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Local News 10 Feb, 2021 Follow News

Javier Jouz Verona

Cuban political refugee Javier Jouz Verona and his wife, Erica Alvarez Freites, protesting in front of the Government Administration Building

By Staff Writer


The Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control Service (CBC) says persons campaigning for changes to the asylum law that “Government will review and consider legislative amendments and will advise when the amendments are agreed.”

This comes as Cuban political refugee Javier Jouz Varona, along with his wife, Erica Alvarez Freites, from the Dominican Republic have been holding a series of protests in front of the Government Administration Building.

Mr Varona who has been granted political asylum in Cayman, is demanding that his wife who does not have Caymanian Status or employment should be granted the same rights he has through the marriage.

He also claims that their marriage had not been recognized by the Cayman Government.

In a statement on the issue, the CBC says the Ministry of Employment and Border Control (MEBC) and the Customs & Border Control Service (CBC) are aware and understand the “gap” in legislation as it relates to section 111 of the Customs & Border Control Law, 2018.

Admitting that there is a discrepancy in the law, the CBC has assured that they are “looking at options to rectify this.”

Referring to the ongoing protest by Mr Varona, the agency says: “With respect to the persons recently protesting at the Government Administration Building, CBC has had discussions with them in the past and has advised that any changes in the law would require some time for the Cabinet and Parliament to consider.”

Meanwhile, Mr Varona who has received support for his campaign maintains that “if the government gives me that right (the right of political asylum) then it needs to respect that right. The same rights that I have, I want her (my wife) to have.”

Those rights included the rights of residency, and the right to work, Mr Varona said, adding that ‘it is very expensive to live here in Cayman,’ and also that their baby had a special medical condition, and that they could not afford to live here if only one of them was working.

The Cuban refugee who has been living in the Cayman Islands since 2017, has also said that on an earlier occasion, he had been arrested along with his baby, a Cayman Islands Citizen, for protesting outside the Government Administration Building.

“The protest is now to have all my family together, so that we are united,” he said.

The couple have a 10-month old child, Helem, who was born in the Cayman Islands.

In addition, Ms. Alvarez Freites has two children, 12-year-old Jason, and four-year-old Samantha who are still in the Dominican Republic.

The CBC says that as with other persons who are seeking asylum or who have been granted asylum, the Government continues to provide financial support in the form of rental and utilities assistance and in some cases food vouchers as well and Mr. and Mrs. Freites continues to benefit from that programme.

“We are aware of the circumstances pertaining to Mrs Alvarez-Freites and the outcomes being sought," the agency states.

"While the option to obtain employment through a work permit exists for Mrs Alvarez-Freites, the Government is also actively considering alternate options under the current legal framework that would facilitate her request to remain and work in the country with her family."

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