Cubans Asylum Seekers to Spend Christmas Behind Bars

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Eight Cuban Asylum seekers being taken away by police (Photo courtesy: Trinidad Guardian)

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – A City Magistrate has denied bail to eight Cuban nationals who are seeking asylum in the United States, through the United Nations office here in Trinidad, after they were arrested and charged with wilfully obstructing the free passage of people on a public road.

The Cubans – Yaneisy Santana Hurtado, 37, Ramon Arbolaez Abreu, 43, Ailys Arbolaez Santana, 18, Yusnes Reyes Santana, 20, Gladys Lisandra Perez Molina, 22, Lisandra Farray Rodriquez, 29, Pedro Santana Madeo and Yuriet Pedrozo Gonzales, 30 – have been living on the street outside the United Nations building on the outskirts of the capital.

They are part of a group of 18, including three children who are seeking resettlement in the US and other countries as political refugees from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The group members say they have fled Cuba because they have been persecuted for “being peaceful opponents to the totalitarian regime of the Castro brothers”.

Earlier this week, officers from the Child Protection Unit and police arrested the eight and took their children away after the Cubans allegedly refused to be relocated to the Living Waters Community for two weeks, following talks with stakeholders seeking their interest.

Under the Summary Offences Act Section 64:1(n), the Cubans could be fined TT$200 or jailed for a month.

They all pleaded not guilty and will return to court on January 8, next year. – CMC

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