In a Month, 2,730 Cubans Who Entered Through Guatemala Applied for Refuge in Mexico

Migrants have improvised a camp with tents in the Tapachula ecological park. (Nelson Rubio/América TeVé)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mexico, 3 October 2023 — Thousands of Cubans, mostly young people, have arrived in Tapachula, in the Mexican state of Chiapas, in the last week. Among them is George, who has been sleeping since last Thursday, along with his cousin, in a tent in the ecological park of the city on the border with Guatemala. Both trust that at the headquarters of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar) they will be granted a safe-conduct pass to continue their journey to the United States.

“In Cuba there is no future for young people,” laments this native of Las Tunas when interviewed by America TeVé journalist Nelson Rubio. “What’s happening on the Island is bad; everyone knows it, and you have to make decisions to help your family from the outside.”

The cousin of the young man, 23 years old, says that “it’s a shame to see the things that are outside Cuba, and back there a child can’t even eat a lollipop.” The young woman points out that this is “the truth” of the Island, and “it hurts.”

Comar officials have explained to the thousands of migrants that they “do not grant safe-conducts or transit permits.” The head of  Comar, José López, tells 14ymedio that in the last month, 2,730 Cubans requested refuge. “As of September 10,192 migrants from Cuba have been addressed who have claimed to be victims of persecution.”

López indicated that in the face of the increase in migratory flow, the process that took two months has been extended to three months. “We realize that many of the migrants are requesting refugee status so that they are not deported and can continue their journey, but they are wrong.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Monday that up to 16,000 migrants arrive daily at the northern and southern borders. “In recent times, through the Darién Jungle, which is a very dangerous area, up to 4,000 migrants to the south of Mexico passed through the borders of Colombia and Panama. Now on the border of Chiapas the number has increased to 6,000 per day, and last week (the figure) reached 10,000 migrants per day on the northern border,” he said in his daily morning conference, after “regretting” the accident on a road in Chiapas that claimed the lives of 10 Cuban women.

Entre los migrantes en Tapachula hay cubanos, haitianos, hondureños y venezolanos. (Nelson Rubio/América TeVé)
Among the migrants in Tapachula are Cubans, Haitians, Hondurans and Venezuelans. (Nelson Rubio/América TeVé)

Comar’s general coordinator, Andrés Alfonso Ramírez Silva, confirms to this newspaper that 112,960 migrants were assisted from January to the end of September. “Most of those who are in the ecological park are Cubans and Haitians, some Hondurans.”

Comar headquarters in Tapachula granted 53,698 folios (registration documents), and another 7,405 were granted at their site in Palenque. “It is expected that by the end of the year, there will be more than 150,000 applications,” says Ramírez.

Yovanni Sáenz, in the improvised camp in the ecological park, says that he left the Island because “there is no food” or “freedom of expression.” This habanero by birth was forced to leave his family in Guantánamo to “give them a better future.”

Unfortunately, he says, “they taught us to live in fear; it’s time for something to happen in Cuba; it’s no longer possible to live with “hunger, without transportation.”

Sáenz mentions that there is no “discipline” in the Comar, but they must remain in line waiting to be given “a safe-conduct to travel for three months.”

Another Cuban who is in the camp comments that on the Island, “unfortunately people don’t join together, and anyone who tries to do something is put in prison.” This was what motivated him to leave, “because if I don’t, they’ll put me in jail,” he says. “Unfortunately we have many compatriots who are in prison just for protesting.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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