Two Cuban migrants found 17 days after landing

El Arca landed at Beach Bay Jan. 31. - Photo: Charles Duncan

Immigration authorities arrested two Cuban migrants Tuesday, 17 days after they landed at Beach Bay with about two dozen others.

On the last weekend in January, two boats carrying 64 migrants from Cuba to Honduras stopped in the Cayman Islands. One of the boats, El Arca, landed in Beach Bay with 24 people aboard, and four people left the beach. The two men arrested this week are the last of the missing migrants who landed Jan. 31.

One other man from the El Arca, Eduardo Yasmani Tamayo Puig, 28, along with Daikel Alcolea Milan, 32, who arrived on another vessel, pleaded guilty this week and were sentenced to 10 days’ imprisonment each for illegal landing.

Through an interpreter, Puig told the court, “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.”

Puig said he had intended to continue the journey to Honduras and then the United States. Five other Cuban migrants were sentenced recently by a different court for illegal landing.

The Cubans who remained with the boats were taken to the Immigration Department’s detention facility or a community center to await repatriation back to Cuba.

The Immigration Department has more than 130 Cuban migrants in custody in its holding facility and the community centers in East End and Bodden Town.

Wesley Howell, deputy chief officer with the Ministry of Home Affairs, said recently that the number of Cubans arriving in Cayman has increased dramatically. In data provided by the ministry, last year set a 10-year high in the number of Cuban citizens landing illegally in Cayman, with 226 people. Six weeks into 2016, the number is already well above 130.