The government of Mexico said Wednesday it will give 20-day transit visas to a group of 180 Cuban migrants trying to reach the United States.
According to Mexico’s National Migration Institute, the Cubans will not be allowed to stay in Mexico after their permits expire. The visas were issued for humanitarian reasons.
Thousands of Cubans became stuck on the Costa Rican side of the border with Nicaragua after Managua refused to open its doors to hundreds of migrants heading for the U.S., spurred by fear that the normalization of relations between Washington and Havana may bring an end to a U.S. policy of automatically granting residency to Cubans who step foot on its soil. At the same time, tens of thousands of Central American migrants are deported from the United States every year.
A new pilot scheme agreed to last month by Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala will start to allow those wishing to reach the U.S. alternative routes that skip Nicaragua.
The 180 Cuban migrants, chosen from some 8,000, traveled by plane from Costa Rica to El Salvador Tuesday, before taking a series of buses through Guatemala to the Mexican border, arriving Wednesday.
The cost of the trip for each passenger was $555, which covered airfare from Costa Rica to El Salvador, exit taxes in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Guatemala — which together amount to US$99 dollars — ground transportation from El Salvador to Mexico’s southern border, and food along the way, La Nacion reported.
Central American nations will convene Thursday to discuss whether the first trip of the Cubans was a success and if the pilot transit program should continue, Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez said Wednesday.
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