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    Posted April 9, 2012 by
    Cary, North Carolina
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

    More from gladiator43

    Cuban Refugee Rescue in Shark infested Sea


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     gladiator43 says he was sitting on the balcony of his stateroom when he saw the captain of the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas looking at a small white speck in the ocean. Then the boat started turning. He got his camera to see what was going on and saw that the speck was actually a boat carrying refugees. As the cruise ship got closer to the boat, people on board started clapping and chanting "Cuba Libre!" He says the cruise ship sent a yellow rescue boat to bring life jackets, water and other supplies to the people on the boat. Then they started ferrying passengers onto the cruise ship. He says he saw about six sharks swimming around the boats and that at one point, they had to stop the rescue when a shark got too close. A spokesman for the cruise line told CNN that 23 Cubans were rescued.
    - davidw, CNN iReport producer

    These pictures were captured from our stateroom upon the Royal Caribbean "Oasis of the Seas" Wednesday, April 4. To see the desperation and risks some are willing to take is a true reminder of how lucky we are to have our freedoms. There were 24 refugees floating aimlessly as their rigged engine had died and they were out of food and water. These refugees were hoping to reach Honduras.


    Brings up the question of for every one of these boats "lucky" enough to be saved, how many are never rescued or recovered? As I watch the sharks swarming beneath the makeshift vessel, I shudder to think of what becomes of many of these forgotten men, women, and children that make the unimaginable decision to set off on this perilous journey. Who would believe that taking this risk is better than what exists in their daily lives?


    My understanding is these refugees had been at sea for 21 days and were released to Mexican authorities on our next port-of-call in Cozumel, Mexico.   Just thankful they were brought on board to, at least, temporary safety.


    UPDATE from gladiator43  18-APR-2012:

    Addressing an inquiry regarding US knowledge of event and current status of refugees in this case, A US State Department Public Affairs representative issued the following response:


    "Per international law of the sea, commercial  or private vessels that rescue persons at sea are to take them to the  nearest safe haven, which may often be the next port of call.  When the  rescued people disembark, they become the responsibility of the  receiving national government.  In this case, the Cuban migrants became  the responsibility of the Mexican government.   We [US State Department] do not have any additional information on current whereabouts.  The  U.S. Coast Guard advises that they often respond to calls from  commercial vessels or “good Samaritans” and either directly rescue or  take on persons rescued in the Caribbean.  They did not get a call in  this case."

    -gladiator43, iReporter

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