The ties between the Cayman Islands and Cuba are long and strong.
But we are still required to repatriate Cubans who escape their country
and find themselves on our shores.
As of this writing there are 36 Cuban migrants being housed on Grand
Cayman, awaiting repatriation.
And it isn’t cheap.
In the 2005-06 fiscal year the Cayman Islands spent $896,000 housing,
feeding, medically treating and repatriating illegal Cuban migrants.
Cubans arriving on Cayman shores without sufficient supplies to
continue their journey face detention and repatriation under a Memorandum of
Understanding with the Cuban government.
Each year our government budgets for the care of Cuban migrants while
they are detained here.
But as the economy in Cuba continues to worsen, we can expect to see
more migrants pass through our area in search of freedom.
Those of us who live in Cayman are discouraged from offering help in
the manner of fuel, water and food to Cubans trying to make their way to
freedom, but more often than not, we do. Cubans generally arrive in run-down
water craft seeking passage to Central America. It is only humanely natural
that we would want to help our Caribbean brothers who are trying to escape
oppression and make better lives for themselves. At least the 36 Cuban migrants
awaiting repatriation here are being housed in mobile homes that were sent to
us following Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It’s a better situation than when former
migrants were forced to live in a single building lined with bunk beds that
became too hot when there were too many people.
It’s anyone’s guess as to when the migrants will be repatriated to
Cuba; it is up to the Cuban government as to when they will take them back.
It is our wish that the economy and the government would improve in
Cuba so that our brothers and sisters wouldn’t have to risk life and limb to
escape. But until that happens, Cayman is going to have to be prepared.