The government account comes after several crash survivors, family members and people on social media accused the coast guard of ramming the migrants’ boat. Cuba is facing one of its biggest mass exodus in decades, fueled by deeper and more complex crises.
Colonel Victor Alvarez Valle, an investigator with the Interior Ministry, said that when the boatman saw the coast guard, he “started the engine and made a sharp turn to the front of the boat” causing him to lose control and crash enter. The Cuban report includes testimony from the driver, who was detained by the Cuban government after the collision, in which he said he lost control of the boat.
But Héctor Manuel Meizoso González, uncle of the two-year-old girl killed in the crash, told the AP news agency in an interview Wednesday that the boatman did not turn but was hit from behind.
Meizoso González was not on the boat, but said he spoke on behalf of the family because his sister who was on the boat, Diana Meizoso, was too grieving to talk about her daughter’s death.
“The people (on the boat) were constantly being hit hard and that’s why so many people died,” he said.
The coast guard denied it hit the boat multiple times and officials released photos showing the ship carrying migrants with a broken side.
Meizoso González said his sister, who was holding her daughter, fainted when the collision happened and she fell out of her arms. When she woke up, she started screaming for her daughter but the baby was dead.
In fiscal year 2022, U.S. authorities met Cubans nearly 221,000 times at the U.S.-Mexico border — a 471% increase from the previous year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
By sea, the US Coast Guard intercepted nearly 6,200 migrants during the same period.
Havana reporter Andrea Rodríguez contributed to this report.