Police Surround Panama’s Embassy in Cuba to Control the Crowd

The Police have established a cordon to prevent those interested from approaching Panama’s diplomatic headquarters. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 10 March 2022 — The situation at the Panamanian Embassy in Havana has worsened 24 hours after the chaos generated this Wednesday after it was learned that the country had begun requesting transit visas from Cubans.

Hundreds of people arrived at the entrance of the consulate yesterday to find out how they could quickly acquire a necessary piece of paper a few hours before some of them had to board a flight stopping in the Panamanian capital.

The scene was repeated this Thursday, although the Police had taken control of the area today and it was impossible to approach the diplomatic headquarters. In addition, the internet signal had been cut off in the area.

The agents, among other missions, must control traffic, which has been diverted to prevent yesterday’s crowds. The dozens of people who get as close as possible brandish their tickets in their hands and, like yesterday, demand solutions and answers in the midst of desperation because they don’t know if they will be able to fly.

Among the agents, some are understanding with the citizens who insist on receiving more information, but the order, in view of the operation, is to prevent them from getting closer to the diplomatic headquarters.

However, the number of interested parties is increasing. A guard who was several blocks from the area asked the 14ymedio reporter what the exact address of the Panamanian Embassy was, because many people insist on asking him.

The crowds repeated this Thursday, one day after learning about the new transit visa requirement for Cubans in Panama. (14ymedio)

This Wednesday, the Panamanian Consulate assured Cubans who plan to travel on or before the night of Saturday the 12th that they will not need the new transit visa, but those who plan to travel between March 13 and 30 will have to reschedule their flights. The employee assured that whoever travels after March 31 will have no problem obtaining the visa, but must submit their application at least 15 business days before the departure of their flight.

The news that the Panamanian authorities would begin to require transit visas from Cubans fell like a pitcher of cold water on those who planned to make a stopover in the Central American country with the Copa airline, which stops in Panama, to continue towards Nicaragua. Nicaragua does not require visas for Cubans and since November that country has become the main exit point for those who want to emigrate. At the end of February, Costa Rica took the same measures.

The cost of the visa is 50 dollars and gives the right to stay 24 hours in transit through Panama.

Cuba’s authorities have taken advantage of the situation to denounce the immigration policy of the United States, which they accuse of failing to comply with the immigration agreements that establish the delivery of at least 20,000 annual visas for Cuban citizens.

“This has led to the establishment of alternative routes for Cuban citizens who wish to emigrate to that country, creating complicated situations for other countries that are used as transit to reach the United States,” affirms the official press in a note published this Wednesday that recounts the scenes of yesterday and stresses that the decision belongs to Panama, and the Cuban government cannot do anything about it.


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