Second boatload of Cuban migrants in 48 hours ordered off Cayman Islands
Monday, 30 June 2014 - 11:30am IST | Place: Cayman Islands | Agency: Reuters
An open wooden boat carrying 34 Cuban migrants sought refuge at a dock
in the Cayman Islands on Sunday but was turned away, the second Cuban
migrant vessel to be rejected in a week.
Local law enforcement allowed the migrants to take on drinking water,
but no food, before ordering the group to depart immediately or be taken
into custody and repatriated to Cuba. Just a couple of days earlier,
another boat carrying 30 Cubans was ordered to leave the British territory.
The Cubans said they were mostly from the cities of Bayamo and
Manzanillo in eastern Cuba, and were headed for the coast of Central
America. Boats smuggling Cubans seeking to flee the communist-run island
are frequently seen off the Cayman Islands, located in the Caribbean
less than 100 miles (160 km) south of Cuba.
They are usually headed for Honduras, from where migrants make the long
journey overland to reach the US border with Mexico. Under the US
so-called "wet foot, dry foot policy," Cuban migrants who make it onto
United States soil are allowed to remain while those intercepted at sea
are turned back.
The oldest passenger, a 54 year-old who identified himself only as
Ariel, said he was a former chauffeur and decided to make the risky
voyage because of a lack of job opportunities in Cuba's weak economy.
Some of the refugees were allowed brief use of bathroom facilities on a
public beach at East End dock on Grand Cayman before returning to their
bench seats on the open 20-foot-long (6-meter-long) boat with an engine
but no sail, a faded Cuban flag hoisted in the rear and large inner
tubes serving as makeshift outriggers.
Another group of 30 Cubans spent almost two weeks drifting off the coast
of Grand Cayman before being given an ultimatum on Wednesday to depart
or be taken into custody and repatriated. Five Cubans chose to come
ashore and were detained, according to local officials. The rest
departed early on Friday.
Under an existing agreement between Cuba and the Cayman Islands
government, migrants who come ashore are usually repatriated. Cayman and
Cuban officials are due to meet later this year for delayed migration
talks. The current agreement, signed in 1999, says Cuban migrant boats
are allowed to pass through Cayman waters as long as they do not seek
Source: Second boatload of Cuban migrants in 48 hours ordered off Cayman
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