Coyotes Kept Five Cubans Hidden in a Feed Store in Central Mexico

Angélica María Rodríguez Varela and Ismael Meléndez Castro are held incommunicado at the Las Agujas migration center. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ángel Salinas, Mexico, 25 July 2022 — A warehouse intended to store feed was used by coyotes as a hiding place for migrants. In the building located on an embankment far from the town of San Miguel de la Victoria, in the State of Mexico, 225 undocumented people were found last Saturday, five Cubans among them.

Angélica María Rodríguez Varela, Isael Meléndez Castro and Junier Blanco Hernández, all of Cuban nationality, were transferred to the Las Agujas migration center, in Mexico City. Migration agents told them that they would be deported.

Rodríguez and Meléndez, originally from Pinar del Río, and Blanco, from Havana, sent their testimonies to our editorial staff. The 26-year-old girl with Passport K523299 said she was afraid that she will be repatriated to the island where she has suffered threats for demonstrating against the regime.

Meléndez, who studies at the University of Computer Sciences, told us that he was forced to leave Cuba after the harassment he suffered for participating in the demonstrations of July 11, 2021. “They accused me with false testimony and wanted to put me in prison,” he told 14ymedio.

Blanco asks to be allowed to continue on their way to the United States, where “we can ask for asylum.” The habanero stressed that they have not committed any crime and that their only fault was not to wait any longer in southern Mexico to complete the application process for a free transit laissez-passer.

Minutes after they were arrested by members of the National Guard and Migration, the Cubans had their cell phones confiscated and are now being held incommunicado at the Las Agujas station.

The case reached the ears of migrant defense attorney José Luis Pérez, who processed an amparo* so that they can be released and avoid any attempt at extortion by Migration agents, which happens often with undocumented migrants, mainly Cubans.

The detention of Cubans in the Migration Center “has become a means of raising money for the coffers of officials,” stressed the lawyer, who is based in the border state of Chiapas.

A statement from the National Migration Institute indicated that the 225 undocumented migrants were overcrowded and waiting to be transferred by the coyotes to the U.S. border. “People were rescued from a place where there was no light, and several children were found among blankets and backpacks without any hygiene measures,” an agent told 14ymedio.

Among the migrants detained are 194 from Guatemala, 14 from Honduras, nine from Nicaragua and three from El Salvador. The Guatemalans and Salvadorans will be returned to the south of the country.

Since October 2018, and despite the tightening of surveillance on the southern border of Mexico, thousands of migrants from Central and South America, but also from Cuba, Haiti and various African and Asian countries have entered Mexican territory with the aim of reaching the United States.

Coyotes look for routes for foreigners and sometimes park them in the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Puebla and the State of Mexico as an intermediate stop on their journey to the United States.

The region is experiencing a record migratory flow to the United States, whose Customs and Border Protection Office has intercepted more than 1.6 million people so far in fiscal year 2022, which began last October.

In addition, Mexico received a record of more than 58,000 applications for asylum in the first half of 2022, an annual increase of almost 15%, according to the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance.

*Translator’s note: An ’amparo’ is a request for protection

Translated by Regina Anavy


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