WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Home and clothing designer David Maison gives a tour of a house on which he's working. He said his family came to the United States in 1995 from Cuba under duress.
"My family was politically persecuted in Cuba," he said. "There was no freedom of speech. There was no freedom of religion."
In all, 23 members of his extended family made the journey. So, when he heard that a make-shift raft that set sail from Cuba capsized miles from Key West, he said he can empathize with their desperation.
"When I came here, I saw the fact that you could pursue your goals, open your own businesses. In Cuba, you can't pursue your goals," he said.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Wednesday night while on patrol they spotted several people in the water. Eight people were initially rescued while two bodies were recovered. The search began for 10 others.
Neovy Morales worries that a loved one was on the raft and now desperately waits for answers.
"It was a rustic boat," she said.
Morales said the raft was made of barrels and people were basically on top of one another.
Since October 2020, the Coast Guard has rescued 308 Cuban citizens making the dangerous journey. That's a dramatic decrease from just five years ago, when the Coast Guard rescued over five thousand people.
Maison said the flow of families desperate to leave the island nation will not end.
"They have absolutely no choice but leave the island because all their hopes and dreams have been completely truncated," he said.