The Havana-based team of Ramon Espinosa, Ariel Gonzalez, Milexsy Duran and Andrea Rodriguez delivered exclusive all-formats coverage as a single vessel that set out for the United States carrying 842 Haitians landed instead on the coast of central Cuba. The migrants, who had been abandoned at sea, appeared to be the largest group yet in a swelling exodus of people fleeing crisis-stricken Haiti.
Upon learning of the migrants, the AP team hurried to Villa Clara province, some 180 km (110 miles) from Havana, getting exclusive access to people who told the harrowing story of being tricked by smugglers who showed them images of a cruise ship and charged thousands of dollars. The migrants instead found themselves piling into a dilapidated boat; the captain later escaped in a small boat, abandoning them adrift.
Video journalist Gonzalez and photographer Espinosa captured images that showed the distress and fatigue in the faces of the migrants, some of them women with small children and even a newborn baby. Producer Duran was instrumental in working with the Cuban authorities and medical team to get unrestricted access to the migrants while feeding information and interviews to writer Rodriguez, who crafted the text story in Havana.
The package followed AP’s feature a week earlier on the widespread gang violence and deep instability that are driving Haitians to flee the country.
The work was widely used by AP broadcast and digital customers across the globe.