14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 5 May 2016 — Panama began selling airline tickets, on Thursday, to Mexico for Cuban migrants who find themselves stranded in the country. Tickets cost $805 and the first to benefit from the measure will be those staying at the Millennium Hotel, in the province of Chiriqui, according to a high ranking official who spoke to this newspaper and asked not to be identified.
Starting this coming Monday, two daily flights will connect to Nuevo Laredo in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, operated by Copa and Aereomexico airlines. Along with the cost of the airfare, to qualify for a Mexican visa the mirgrants will also have to pay 34 dollars for the journey by bus to the Panamanian airport and the trip to the border between Mexico and United States. The airline will offer a differential rate for children between age 2 to 11, of $322, while children one year and under will fly for $160.
So far, nobody knows if the Cubans who have recently arrived in Panama and who are not on the official lists of migrants will be part of the agreement with Mexico.
A Cuban who came to the immigration offices in the city of David, about 30 miles from the border with Costa Rica, told 14ymedio that some days ago migrants began to receive money through Western Union and MoneyGram to buy their tickets.
“Regardless of the high cost per ticket, we have been asked for a medical checkup, three ID format photos and a photocopy of our passports,” said the migrant, who asked not to divulge his name.
Many of the stranded are worried about not having enough money to pay the cost of the airline tickets.
Panamanian official institutions claim not to have a report on the costs entailed for the nearly 3,500 Cubans who find themselves stranded in their territory. However, the local press reported on Thursday that about $19,000, just from the Presidency’s discretionary funds, have been destined to the immigration crisis in the first three months of this year.
Translated by Alberto