Last weekend, two Cuban pilots fled the communist country and landed in Key West, Florida, aboard a microlight aircraft used for tourist services on the beaches near Havana.
The flight was denounced as a “violation of Cuban airspace” and “theft” of equipment from the Cuban Aviation Club, which transmitted “to the competent international authorities its disagreement with acts like these” .
The pair departed at 8:05 am on Saturday morning from the coast of Havana, and were detained and taken into custody by the US Border Patrol shortly after landing in Florida, 145 kilometers from where they had left. The air getaway is reminiscent of an October 2022 incident where a Cuban pilot flew a Russian-built Antonov An-2 biplane to Dade-Collier Airport in South Florida. He was later granted asylum, granted by a judge.
The air flight comes amid a substantial increase in attempted Cuban immigration to the United States. In a period of one year, between October 2021 and September 2022, 6,182 Cuban migrants were intercepted in the waters of the Straits of Florida, and 224,607 migrants reached the US-Mexico border, reports international press reports.
Currently, the United States has a humanitarian program that allows beneficiaries to come in and work for two years, as long as they have a sponsor. To date, over 10,000 Cubans have taken advantage of this program, and up to 30,000 people from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua can benefit from this program each month.
In addition, the US government is expelling undocumented migrants from these countries who have illegally crossed the southern border into Mexico.
The two Cuban pilots, who became defectors in the air escape, could face deportation to the communist island and the stolen equipment could be returned. The seriousness of the case may result in punishment against them. However, judging from what happened to the pilot of the Antonov, it is more likely that they will also get asylum.