Most Chilean crewmembers of the Uruguayan flagged longliner Maya V apprehended by Australian authorities, arrived last Sunday in Punta Arenas to an emotive family reception, reports La Prensa Austral. No officials were present.
Oliver Marquez said he was most happy to be back but very sorry his father and uncle, Luis and José Marquez had to remain in Freemantle since they are accused of having illegal fishing records.
"We had full confidence in the captain and we didn't know what we were exposed to. We arrived in Australia in the middle of an electoral campaign, but overall the Australians treated us decently", said Oliver Marquez.
Salomón Catrilef said he was "grateful to God the nightmare was over" and thanked the contracting company for being able to be back in Punta Arenas. However he was critical of the Australians, "Migration officers treated us roughly".
Ramón Paredes who acted as the spokesman for the group while retained in Australia, said he was most grateful to the Seamen's union advisor José Hernández.
"I did my best to keep spirits up, and thank God it all worked out", indicated Mr. Paredes who anticipated that with 55 years, "it's time to retire and remain with the family". But Mr. Paredes was furious with the situation and the Australians. "I went to work to feed my family and they locked us in a high security prison treating us like common crooks; my government must also be involved in this incident".
Union advisor Jose Hernández pointed out that only half the job was done, "we still have people detained in Australia, three Uruguayan officers, a Spaniard and three Chileans, two of them from Magallanes". Mr. Hernández criticized the "half accomplice silence of regional and national authorities and particularly the absence of any Congressional interest, since they shouldn't only be concerned with the votes".
In the same flight from Santiago was Punta Arenas Mayor Jaime Jelincic who questioned on the incident said "the issue was addressed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it's a complex issue, since there are claims of illegal fishing in forbidden waters. Foreign Affairs have contacted the contracting company". Further on Mr, Jelincic admitted in spite of crewmembers having responsibility (in the incident) "a mechanism must be found to ensure that crewmembers have more guarantees before sailing".
As to remind the group all they experienced in Australia somewhere along their return trip through Spain, Iberia lost their luggage.
The Maya V was apprehended at the end of January allegedly illegally fishing in Australian waters.