Today’s Editorial: Migrant policy was needed

The Cayman Islands now has a definitive policy on the repatriation of Cubans.

No longer will Cuban migrants be allowed to travel to the Cayman Islands for assistance before continuing their journey to Honduras.

Cabinet approved the policy Tuesday. It became official Wednesday.

It’s good to finally have a policy that can be enforced when it comes to the issue of Cuban migrants.

For too long the looming question has been why Cuban migrants were treated differently on Cayman Brac than on Grand Cayman.

In the Brac many times migrants were given food, water, gas and even safer boats to continue their travels.

In Grand Cayman most migrants were detained and repatriated to Cuba.

There stands a 1999 Memorandum of Understanding between Cuba and the Cayman Islands. It states that migrant Cubans will be repatriated unless they are determined to be refugees under the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees.

The generous nature of Caymanians has seen that memorandum ignored at times as fellow humans try to help Cuban migrants in their journey to freedom.

Whether repatriation sits well with those in the Cayman Islands is a separate issue.

The Government here has said it will notify the British High Commission in Havana and alert members there about the policy. It is incumbent on the Commission to spread the word of the policy among would-be migrants.

It is hoped that anyone migrating from Cuba will know that if they are encountered in Cayman’s territorial waters or come ashore any of the three islands will be refused permission to land and won’t be given aid.

Those able to depart immediately and wishing to do so will be allowed to leave.

The policy makes a strong attempt to perform a balancing act between the desires of humans to leave Cuba and this country’s relationship with its neighbour to the north.

More than 300 Cuban migrants came ashore in the Cayman Islands in 2004. It is believed that as economic conditions become more stringent in Cuba, more will make an attempt to flee. Many will make the attempt to get to Honduras. To get there they must pass the Cayman Islands.