Frustration led to Cuban’s escape

Wanted to get back home

Lester Camejo Suarez didn’t run away from the Cayman Islands Immigration Detention Centre on Christmas night because he was trying to avoid repatriation to Cuba.

He left because he wasn’t being sent home fast enough.

Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said that’s the conclusion of an investigation into the 25 December escape at the George Town detention facility.

‘It was frustration,’ said Mr. Manderson. ‘He wanted to return to Cuba as quick as he could, and he was not seeing the result that he wanted.’

The head of the Immigration Department said, while Suarez, 25, was recaptured within three days and was never a danger to the community; his escape does raise an important issue.

‘We need to ensure that the migrants who are here are able to leave as quickly as possible, so they’re not allowed to get frustrated and have a motivation to leave the camp.’

It’s believed Suarez ran from the detention centre sometime between 6pm and 7pm shortly after the end of a football game detainees were playing.

Mr. Manderson declined to discuss exactly how Suarez got out.

However, in an earlier interview with the Compass Assistant Chief Immigration Officer Jeannie Lewis said she assumed the Cuban migrant was able to climb onto the roof of the building and get out over the back fence.

Ms Lewis said it was just the second successful escape from the detention facility she could remember.

Mr. Manderson said he was satisfied with the review done on the escape, which also concluded Suarez acted alone.

‘There was nothing that suggested anyone else at the camp was involved,’ Mr. Manderson said. ‘He made his escape unassisted.’

Mr. Manderson said steps would be taken to prevent escapes from happening in the future, but he admitted no plan would be perfect.

‘I’m not going to rule out (the possibility of escape),’ said Mr. Manderson. ‘We don’t have a facility like the Northward prison, which has a much more secure fence. It could happen again.’

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