Thousands of Cubans Continue to Seek Refuge on Mexico’s Southern Border

Cuban migrants in a shelter on the border of Ciudad Juárez, in the state of Chihuahua. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mexico, 5 October 2020 — Cubans continue to enter Mexico from the south despite the closure of the borders of the Central American countries due to the pandemic. So far this year, 4,174 have already requested asylum, according to the latest data published by the National Commission for Refugees (Comar).

As of last month, 27,666 people had entered as refugees and Cuba ranked third by country after Honduras (9,296) and Haiti (4,241). However, since 2013 only 1,082 Cuban applications have been approved.

One example is the municipality of Tenosique, in the state of Tabasco, where there are hundreds of Cubans waiting for their petitions to be resolved by Comar, which has rejected 90% of the requests in that city, as highlighted in a ContraRéplica report.

“There is an obvious delay and bureaucracy that has kept them stranded for several months, with no response to their asylum requests,” said Fernando Santiago Canché, the head of Asistencia Humanitaria del Albergue La 72 (The 72 Humanitarian Assistance Shelter). Some Cubans stay there, while others remain in housing rented in overcrowded conditions, until they achieve immigration status.

In mid-2016, the Mexican government signed a memorandum of understanding with the island that contemplates the repatriation of Cubans who enter the country illegally and are accepted by Havana. Since Barack Obama’s Administration ended the “wet foot/dry foot” policy, many Cubans have applied for refugee status as a way to legalize their situation.

In 2019, some 8,708 Cubans requested political asylum in Mexico, and almost all of the requests were received by the Comar delegation in the city of Tapachula, in the southern state of Chiapas.

It is in this city, on the border with Guatemala, where the greatest number of procedures are carried out. And it is in this area where the federal government had deployed hundreds of police and immigration agents in recent days to control the passage of the caravan that left Honduras last week and was finally dissolved.

The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, congratulated himself for the migrants making that decision. “Both the Honduran and Guatemalan governments helped to convince these immigrants that there are no sanitary conditions and that they had to act differently,” the president said last Monday.

López Obrador considered that the intervention from Mexico “helped a lot.” He said, “Especially the warning that there could be political interests, because it is not by chance that a caravan is organized when we are less than a month away from the elections in the United States.”

Hundreds of Cubans remain stranded in several Central American countries and have not been able to continue to the United States due to the health situation. In Costa Rica, at the end of August the Government transferred a group of 225 Cubans who lived in terrible conditions on the border with Nicaragua to a camp in the canton of La Cruz, in Guanacaste province.


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