14ymedio, Ángel Salinas, Mexico,30 September 2022 — “You have 72 hours or you’ll be deported.” In this way, an agent of the National Migration Institute threatened a group of 14 Cubans in Mexico City. The alternative is blackmail: “They’re asking for $5,000 for each, $70,000 for the group,” a close friend of the detainees who wants to remain anonymous tells 14ymedio.
The group formed part the 103 Cubans detained in the Mexican state of Campeche, who were forced to remain on a bus without food for 24 hours. A Migration officer recommended to the source interviewed by this newspaper to “get moving” with the money.
In an audio to which this newspaper had access, the telephone warning of the agent, identified as the deputy director of the Las Agujas migration station in the Mexican capital, is heard. “I want to know if they’re going to get their hands on it,” asks the official, who warns that “the amount will be considerable” if the group wants to be freed.
The voice also proposes the alternative of allowing their deportation and then negotiating a new entry. Although, it clarifies, now this was going to “stain their passports.” “It’s going to be a little more complicated, I think,” says the man, who recommends that the Cubans act quickly.
“The group had been divided,” explains the same source. “Some of them were taken to the Escárcega migration station, in Campeche, but others were transported to the prosecutor’s office, after spending more than a day without eating, until they were moved to Cancun, then to Chetumal and now they are in Las Agujas,” he says.
Those who moved to Cancun offered money to the agents and achieved their release in Chetumal. A minor, Jimmy Jorge Céspedes Sánchez, who presented health problems derived from the asthma he suffered during the retention, and also Yaimet Sánchez Selles, Yaimet Selles Velázquez and Jorge Luis Sánchez Proenza, are part of this group.
It’s not the first time that Cubans have reported abuses by Las Agujas Migration agents.
In the last week of July, Angélica María Rodríguez Varela, Isael Meléndez Castro, Junier Blanco Hernández and two other Cubans were arrested despite having legal protection to pass, during their transfer to the border with the United States.
Rodríguez, Meléndez, Blanco and other nationals of the Island were robbed of the little cash they had. Their passports were taken away, the chips from their mobile phones removed and they were kept incommunicado for several days. The agents demanded the payment of $2,000 from each one to be released and have their documents returned. Thanks to the intervention of an activist, they were allowed to leave and are currently in El Paso, Texas.
The journey of Cubans through Mexico has increased significantly in recent months. In the last 45 days, immigration authorities reported the arrest of 220 people who entered the country illegally.
What they don’t say is that there are hundreds of prisoners in Migration prisons. “That’s a crime,” says the 14ymedio source, who warns Cubans not to rely on money to avoid deportation. “It’s crazy, they want $70,000.”
More than 177,000 Cubans have arrived by land in the United States and more than 5,000 by sea since October 2021.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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