14ymedio, Havana, 7 October 2022 — The Government of Cuba and Belize will hold bilateral meetings at the end of October to discuss the increase in the number of Cuban citizens arriving in the Central American country.
Eamon Courtenay, Belize Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration, pointed out that Cuban migrants are the “most worrying” group for the Belizean government, either because they enter in transit to the United States or to stay in the country, as published in the local newspaper Breaking Belize News.
“We’ve noted a singular increase in immigrants, illegal and irregular,” Courtenay told the local newspaper, “and the Cubans increased significantly.”
Belize, on the Caribbean coast of Central America, has become a transit destination for Cubans who leave the Island, submerged in its worst economic and social crisis in recent history. In their eagerness to reach the United States, some try to cross the sea in rustic boats in the Florida Straits, and others resort to the route from Guatemala to Mexico, entering Belize.
Courtenay said that this situation was a central issue at a recent meeting of the Immigration Department, in which “recommendations” were prepared that will be delivered in a document to the Cuban Government.
For Courtenay, the “most important challenge” is to deport Cubans to the Island, because there are no direct flights between the two countries. Some migrants were transferred on Panamanian Copa Airlines flights, but, the official said, in the last deportation exercise the migrants caused problems, and the airline warned the Government that it will no longer accept this type of passenger.
The Belizean government will seek rapprochement with the Biden Administration to receive assistance because “preventing migrants from passing through Belize also serves the interests of the United States.”
In this regard, Courtenay posted a photograph on Twitter on Thursday with U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, accompanied by this message: “It was good to catch up to discuss matters of importance for Belize and the United States. We are committed to continuing to work on issues of mutual interest.”
The migration crisis in Cuba remains unstoppable. U.S. authorities have intercepted 6,182 balseros [rafters] since October 1, 2021, the highest figure since 2016, while the Government of Mexico reports that Cuban citizens are the second largest group that requests asylum when crossing their borders.
The Mexican Refugee Aid Commission reported that 14,056 Cuban migrants have requested protection, up to the end of September 2022, only surpassed by Honduras, with 23,146.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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