Cuban scuba diving instructor tries windsurfing in Florida in hopes of getting medical treatment

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ISLAMORADA, Florida. – The man who was stranded on a windsurfer at sea off the Florida Keys is a Cuban father who is in desperate need of medical treatment, relatives have said.

A US Coast Guard crew rescued him on Wednesday about 15 miles south of Islamorada. Relatives identified him as Elian López, a scuba diving instructor from Varadero.

“He urgently needs medicine, that’s one of the reasons he desperately risked his life,” Dunia Rodriguez, his cousin, wrote in Spanish. a petition on Change.org adding that the “totalitarian system” in the communist island “leads Cubans into the worst of miseries”.

Unlike most migrants who typically find themselves in crowded, ill-equipped rafts, López wore a life jacket, had a global positioning system and cellphones, according to the Coast Guard.

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“He had essential safety equipment when we locate people,” Coast Guard Petty Officer Martin McAdams said.

Rodriguez said she was very surprised by what he did. She said he had undergone cancer treatment in Cuba.

“The only ones who knew were his wife and daughter,” Rodriguez said, adding that he left them in Cuba. “If he sent her a message to say goodbye, it was because there was a moment when he didn’t know what was going to happen in his life.”

López’s wife called friends and family in Miami to tell them he was stranded at sea.

“We received the report around 3 p.m. from a family member,” McAdams said.

Alaydin Cabrera, her cousin, took to Facebook to ask the public for help with updates on her condition and whereabouts.

“He was very dehydrated and was taken to hospital,” Cabrera wrote in Spanish.

Cabrera and Rodriguez are among relatives making a public appeal to US immigration authorities. They want López to stay in the United States, so he can get the treatment he needs and eventually reunite with his wife and daughter.

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