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Report: Man Missing At Sea After Trying To Flee Cuba

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - On the eve of the landmark announcement signaling a policy shift between the U.S. and Cuba, a group of Cubans tried to flee the communist island.

That group never made it to America.

In fact, one man may be lost at sea.

"Still nothing," a relative of Diosbel Diaz Beoto says on the phone from Cuba. She says she hasn't heard anything about whether the 32-year-old man is dead or alive.

CLICK HERE To Watch Lauren Pastrana's Report 

According to Ramon Saul Sanchez with the Democracy Movement, Diaz Beoto was among more than two dozen people on the speedboat Tuesday when it started sinking.

"The vessel was broken into two and (Diosbel) disappeared," Sanchez said at a press conference Friday. "They don't know where he is. They don't know if he drowned or if he's floating in the ocean.

Sanchez claims the Cuban government may have played a role in the sinking.

"Cuban Coast Guard rammed the vessel from the back," Sanchez said.

The U.S. Coast Guard told CBS4 News "There is no evidence to support the claim that is being made by the Democracy Movement and Mr. Sanchez."

The agency says it received a request to assist at the scene of a sinking boat in Cuban territorial waters, but was then told Cuban authorities responded.

Sanchez said whether the boat was in Cuban waters remains unclear.

A spokesperson for the Coast Guard said the agency "was told that all reported people on the vessel were safely recovered by the Cuban Boarder Guard… (and) that the master of the vessel was being held in Cuba on accusations that he was trying to smuggle people from Cuba to the U.S."

"At a moment like this, one wonders what really has changed in Cuba," Sanchez said.

In his final press conference of the year, President Obama emphasized change would not happen overnight.

"I share the concern of dissidents there and human rights activists. This is still a regime that represses its people," Mr. Obama said. "But what I know deep in my bones is that if you've done the same thing for 50 years and nothing's changed, you should try something different.

President Obama also touched on the embargo, saying he cannot "unilaterally" end it.

He says he hopes Congress will re-examine it and make changes.





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