Published On: Thu, Jun 6th, 2013

Cubans Stuck In Curaçao

CubanosWILLEMSTAD - Some forty Cubans have been forced to stay in Curacao for a period spanning three to eight years.

They cannot go back to their country, nor visit their relatives. Moreover, they have been denied the right to work, to health, to be recognized legally and socially, just to mention some of the major injustices. They are in fact imprisoned in an undocumented stay. Efforts to deport them to their country or a voluntary return, have all failed, because Cuba does not allow its citizens to return.

Each of them has made several efforts to have her or his stay legalized. The first time this group of Cubans were publicly mentioned was during the  Brooks Tower’ (2009) project. From that moment on they have done everything possible, together with the authorities, to arrive at a solution. Letters were sent to the Lieutenant-Governor, to the Governor, the Immigration Department and the consecutive Minsters of Justice. All in vain. The authorities closed their eyes as if they did not exist. The long history the populations of Cuba and Curacao have in common, amongst which the labor emigration of Curacaoans to Cuba, is not taken into account. In their search for a way to legalize their stay, some thirty of them have turned to the United Nations with an asylum request.

The formal reason why the Cubans are not eligible for a residence permit is that they are here already, while, according to the immigration regulation, the request must be done outside Curacao. But the Cubans are not allowed to leave the island. They have become victims of a hole in the law, and have thus become invisible, as if they were ghosts. In the meantime several of them have got married and haven given birth to several children. The number of families is growing. But in the meantime the undocumented fathers, mothers, youngsters, children, whole families are completely stuck. This situation of being utterly powerless, of paralysis, makes them literally become ill.

Living for years on the margin of society does create a feeding ground for irregular behaviour. For how are they to make provisions for a decent living and health care? The absence of a solution creates the very opposite of what is required: no respect for human rights, more exclusion and social problems.
In the meantime Curacao misses out on the contribution of an interesting group of middle and higher-level schooled workers. For among the undocumented Cubans there are specialists in the fields of health care, sports, special education, machine manufacturing, shipping, and aviation. Instead of being a burden they have an added value to Curaçao’s economy and community.

Also for the public at large it must be obvious: the migrants cannot return to Cuba as long as their documents are not put in order here in Curacao. That is why a letter has again been sent at the end of May to the Minister of Justice, the Governor and now also to the Department of Foreign Affairs in The Hague.
That is why an urgent appeal is made on the authorities, including Foreign Affairs, to do their utmost, on behalf of humanitarian considerations and for practical reasons, to process the residence permit without the impossible demand of having to leave the country.

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