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.
“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.