Thursday, February 15, 2007
Send them back!
Cayman Net News
Nineteen Cuban migrants to be repatriated to Cuba
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Last Monday morning, 19 Cuban migrants in a makeshift vessel arrived at Scott’s Dock in Cayman Brac and threatened to hijack an anchored boat.
Twelve of the migrants were detained and heavily guarded overnight in the Creek Police Station lock-up facility.
On Tuesday afternoon, eleven of the Cubans were transported to Grand Cayman for processing on a chartered Cayman Airways Express flight.
One remained in Cayman Brac to have minor surgery and will be transferred to Grand Cayman at a later date.
Officials said they have to act in accordance with the Government’s current implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which dictates that no assistance of any sort is given if the Cuban migrants choose to continue their journey.
They could, however, decide to remain on the Island and be repatriated to Cuba.
The Customs Enforcement boat ‘Defender’ escorted the other seven Cubans, who chose to continue their journey unassisted to Central America in their 1940 Russian made diesel engine boat.
Customs accompanied them until they reached west of Little Cayman, leaving the Cubans sometime around 9:00 pm Monday night.
By 10:30 am Tuesday morning, the District Officer in Little Cayman advised the District Administration in Cayman Brac that the group of seven had returned and landed on Little Cayman.
According to Immigration officials, the seven migrants will be transferred shortly to Cayman Brac.
One tourist looker believed that assistance should have been given to the migrants from the beginning.
“It is very stupid and inhumane. If they had helped them yesterday it would have cost no more than $200 maximum. There were private citizens offering to help,” he said.
“The Cubans would have continued on. Cayman is not their destination of choice. They just stopped in to get help to finish their journey.”
A local resident of the Brac also felt the Cuban dissidents should have received help. “What has happened to our hearts – this is supposed to be a Christian island and we just send human beings on to face such perils,” he said.
When the 16 men and three women first arrived in the Brac, the Immigration officers communicated the MOU policy.
The group, comprised of Cuban nationals from Cientufuego, chose to leave unassisted, but returned shortly afterwards to the same location and the hostilities ensued with the Immigration officials.
The Cubans threatened to commandeer an anchored vessel at the dock unless they received the assistance they sought to continue their escape from Cuba. However, 12 of the dissidents decided to abandon their journey and be repatriated to Cuba, while the other seven attempted to reach their desired location, Honduras.
One of the migrants had previously been repatriated to Cuba on 18 January 2007 and was one of the seven who decided to continue on the voyage to Honduras.
The Cayman Islands, in particular Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, has seen an influx of Cubans who mostly head to the US, which is 90 miles north of Cuba.
Uncertainty in Cuba about the health of its leader Fidel Castro has not deterred Cubans from trying to flee the communist island, and despite the current Island policy, dissidents still reach here.
JG Comment: Cuban criminal elements -- they are called escoria inside the island -- are still trying to come to the U.S. They should be sent back immediately.
There is a migratory agreement between Cuba and the U.S. that allows up to 20,000 Cubans to come to the states. They are screened by the United States Interests Section in Havana to weed out the criminal element, whom you and I, do not want as neighbors.