Cuba’s Coast Guard sank a boat carrying 32 Cubans who were trying to reach the Florida coast, according to a woman who survived and whose husband is missing.
Masiel González Castellano told reporters in a telephone conversation from Matanzas, Cuba, that her husband, Leosbel Díaz Beoto, is missing after falling from the boat that was repeatedly charged and hit by a boat manned by the Cuban Coast Guard.
“We were screaming and crying for help as the boat was sinking. But they ignored us. Instead, they continued charging against our boat. Some people dove in the water and others stayed aboard as the boat sank,” said González, who was contacted during a press conference hosted in Miami by the Democracy Movement. “They knew there were children aboard, but continued to charge against us. They didn’t care.”
The boat, said González, was carrying 32 people, including seven women and two children. One of the two children was her 8-year-old son. She added that the boat pilot “was from Miami.”
The group, González said, boarded the boat at around 4 a.m. Monday. After being hit on Tuesday morning, the Cuban Coast Guard rescued most of the survivors, who were then locked up by the State Security in Versailles, Matanzas.
González said she was released on Thursday night with the rest of the women and children. The men remain under custody, she added.
According to Ramón Saúl Sánchez, president of Democracy Movement, the people on the boat said the incident occurred in international waters at about 22 miles from Cuban territory. “This is not the way to deal with people who are just trying to flee a brutal tyranny,” he said.
Sánchez and Sergio Díaz Alfonso, an uncle of the missing man, appealed to the community to help find Díaz Beoto, 33.
Díaz Alfonso, of Homestead, learned of the incident and of his nephew’s disappearance in a phone call from the missing man’s sister, Taily Díaz Beoto, who lives in Italy and is visiting Cuba with her Italian husband.
“My niece told me that Leosbelito [Díaz Beoto] was missing and to call 911,” said Díaz Alfonso. “I called and was told that the incident had happened in Cuba.”
On Friday, Sánchez said he contacted the U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson in Miami who confirmed that they had received a call about a sunken boat and that they reported the incident to the Cuban Coast Guard.
El Nuevo Herald could not reach the U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson on Friday afternoon.