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Unlucky 16 Cuban immigrants back to square one – avoid fine but to be deported home

Posted: Monday, September 5, 2022. 8:16 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Sixteen Cuban nationals whose boat came to Ambergris Caye last Thursday were today deemed prohibited immigrants.

But the Magistrates Court elected not to impose a fine on them, instead granting a removal order for them to be sent back home.

Chief Magistrate Sharon Fraser could not understand how the group could travel from their home anywhere without a passport.

But the group of 14 men and two women claimed they were seeking asylum in the Cayman Islands, and when refused left for Honduras, but accidentally ended up in Belize when they drifted off course after experiencing bad weather and running out of gas.

The Cuban nationals, respectively identified as Marilin Aguero Pena, 33, an Inspector, Zurisaday Cardona Castro, 18, a student, Vladimir Cruz Hechabaria, 36, a carpenter, Zenen Mauri Rodriguez Milan, 23, a labourer, Jose Luis Arias Verdecia, 29, a Labourer, Abel David Quesada Perez, 26, labourer employed in a Supermarket, Yannier Miranda Sanchez, 29, a vendor, Yanciel Cabresa Ramirez, 24, unemployed, Yasiel Sanchez Rodriguez, 23, a Cuban Jockey, along with Daniel Garcia Saavedo, 30, a Civil Contractor, Ivan Quesada Infante, 25, a labourer, Alexey Barbon Tornes, 30, a construction worker, Daniel Dominguez Nunez, 44, a Cuban Course Instructor, Jeiler Miguel Rosales Medina, 30, a Technician/ Supervisor, Nestor Manuel Sanchez Rodriguez, 29, a labourer and 31-year-old, Jorge Quesada Perez, unemployed, all appeared before Chief Magistrate, Sharon Fraser this afternoon.

They were each accused of being a prohibited immigrant that on Thursday, September 1, 2022 entered Belize not in possesson of a passport.

The first nine were arraigned with an attorney, Orson Elrington, who asked the court to not impose a prison term, arguing that all the elements to prove the charge that they came to Belize with the intent to come here was not present, and to believe the Cubans’ version – that difficulties they experienced at sea led to them to arriving in Belize.

After some deliberation, each pleaded guilty to the offense, conceding that they did not enter Belize with passports, although Zenen Rodriguez Milan, defendant four of the first group told the Chief Magistrate, “No, we had no passports, but we didn’t want to come here.”

Their accidental arrival was as a result of, according to defendant Marilin Aguero Pena, seeking Asylum in the Cayman Islands, unsuccessfully.

She said she had her identification card but her passport was left in the Caymans along with those of the others, as they fled when Cayman authorities would not give them asylum.

After the representative of the Immigrarion Department told the court they were not seeking a fine against the Cubans usually set at one thousand dollars, the Chief Magistrate agreed not to fine them but to grant the request for a removal order and send the group back home.

From among the second group, one defendant asked the Chief Magistrate if he could just pay a fine and continue his journey, but she told them that a removal order means they must return back home to their country of origin.

The group landed north of San Pedro Town and had informed authorities that they were headed south to Honduras but intended to reach the United States eventually.

 

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