Stranded Nicaraguan residents in Cayman are hopeful they may be able to return home soon, as their government has begun accepting a select few of its nationals back across its border.
Officials from the Governor’s Office acknowledged to the Cayman Compass on Tuesday they were in contact with Nicaraguan authorities, but could not give any promises at this stage.
“The Nicaraguans have just started to take back some of their nationals. Their first priority are the cruise ship workers stranded in various parts of the Caribbean,” said a spokesperson from the Governor’s Office. “These started returning over the weekend.
“They are now looking at a controlled return of others. Borders are not officially open, but they are accepting some returning nationals.”
Images have since surfaced across several social media sites, showing Nicaraguan nationals arriving at the airport in Managua. The pictures show that, shortly after their arrival, they were driven away in buses, under a police escort, and taken out of the city.
“This means that all Nicaraguans that are in Cayman can get back home now,” said Norlan Jimenez Gutierrez, who has been stuck in Cayman since March.
According to Nicaraguan station Radio Bluefields, residents who were working aboard have been granted permission to return home, provided that they have taken a coronavirus test and the results are negative.
Jimenez Gutierrez is one of more than 120 Nicaraguan residents who have had to rely on the generosity of charities to survive, after having lost their jobs more than 10 weeks ago.
With no financial means to provide for themselves, the cost of doing a COVID-19 test is a hurdle most of the Nicaraguan residents cannot afford. Fortunately, they might not have to shoulder that burden.
“It certainly is something that the Nicaraguan government seems to be saying, that they want people to be tested when they get back to Nicaragua,” said Governor Martyn Roper, last week, after he met with a group of the stranded Nicaraguans. “Of course, we have a large testing capacity on island. So that is something that we can definitely look at, testing people before they go back.”
However, even if the stranded Nicaraguan residents are able to be tested, there is no guarantee they will be accepted back home.
“We are in touch with the Nicaraguan authorities and are actively seeking permission for Nicaraguans stranded here in the Cayman Islands, but have not been given any guarantees yet,” said a spokesperson from the Governor’s Office. “We continue to make representations.”