Cubans can’t be aided

Cubans who stop in the Cayman Islands on their way to Honduras will no longer be given aid.

Members of Cabinet on Tuesday passed new guidelines for dealing with undocumented Cuban migrants entering this country.

The policy was put in force Wednesday.

Cuban migrants found in Cayman’s territorial waters or who come ashore will not be allowed to land and will no longer be given assistance to help them continue their journey.

Those who can leave immediately without assistance will be allowed to do so. Those unable to proceed will be detained and repatriated to Cuba as allowed by the 1999 Memorandum of Understanding unless they are determined to be refugees under the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees.

The move comes after hundreds of Cubans have stopped in the Cayman Islands on their way to Honduras, where they say they will seek political asylum.

The latest batch of Cubans arrived in North Side this week. They were given food, water and 100 gallons of diesel before continuing their trek to Honduras.

Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said more than 300 Cubans arrived in the Cayman Islands last year. Most travelled to Cayman Brac where they were loaded with gas, provisions and had their vessels repaired before continuing their journeys.

‘As a result of increased migration of Cuban nationals through the Cayman Islands and reported incidents of violent methods used to commandeer vessels to transport Cuban migrants to the Cayman Islands, the Cayman Islands Government, in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Cayman Islands and the Government of the Republic of Cuba will return all Cuban migrants to Cuba who illegally enter the Cayman Islands,’ states the preamble to the new guidelines.

Illegal Cubans will not be allowed to obtain additional or alternative vessels, according to the guidelines. They also will not be allowed to obtain transportation by alternative means, the guidelines state.

Cubans arriving in the Brac recently have had boats repaired, bought motors and in at least one instance given a sea worthy boat.

The guidelines also state that neither the public nor the press should have access to the migrants.

‘The privacy of the migrants must be respected, especially those fleeing persecution,’ the guidelines state.

Cuban migrants to be repatriated will be given accommodation, food, water, clothing, limited phone calls to relatives and regular information about the progression of their repatriation.

‘Should a vessel carrying Cuban migrants become disabled or in distress every effort must be made to prevent loss of life. IN these circumstances any Cuban rescued will be repatriated in accordance with this policy and the MOU,’ the guidelines read.

Mr. Manderson said the British High Commission in Havana will be informed of the policy.

Some Cubans were repatriated from the Cayman Islands last year under the 1999 agreement.

Cuba is about 200 miles north of the Cayman Islands.

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