Cubans stopover leads to local arrest

Police Thursday arrested a man who was among a crowd of people gathered at the West Bay dock to watch a boat carrying 30 Cuban migrants that had stopped offshore. 

The Cubans, including 29 men and one woman, anchored off North West Point, telling marine police and immigration officers they were having trouble with their engine. 

Some among the crowd of about 50 Cubans and Caymanians questioned why they were not allowed to give the people on the boat water and food. 

Police, who were at the scene to assist the Immigration Department with the Cuban migrants, arrested a 47-year-old at the car park at the dock for assaulting police, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Police later said the arrest was not connected with the Cuban migrants. The man was 
released on police bail. 

Police officers wrestled him to the ground and tried to handcuff him to shouts of “that’s abuse” and “let the man go” from the crowd. Officers spent several minutes trying to restrain him and place him inside a police car, as members of the crowd closed in, calling on police to release him and not hurt him. 

As things got more heated and the man repeatedly refused to get in the car, resisting police’s efforts to push and pull him inside, several people tried to calm the situation down by talking to the police and the arrested man, including Bernie Bush, who was spending his first day as an elected representative of West Bay. 

The officers eventually got the man inside the vehicle, but moments later, he was out again. 

At this point, the armed response unit turned up at the scene and police officers surrounded the vehicle, keeping the crowd back as police again tried to get the man into the vehicle, using a baton to stop him kicking and to attempt to get his legs inside the car. 

Meanwhile, offshore, the Cubans had repaired their boat and were getting ready to raise anchor. As the police left with the arrested man in the back of a car, people walked back to the dock to wave goodbye to the Cubans and cheer as they took off back out to sea. 

Cubans living in Cayman had went to the dock to try to help the migrants. According to people at the scene, police would not allow chips and bottles of water to be taken to the group on the boat. Two cartons of water bottles and Lays potato chips lay on the sand beside the dock as the boat pulled away and out to the open sea after the boat was repaired. 

Under the terms of Cayman’s memorandum of understanding with Cuba signed in 1999, Cubans who enter Cayman’s waters on vessels can choose to land here and receive care in accordance with international conventions. Cabinet regulations passed in January 2005 state that if the migrants choose to continue their journey elsewhere, they cannot be offered any assistance or be allowed to land to repair their vessels. 

Two men from the boat had swum ashore to the foot of the dock and asked for sunglasses. One man on the dock threw his own sunglasses to the men, while another man ran off and returned minutes later with many pairs of new sunglasses that were placed into a plastic container which could float as the men swam back to their boat. 

Immigration officials on board a Joint Marine Unit vessel escorted the boat out of Cayman Islands territorial waters. 

Mr. Bush said he considered the policy of not assisting Cuban migrants to be a violation of human rights.  

“Where are the human rights in this? The people don’t want to land on this shore, but don’t tell us we can‘t go out there and give them water and food and provisions to continue their journey. They say we have to meet them 12 miles out and all kinds of stupidness … whoever made that law should be ashamed of themselves.  

This is a living disgrace,” he said. 

Speaking to a supporter on the phone at the scene, Mr. Bush: “Can you imagine on my first day I got to watch police brutalise one of my West Bayers and watch them try to starve some Cubans? This is a rough first day.” 

Police wrestle George Smith to the ground. - PHOTO: NORMA CONNOLLY

Police wrestle the arrested man to the ground. – PHOTO: NORMA CONNOLLY
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18 COMMENTS

  1. Bernie I guess your party should be ashamed then ,after all they were in charge in January 2005 when these regulations were passed.

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  2. We know what Cubans think of Cuba and now we know what they think of the Cayman islands. Human rights? Only if its Mine. Cayman. Third world brains in charge.

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  3. You know what is so strange Cayman Brac people are very brave as they do assist the Cubans despite what Police or Immigration say I know what i am talking about as I was there two years ago and helped my self…Where is the humanity in all this its one million times cheaper to give food water gas or any other thing they need than to fly them back to Cuba.Because for every one Cuban there is two security officers now you do the math..

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  4. Will this bring another Police brutality case? Guess we will have to wait and see with the new RED Government and all. I hope so; too much of this is going on here.

    Thank God this time we had a lot of witness, and I trust that you all will give statements; there was no need for this to happen in support of the victim’s case.

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  5. I’d like to help Bernie with his questions.

    The National Team Government was in place in 1999 when the Memorandum of Understanding was drafted. Your party leader was a member of this government. Your party was in government in 2005 when the regulations regarding aid to Cuban migrants were put in place. Your party leader has been in government or leader of government for the majority of time this policy has been in place and therefore presumably had ample opportunity to change it. Caymanians for the most part have been unconcerned and indifferent regarding this policy for almost 15 years.

    So who is to blame? We all are. Some however have had the direct power to change things and have not and therefore must shoulder more responsibility.

    I trust this helps clarify things a bit.

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  6. Cayman..a country in turmoil. Day one on the job. Watch the police … brutalise one of my West Bayers and ..starve some Cubans…? Wow. You’re supposed to uphold the law. Want to help the Cubans? Change the law but don’t blame the police for enforcing it. Police brutality? An officer tells me I’m under arrest and to get in the car, I do it. I don’t resist and get brutalized. The unarmed police uphold the law and deserve a little better then severe criticism from their allies, the lawmakers. For the record, I totally agree that food, water and supplies shouldn’t even be a question and the law is ridiculous. Freedom is god given.

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  7. A police brutality case? Why is it that no one has respect for the police? It states that his arrest was not in connection with the Cubans being here so he obviously must have done something wrong. On top of that instead of cooperating, he would not get in the car and he was kicking at the police. So much so that more police had to come to the scene, which in my mind this is a waste of time and resources, the man should also be charged with assulting a police officer. I find it ironic that people complain about crime here but as soon as the police try to do their job, they are criticized.

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  8. It is time to end such cruel and inhumane treatment to fellow human beings. This cuts to the very heart of being Caymanian. We have always been known for our hospitality, good will and kindness to strangers. For us to treat refugees like this is a disgrace to our heritage. I can imagine the sorrow felt by the people on the dock who had to push those poor, starving people back into the sea. Hopefully this new Government can undo such a travesty and come up with a more acceptable solution.

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  9. police brutalise what makes a person can resist, assault, and elude the police after told they are under arrest and the public perceive it to be brutalization when the officers have to do their job which is law, if an arrest able offence have been committed therefor your told, your under arrest, the term and procedure is not only for murders,and rapist, serious crimes start with minor offences..

    Mr.Bernie Bush you would not state brutalization if you were issued a pair of government (officers) boots, however you boarder with your constituents perception, ignore the fact of equality and justice, and not place yourself with the unfavorable party (the police). Justice for one and for all.

    It is the moral of a respected society to inform and assist with their civil duty to conform a civil society.

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  10. Hon Bernie Bush…Where was your input in 2005 when YOUR UDP Cabinet made the changes that prohibits any assistance to the Cubans?? Cat had a lot of tongues!
    Easier to oppose now, eh?
    These changes in 2005 were deplorable then, as they are NOW!!
    And as for the ‘Police brutality’ incident, GET REAL, Bernie! Resisting arrest can only be asking for man-handling, or ‘brutality’ as you call it!

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  11. Well Bernie,now we know what kind of politician you are and will be. You start out very well be attacking the rule of law and shouting to get cheap popularity, or maybe you actually believe what you are saying. Great start! I guess it was too much to expect some leadership from you? Like educating the crowd of supporters that the rule of law is paramount, and does not mean that you support the policy but we have a democratic system of representation which means people like you get to do something about it on behalf of the people who elected you without having to attack the system of which you are supposedly a part. Shame on you Bernie, but only if you knew better, which is suspect.

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