Cubans flood Sister Islands

Weary officials on Cayman Brac are struggling to keep up with the rising tide of migrant arrivals from Cuba.

Fourteen more Cubans arrived Monday morning, bringing to 62 the number of migrants to arrive in five days.

One of three women who arrived in a group of 11 Thursday night around 6pm looked visibly ill. While they were being interviewed by officials, the migrants remained in their boat and were seen constantly bailing water from the 16-foot fiberglass craft in the calm waters of the Creek Barcadere.

A resident of the island donated a bag of T-shirts, though one was returned because, as the Customs officer explained, it had the words ‘Cayman Islands’ written on it.

Despite the poor condition of the boat, at around 8.30pm, officials carried dried food and water to the dockside to load on to the boat and it appeared the group was to set off that night. Witnesses who spoke Spanish said the migrants refused to leave and just before 9pm, they were all searched and taken to the Cayman Brac Police Station.

All 11 left Cayman Brac at 11 the following morning in the boat they arrived in after a few rudimentary repairs had been made. They arrived in Little Cayman shortly afterward in a different vessel that had been given to them by Cayman Brac resident Mr. Dervyn Scott, and the Cubans left early afternoon.

While this group was still by the dock, a group of 15 migrants – 13 men and two women – arrived at the Panama Canal at around 9.30am in a sturdy wooden boat approximately 18 feet long and left two hours later with supplies of food, water and fuel.

A small boat with 11 on board, including three women, arrived in the very early hours Saturday morning. They remained at the Creek Barcadere and left around 8am. The boat ran into trouble and was towed by a private vessel to Little Cayman. By the time they arrived there, the boat was full of water. All 11 were transported back to Cayman Brac Saturday afternoon in the Marine Enforcement vessel and taken to the Cayman Brac Police Station.

Ten men and one woman in a 14-foot wooden vessel were spotted at the east end of Cayman Brac early Saturday evening and were towed by a private boat to the Creek Barcadere, where they were interviewed by officials.

One man in the group had been to Cayman Brac on a previous attempt to leave Cuba and asked to speak to an old friend. Mr. Oliver Rivers, who is originally from Cuba but has lived on Cayman Brac for many years, is used to act as interpreter for government officials when Cubans arrive.

District Commissioner Kenny Ryan, who was present that evening, would not allow the two to converse. The Caymanian Compass has leaned that this group slept on the concrete at the barcadere.

Mid-morning Sunday, migrants and boat were taken to Kidco Dock on the south side. Residents of Cayman Brac who were present said the group had not had anything to eat that morning and bought them breakfast. The migrants left around 2pm despite the fact a cold-front was approaching the area.

This latest group, which includes four women, arrived in the early hours of Monday morning. At press time it is believed they are in the Cayman Brac Police Station, bringing the total there to 25.

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