Bribes and Robberies, the Complaints of Cubans Against Mexican Migration Officials Multiply

Migrants, including several Cubans, in the Tapachula ecological park waiting for immigration procedures. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 October 2023 — Complaints from migrants and activists against Mexican Migration officials are multiplying. To the complaints on Monday that the Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees (COMAR) gives erroneous information to Cubans about the documents they have to request, leading them to run the risk of being deported, are added several testimonies this Tuesday that prove corruption and even robberies.

Carlos Álvarez, from Havana, said that the agents of the Siglo XXI immigration station, in Tapachula, in Chiapas, “took 120 dollars, a watch and a chain” from him while he was detained and held incommunicado there for 20 days.

The young man tells 14ymedio how he was threatened by an officer nicknamed El Comander on September 27, when he complained about the belongings he was missing when he left the place. “They only gave me my cell phone and a backpack with clothes. ’What more do you want if you’re already free? Get out of here or you’ll be deported,” the Comander told me.

Álvarez complains that “no one protects the migrant in that prison. The lawyers who are inside ask you for a deposit of $600 to a phone number so that they can collect it at the Oxxo (a 24-hour store). When they have it, they tell you that they are going to process the protection order so that they don’t deport you, but I never saw anyone leave until they came to tell us that we had to  vacate.”

Activist and lawyer José Luis Pérez said that the problem is that Migration “continues to have carte blanche to arrest migrants, intimidate them with deportation and extort them”

Another complaint was made to Diario del Sur by Enrique Vidal, coordinator of processes of the Human Rights Center Fray Matías de Córdoba (Veracruz). The activist says that Migration agents “take 200 dollars from Cubans” to not arrest them. That amount has to be “delivered to the migration agents who are deployed at the 11 checkpoints between Tapachula and Arriaga” (Chiapas), Vidal continues, in addition to another located in Suchiate (Chiapas).

Cubans who cross from Guatemala over the southern border of Mexico pay thousands of dollars to reach the state of Oaxaca, from where they travel to the center of the country and continue their journey to the United States. The agents’ extortion is “a systematic practice that is covered up by the senior officials of the National Institute of Migration (INM), and it hasn’t been eradicated,” the activist adds.

Vidal said that there is total impunity. Despite the fact that there is evidence and the National Human Rights Commission has the information, the authorities “have pretended not to know about the migrants.”

According to official figures from the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance, 113,000 migrants applied for asylum in Mexico between January and September of this year. The figure represents an increase of 30% compared to the same period of the previous year. Among these are 12,777 Cubans.

Activist and lawyer José Luis Pérez said that migrants are “hooked by coyotes to advance to the border with the United States.” For the lawyer, the problem is that Migration “continues to have carte blanche to arrest migrants, intimidate them with deportation and extort them.”

Without money, Carlos Álvarez says that the same morning he left the Siglo XXI station he went to the ecological park, located in Los Cerritos, where the Cubans who were there supported him with money. “I did the paperwork for refuge at the COMAR because everything is hot in Tapachula. The deportations have already begun, and with this I was no longer stopped by Migration when they reviewed my documents this Monday.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.