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Yanet Bitón Santamaría, Cuban woman who fled on a jet ski. Courtesy of elnuevodiario.com
Yanet Bitón Santamaría, Cuban woman who fled on a jet ski. Photo courtesy of: elnuevodiario.com

The Cuban woman who fled to Miami on a jet ski has been repatriated

A Cuban woman who escaped from the island on a jet ski was repatriated last Friday despite the support of the Movimiento Democracia.

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Yanet Bitón Santamaría escaped from Cuba on a jet ski and arrived in Florida a few days ago. With the support of an exile organization and a relative in Miami, Bitón hoped to avoid deportation for being "persecuted." However, last Friday, Yanet and 21 other Cubans were repatriated, according to people close to the woman.

"They did not give her a chance (opportunity) of credible fear," a resource contemplated by the United States government to protect those who cannot return to their country of origin because they are persecuted or abused, said Luis Manuel Borges, Yanet's foster brother.

Bitón is 32 years old and has an 11 year old daughter. She is currently in quarantine in an educational institute in the western province of Pinar del Rio, where Borges says she is "under surveillance" by police authorities.

"There they forced her to make a video denying everything and took her away in handcuffs. They told her that they are going to give her between 10 and 15 years in prison," said Borges.

Yanet Bitón is persecuted by the Cuban government for having collaborated with Luis M. Borges in denouncing the country's prison system, and decided to leave the island because she is unable to find work.

Bitón's case is being supported by the organization Movimiento Democracia, an institution in charge of Cuban exiles in Miami. Ramón Saúl Sánchez, leader of the movement affirmed to have requested to the U.S. authorities data on the Cubans detained at sea and who have been given credible fear interviews. "In this case, that girl was repatriated to Cuba and obviously she was not given the opportunity of that process", added the leader of the group, who confirmed the return of Bitón to the island.

According to Sánchez, there is a huge disparity in the official information on Cubans who enter the country through the land border and those who enter by sea. He recalled the case of the 24 Cubans who in 2016 took refuge in the American Shoal Light lighthouse, to avoid being captured by the Coast Guard and returned to Cuba. "As a Movement we took the case to court and the Government negotiated with us and gave them a new credible fear interview. They were eventually sent to Australia, where they live free today," he recounted.

According to the most recent data provided by U.S. authorities, since October 1, 2020, the Coast Guard has intercepted 228 Cubans compared to 49 intercepted in the entire fiscal year of 2020.

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