Yeilis Torres and 21 other Cubans are at Guantanamo Base Awaiting Resettlement in a Third Country

Activist Yeilis Torres Cruz has been at the Migrant Operations Center (MOC) in Guantánamo since last May. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 November 2022 — The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed that 22 Cubans are waiting for “resettlement in a third country” at the Migrant Operations Center of the Guantánamo Naval Base (MOC). Among them is activist Yeilis Torres Cruz, who spent ten months in prison under investigation for the crime of attack after she was assaulted by the official announcer Humberto López.

The former prosecutor, who was ’regulated’ [the term for being formally forbidden to leave the country], found a way out and escaped on a raft with seven other people, but on their journey to Florida they were intercepted, and only she was given to opportunity to stay at Guantánamo because of “a credible fear.”

With a six-month stay in Guantánamo, Torres “remains in migratory limbo,” her husband, Pavel Pérez, explained to Radio y Televisión Martí. “Basically, the disciplinary regulations are rigorous. They have restrictions on free mobility, lack internet access and must be escorted when going to the nearest beach.”

On November 18, the day she turned 35, Torres received a video call from her husband, who showed her a stuffed animal and chocolate candy as a gift. As he revealed, among the rules to follow in Guantánamo is the possibility of making three five-minute calls, “always under the presence of a custodian” and having a bicycle to take tours. It’s forbidden to talk to the media and receive money.

Those detained in Guantánamo were rescued by the Coast Guard between October 1, 2021 and September 30, 2022, according to Radio Martí.

According to an official from the same publication, the balseros [rafters] were interviewed by staff of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). “They demonstrated a credible fear of persecution and torture,” noting the risks they ran in case of being returned to the Island.

The State Department provides for the custody and care of migrants in the MOC until the time of their resettlement in a third country.

A spokesperson for the US Department of State assured the BBC that 445 people had been relocated to third countries through the Migration Operations Center based in Guantánamo since 1996. The vast majority were Cubans.

In addition to the 22 Cubans, there are three Haitians and three Dominicans in the Migrant Operations Center who, according to USCIS, “are not detained and can request return to their respective countries whenever they wish.”

This Monday, the Border Patrol rescued two migrants who were about to drown in the Florida Keys. The chief officer of the Miami sector, Walter Slosar, specified on his social networks that 18 people were rescued, without publicizing their nationality.

On Saturday, Slosar reported the landing of eight rafts in the Florida Keys of 180 Cubans in the last 48 hours. All were placed in the custody of the Border Patrol to continue being processed.

That same Saturday, 53 people were repatriated to the Island aboard the William Flores ship. “The Coast Guard and partner agencies are patrolling the Straits of Florida, the Windward and Mona Passages to stop illegal migration,” reiterated non-commissioned officer of District Seven, Nicole Groll.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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