Mexico’s National Guard detected a damaged ship full of Cuban nationals adrift Monday in the Gulf of Mexico.
But before the ship could be intercepted, the damaged makeshift boat shipwrecked just off of Yucatán’s coast, near the port of Progreso.
Unofficial reports claim that Mexican authorities helped 19 people to disembark the badly damaged ship.
The exact circumstances that lead the ship to be damaged and lose navigational control are unknown. But some sources are speculating that windy and rainy weather over the Gulf of Mexico may have been a contributing factor.
The migrants were offered emergency aid at the scene and were then taken to Mérida for further medical care and to assess the nature of the incident.
Local media outlets reported that at least two of the passengers did not survive the journey from Cuba and that the bodies had been transferred to the morgue.
Worsening economic conditions, especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, have forced a growing number of Cuban migrants to try their luck escaping the Communist island.
Though the destination for most of these migrants is the United States, particularly Florida, several have historically set up residence in Mexico, especially on the Yucatán Peninsula and the state of Veracruz.
Cuba’s economy contracted 11% in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic decimated its vital tourism industry. There are also reports that food insecurity on the island is advancing at an alarming rate.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel blamed the political unrest in his country on the United States and its continued trade embargo.