Update 7:30pm: Live footage from the waterfront, at the standoff location:
Update 3:04pm: Customs and Border Control say its multiple offers to take the Cuban baby, who is ill with fever aboard a cargo ship, and either of its parents to the hospital to get medical treatment have been rejected.
In a statement issued Thursday, the CBC said it was alerted to the child’s condition overnight.
“Officers made numerous offers to take the mother or the father and the child to the George Town Hospital for treatment as suggested by the Health Services Authority, however, all offers were refused by the parents,” the CBC said in the statement.
It dismissed claims from the migrants, who have been livestreaming on Facebook from the Bulk Freedom ship, that they are being mistreated by the authorities in Cayman.
The CBC said these claims “are simply not true”.
It said it continues to provide the dozen migrants with food, drinking water, baby food for the infant, and other necessary supplies.
The baby’s mother Erica Alvarez-Freites, told the Cayman Compass she does not want to take her 1-year-old daughter to the hospital because she is fearful the child will be taken from her.
“CBC reiterates that the migrants have been and are being cared for in accordance with local policy which is compliant with the 1951 Convention on the Treatment of Refugees,” the CBC statement said.
The captain of the MV Bulk Freedom, CBC said in its statement, has indicated that he unwilling to transport the migrants to any other port, “as the vessel’s structure and equipment cannot facilitate this number of persons onboard in terms of health and hygiene”.
“The Capt. has also advised that the vessel’s safety equipment and manning does not allow more than 25 persons onboard; as such, he is adamant that they must disembark in Cayman,” it added.
CBC, RCIPS and the Cayman Islands Coast Guard “are actively working to resolve this issue as soon as possible”, the statement noted.
Update: The Cubans migrants refusing to disembark a Panamanian cargo ship have resumed livestreaming from the vessel in which they continue to complain about their treatment by Customs and Border Control and police officers.
In the brief Facebook video officers, clad in personal protective equipment, can be seen distancing themselves from the Cubans and tossing bottled water into the room with the migrants as they complain about being mistreated.
“It has been three long days,” Javier Jouz Varona said in Spanish as he addressed the officers.
Earlier on Thursday his wife, Erica Alvarez-Freites, told the Cayman Compass their 1-year-old daughter was running a fever.
She said she did not want to go to the hospital to get treatment for her child.
Speaking on the Facebook live feed, Alvarez-Freites told officers to bring a doctor to the ship to help them.
“I do not want to go to the hospital, they will take the baby from us. We do not want to leave this place… bring the doctor. If I leave this place to go to the hospital they will take my child away,” she said in the video, adding the police were using the child as an excuse to make them leave the ship.
Varona, speaking on the video, said the child is dehydrated because they do not have water on the ship.
He said his daughter was “OK.”
“She is with her family… everyone in the group is protecting her. We want them to bring the doctor… They do not want us to clean the room, to come out the room,” he said in the video.
CBC said Thursday morning that an update on the ongoing situation would be provided, and the Compass is still awaiting a statement.
Original story: The one-year-old baby caught in the middle of the standoff between Customs and Border Control and 12 Cubans has a fever and is not feeling well, her mother Erica Alvarez-Freites has confirmed.
However, Alvarez-Freites, speaking with the Cayman Compass Thursday morning, said she does not want to take the baby from the cargo ship they are currently on to the Cayman Islands Hospital.
“If I go to the hospital, they will take my daughter from me. We do not want to go back [to the Cayman Islands]… They want to force us to go back,” she said in a telephone interview.
Alvarez-Freites, a Dominican national, is among a group of Cubans who have been refusing to disembark Panamanian cargo ship Bulk Freedom for the last three days.
They were picked up by the ship 50 nautical miles from Grand Cayman on Tuesday. The group was reported as “unaccounted for” on Sunday by Customs and Border Control after their electronic monitoring devices failed to detect their location.
On Wednesday, one of the Cuban men on board the ship opted to disembark and has since been placed in quarantine.
Alvarez-Freites said the group was provided with food and water on Wednesday, but now they have run out of water.
She blamed the child’s health issues on the conditions on board the ship, where the Cubans are all staying in a recreation room.
“We are suffocating in the room with no air. This is why my daughter is like this… We do not belong to Cayman and we do not want to come back,” she said.
Alvarez-Freitas, as well as her husband Javier Jouz Varona, has been broadcasting live via Facebook from the ship. However, she said on Thursday morning that she had been blocked from broadcasting.
In some of the Facebook videos, police could be seen opening the door to the room the Cubans are in and heard pleading with the migrants to come ashore. Stand-up fans can also be seen in the room.
Several of the videos on Alvarez-Freites’ and Varona’s Facebook pages were not loading on Thursday morning.
Police vehicles, a Coast Guard vessel and a Port Authority boat remained on standby at the port dock in George Town on Thursday morning.
The Compass reached out to Customs and Border Control for an update on the standoff and was told a statement would be released shortly.
CBC, in a statement Wednesday, said all efforts are being made to “accommodate the safety” of the Cuban migrants.
Meanwhile the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has confirmed that, contrary to social media claims, the Cubans involved in the standoff “are not considered persons of interest” in the investigation into the robbery at a local jewellery store over the Easter weekend.
Police, on Thursday, told the Compass that an SUV believed to have been involved in the robbery has been recovered and examined.
“We are still seeking the suspect described in the previous release. As such we appeal for anyone who may have seen a man matching the description given, in the vicinity of Courts Road at about 10:30am on Sunday, 4 April, to contact George Town CID or our Confidential Tip Line (949-7777),” police said.
The suspect, who was armed with a knife during the robbery, was wearing a “long sleeve neon yellow-green shirt, light-coloured cargo style pants and a dark-coloured baseball cap with a red peak.”