TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — New numbers from the U.S. Coast Guard show a growing Cuban migrant crisis. The agency reports 396 Cuban migrants interdicted at sea so far this month, and nearly 2,000 since October.
Tampa residents witnessed the crisis first hand. Passengers on the Carnival Paradise sailing from Tampa watched as the crew rescued eight migrants at sea on Sunday. Returning to Tampa Thursday, they shared images and accounts of what they saw.
“Someone had binoculars and they saw that it (the vessel) was all styrofoam,” said passenger Jeanette Maiorano.
Neil Patel instinctively shot video and snapped pictures of the rescue. It was unlike any other photo assignment for the wedding photographer.
“The condition they were in, coming onto the boat, gives you a whole new appreciation for freedoms in America,” said Patel.
The Coast Guard notes an increase in Cuban migrants attempting the dangerous voyage in unworthy sea vessels since the December 2014 announcement of changing relations between the U.S. and Cuba.