14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 29 May 2016 – A Cuban couple who arrived from Ecuador, were repatriated to the island by the Colombian authorities this Sunday, after being detained in the center of the country without proper documentation.
Leira Valle Piedra and Yoandy Boza Canal, ages 19 and 23 respectively, entered Colombia through its border with Ecuador with the intention of joining the Cubans who are in the town of Turbo, in Antioquia Department, but they were discovered two hours from Medellin and transferred to Pereira, where they were informed they would be returned to Cuba.
“They told us it will be the same for all Cubans who are in Colombia without a visa,” Leira Valle told 14ymedio. She said that they decided to cross into Colombia with the aim of continuing the journey to the United States, where they have family. “They refused to renew my husband’s visa in Ecuador so we had to leave there,” she said.
The deportation to Cuba happened after Colombia Migration issued a statement on 25 May in which it expressed that the new measures that the country was taking in the face of human trafficking are beginning to show good results.
The new actions consist of an increase in checkpoints both along highways and at border points. The authorities referred to the new irregular migration routes they detected in the departments of Nariño, Huila and Amazonas.
The communiqué also said that more than 150 migrants were deported in recent days to their countries of origin or to the location where they had entered Colombia.
With regards to hundreds of Cubans who are being housed in a warehouse in Turbo the text was categorical: “Colombia Migration and the National Government will not facilitate any aircraft to transport them to a different place that is not the border where they entered Colombia or their place of origin. To do otherwise would be contributing to the criminal bands of human traffickers.
In 2016 alone, the town of Turbo has discovered more then 3,700 irregular migrants. Most of them obtained a safe conduct giving them 10 days to pass through the country but, after the closing of the border with Panama to the avalanche of Cubans and migrants from other continents, the Colombian government has decided to deport the undocumented to their countries in origin.
In response to the request for information on the case, the communications office of Migration Colombia told this newspaper that, due to the internal policies that manage the institution, they can not address the issue only from the Cuban problem, “every time, for the Colombian state these people are victims of migrant trafficking networks and we would be ‘revictimizing’ them.”