Friday, April 20, 2012

Boat carrying Cuban refugees docks in Cayman Islands

Posted on Thursday, 04.19.12

Boat carrying Cuban refugees docks in Cayman Islands
By Juan O. Tamayo

A boat carrying 28 Cuban would-be refugees docked in the Caribbean
island of Cayman Brac after it developed problems with its rudder and
ran low on fuel, officials in the British-run territory announced Thursday.

Immigration officials were holding the 27 men and one woman and will
eventually transfer them to the bigger island of Grand Cayman, according
to Suzette Ebanks, acting spokesperson for the Cayman Islands government.

The number of Cubans spotted in Cayman waters, 125 miles south of Cuba,
has been increasing in recent months, apparently because of food price
hikes and cuts in state services as the Raúl Castro government reforms
the economy.

At least six boats carrying Cuban migrants have been spotted in Cayman
territorial waters since the start of 2011, compared to none in 2010.

Most of the Cubans left illegally from Cuba's southeastern coast and
were hoping to ride the prevailing winds and currents to Honduras, from
where they would go by land to the U.S. border with Mexico.

A Cayman government patrol vessel spotted the last boat in late
February, carrying 22 Cubans — 20 men and two women. But it was in good
shape and the passengers had enough food, so it was allowed to continue
on its way to Honduras.

Cubans whose vessels are not considered seaworthy are forced ashore.
They can apply for political asylum, but virtually all are denied and
the migrants are deported back to their island.

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