Uruguay Keeps More Than 7,000 Cubans Who Applied for Refuge in Limbo

A total of 7,293 Cubans applied for refuge last year in Uruguay; the process now takes two years / x/@cubanoslibresuy

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 2 April 2024 — More than 7,000 Cubans who applied for refuge last year in Uruguay “remain in limbo” because the care system is “suffocated,” according to the Uruguayan newspaper El Observador. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the country ended 2023 with 24,193 applications, and the waiting time has been extended to two years. Milagros Rodríguez is one of those Cubans who arrived in Montevideo last year with the idea of starting a new life with her Cuban partner, whom she re-encountered in that nation. However, things didn’t go as she planned. According to the Spanish newspaper El País, she currently has a provisional identity document and works as a cleaner.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the country ended 2023 with 24,193 applications

By remaining in “migratory limbo”, Cubans do not have refugee status and cannot cancel the application for refuge to process the permanent residence that would allow them family reunification. Rodríguez points out that a solution for her, like thousands of her compatriots, is for Uruguay to “release them from that visa”, as happened during the Covid 19 pandemic.

According to the Uruguayan newspaper El Observador, the “diagnostic” document approved by the Refugee Commission collapsed due to the “lack of resources” and the “shortage of migratory alternatives” for people who can’t show that they are being persecuted.

Uruguayan Foreign Minister Omar Paganini argues that the delay is due to the fact that the majority of applicants “do not meet the requirements to be refugees.” He accepts as “reasonable” that Cubans have motives to leave the Island, but for Uruguay to grant them asylum, they must prove that they are victims of “political persecution.” However, a solution is being analyzed.

Last May, Alberto Gianotti, of the Migrant Support Network, warned that between 9,000 and 10,000 nationals of the Island had to process a visa to maintain their legal status in the South American country.

Alberto Gianotti, of the Migrant Support Network, warned that between 9,000 and 10,000 Cubans had to apply for a visa to maintain their legal status

El Observador reported that since the beginning of the pandemic, Cuba has suffered the largest flight of its population in its history. “Tourism collapsed; infrastructure showed its shortcomings; medication and food were scarce; there were constant blackouts; and about half a million escaped to the United States.”

The same newspaper reiterated that Uruguay has no intention “to deport the undocumented, much less to allow irregular inhabitants to accumulate”, with the consequent problems that would result, so Montevideo is rushing to find a solution that is not expected to be easy.

Since the president of the United States, Barack Obama, put an end to the “wet foot/dry foot” policy in 2017, Cubans have found an alternative route through Uruguay. Their journey begins in Guyana, the only South American country that does not require a visa. From there they cross through Brazil and then resort to coyotes to reach Uruguay, where they ask for refuge.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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