ST. PETERSBURG – Over the summer two destabilizing events happened in countries neighboring Florida and have caused the Coast Guard’s Southeast District to respond almost on a weekly basis in water rescues.
Uprisings of the Cuban people protesting for freedom in July and the assassination of the Haitian president in August are the catalyst for the migrations over water.
Both island nations have strong ties with communities in Florida.
When the events happened the Coast Guard ramped up patrolling of the waters off the Florida Straits looking for migrants fleeing their countries in turmoil.
In that time we saw more and more people trying to get in to the United States.
The latest is an operation over the Christmas weekend where officials detained 25 Cuban migrants smuggled by boat to Key West.
The week before Coast Guard repatriated 39 Cubans on December 20th.
On the 17th, Coast Guard repatriated 18 migrants to Cuba.
On the 9th, 30 Cubans were repatriated and another 51 repatriated on the 5 resulting in every week in December in a water rescue.
In September, more than a month after the Cuban unrest--Coast Guard sent a tweet telling migrants #DontTaketoTheSea.
They included an estimate of 729 Cubans interdicted since Oct. 1, 2020.
That was the total last year over 12 months.
Since that tweet in September--in just four months of 2021---a rough estimate of what's publicly available on twitter--Coast Guard has repatriated almost 500 Cubans.
For Haitians fleeing their island, Coast Guard tweeted in September about 398 Haitian migrants had been interdicted since Oct, 1, 2020.
A couple of weeks after that tweet, Coast Guard rescued and repatriated 260 Haitians.
A week later, there were 202 Haitians rescued at sea and subsequently 199 Haitians repatriated a few days later.
The trend continued through the fall with estimates surpassing the total number posted from last year.