A rickety wooden boat bearing the hopeful message “With God’s Blessing” scrawled on its side landed in the Florida Keys early Christmas morning — packed with weary Cuban migrants, US Border Patrol officials said.
“Early #Christmas morning 15 migrants from #Cuba made landfall on a rustic vessel in the Florida Keys,” Border Patrol Miami Sector Chief Walter Slosar said in a Twitter post.
“At 5:00 a.m., #Border Patrol agents & LE partners responded to Key Colony Beach & encountered the individuals, who departed from the Mantanzas region,” Slosar wrote.
The wooden craft had the phrase “Con La Bendicion de Dios” scrawled on its side in bold black letters, Spanish for “With God’s Blessing.”
Authorities did not provide information on how long the migrants were at sea nor where they were being detained after landing on US soil.
Large numbers of Cuban migrants continue to find their way to the US, despite significantly more attention paid to immigrants from Central and South America.
Last month 68,044 migrants from Cuba and Nicaragua made their way to the country — surpassing the 58,559 who arrived from Mexico and northern Central America over the same time span, according to US Border Patrol statistics.
In August, immigration officials reported that 175,000 Cuban migrants had arrived in the US since October 2021, more than the 125,000 who fled then-dictator Fidel Castro’s island nation during the infamous 1980 “Mariel Boatlift.”
Castro has since died, and his brother, Raul, stepped down as head of the Cuban Communist Party, but economic hardships and the country’s continuing authoritarian leadership continue to drive thousands to risk their lives crossing the Straits of Florida.