotted the stranded crew, who were heading toward Mexico on a makeshift sailboat, and came to their rescue.

“These people were at sea. They were at sea for five days. There were seven people in total. There’s four men, three women coming from Cuba. Again, stranded at sea for five days. We were able to find them, pick them up, get them on board. So, quite an incredible day, an emotional day. We saved seven lives today because safety of life at sea and lives absolutely matter. So, well done to the bridge team and our captain. Thank you,” Cruise Director Lewis said on social media following the news of the rescue.

Initial reports indicated that the group was all Cuban nationals, and in an effort to confirm this information we tried to ask the Chief Executive Officer of Immigration, Tanya Santos, but she is currently out of the country.

In her place, we asked the Ambassador of Trade in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Stuart Leslie, who indicated that only two of the seven have been identified as Cuban.

“7 individuals were rescued. These 7 passengers came onshore in Belize where they were picked up by immigration authorities. Of the 7, two had documents indicating that they were Cuban nationals,” he said. “Today the Department of Immigration along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are working to verify the nationality of those who came off the vessel without proper identification,” Leslie said.

Despite the group not entering the country illegally, preparations are being made for them to be sent back to San Luis, Pinar del Rio, Cuba.

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