The one-year-old Cuban baby who was removed by court order from her parents during the four-day standoff with Customs and Border Control officers remains in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services.

A CBC statement confirmed this Friday afternoon.

Defending its decision to take possession of the baby, CBC said it was done “in consideration of the risk to the health and well-being of a migrant infant”.

Authorities obtained a court-issued emergency protection order and warrant under the Children Act on Thursday evening.

“This court order authorized the immediate removal of the infant child from the MV Bulk Freedom to a place of safety. Following a brief tactical intervention, the infant was removed from the ship and immediately upon arrival at the George Town Seaport, the infant was taken to and treated at the George Town Hospital and is currently in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS),” the statement said.

Premier Alden McLaughlin, addressing the incident during a Progressives alliance meeting Thursday night in Red Bay, said action was taken in the standoff after concerns were raised about the health and well-being of the baby when her parents refused to allow the child to be taken for medical treatment.

McLaughlin and CBC said in the process of enforcing the court-issued order, the infant’s father, Javier Jouz Varona, resisted efforts.

This photo posted by Javier Jouz Varona shows the Cubans and a baby who were involved in a standoff with Customs and Border Control officers aboard a bulk carrier off George Town. Photo: Submitted

CBC said he was “obstructive”.

He sustained minor head injuries and was subsequently arrested, removed from the vessel and taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital for medical treatment.

“Shortly afterwards he was released from GTH and taken to the RCIPS Detention Centre where he was held overnight. It is expected that he will be released later today and transferred to an approved quarantine facility,” the statement added.

The group of Cubans and one Dominican, all of whom were seeking asylum here, were reported missing on Sunday when their location could not be detected from their electronic monitoring devices.

They were rescued by the Panamanian ship MV Bulk Freedom and brought back to Cayman Tuesday.

However, they refused to leave the vessel.

Their actions derailed the ship and its crew from its original route when they rescued the Cubans four days ago.

CBC said while this situation may become a factor in the processing of the group’s asylum applications, “any claims that their applications have already been denied is incorrect”.

McLaughlin, defending the steps taken in the drawn-out dispute, said he knew many were “very concerned about the health and welfare of the Cubans, and also about Cayman’s reputation really, and what could become an international incident if it isn’t handled properly”.

CBC said after approximately four days of monitoring and “intense negotiations” the situation with the group on board concluded without any serious injury to any of the them or the ship’s crew.

“It is also worthy to communicate that there were no reports of damage to property,” the statement added.

After the removal of the baby and her parents, the nine remaining migrants voluntarily left the vessel.

They have been placed in quarantine at a government-mandated facility and will be processed in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols.

CBC, RCIPS and the Cayman Islands Coast Guard, the statement said, also maintained close contact with the captain of the MV Bulk Freedom and thanked him and his crew for their support in bringing this situation to an end.

“Likewise, the welfare and safety of the crew were kept in mind at all times. CBC also established and maintained communication with the vessel’s management team,” it added.

The ship left Cayman waters shortly after the migrants were removed.

Cuban standoff latest.

Posted by Cayman Compass on Thursday, April 8, 2021

 

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now

1 COMMENT

  1. I can’t think of any reason except for parental abuse that would remove a small child from her mother. This little girl is now separated from the most important person in her life. Why couldn’t they be kept together and still monitored? This is totally unacceptable and calloused and I can’t see any justification for it.