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Cuba: Cuba accuses Washington of stoking illegal migration after boat tragedy

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba accused Washington of stoking illegal migration by not processing visas in Havana and making it relatively easy for Cubans to claim asylum, in the wake of a spate of ill-fated clandestine attempts to reach U.S. shores by boat.

The fate of a group of Cubans risking their lives to reach the United States illegally by boat has gripped people on both sides of the Florida Straits after a vessel capsized near the Bahamas a week ago, leaving some people floating in the water for more than 14 hours.

While a Royal Bahamas Defence Force ship has rescued 12 people and recovered one body, several others have not yet been found, including women and two children, the Cuban foreign ministry said in a statement late on Thursday.

Thousands of Cubans used to attempt to emigrate to the United States by boat per year until former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2017 ended a measure granting automatic residence to Cubans who reached U.S. soil, though he left in place some other exceptions to usual migration rules.

Since then, the numbers have dropped but still hover around several hundred per year.

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