HAVANA – Seven women whose attempt to leave Cuba with their children was frustrated when Cuban coast guard officials opened fire on their alleged smugglers will stand trial for endangering their children, state media reported Monday.
The Communist Party daily Granma said the seven children, ages 1 to 14, had to walk through swampy, mosquito-plagued terrain and were without water or food for two days before April 5, when they were to be picked up by migrant smugglers in the western province of Pinar del Rio.
"Once again it has been exposed how irresponsible and unscrupulous people put the lives of their children in twice as much danger: to drown during their voyage or get sick because of the bad environment chosen by the smugglers," Granma said.
The newspaper offered no details on the charges against the women or when they would be tried.
Ramon Saul Sanchez, a Cuban migrant advocate in Miami, said he opposed migrant smuggling but believed the mothers were being unfairly punished.
"It is a very hard decision for a mother to leave her country, endangering the life of her child," said Sanchez. "I think the government should be put on trial for causing people to leave the land they were born to seek freedom somewhere else."
The women and children were with 25 other adults who were to be ferried out of the country on a speedboat.
Cuban coast guard officials opened fire on the three-man crew operating the vessel after they did not obey an order to stop, killing one.
Authorities temporarily took the would-be-migrants into custody for questioning.