Cubans still refuse to leave tanker

| 06/04/2021 | 88 Comments
Cuban group aboard the tanker (from Facebook)

(CNS) UPDATED 2:20pm Wednesday: Officials have now confirmed that there are 12 adults and one baby aboard the Bulk Freedom, a merchant tanker which remains anchored in George Town Harbour as the stand-off between Customs and Border Control (CBC) and a group of Cuban migrants, who are refusing to disembark, continues. One man, who is in good health, has voluntarily left the ship and has been take to the Holiday Inn quarantine facility, the CBC said in the latest short statement about the situation.

The Cuban migrants who recently went missing were returned to Cayman Islands waters after being rescued around 50 miles west of Grand Cayman by the tanker that was headed for the Panama Canal.

The group are refusing to get off as they do not want to return to Cayman and are pressing the authorities to allow them to continue their planned journey to either the US or Central America. Among the group is Jouz Javier Freites and his family, who recently protested in front of the Government Administration Building. Freites has been live streaming from the communication room on the ship, where the migrants are currently being housed.

CBC said in the release that all efforts were being made to accommodate the migrants. “The Cayman Islands Government continues to provide care in accordance with the 1951 Refugee Convention and that approach will continue. This situation is evolving and updates will be provided once they become available,” officials stated.

The Cubans were all said to be weak after their ocean ordeal, as the boat they were in was apparently adrift at sea for several days before the Bulk Freedom came across their boat on Tuesday. According to officials, the Cubans, who were wearing electronic tags while awaiting asylum claims, fell off the 911 call centre’s radar on Sunday night.

Since yesterday afternoon, Freites has been posting videos and pictures on his social media accounts explaining their circumstances and their desire to be taken to America, as they plead not to be handed over to the Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control. The group has also claimed that they left Cayman on a boat which they bought directly from the owner on Grand Cayman, as they do not and never have wanted to be in this jurisdiction.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the confidential information hotline at 1-800-534-2546 or email

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Category: Border Control, Crime

Comments (88)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Arrest them and deport them.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Seems the majority are folks that have been waiting for a while for their cases to be heard, OK, they escaped, whatever is gonna happen is gonna happen. As they are now criminals, likely their refugee claims will not be heard, oh well.

    But the fella who was granted status as a refugee and then protested because his Dominican wife who he met here while she was on a work permit was not granted status…

    Well those two I have zero sympathy for.

  3. Anonymous says:

    They do not and never wanted to be in this jurisdiction – plain and simple enough English isn’t it?

    Why is Cayman keeping them against their will and essentially as prisoner?

    The promised land to them is Central America or the US.

    But, no our Government in their infinite wisdom, wants us the Cayman public to put them up in a hotel, feed them, give them shelter and keep them couped up instead of finding a one-time solution of deporting them back to their own country or facilitating transfer to another jurisdiction.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am fairly sure, if you check, that you will find that there is a legal obligation to keep them here awaiting extradition to Cuba. Pretty sure there is a long standing agreement with Cuba to that effect. So yeah, our Government, in it’s infinite wisdom as you say, is upholding it’s legal obligations.

    • Anonymous says:

      The first requires Cuba to take them, and given they do not want to go voluntarily, additionally rehires us to exhaust their application for asylum (which if accepted, as in a least one of them, means we have to keep them). The other means finding a country willing to accept them, especially when they openly say that all they want is to enter the US, when the US policy is to refuse Cubans. So how simple do you think your one time solution is? .

  4. Anonymous says:

    They will be received as refugees in the USA. Why is Cayman preventing them from going there? The US Ambassador for CI is in Jamaica.

    • Anonymous says:

      They will be deported back to Cuba following the change in policy in 2017. Try Googling it.

      As for Cayman preventing them going there, how exactly is Cayman preventing them? When they arrived they were given the option of continuing their journey, being returned voluntarily to Cuba, or applying for asylum (failing which they would be deported). The problem here is a) they want to enter the US illegally b) no intermediate country wants to accept them – not that Cayman is stopping them. If Mexico said hey we will take them, I am sure they would be gone on a heartbeat. But no one was to be seen as having an open door to Cuban refugees. Cayman has no choice but to accept them back as they cannot stay on the ship that rescued them and the the sip cannot keep them or it will be denied entry into any port it tries to enter.

      • Anonymous says:

        Unless your government has been told this by the US government you have no clue what you are talking about. Such a small island with hatred of all foreigners, it is ridiculous!

        Any Cuban landed on US soil is entitled to apply for asylum. This has been US law for over 60 years. I hope the Cubans sue Cayman for false imprisonment.

        CNS: Just to clarify, what the commenter above was referring to was the revocation of the wet-foot/dry-foot policy that gave any Cuban who reached US soil the right to stay (those picked up at sea were sent home). This change of policy was announced by President Obama in January 2017. See here. Since then, like every other nationality, Cubans can apply for political asylum but they aren’t given special treatment.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Captain and crew, who are possibly Philippines, were humanitarian in picking up the distressed passengers. They rightly came to Cayman where the passengers originated from. Given the behaviour and aggressiveness shown on their live streams, can you blame the Captain for saying no way! Probably the owners, who do not want their vessel detained in Panama. They are in Cayman waters, like it or not, we have a responsibility to remove them. Sounds like by force now, but they have to come off one way or the other. Then send them all back to Cuba seeing as Cayman is so bad.

  6. Braccah says:

    To be honest, in a way, I feel it for them. But I love Cayman. What is needed is BALANCE, a balance between PROTECTING OURSELVES FROM CRIMINALS, also SICKNESSES coming on the island … And ensuring we have proper HUMAN RIGHTS law in place. A balance between our security and their rights. CAYMAN NEEDS TO LEARN AND MATURE FROM THIS EVENT.

    We can’t just spread them out in our community not knowing who they are. Before we had them staying at one place and easily managed. But now we have them living everywhere on the island, and I understand each Cuban is given for food and sustainance around 100 dollars a month to live in Cayman. I repeat – 100 dollars per month !! Now who can survive with that amount of money? And they can’t work either. And we take so long to repat them because most of them applied for asylum.

    CAYMAN, WE NEED TO GROW UP! That’s all I have to say. Focus yes on our securities, but on our dealing with Cubans we need to make serious changes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great pointers! I wonder what the new government will do after the 14th, election day. Hoping for common sense solutions.

    • Anonymous says:

      One correction, as I understand it they receive around $300 per week, living and grocery expenses. Not to mention free utilities and healthcare. They know the risk. Yes we can do our part and care for them as well, donate food and clothes etc. But don’t think they are not well cared for when many elderly in our country don’t get what they receive during their time in “refugee status”.

  7. Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Bulk carrier. CNS are obviously not ship nerds – but you appreciate the type of ship is not really the issue., right?

  8. Anonymous says:

    The easy answer here is to tell the ship that the Cubans can’t get off here. Once they leave voluntarily and get 50 miles offshore, its not really your problem anymore unless you want it to be. Tell the ship to go away.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Too bad the tanker didn’t just cruise on by and leave those ungrateful fools to fend for themselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      Said by a god fearing caymankind christian no doubt

      • Anonymous says:

        They obviously didn’t appreciate the ship stopping and have repaid their kindness by taking the ship hostage.

      • Anonymous says:

        Caymankind has kept Caymanians far behind for far too long.

        I don’t think that many of you get this.

    • Anonymous says:

      I bet next time they will look the other way and cruise on by to avoid the shitshow these people are putting them though. Ungrateful is right!

  10. Anonymous says:

    They are very ungrateful people, plus they broke the law with their ankle bracklets, should be tried and deported. Better yet send them on their way now.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Pity the poor tanker Capt/ship/crew. They do a good deed to pick up refugees and redirect to the nearest port and now this from the people they rescued. Meaning the ship is stuck here until they can sort this out because the rescuees don’t want to get off.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Sent their ungrateful asses back to Cuba.

    What sickens me is that such people reach other countries expecting red carpet treatment when they should be pulling down their own government from which then can from.

    Ungrateful. If Cuba was so great why in the world you all left?

    I do know we have issues to deal with here but one thing I also know is that I would not trade Cayman for no other place on our Earth and I have literally travelled the globe.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Solution- have the ship dock in Isle of Pines or Cayo Largo. Call the Cuban authorities and lets see how long the ungrateful bastards stay on board. Bet ya when they see those green uniforms board they wont have a word to say.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exaaaaaaaactly! Tell them the ship had decided to take them to FL, set sail from Cayman and pull into Cuba instead. I bet they won’t be mocking police there and refusing to comply with orders. That situation would be resolved in 3 minutes flat!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Let them go on their way.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Send them back to Cuba. Pro tip to the Cubans, the USA is north not south.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I don’t blame Cubans!

    At least they do something to better their lives. Caymanians only complain and accept handouts.

  17. Anonymous says:

    “Three Cuban protesters and a baby were taken into custody by police midday Wednesday while demonstrating outside the Government Administration Building over ongoing denial of refugees’ marriage rights in the Cayman Islands.” October 2014

    “ The Cubans began protesting last week over how government is handling their asylum applications. A Cuban asylum applicant on supervised release from the facility said the protesters believe they have not had their legal rights properly explained to them, they have not received a fair asylum hearing, and they do not have access to channels of communication. January 2019

    Cayman thinks it can get away with violating human rights. More exposure of their dirty deeds is warranted.

    Shame on everyone who doesn’t see human beings in Cubans.

  18. Anonymous says:

    People say send them back but we need to make an exampme out of illegal aliens landing here. What do you think would happen if we arrived in Cuba or America ir any other country illegally?

  19. Anonymous says:

    According to Marinetraffic a bulk carrier, not a tanker. Panamanian registered, en route to Panama. Not where the Cubans (or the Panamanians) want to go, I am sure. So what do the Cubans think the solution is here? That the captain sails instead to the US just to deposit them there? When of course the US authorities will either not accept them, or immediately deport them to Cuba under Obamas 2017 change to the old wet foot/dry foot policy.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Where’s the sympathy for these human beings? They’re clearly desperate enough to put everything at risk. It’s pure luck that we weren’t born in Cuba and they were. There should be a better way of dealing with such cases.

    • Anonymous says:

      He had asylum status, she was working here. Why the drama?
      Revoke his asylum status/PR. He does not appear to appreciate it very much.

  21. Anonymous says:

    So out of curiosity what was the point of the protest by the couple to pressure the government to grant them Caymanian status? And for the wife to viewed as a political refuge even though she is from the Dominican Republic and not Cuba? If they knew they had no intention of wanting to remain in the Cayman Islands? It appears to have been a futile exercise.

  22. Anonymous says:

    How did they leave on Sunday night, spend several days adrift, and be rescued by a passing ship on Tuesday?

    How did they get a boat?

    Did they return their expensive electronic tags before leaving?

    Did they lie to Cayman authorities, and was the USA always their intended destination?

    Look like economic rather than political refugees to me.

  23. Anonymous says:

    They are very much ungrateful and I do no that cayman is better than Cuba, so you no what send them back

  24. John E. Kake says:

    The ship should have taken them to the next port of entry. Cayman Customs Border Control can not force Cubans off the ship. If the ship take them to the US, the ship run the risk of the US Coast guard seizing the ship for human trafficking. There are risks in the best of intended actions.

  25. Marla Lago says:

    You know South Florida was a fairly nice place until 1959.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Arrest them for stealing government issued electronic tags. If guilty, charge and convict them, and then deport them. Done.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Send they ass back to Cuba.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Were they or weren’t? Compass says they refused to disembark.
    Shame on Cayman for violating human rights of political refuges.

    • Anonymous says:

      My question too! Other news outlets are reporting them as still onboard and refusing to leave ship. If that is the case, Cayman better be consulting with the UK and UN on appropriate protocol.

      • Anonymous says:

        We have whole departments of diplomatic liaison officers, and staffed foreign offices, that are supposed to be engaged in this work full time. They had years to sort out the Venezuelan prisoners, and then had no actionable plan upon their scheduled release. Too busy it seems eating bacon wrapped shrimp and feting international bureaucrats. Imagine how bad it was for these Cuban political refugees, who weren’t even in jail for anything. We need to fumigate the roach nest culture of some of the 6-figure occupations in CIG. All that stands in the way of an international headline incidents are leaks to any of the hundreds of media services that would delight in covering more examples of our failings. It’s humiliating, business-toxic, and we continue to do it to ourselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      Shame on the Cubans! They cant just go anywhere and demand everything they want!

      • Anonymous says:

        But not shame on the Cayman Islands Immigration and robust UK diplomatic channels for dithering insincerely on their political asylum claims for a year? Come on. There are clearly two sides to this story if their preference was to roll the dice again, and brave the open cresting seas, rather than spend another minute waiting and trusting there’d be a verdict on their fate, coming from Cuban Authoritarianism Sympathizers. How much BS are they supposed to eat?

      • Anonymous says:

        This has always been what stood out to me about Cubans. They go everywhere making demands and have their high expectations except in their own country (for obvious reasons. If you can’t run your mouth in your homeland why go to other people’s country and do it?! We have been too nice to this ungrateful bunch.

      • Anonymous says:

        Good for Cubans! They were treated badly in Cayman!

      • Anonymous says:

        Caymanians do

    • Jotnar says:

      How exactly did Cayman violate their rights? They got refuge in Cayman whilst their asylum applications were processed, which is what the international convention requires. One of them was even granted permanent residence.
      They chose to leave. They chose nt to get off the ship and return. Struggling with the concept that this is in anyway Cayman’s fault.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Who sold them the boat????

    • Anonymous says:

      How is that relevant?

      • Anonymous says:

        Did they steal their ride, or did someone actively engage in migrant trafficking? Both serious crimes. The question is a good one, and should be answered.

        • Anonymous says:

          According to the Cubans they bought it. In which case some serious questions should be asked of the seller – especially whether the boat was safe , given it broke down after 50 miles. Making a profit on desperation.

          • Anonymous says:

            Providing them with a boat to make an illegal voyage may also be a crime in and of itself. Just sayin.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Why were they returned back here. Real screwup on the part of Cayman Government. They have no landing rights here thus they should have been returned to Cuba or the Port of Registry of the vessel that rescued them. Amazing, we got rid of them then allowed them back in. Who was responsible for such a stupid decision?

    • Anonymous says:

      Technically they would stay onboard the vessel until they can be dropped off at a port that is willing to take them.
      If you take on migrants and your next port refuses to take them you are stuck with them, their health problems, children, potential hostility and of course their feeding bills.
      Taking migrants on your ship is a pain and not something Captains do lightly. Add in Covid risks to the crew already onboard and it becomes a nightmare.

      • Anonymous says:

        So in this case, where they are refusing to disembark, who is responsible for them?

      • Old Sailor Dave says:

        This is of course if the Captain of the vessel had the option to take them. They could have been adrift and in need of rescue (if they so claimed). The Captain would then under Maritime law be required by law to take them aboard.

    • Anonymous says:

      7:16 PM, you are right, which idiot made such a stupid decision to allow them back in here Cayman, send them on their merry way pronto

  31. Anonymous says:

    It is time to send these individuals back to Cuba or to allow them to leave the country. They do not want to be in the Cayman Islands and should be allowed to depart. The only exception would the minor child and the parents of the minor child. If it can be established that the minor child was put at unreasonable risk by the parents the child needs to be separated from the parents and the parents prosecuted for child endangerment.

    • Anonymous says:

      Isn’t one of the persons from the Dominican Republic (not Cuba)?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, the “mother” of that poor innocent baby is from the DR.

        • Anonymous says:

          Then she hardly has an asylum claim, does she.

          • Anonymous says:

            That’s what everyone said from the time they were protesting and making their last demands. She’s not Cuban and was not married when he got his residence yet is demanding the same status.

        • Anonymous says:

          Has she not committed serious criminal offenses in endangering her child?

          • ThIs WrItInG Is VeRy IrRiTaTiNg says:

            No worse that all the people that let their kids stand between the front seats of their SUV while going 50 mph. That had been completely ignored for my 23 years here.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Tells you how bad things are in cuba. They wont get any tourist dollars from me.

  33. Anonymous says:

    These guys really need to start planning better before they end up killing themselves

    • Anonymous says:

      We’d have to conclude they collectively decided, and with a 10 mo baby, that it was worth risking thirst, cannibalism, and drowning on the open seas, rather than spend another minute ashore in a catered detention facility that was not processing their claims, in any direction. How bad would those conditions have to be, to arrive at that stark choice, and during a period of international health crisis where the Central American, Mexican, and USA land borders are all tighter than ever?

      • Anonymous says:

        USA borders tighter than ever? 🤣🤣🤣🤣

        Have you not seen the news of the caravan of people from Central America making their way up through Mexico to enter illegally? Have you not see the coverage of THOUSANDS of unaccompanied minors entering the US illegally from Mexico?

    • Anonymous says:

      How will you plan to escape Cayman once the Government stops feeding you?

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