Cuba releases details of illegal departure deaths

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 9:16pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 9:16pm


Four people were killed while trying to leave Cuba illegally by sea and six suspects have been arrested, authorities said.

It is extremely rare for officials in the communist-run country to communicate such details since most crime-related information is usually kept well away from the public.

The four bodies were discovered on Tuesday afternoon at a property in Baracoa in the commune of Bauta, a coastal area some 20km west of the capital Havana, according to an Interior Ministry statement released on Wednesday.

"According to a preliminary investigation, the crime is linked to an attempt to illegally leave the country with help from outside," said the statement, which was read out during a noon news show on state-run television.

It did not name the victims or six individuals authorities said were taken into custody in connection with the investigation.

Even if immigration reform has made it easier to travel abroad since January 2013, many Cubans still try to leave the country illegally via the sea due to difficulties obtaining visas or enough money for a plane ticket.

The US state of Florida is a magnet for Cubans with its shores about 160km away. Every year many jeopardise their lives in an attempt to make it there on rudimentary boats and rafts.

Word of the deaths and detentions comes just days after a group of Cuban ballet dancers defected to the United States while on tour in Puerto Rico.