14ymedio, Havana, 14 March 2022 — Hundreds of Cubans denounced this Monday that they could not access the website set up by the Mexican embassy on the island to request a consular appointment for the month of April. The diplomatic headquarters announced at the beginning of the month that from Monday, at 4 pm, the new procedures could be scheduled. By 6:00 am on Tuesday, the appointments appear exhausted
Yesterday, the new web address announced by the embassy, citacuba.sre.gob.mx, had difficulties loading and was displaying messages such as “connection failed,” “error 20.”. Other problems were being able to enter user data but then not being able to continue.
“It’s always the same. And this has been denounced even in collective letters to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and nothing happens,” the Cuban journalist based in Mexico, José Raúl Gallego, complained on his Twitter account, showing screenshots with failed attempts to access the site.
“Corruption continues with total impunity,” added Gallego, in a clear allusion to the usual complaints about the illegal sale in Havana of consular appointments, which can cost up to 1,500 dollars.
In the last two years, services to the public at the consular headquarters have been repeatedly interrupted due to the spike in coronavirus in both Cuba and Mexico. In January 2021, the Mexican government decided to suspend “until further notice” all consular and immigration services. It was not until the end of last December that Mexico notified that it would enable appointments for the first days of 2022 and only for legalization of documents and visa applications.
Several Cubans residing on the island, who are undergoing family reunification processes, have also denounced that the opening of appointments has coincided this Monday with “one of the worst days of internet connection.”
“The connection has deteriorated in recent weeks, it’s slow, there are constant crashes when browsing the web on mobile phones, but today it’s gone to extremes,” one of those affected tells 14ymedio. Users on the island “find it doubly difficult to make an appointment,” on the one hand, they insists, “the site is collapsed,” but on the other, “Cubans’ Internet access is very limited.”
Despite these drawbacks, poor service from the Consulate was already a constant before the pandemic. Getting an interview at the embassy was always difficult due to problems in the electronic system, delays with applications, or the resale of appointments on the informal market.
Cubans initially had to go to the site of the National Migration Institute to schedule a date, but the Embassy created the Appointments-Cuba page in the Mexitel system at the beginning of 2020 to speed up the procedures.
However, several independent media have reported that the number of appointments remains limited and intermediaries continue to charge excessive amounts of money to those who want to arrange one.
For the month of April, only 1,217 appointments for visas and legalization of seals and signatures were enabled, according to the embassy. “Appointments for the month of May will be opened at a later date,” it informed.
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