We’re not criminals, Cubans tell court

Two plead guilty to illegal landing

The police marine unit reached the sinking vessel within 25 minutes, and the migrants abandoned the boat.

Two Cuban nationals were sentenced on Monday to 10 days imprisonment after pleading guilty to illegal landing.

Eduardo Yasmani Tamayo Puig, 28, and Daikel Alcolea Milan, 32, both told Chief Magistrate Nova Hall through an interpreter that they were not criminals.

“My intention was to continue my journey to Honduras,” Milan said. “I don’t think that is a valid reason to have us incarcerated. We didn’t steal, we didn’t kill anybody. We just entered here to continue our journey.”

Milan asked to be sent back to Cuba as soon as possible or be transferred to the detention center “because no one speaks Spanish at the prison.”

Puig said he came looking for a better future. “We never thought we would end up in prison in another country. I have never been in trouble in Cuba. I have never been in prison till I came here.

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“It’s difficult to understand the situation we’re in right now. We’re not criminals. The only thing we are looking for is to live a better life, an honest life, like any decent human being.”

Earlier, Crown counsel Greg Walcolm provided the men, via the interpreter, with a summary of the charges against them. They agreed to the facts presented. Each had admitted entering and remaining in Cayman without specific permission between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6.

In Milan’s case, he said he arrived around Jan. 28 on a makeshift vessel in which he and others had departed Cuba. He hid from authorities until Feb. 6, when he turned himself in.

Puig told interviewers that he fled the scene after seeing police officers while making repairs to the vessel he had arrived in – El Arca. His intention was to find another Cuban vessel passing these shores and attempt to board and continue his journey to Honduras, with his final destination being the U.S.

Puig confirmed receiving assistance from people unknown to him, but said he had been “sleeping in the streets.”

In passing sentence, the magistrate noted that the men had not faced any other charges. Very often, she said, defendants charged with illegal landing have more serious charges as well, such as importing drugs.

She imposed terms of 10 days imprisonment, with credit for time in custody since their arrest. She recommended each man for deportation.

Five Cubans were sentenced last week in another court for escaping lawful custody. Of those who spoke before the magistrate passed sentence, one spoke of the risks that had been taken to reach this far and he asked to be allowed to continue his journey to Honduras. One said many of the men were educated, but did not have jobs in Cuba so it would be painful to go back.

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  1. 95% of Cubans are well educated. Having an education is a must, and the only exception is if you are mentally unfit.
    A Cuban who is educated in Cuba; don’t be fooled…….. there are jobs for them all with the government. Free medical, dental, schooling, university, many are allowed to have free lunches at their work, free lunches at schools and many other benefits are offered. Some satisfy, and try and make it with their small meagre salary, but Cubans are not completely locked away in this Communist world, that they do not know what salaries are paid in other countries and well informed of how we live. Cubans who are educated and do not have a job, either they do not want a job or has been incarcerated; where by they have to get back to the bottom of the line waiting for another chance. Also they are not allowed to be idle on the streets like you see it here and other places, they have to remain in their homes, as house husbands, or engaging in private activities to make a few dollars. Or get a job. In Cuba if you are seen idle walking on the road, a police will stop you and ask for your ID card, question where are you going and if you are working. If you are not on your way to work to the shop, market or doctor, you will be taken up interviewed and sometimes put in prison for being idle on the roads. Cuba is a wonderful place, beautiful country, and the people just want to live and breathe like every one else but it becomes a problem to them when they realize that it has to be at their own expense and not the world.