Cubans Pulled From Makeshift Sailboa
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — WFTV obtained video Monday of a dramatic rescue at sea. Sunday night, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship picked up six immigrants who were floating on a raft near the Bahamas, but the immigrants were never brought on shore.
The immigrants were on the cruise ship until they neared the inlet for the Port. Then they were moved to a Coast Guard cutter where they were still out at sea early Monday afternoon.
As the Monarch of the Sea returned to Port, passengers had quite a story to tell of a rescue that more than one passenger captured on camera.
“It was incredible. It was like a little makeshift boat, with a little sail,” passenger Georganna Cross said.
The Coast Guard says the six adults are all from Cuba and were found drifting on their makeshift raft many miles from dry land.
“The winds were high. They were all soaked. The waves were washing up onto the makeshift boat,” Cross said.
The refugees were brought on board the Royal Caribbean cruise ship and given medical treatment. Passengers said one man did not look good; he can be seen in the video simply lying on the raft.
“One individual looked like he was ill, possibly dead. He wasn’t moving,” passenger Georgette Phillips said.
Passengers say cheers erupted as each person was brought on board, but the vacationers say they also got a sobering dose of reality.
“It was quite amazing that someone would have such a horrible situation that they would risk themselves to do something like that. It was very dangerous and very scary,” Phillips said.
The immigrants will not be brought to U.S. land, because that would create a legal situation where they would have to be deported. The Coast Guard is maneuvering to get them back to Cuba.
If the Cubans had made it to land, they probably would have been allowed to stay in the United States. The government’s current “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy says Cubans who make it to American soil can stay, but those taken into custody at sea are returned to Cuba.