(CMR) The Cayman Islands Government held an emergency mass migration committee meeting Monday morning after almost 30 Cuban migrants arrived in Cayman Brac over the weekend. A response plan has been devised to address the sharp increase in the influx of Cubans into the Cayman Islands and to disincentivize them from arriving on our shores among growing concerns of human trafficking.
The government is seeking to avoid the influx that they experienced in the mid-1990s when the Cayman Islands was unable to cope with a large-scale migration of Cuban nationals. Between 1993 and 1995, over 2,000 Cuban migrants passed through Cayman waters and 1,100 landed in the Cayman Islands. Since then average numbers to Cayman have remained steady at about 300 arrivals in boats from Cuba per year.
Exclusive CMR sources have indicated that plans are being made to improve the repatriation process which would mean that Cubans would be returned without the current delays incurred. The details of how that will be rolled out have not yet been revealed but it is expected to be completed in the coming days.
The last batch to have arrived caused quite a stir across the Cayman Islands as many observed that they looked pristine and well dressed without any signs of the hardships normally associated with open sea travels from Cuba. In fact, some have shared with CMR that they believe that human trafficking is now a concern and that the migrants are being brought into Cayman waters on a larger vessel before being released to come ashore.
In the most recent trips, they have all arrived at the barcadere close to Spot Bay Park in Cayman Brac. A group of 15 that arrived on Saturday were well dressed with masks on and were said to be respectful as they waited for authorities to arrive. However, keen observers noted that “they did not look like were out to sea for days and even refused water. They looked like they had fresh haircuts and were clean-shaven and showered.”
Another person with close Cuban ties noted that “I know for a fact they are all being told to come here because everything is free.”
There have been over 41 Cuban arrivals for the first quarter of 2022 with no immediate relief in sight. The surge in illegal Cuban migrants to the United States has been the worse since the 1980s. The numbers appear to be driven by the downturn in the economy due to the coronavirus.
Over the years Cayman has had to adjust it's internal policy as it relates to Cuban nationals because the country was being used more and more as a transport point to the United States.
Migrants encountered in Cayman’s territorial waters or who come ashore any of the three Islands will be refused permission to land and will no longer be given assistance to enable them to continue their journey. Those able to depart immediately and wishing to do so will be allowed to leave. Otherwise they will be detained and repatriated to Cuba.