Rescued migrants handed to Cuban authorities

| 22/12/2022 | 8 Comments
MV Hellespont Pride

(CNS): Eight Cuban nationals were found adrift at sea and rescued by an oil tanker on 14 December but were handed over to the Cuban Border Guard (CBG) with the help of the Cayman authorities. According to a press release from the Ministry of Border Control, the Cubans were picked up by the MV Hellespont Pride some 35 miles south of mainland Cuba a few days after the Cayman Islands Government held diplomatic talks with a delegation from Cuba.

The talks included strategies to improve search and rescue coordination to save lives, as well as how to shorten the time it takes to return migrants to Cuba and the targeting of human smugglers for prosecution.

After the oil tanker rescued the Cubans, they contacted the Cayman Islands Coast Guard. However, in accordance with the new hardline approach to migrants and following the recently concluded talks with the Cuban delegation, rather than agree to accept the migrants, the CICG Operations and Rescue Coordination Centre (ORCC) contacted the Cuban Border Guard (CBG).

The Cayman coastguard then passed on the information about the migrants and the CBG confirmed that it was in a position to meet with the Hellespont Pride 13 miles from Port of Santiago de Cuba, just outside of Cuban territorial waters, to take the migrants back to Cuba.

The ORCC contacted the owners of the tanker and facilitated a direct line of communication between them and the Cuban authorities for what the ministry called “the rescue” to take place, although the migrants were at that point not in any danger. The Hellespont Pride and the CBG patrol vessel met up at the agreed location and the Cubans were taken into Cuban custody and transported home.

The ministry did not say if there were any women or children aboard or note their state of health.

This incident happened just two days after emergency amendments to the Customs and Border Control Act were passed in parliament, paving the way for faster determination of asylum applications and appeals to reduce the length of time migrants who do not qualify for refugee protection spend in the Cayman Islands.

The CIG has said the change to the law was necessary because of a “mounting irregular migration crisis that has brought 360 undocumented Cuban migrants to the Cayman Islands since April”.

One hundred Cuban migrants arrived in October and migrants continue to arrive every week, though the last boat to reach Cayman waters was on the 12 December. There are currently 360 active asylum applications at various stages in the process for 357 Cubans, one Jamaican, one Venezuelan and one Italian.

Changes coming to make asylum claims more difficult


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Category: Policy, Politics

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    why do they bother call on Cayman?, they are outside or territorial waters, outside the 21 miles UNCLOs enforcement area which would seem to be a choice to enforce our immigration laws if they so wanted. Perhaps CNS can ask for clarification on the legal basis for our taxpayer dollars being applied in international waters! why, because they have an intention to get here? irrelevant- real intention is to get to the USA so on that basis forward the call to USGC (United States Coast Guard) and see what their position is.

  2. Anonymous says:

    When I read this I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! The Cayman Islands can hardly take care of their own people; particularly at this point in time with the increasted cost of living. Still, there is that humanity point of view but a lot of wisdom needs to be used to deal with these immigrants coming into, particularly, Cayman Brac. A difficult situation for sure.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    ok… so why not do that for every cuban who arrives?

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  4. Anonymous says:

    That’s all well and good. But why is it okay for Cuban migrants to transit through cayman and on to JA on cayman airways but it’s not okay for Cubans to transit through cayman by boat? Is it because KX is financially dependent on the Cubans so that is okay? Seems hypocritical……

    CNS: Cayman Airways does not carry illegal migrants out of Cuba. No one would be allowed on that flight without the correct travel documents.

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    • Anonymous says:

      In Nov 2021, Nicaragua’s Ortega invited Cubans to “visit” Nicaragua and waived visa fee and requirements. Cuba for its end is not stopping its citizens from traveling there, and in fact encouraging them to go by plane or other means. The USA and Mexico have other things to say about these travelers carrying on to their borders, and overwhelming those is the strategy for inflicting pain in response to crippling sanctions.

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  5. Elvis says:

    Welcome to cayman, club tropicana drinks are free fun and laughter for everyone

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