Eight Cubans begin hunger strike

| 16/01/2019 | 59 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cayman Islands Immigration Detention Centre

(CNS): A group of eight Cuban migrants being held at the Immigration Detention Centre who landed in the Cayman Islands in September have begun a hunger strike to protest the immigration process, how their asylum claims are being handled, their access to bi-lingual attorneys and restricted access to communications. CNS understands that the asylum claims of some of the men have been denied but they believe the claims and their status as refugees, rather than migrants, were not properly considered because they have a genuine fear of being repatriated to Cuba.

In a press release issued Wednesday, officials said that Chief Immigration Officer Garfield Wong met with the Cubans last Thursday because the detainees were conducting a peaceful protest last week before beginning the hunger strike yesterday. Wong said government is committed to addressing their concerns and that more meetings with immigration and other agencies are planned.

“Mindful of the peaceful nature of the protest, immigration and prison officers are working closely to de-escalate matters as much as possible,” immigration officials stated.

Earlier this week five mobile phones were confiscated from the migrants because they are prohibited for safety and security reasons, officials said. Occupants of the IDC are able to make 10 minutes of outgoing phone calls per week on a landline and can receive incoming calls 24 hours a day.

But this is a major complaint for the Cubans, who say they are not economic migrants but refugees whose rights should be respected. It was the removal of their phones that triggered the hunger strike.

In addition to voicing concerns about the process, the lack of access to legal advice and limitations on communications, some of them want to be released into the community, as has been the case for other Cubans who have been in Cayman for much longer as their asylum claims proceed.

But it is not clear how the immigration department feels about their release. Currently, ten migrants who have been in the Cayman Islands for a long period, some for more than a year, were released into the community in August under the electronic monitoring system.

This current group, however, has been in Cayman for less than four months. They arrived on 28 September among a group of eleven after their boat got into difficulties in local waters on their way to Central America. Three people from that group have already been repatriated to Cuba.

Since the Cubans began the hunger strike, the Cayman Islands Prison Service, which is responsible for their care and custody, implemented its protocols of close observations and medical checks by Health Services Authority staff.

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Category: Local News

Comments (59)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    1. Take biometrics and explain that they only get to pull this stunt once 2. Look at their asylum claim using the evidence on hand within 48 hours 3. Make a final decision – explain it to them, and repatriate on a plane, or resupply them and, reload them back into another boat bound for elsewhere. By default, they fail the CI “needs test” and don’t qualify for PR, or asylum citizenship. This isn’t a social state equipped to absorb economic migrants. Simple as that.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So they die. Problem solved right?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Give them the food. If they won’t eat it then thats their problem and not our, so just leave the food and don’t worry if they eat it or not, if they wany to stave to death that’s their business, we should not worry about it

  3. Anonymous says:

    Does GT Hospital feed them too?!

  4. Anonymous says:

    For God’s sake I am sick of hearing about this! Just send them back from the start! Why are we detaining them when they seek asylum? Granting asylum does not happen over night as it is a long drawn out process.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why didn’t they go on a hunger strike iin Cuba. They wants everything for free, they would not even learn English before coming here or going to the U S A. Send them all back home.

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      • Anonymous says:

        They want to come here but won’t learn English, they should learn the language of the country that they want to go, before going there.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Worry bout dem.
    More for me and my Family to get.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Wow, how bigoted of Cayman not to let them all in, give them warfare and make them citizens with voting rights……

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  7. Concerned Citizen :( says:

    Did our Government released 10 Cubans into our society without screening them?

    Were they screen for Criminal Convictions, for Mental disorders, for Sexually transmitted diseases, or any other type of disease?!

    I understand people want freedom, but Government has to do better, bowing down to the UN! Such freedom can be costly and dangerous for others.

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    • Anonymous says:

      But, but, wouldn’t that be racist against Hispanics? To just assume they are std carrying criminals?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Send them back. Some of them have made more than one trip here, so why are entertains and prolonging their stay. They are simply a financial liability. What has been wasted on those ungrateful people could’ve better been spent on those in need of housing. Can we see the forest for the trees?

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  8. Anonymous says:

    If the food is anything like what they serve at the hospital, I’m not surprised they’d rather starve!

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    • Anonymous says:

      They should starve, because they are really only use to beans and rice where they are coming from. They should’ve rebelled to their government and see the results. We allow every cat and dog to lead us to the brink, demanding and getting what they couldn’t get from whence they came.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    “Three people from that group have already been repatriated to Cuba.” So much of the “fear of repatriation”. Obviously the story they are spinning is bullshit, finger print them and tell them every time they come back they will be immediately be shipped back out as a non-desirable. We have an agreement with Cuba to repatriate these people. Why is the CIG not following the agreement? This isn’t rocket science.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Huh? Why would the fact that some of them have been sent back mean that they’re lying about being afraid of being sent back? The other three obviously didn’t go willingly.

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    • Anonymous says:

      8:42am, we are being lead by jackasses, so what else can we expect. They are completely out of their depths. Vote wisely in the next election.

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    • Anonymous says:

      8:42 I was at the detention centre back in 2007 when Desmond Seales went there. Through a translator he asked how many of the detainees had been here before and if I remember correctly about a third admitted to being returnees. But they also seemed to be the group who had been screaming the loudest that if they were sent back to Cuba they would be either locked away for life or killed. My impression is that Cuba doesn’t want some of these people any more than we do. If it’s such an oppressive, totalitarian state how the heck are they being let out again and again, and again rather than being locked safely away in the Cuban equivalent of a gulag. It’s BS – they’re not asylum seekers or refugees but economic migrants. There should be a simple rule – anyone who has been repatriated becomes the subject of a banning order so if they turn up again gets treated as an illegal and put straight on the next plane back. We’re being way too soft here.

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  10. 7th Generation Caymanian says:

    This is Caymankind huh? Disgraceful – the conditions they’re being held in & the commenters on this post. I’m ashamed.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe you should house them?

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      • Anonymous says:

        8:42 am so why don’t u feed an house them if u is ashamed, maybe u is not smart enough to realize the burden that they are on the tax paying people of these islands

    • I done did it says:

      They help cause those conditions. The last detainees did not clean up after themselves even though they were provided with cleaning supplies. The facility was so disgraceful it could not be even be used to hold prisoners as Northward is full and over flowing, They are just an ungrateful bunch. Let them go look for Trump!

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    • Anonymous says:

      8:41 It’s the oldest trick in the book – the conditions are fine but to make a point they trash them and then scream it’s inhuman to keep them there. Been going on for years so don’t get fooled by it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      8:41 Would you feel comfortable with 1000+ Cubans arriving on Cayman shores weekly?

  11. Anonymous says:

    What is the rationale for warehousing people for weeks, months, and years without a humane determination one way or another?!

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  12. Anonymous says:

    I am sending pizza to the Cubans today. Let’s see how long it lasts. They are not fooling me.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    And so it begins. Not that I’m condoning the treatment of Cuban migrants, but the floodgates were always going to open after the first one (was granted an asylum).

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Yes please … make a decision real fast.. these are all ungrateful very people.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    So you haven’t prejudged the issue then?

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Let them Starve in the boat to Honduras if they are so stupid!! Bracka

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Good, it saves on the food bills.

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  18. 8th Generation says:

    Send them all back to Cuba by Saturday.
    This is not a problem for us it is a Cuban government problem. Clearly life is better back in Cuba for these ungrateful people. We must not be bullied into accepting refugees that suck from the system. Cubans have it better here than some Caymanian families.

    The DG needs to make this a priority

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  19. Anonymous says:

    welcome to cayman!….a land where nothing makes sense and where civil service non-performance goes as standard.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Yes, they have a fear of going back, they may have to get a job.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    I am sure they are still eating. Cuba has great food amigos.

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  22. Ungrateful says:

    Why they didn’t try that back home. So ungrateful.

    Please try so get um out of here.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    How are their cruise berthing construction skills?

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Refugee population by country or territory of origin in Bermuda was reported at 0 in 2015, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Only because on successful refugee application, they are immediately granted citizenship; as was case with the four stateless Guantanamo Uighurs that nobody else wanted in 2009.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Do you even know where Bermuda is? Have a look at a map perhaps. Pretty hard to get to…

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because they all got sucked up by that triangle

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  25. Anonymous says:

    Cubans are smarter than one might believe. The word is out. After one Cuban migrant was granted asylum, many more would try their luck.

    In my humble opinion however, the stories they make are laughable. I have a close friend who regularly comes to Cayman from Cuba to work. Unless one is a criminal, “genuine” fear of being repatriated to Cuba is not credible.

    Having said that, the right to claim asylum is in international law. Asylum seekers also have due-process rights. This international law doesn’t take into account however that in small island countries like the Cayman Islands “Land is NOT free and plentiful”.

    Unless people of the Cayman Islands want to live like herrings in a barrel, accepting hordes of “refugees” from Cuba or elsewhere would quickly downgrade the Cayman Islands status as a luxury destination.

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  26. I done did it says:

    Give them back their “boat” with supplies and send them on their way……..Grand Cayman was not their destination. The big USA is where they want to be. Let them go.

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  27. JR says:

    what a bloody mess. someone somewhere please make a decision and get them off my rock,

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