MIAMI — Another large group of Haitian migrants was stopped at sea this week on an overloaded sailboat heading for South Florida.
The Coast Guard said the 109 people included two children. Their vessel was stopped by the Coast Guard Wednesday about 35 miles east of Punta de Maisi, off the southeastern coast of Cuba.
The cutter Decisive returned them to the port city of Cap-Haïtien in Haiti Friday morning, the Coast Guard said in a news release.
With ongoing violence and political instability within their country, maritime migration from Haiti to the United States has hit an 18-year high, the Coast Guard said this week.
Since Oct. 1, the Coast Guard has stopped 3,412 Haitians on the ocean. That far surpasses the 1,527 interdicted at sea in all of fiscal year 2021 — a time period ranging from Oct. 1 to the end of September every calendar year.
The last time the Coast Guard experienced such a large maritime migration spike from Haiti was in 2004. At one point that year, the agency held 546 Haitians on board cutters after intercepting about a dozen vessels in a matter of days attempting the 600-mile journey to Florida.
The country at the time was in the midst of an armed revolt that eventually forced the departure of then-president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Today, the surge is being driven by people fleeing increased gang violence, kidnappings, hunger and political turmoil, exacerbated by last July’s assassination of President Jovenel Moise.
(Staff writer Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report.)