The Colombian navy found 21 undocumented Cuban migrants aboard two unlicensed boats, in which they planned to cross the border into Panama across the Gulf of Uraba in the Caribbean, naval officials said Friday.
The Cubans, with a pregnant woman and a 2-year-old child among them, were found in an area near the town of Sapzurro in the northwestern Colombian province of Choco, very close to the Panamanian border.
Upon sighting the approach of a navy rapid response unit, the so-called "coyotes" providing illegal transport for the 21 people aboard jumped in the water to escape and left the Cubans adrift, according to a navy communique.
Authorities recovered the two boats and took the Cubans to the coast guard station in the municipality of Turbo in Antioquia province, where they were examined by navy doctors.
Some of the immigrants showed signs of dehydration, for which they were given food and hydration, and were then turned over to Colombia's migration authority.
According to the report, the Cubans apparently entered Colombia illegally across the southern border with Ecuador and crossed the country by land until they reached the Uraba area with the apparent intention of heading for the United States through Central America.
So far this year the navy has come upon 118 undocumented immigrants in the Gulf of Uraba. EFE