Rescued by the US the Cuban rafter who fled a prison sentence for 11J

Cuban rafter who fled 9/11 conviction must prove "credible fear"

The 27-year-old Cuban Yariel Alfonso Puerta, who jumped into the sea last Friday along with his friend Alioski Quintero González with whom he left the island to avoid trial for his participation in the July 11 demonstrations in Matanzas, is on a US Coast Guard Cutter conducting his “credible fear” interview.

The information was confirmed by the Coast Guard to the journalist from América TeVé Mario J. Pentón this Tuesday after several days in custody in Florida waters and after pressure from the Cuban exile community not to return the young people to the island. If they manage to demonstrate that their personal integrity is in danger (“credible fear”) in case of deportation to Cuba, the two rafters will be able to continue their political asylum process to stay in the United States.

Yariel Alfonso’s mother, Yamilé Puerta, confirmed to ’14ymedio’ that Democratic congresswoman Federica Wilson, who is helping in the case, requested permission from the family to inform the press

Yariel Alfonso’s mother, Yamilé Puerta, confirmed to 14ymedio that Democratic congresswoman Federica Wilson, who is helping in the case, asked the family for permission to inform the press about the current situation of the young people and if they will be able to continue with their asylum process.

Alfonso Puerta set sail from the Island with his friend in a homemade raft with a sail and four oars. That same day, they went to look for him to take him to court for having participated in the 11J demonstrations.

His desperate mother hopes that the US authorities will not return him to Cuba. “If they return my son, his life will be miserable,” she told 14ymedio from the Valencian town of Villarreal, in Spain, where she has arrived more than six years ago with her husband, Yoenis Martín González.

The woman was in contact with her son until Saturday at nine in the morning, when the young people were already in international waters. Until then, she maintained communication with him.

He even broadcast a video call with the young man at the precise moment that the Cuban coastguard had intercepted them, the day before. “They have them in the water, they don’t let them move,” the mother denounced, but then they were able to continue their journey.

According to the Cubalex legal organization, Alfonso Puerta faces a six-year prison sentence for the crimes of public disorder, disobedience and resistance.

“Under the rules that exist, no person who finds credible fear in the Coast Guard cutter enters the United States.”

On August 2, when a rafter who was a police officer in Cuba managed to pass the “credible fear” interview on the high seas, attorney Willy Allen recalled to América TeVé that this type of migrant does not continue their asylum process in US territory.

“Let’s be clear, he has no entrance to the United States,” he said, referring to the rafter identified by a relative as Ernesto Urgellés and who had been intercepted along with other Cubans by the Coast Guard. “Under the rules that exist, no person who finds credible fear in the Coast Guard cutter enters the United States.”

Allen also explained that rafters who manage to pass the first “credible fear” interview are transferred to the Guantánamo naval base where they are processed for asylum. The lawyer recalled that being admitted for this reason does not make the migrant an asylum seeker, it only allows him to argue his case and then carry out the entire process before Immigration. In addition, he added that they can send the rafter to a third country while their request is analyzed.


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