Cuban families seek answers on relatives thought lost at sea

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HAVANA — A half dozen women went to the Bahamian Embassy on Wednesday hoping to deliver a list of more than 100 Cubans who haven’t been heard from since leaving the island this year.

Some are believed to have been lost when rickety boats sank, but families think many of the missing are being detained by Bahamian authorities.

Another group of members of at least two WhatsApp groups involved in the effort said they went to Cuba’s Foreign Ministry seeking an investigation into the fate of the missing people by Cuba and the Bahamas.

The women at the Bahamas Embassy declined to comment to The Associated Press, saying they are just desperate relatives whose only goal is to learn about loved ones.

Cuba is going through a migration surge amid an economic crisis resulting from effects of the pandemic and of U.S. sanctions. Shortages of basic goods, long lines and inflation were frequent during both 2021 and 2022.

There is no official figure for those missing after leaving Cuba. The list compiled by families participating in the WhatsApp groups and shown to AP contains 135 names.

AP could not verify that the list was handed over to Bahamian authorities.

The effort by the families coincided with an official visit by Prime Minister Philip Davis of the Bahamas, who was received by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Tuesday night. The agenda for Davis’ visit was not released.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 6,182 Cubans attempting to reach the United States by sea were intercepted during the 12 months that ended Sept. 30. It said it has no specific information on deaths at sea, but that 22 migrants were found dead in the fiscal year 2022.

Associated Press writer Gisela Solomon in Miami contributed to this report.

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