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Tuesday 16 January 2018
Crime and Court

Cuban asylum seekers granted bail

Yusnell Perez, first from right and four other Cuban nationals sit over a drain just outside the United Nations Regional Office at Chancery Lane, Port of Spain. PHOTO BY SHANE SUPERVILLE

A Port of Spain magistrate has granted $5,000 bail to each of the eight Cubans who are seeking asylum in the United States and who were arrested and charged with wilful obstruction outside the United Nations building in December.

Magistrate Rehanna Ali yesterday granted bail and ordered the eight not to leave the house in St Joseph where they will be staying for the next 28 days. The house at Market Street is being paid for by the Living Water Community only until February 6.

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 Maceo and Yuriet Pedrozo Gonzales, 30, have been ordered to return to court on February 5.

They have until that date to find another place to stay or their bail will be revoked and they will be detained by the State at the Immigration Detention Centre. A trial date will also be set by the magistrate.

The eight were part of a larger group of 18 Cubans, including three children, who slept outside the UN Office off Chancery Lane while they go through the process of seeking resettlement in the US as political refugees.

They are charged with violating section 64(1) (n) of the Summary Offences Act, which imposes a $200 fine and a month’s imprisonment on anyone who in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage of any street.

The three children remain in the care of the Children’s Authority.

The accused Cubans said they fled Cuba because they had been persecuted for “being peaceful opponents to the totalitarian regime of the Castro brothers.”

At the Port of Spain court yesterday, attorney Christophe Rodriguez appeared with Rajiv Persad for the eight.

Detention orders were also presented to the court, but before that there was an issue relating to two of the Cubans and their travel documents, as well as the spelling of one of the men’s names.

An order of supervision is also expected to be issued by the Chief Immigration Officer for the eight and arrangements will be made for the adults to have access to their children, especially since one of them – a one-year-old – is still being breast-fed.

Rodriguez also said one of the men detained in December had a tumour on one kidney and this was exacerbated by his stay in prison.

Present in court yesterday were attorneys for the Immigration Division, the Children’s Authority and the Living Water Community.

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