14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 9 February 2017 — A Cuban couple were deported Wednesday by the National Migration Service in Panama. Both were detained by the authorities in Guabalá, in Panama’s Chiriquí province.
According to immigration sources, the couple entered the country “irregularly.” Both were returned to Uruguay, where they legally reside. Their intention was to reach the US border.
The government office told 14ymedio that the deportations of migrants passing through Panama to reach the United States increased in January.
Last month 81 people were expelled, which means 20 more deportations than in January of 2016. Among the irregular migrants were 19 Colombians. Citizens of Ecuador, China and the Dominican Republic were also counted, with 9 immigrants expelled from each of these countries. According to statistics, only one Cuban was deported from Panama last month.
However, complaints from Cuban migrants who attempted to enter through the Darien jungle claim that there have been at least one hundred deportations of Cuban migrants on the border with Colombia.
Panama’s Director of Migration confirmed to this newspaper that access will not be allowed to Cubans, not even through the Darien Gap, a route where humanitarian posts were set up to help migrants after the border was closed on 9 May 2016.
Several hundred Cubans were stranded in Panama following then President Barack Obama’s elimination of the “Wet Foot/Dry Foot” policy on January 12th of this year.
About 200 migrants remain in the Caritas refuge center in Panama City, waiting to continue their journey to the United States or to regularize their situation in Panama.
According data from Panama Migration, in 2016 more than 27,000 irregular migrants crossed the territory on their way to the United States.