At Least 16,000 Cubans Are Stranded in Tapachula, Mexico, Waiting for an Immigration Response

Valeria, a Cuban woman, together with the manager of the nightclub Marinero Men’s Club, which is located in Tapachula (Chiapas). (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mexico, 7 September 2023 — Yumara has been stuck for 22 days in Tapachula, in the Mexican state of Chiapas, on the border with Guatemala. This Thursday she went to the offices of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) to find out if she was approved for the “supplementary protection” that guarantees being able to stay in Mexico while requesting an asylum appointment for the United States through the CBP One application.

“They asked me to wait at least 15 days because they have received thousands of applications,” she tells 14ymedio. “I can’t leave this state; the Immigration agents warned me that if I do and am detained, they will return me to Guatemala.”

According to figures from COMAR, 53,698 irregular migrants have entered through Tapachula. According to official records, as of September 4, they had received applications from 10,192 Cubans. “The officers tell you about thousands, about 16,000, but I haven’t seen those Cubans,” she says. “The people who are now here are mostly from Haiti and Venezuela.”

Yumara, 29, left a nine-year-old daughter on the Island. “The money runs out and you have to find out how to get it,” she says. Due to her status as a migrant, the work options are limited to cleaning or being a waitress in some inn, “where they pay you 90 Mexican pesos (4 dollars) a day and give you food.”

She says that due to the lack of opportunities, many migrant women go to bars and nightclubs, where “they are roped into prostitution.” The young woman, who shares a room with Mileidis, another Cuban who works in a nightclub, says that they had a Venezuelan friend. “One night she went out with some men,” and they didn’t hear from her again

According to the official records of Comar, up to September 4 they had received requests from 10,192 Cubans

The head of the Street Brigade Community Center, Cristian Gómez Fuentes, told Diario del Sur on Tuesday that there are more than 2,000 women, mainly from the Island, who work in bars as companions of clients, some even practicing prostitution.

On the other hand, the head of the Marinero Men’s Club, Antonio Armas Hernández, assured the EFE news agency last week that they offer employment to women while making their asylum applications. “Approximately 98% of those who have gone through this business to work are Cubans. We have had one or two Venezuelans and some here who are Honduran. The migrants themselves are Cubans, and we have tried to give them that opportunity with advice, including about migration,” said the businessman.

Mileidis, Yumara’s roommate, is just 22 years old and says that in these night clubs the managers offer the waitresses between 50 and 100 pesos, depending on the bottle that the customers consume. “In one night you can get 400 pesos, but the jineteras leave with 2,400″ because of their customers, she says.

Yumara and Mileidis pay 2,700 pesos for the room they rent, which has two single beds, a grill, two benches and a table. “We share the bathroom, the laundry area and the patio.”

The activist and director of the Center for Human Dignity A.C., Luis García Villagrán, told us this Thursday that there are more than 40,000 migrants in the state waiting for answers from COMAR. Between January and December 2022, about 100,000 people sought to be recognized as refugees.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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