Cayman’s Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) continues to fill up with more and more Cuban migrants who say they don’t want to be here.
“We want free.” Although their chant is broken English the message is clear, they want freedom. Freedom from Cuba, and freedom from the IDC. It seems it is a call that has fallen on deaf ears.
Freedom seems to be out of their reach and out of their control. As detainees of the IDC, the migrants will be deported to Cuba, in accordance with Memorandum of Understanding between the Cayman Islands and Cuba. Furthermore once the a migrant steps foot on shore, he or she is considered to have entered the country illegally and so must be sent back to their country of origin. However the Cuban migrants at the IDC say they did not willingly disembark.
During an interview with Cayman 27’s Andrel Harris the Cuban detainees expressed that they were forced from their vessels and then taken to the IDC.
One resident at the centre said, “In Cayman Brac we got there to ask for some petrol, and we were going to get help, and that’s when immigration came, and we asked them for 15 to 20 minutes. We told them that someone was coming to help us and immigration said no, and they said if we didn’t get off the boat they would take us by force.”
Cayman 27 reached out to the Immigration Department seeking a comment on the matter, we are still waiting.
To travel from Cuba to Cayman by way of a wooden Cuban vessel, the journey would span more than 270 miles and take up to 5 days. At times the travelers must brave storms, high seas, dehydration, hunger the relenting heat of the days and chilling winds of the nights. It is a journey that has already claimed the lives of some freedom seekers.
“The conditions are very bad, very bad. Some have fallen off the boat and drowned on the journey, because the conditions have been really bad,” said another migrant at the centre.
Despite facing certain deportation, and an uncertain future awaiting them in Cuba; every migrant in the centre pledge to do the journey all over again.
“When we go back to Cuba we are going to try and build another boat and attempt again. If we end up here and get sent back to Cuba we are going to attempt once again,” they said.
Dertermined and unbroken their desire for freedom is unwavering, even behind the barbwire and chain-linked fence of the IDC.