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KEY WEST (CBSMiami) — Four Cuban migrants who were found shot on a raft at sea Saturday were with their families in the U.S. by Sunday night.
The U.S. Coast Guard found a group of 26 migrants Saturday evening just south of Key West.
Seven of them had gunshot wounds.
Doctors at a Key West hospital treated and released four of the men Sunday. A man and pregnant woman, who also had gunshot wounds, were airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Still in hospital gowns, the four men were taken to Church World Services in Doral where they were able to contact and wait for family.
The men told CBS4’s Donna Rapado they left Matanzas, Cuba at 3 a.m. Saturday. The Coast Guard intercepted them about 14 hours later.
Yasel Cabrera said in Spanish that he still has the bullet in him. Doctors told him it’s not life-threatening. Another wounded migrant, Carlos Escalona, also still had the bullet lodged in him. Both men said they are in a lot of pain.
But the big question was who shot them and why?
Cabrera said they really didn’t know who shot them. They think they were just delinquents who wanted to steal the group’s boat. When the group fought back, the men shot at them as they shoved off into the sea.
In Doral, family finally came to get the men Sunday evening, hugging and kissing, happy to see them alive and well. Some relatives said they knew ahead something was about to happen.
“I saw that some people came in a raft and I was like, oh my god, I wish some of my family can come from Cuba and be free of those people,” said Ada Martinez, Cabrera’s cousin. “We were watching the TV and we saw him and I’m like, “oh my god, look who’s here!”
Earlier this year, authorities said Cuban migrants desperate to reach the U.S. shore are increasingly doing things like attempted poisonings and self-inflicted wounds as rumors spread that lawmakers may soon get rid of the “wet-foot-dry-foot” policy.
This was actually Cabrera’s third try. Smiling, he said he intended to try as many times as it took, determined to reach the U.S.
The Coast Guard said in a statement that it “works hard to ensure the safety of migrants on our cutters after an interdiction and strongly discourages attempts to illegally enter the country by taking to the sea. These trips are extremely dangerous and could lead to loss of life.”
The six Cubans who were shot and treated on land now stay in the U.S. The Coast Guard said the other 20 will likely be sent back to Cuba.