In the Aug. 22, 1968 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, the following story, titled “9 arrive from Cuba,” appeared on the front page.
“Nine Caymanians released from Castro’s Cuba arrived here on Friday, Aug. 16, after travelling to Mexico and Kingston.
“Five more Caymanians were at the airport to see them, despite heavy rain, which started early in the afternoon. Those who arrived were Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hydes and children Carl, Albert and Velma and daughters Leonor, Maria and Barbara. Two other Caymanians, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Moxam, who were also repatriated travelled with the group as far as Mexico but elected to remain there.”
An earlier report in the Caymanian Weekly had noted that the Cuban government had formally asked the Caymanian government for the return of its “05,” a gunboat which was hijacked and brought to Cayman by four Cubans on Monday, July 15.
The Aug. 22 story continued:
“The hijacked boat ‘05’ was claimed on the morning the Caymanian families arrived. A fishing boat escorted by a large naval tug, which did not come into the bay, came for it. Aboard the tug was a Cuban diplomat who brought the usual courtesies from his government.
“The Assistant Administrator Mr. Dennis Foster returned the courtesies on behalf of the government and people of the Cayman Islands.
“The ‘05’ was checked in detail and everything was found in order. Coffee was served and the hijacked boat was towed away by the fishing boat.
“The Caymanian families had been living for a long time in Cuba. The Hydes family lived in the Isle of Pines. The father had been living there for 67 years. The Yates family lived in Oriente province.
“Mr. Hydes said that they knew that they were coming home only three days before the appointed time. Cuba government guards got them out of bed early in the morning and told them that they had to go to Havana to return to Cayman via Mexico. They had very little time in which to pack any of their belongings. He had been trying to leave Cuba for the past two years. ‘Life is unbearable over there,’ he said.”
“Mr. Hydes said that the Caymanian families in Cuba would give the world to leave, but that most of them are reluctant to do so because they want to be with their families. He said that most of them had children between the ages of 15 and 27, who were drafted and in regular army service.
“Food was scarce and rationed. Food given for a month could only last for a week. Each person was allowed 3lbs of rice and ½lb of meat per week. Fishermen and wood cutters fared much better, as they were given twice as much per person.”