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[Illegal] Migration at the Panama-Colombia Border


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This topic is closely related to another topic here on CL, but we are opting to keep them separate. Please refer to http://www.chiriqui.life/topic/11782-the-presidents-of-panama-and-costa-rica-have-a-pow-wow-at-the-panamonte for related information.

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President Varela said last night that Panama cannot be converted into a permanent logistical point for the trafficking of migrants to the U.S..

He said the nation is currently taking measures to ensure that this movement does not continue.

Expect continued strict enforcement of immigration laws at all border points.

Varela en el acto de entrega del orden de proceder para la construcción de nuevo estadio en Los Santos.

http://www.prensa.com/provincias/Varela-Panama-sseguira-tolerando-inmigrantes_0_4471052978.html

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Regarding "open borders" people routinely refer to the open border of The Netherlands and Belgium which are two first world nonviolent countries as depicted in the attached photo.  An open border betw

Panama does not have an open border with Colombia. It has the nearly impenetrable Darien Jungle to serve as a barrier. The referenced travelers were handled by Panamanian Migration, MINSA, and SI

Well, these 'travelers' have no desire to declare themselves refugees in Panama so your point is invalid, apart from demonstrating that you're personally biased against migration ..excepting your own,

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Sixteen Migrant Traffickers Captured in Colombia

Authorities in Colombia have captured 16 members of a transnational network dedicated to the trafficking of migrants who brought them to Panama.

The network transported citizens from Cuba, Pakistan and Somalia.

The detainees belong to a criminal organization that "uses Colombia as one of the transit countries to reach the United States," explained the Colombian military.

They were captured in various parts of the country, including on the border with Ecuador, a country where many migrants enter South America,

- See more at: http://www.prensa.com/in_english/Capturan-Colombia-miembros-trafico-migrantes_21_4475012458.html#sthash.LtxcOqbB.dpuf

 

 

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Varela closes border with Colombia

 

This Monday, President Juan Carlos Varela announced the decision to close the border with Colombia, in the area of Puerto Obaldia, to address the immigration crisis in the country.

 

According to Varela, this "difficult" decision came into effect four days ago.

 

"We have to close the border to this irregular flow of immigrants," Varela said, during the ceremony to launch an operation to combat organized crime.

 

Varela also announced that steps will be taken to crack down on the immigration status of people within the country. 

 

 

- See more at: http://www.prensa.com/in_english/Presidente-Juan-Carlos-Varela-frontera_21_4479512006.html#sthash.Nw6aZJTN.dpuf

 

 

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The Darien Gap is the Panama-Colombia border, it's extremely porous for obvious reasons, and both governments are ill-equipped to police it.

Much of the area in the Department of Choco, Colombia is still controlled by narcotraffickers and anti-government forces (often the same folks).

After 40 years of civil conflict, Colombia has about 3.5 million internally displaced people and as many as 700,000 refugees living in other countries, numbering more than any other nation in the Western hemisphere. Governments in the region have generally been sympathetic to the situation.

With the border officially closed there will no doubt be an increase in illegal human trafficking. I believe the President's remarks about turfing people who are found to be here illegally were directed at future 'jungle migrants'. 

There is currently strict enforcement of Article 43 at land crossings which will probably continue.

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Colombia considera adecuado cierre de frontera con Panamá - See more at: http://www.prensa.com/mundo/Colombia-considera-adecuado-frontera-Panama_0_4480052084.html#sthash.cQRcu1em.dpuf

Colombia considers proper the closing of the border with Panama

Colombian chancellor Maria Angela Holguin assured this Tuesday, 10 May, that the closure of the border with Colombia prepared by Panama is understood as a strengthening of the control measures of irregular migratory traffic and described the action as appropriate.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela ordered the day before the closure of the border with Colombia with the aim of preventing the irregular flow of Cuban migrants and other nationalities to their country which he said, encourages the trafficking in persons and is becoming increasingly unsustainable.

"We understood the message of the President of Panama as a strengthening of measures to control migratory traffic. Obviously all the countries we have the borders closed to illegal migration," said the minister of Foreign Affairs in statements to the press in the headquarters of the Chancellery in Bogota.

She emphasized that Colombians who have their documentation may transit normally by the border.

"Everything that helps make a neighboring country improve the legality and combat illegality seems to us to be well and properly measure of Panama," said.

"We do not want that Colombia has become a country of illegal traffic. We know perfectly well that the objective of these people (migrants) is not Colombia. The aim is more to the north, but anyway the traffic passes by Colombia," added the chancellor.

It is also expressed confidence that there will be a joint work of the Colombian immigration authorities with their peers in Panama and Ecuador.

"Each time is more in increase that illegal trafficking," emphasized Holguin in a speech in which he was accompanied by the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Guillaume Long.

Long said that in the last three months the number of Cuban migrants to Ecuador has decreased. "They have been more people who have returned to Cuba from Ecuador that persons who have entered to Ecuador from Cuba and that is important," said.

For the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister great part of the migration of Cubans to other countries has much to do with the policies of the United States toward the island.

With the agreement of the Government of Panama, the closure to the entry of Cubans will be mainly in Puerto Obaldía, but also includes other border points.
- See more at: http://www.prensa.com/mundo/Colombia-considera-adecuado-frontera-Panama_0_4480052084.html#sthash.cQRcu1em.dpuf

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On 5/11/2016 at 10:47 PM, Keith Woolford said:

The Darien Gap is the Panama-Colombia border, it's extremely porous for obvious reasons, and both governments are ill-equipped to police it.

Much of the area in the Department of Choco, Colombia is still controlled by narcotraffickers and anti-government forces (often the same folks).

After 40 years of civil conflict, Colombia has about 3.5 million internally displaced people and as many as 700,000 refugees living in other countries, numbering more than any other nation in the Western hemisphere. Governments in the region have generally been sympathetic to the situation.

With the border officially closed there will no doubt be an increase in illegal human trafficking. I believe the President's remarks about turfing people who are found to be here illegally were directed at future 'jungle migrants'. 

There is currently strict enforcement of Article 43 at land crossings which will probably continue.

Keith

You never stop to surprise me!!!!

I do like when you post useful information for the members of the site.  You are my chiricano-canadiense amigo.

 

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3 hours ago, Roger B said:

Keith

You never stop to surprise me!!!!

I do like when you post useful information for the members of the site.  You are my chiricano-canadiense amigo.

 

I agree with you. Keith is well informed and generous with the sharing of that information.  :)

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11 hours ago, Roger B said:

Keith

You never stop to surprise me!!!!

I do like when you post useful information for the members of the site.  You are my chiricano-canadiense amigo.

 

Thanks Roger. I enjoy watching current events and learning about the region where we live. A recent trip to Medellin provided some new opportunities.

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It looked like maybe 250-300 people at the immigration doors noon today, Sunday. Two huge bus loads. Maybe there on the way to the airport now. The office was open and processing people. Probably the Cubanos from Gualaca. Just a guess, who knows. Chiriqui news will talk later I'm sure. TVN later.

davidcubanos.jpg

Edited by Hil
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The last 187 Cubans who are in Panama will remain on the premises of the National Immigration Service in Chiriqui until their situation is resolved.

The individuals, who entered the country through Colombia and who are headed to the United States, do not have money to buy an air ticket to take them to Mexico to cross into the United States.

A Cuban immigrant, who declined to reveal his name, said they were in a hostel, but were taken on a bus Sunday to immigration and left there.

He said that immigration officials have not told them what would happen with them.

"I do not know why we were pulled out of the hostel if they do not have an answer to our situation," he added.

Sietnel Candanedo, of the Pastoral Society of Chiriqui, said he was concerned about the situation because the migrants have no money.

There are 145 Cubans who are slated to travel to Juarez, Mexico, Monday.

- See more at: http://www.prensa.com/in_english/Ultimos-cubanos-mantendran-Migracion-respuesta_21_4489261035.html#sthash.mBuDLUti.dpuf

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Met about a dozen Cuban refugees on my last border run at Paso Canoas in March at La Morenita Hostel on the Panama side.  I was impressed with most of these 25 to 35 year olds trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.  Two English teachers were faced with earning $25 per month as professionals with degrees and both worked in the casinos where they made more and received tips.  Doctors earn about $50 per month in Cuba.  While I am certain there are "dead beats" among these refugees looking for a hand out from the US, I would welcome any of the Cubans I met into my home. 

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2,752 Cuban migrants have been transported to Mexico

To date, about 2,752 Cuban migrants have traveled from Panama City to Juarez, Mexico, as part of an airlift announced at the beginning of May, reported the National Immigration Service.

The entity unveiled another flight for Mexico Monday carrying 145 Cubans. The goal is to transport some 4,000 Cubans in Panama illegally.

The migrants are headed for the United States. Mexico is admitting them on a temporary basis.

Immigration officials are still trying to determine what to do with Cuban migrants who can't afford the plane fare to Mexico. The fare is $575, although children fly free.

The flights to Mexico began May 9.

- See more at: http://www.prensa.com/in_english/mil-migrantes-cubanos-viajado-Mexico_21_4490010960.html#sthash.EhKpOPe8.dpuf

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On ‎5‎/‎12‎/‎2016 at 11:03 AM, Keith Woolford said:

Thanks Roger. I enjoy watching current events and learning about the region where we live. A recent trip to Medellin provided some new opportunities.

I, for one, appreciate both you, Roger, and you, Keith for your immensely informative posts.  Although I don't participate much here, I do read and "lurk" a lot as I formerly did on the old ning site, and you both have contributed considerably to my knowledge and understanding of the country that has been my home for 3 years now.  I can get by for the most part with my limited conversational Spanish, but truly appreciate the English synopsis and translations you both provide of news and current events, as well as your expositions of cultural matters. One day when I retire and have more time on my hands, I hope to increase my ability to read and comprehend Spanish.  In the interim, I'm just so content to be here and benefit from your knowledge.  When and if you do come up here, Roger, I will not only join you for a cup of coffee (as you mentioned in another thread), but I will gladly bring you some delicious Panamanian chocolate.

Edited by Deborah
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13 hours ago, Deborah said:

I, for one, appreciate both you, Roger, and you, Keith for your immensely informative posts.  Although I don't participate much here, I do read and "lurk" a lot as I formerly did on the old ning site, and you both have contributed considerably to my knowledge and understanding of the country that has been my home for 3 years now.  I can get by for the most part with my limited conversational Spanish, but truly appreciate the English synopsis and translations you both provide of news and current events, as well as your expositions of cultural matters. One day when I retire and have more time on my hands, I hope to increase my ability to read and comprehend Spanish.  In the interim, I'm just so content to be here and benefit from your knowledge.  When and if you do come up here, Roger, I will not only join you for a cup of coffee (as you mentioned in another thread), but I will gladly bring you some delicious Panamanian chocolate.

HI Deborah

You and others in this site are the reason why I keep visiting this place and sharing some information about this country and its people.  I will keep doing it according to my possiblities and time.  

Regarding spanish.  Do practice little by little everyday.  Dont wait until retirement.  Remember that we, panamanians, love and appreciate very much the effort a non spanish speaking person do by trying to speak us in our language.  It doesnt matter if you make mistakes.  We will help you.  Try it more often.  

I would really appreciate those delicious chocolates you show in Facebook.  They look so great.

 

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Leavin' on a Jet Plane

The last of the Cuban migrants who sought to reach the U.S. by traveling through Central America but were stuck in Panama, have left for Ciudad Juarez. Mexico.

Con la salida de este último grupo, procedieron a cerrar los albergues en los que se encontraban.

El Servicio Nacional de Migración anunció que este miércoles, 25 de mayo, viajó el último grupo de migrantes cubanos que se encontraban albergados en la provincia de Chiriquí hacia ciudad Juárez, México, culminando así el puente aéreo humanitario coordinado por ambos países.

El acuerdo entre Panamá y México fue de manera temporal, por lo que aseguran que esta fue la última ocasión que se ejecuta esta acción a través del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Migración. 

Durante tres semanas y en 22 vuelos programados se lograron trasladar 3 mil 161 cubanos, quienes pretenden llegar hasta Estados Unidos, como su destino final.

En tanto, con la salida del grupo de este miércoles, las autoridades procedieron a cerrar definitivamente el albergue ubicado en la comunidad de Los Planes, en el distrito de Gualaca.

En la primera operación humanitaria, que se llevó a cabo en marzo de este mismo año, se movilizaron  mil 301 isleños, haciendo un total en ambos operativos de 4 mil 462 personas trasladadas a México.

Sin embargo, unos 187 cubanos que carecen de recursos económicos, aún continúan en las afueras del SNM, esperando respuesta de las autoridades para saber si van a poder ser trasladados o no.

Migración reiteró que la medida de cierre de la frontera de Panamá con Colombia se mantiene, para reducir el flujo migratorio irregular que afecta la región. 

- See more at: http://www.prensa.com/provincias/Culminan-traslados-cubanos-Mexico_0_4491301001.html#sthash.tKv9C36P.dpuf

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  • 3 weeks later...

I know this is late information, but I do like "closure" on things.

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Over 60% of Cuban migrants have reached Mexico

Posted on May 18, 2016 in Panama

cubans-620x264.jpg
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OVER  SIXTY PERCENT  of Cuban migrants  who were stranded in Panama trying to get to the United States have already traveled to Mexico says the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They  had been housed in temporary shelters in the Darién and Chiriquí.

According to the Foreign Ministry, 2,448 people have been flown  to Mexico, where they will presumably be transported to the U.S.

The government arranged  low-cost airline tickets to Mexico until May 20.

The immigrants had been stuck in Panama after Nicaragua and Costa Rica refused to let them enter their countries.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/over-60-of-stranded-cubans-have-reached-mexico

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Al Jazeera reports that the U.S. Migration crisis is now located at the Colombian-Panamanian border near Turbo.

Migrants stranded in Colombia as route to US closed

Thousands from Cuba and Haiti, as well as Africa and Asia, seeking to reach US are stranded on Colombia-Panama border. Alessandro Rampietti

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/migrants-stranded-colombia-route-closed-160707092815421.html

Turbo, Colombia - Thousands of refugees and migrants from Cuba, Haiti and as far away as Africa and Asia are stranded on the Colombia-Panama border, where they are seeking an overland route to the United States and the possibility of a better life.

"We sold everything we had in Cuba. Our house and everything in it," Lisbet Franco, one of more than 1,000 Cubans stranded in the small Colombian port town of Turbo, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

"Coyotes [people smugglers] cheated us along the way and now with the border shut off we can't continue our trip," said Franco, who, with her family, has spent two months travelling in a bid to reach the US.

Migrants from Latin America have long travelled overland to reach the US border. More recently, they have been joined by a surge in migrants from Cuba, as well as from Africa and Asia.

With the numbers of migrants increasing, Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela announced in May that key border crossing with Colombia would be sealed.

Thousands of are now stranded in Turbo - their last stop before Panama.

Danger in the Darien Gap

Unable to move forward and with little to return home to, many migrants are attempting to enter Panama though the Darien Gap, one of the most forbidding stretches of mountainous jungle and swamplands in the Americas - as well as an operations base for Colombian FARC rebels and drug traffickers.

Boarding boats in Turbo, the migrants - men, women and children - are dropped off near the border where they continue their journey on foot through the Darien Gap. It is a journey that takes days, and Cuban migrants in Turbo told Al Jazeera that people get lost in the inhospitable jungle and can die there.

Raicel Rosaval was among a group of Cubans who attempted the trek but were intercepted by Panamanian soldiers and sent back to Turbo.

"We asked for help but the soldiers told us no one could cross into Panama," Rosaval said.

"They gave us a little water and we started walking back. When we reached a small ... village one of our companions fainted and started shaking - we thought he would die."

Nicaragua was the first country to close its borders in November, following an influx of Cuban migrants attempting to reach the US. Though initially facilitating the transit of several thousand Cubans migrants through its territory, Costa Rica also closed its borders in April as numbers grew.

Unlike migrants from other countries, Cubans who make it to US borders have special entry privileges under the Cold War-era Cuban Adjustment Act, which gives them special welfare benefits and allows them to apply for permanent residency after 366 days in the country.

The surge in Cubans taking the land route to the US coincides with the restoration of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana, and fears among ordinary Cubans that they will lose their more privilieged migrant status.

'We are just trying to find a place to better our life'

Running short of food and camped in warehouses in Turbo, hundreds of Cubans risked deportation when they took to the streets of the port town this week to protest about their situation. They held banners calling on US President Barack Obama to help and demanding that Colombia airlift them to Mexico.

In May, Panama struck a deal that allowed around 4,000 Cubans inside its borders fly directly to Mexico. 

The Colombian government is refusing to help the migrants, saying doing so would encourage more to travel to the area and play into the hands of human traffickers.

"Giving them food would turn into a bigger problem, increasing the number of people coming to Turbo and staying here," Emelides Munoz, Turbo government secretary, told Al Jazeera.

The migrants say they only want to continue their journey, and with more people arriving in Turbo every day, they believe it will be difficult for Colombia to avoid finding a solution as the situation deteriorates.

"We are just trying to find a place to better our life," said Chaly Luma, a migrant from Haiti.

"To make a living, you know."

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  • 3 weeks later...

During my initial visit to Panama in 2001, I tried (stupidly, I might add) to talk a tour guide into taking me on a tour of the Darien. Fortunately for me, he refused, and not even politely. I have never forgotten that experience. Having read Jim's article, it seems as if there is a lot of truth behind the word on the street. Don't go into the Darien.

On the other hand, I have talked with some hardwood tree investors who own teak farms in the Darien, and they talk about it as perfectly safe.

To each his own. My preference is to avoid the Darien.

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Colombia detects new path migration to the United States from French Guyana

Colombia, a country which is a step for irregular migrants to the United States, detected a new transit route of undocumented migrants from other continents who enter South America by French Guiana, authorities reported this Thursday.

"In recent months, Migration, Colombia has shown a new extracontinental route for the smuggling of migrants, which would have as a point of entry to South America French Guyana," said the statement.

The note details the access to Colombia a view to continue to Central America via Panama to finally reach the United States."The route, which might last for more than a month, oblige foreigners to enter illegally by the department of La Guajira," in the north of Colombia and the border with Venezuela, said the director general of that entity, Christian Krüger, cited in the text.

From La Guajira, migrants take then "the trunk of the Caribbean to the city of Medellin", from where it is presumed depart to the municipality of Turbo, in the Urabá region of Colombia and bordering Panama, to address there a boat toward the neighboring country.

Krüger toured the Wednesday the border with Venezuela in La Guajira, together with brigadier general Pablo Alfonso Bonilla, commander of the Army in the area, "with the purpose of detecting new routes for smuggling of migrants", according to the statement.

Krüger and Bonilla "agreed to intensify the patrols in the border area as well as to train the members of the National Army in the detection of false documents," said the text.

In the past 15 days, Migration, Colombia has detected more than 750 irregular migrants in different roads in the country, according to official figures.Colombia has expelled in 2016 to more than 6 thousand undocumented, almost 4 thousand of them detained in the communities of Turbo and Capurganá in the remote Urabá gulf, with presence of illegal traffic.

"This whole phenomenon of smuggling of migrants in our country is in transit, i.e., are irregular migrants who do not have as their final destination Colombia, but because of our geographical location is a temporary forced step to reach the final destination of these people, which is generally North America," explained Krüger in early June.

On 9 May last Panama decided to strengthen border controls to curb the flow of migrants, especially Cubans, trying to reach the United States through Central America.

http://www.prensa.com/mundo/Colombia-migratoria-Unidos-Guyana-Francesa_0_4502549869.html

 

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800 migrants stranded in Darien; President is directed to the area

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At least 800 migrants are stranded in the province of Darien, reported the President of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela, who addressed this area of the country, this Friday, 5 August 2016.

Migrantes en Capurganá (Colombia) se dispusieron a cruzar ilegalmente a Panamá el 4 de agosto de 2016.

This migratory crisis is occurring despite the blockade of the border with Colombia that was ordered by the Government of Varela last May.

The President of Panama stated that while it was authorized it is recognized that this is a very wide area.

"I am not going to allow people dying in the jungle", said the President in announcing that this group of migrants - in the majority Haitians- will be offered appropriate humanitarian treatment.

Varela said that the decision through the National Security Council is a "controlled flow", which will prevent mass migration. To do this, close to 400 officials of the National Border Service are in the area.

The governor explained that the migrants will be detained for the verification of their documents, to give them the attention they deserve and then be allowed to follow their course.

Varela added that the areas of attention will be defied in order not to affect the population of the Darien.

"The border is closed (…)those that will achieve evade control points will be given humane treatment", he stressed.

Varela also said that on Thursday 4 August he spoke with the president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis, to give a responsible handling of this matter.

He explained that the migration problem is not exclusive to Panama but at the global level. He recalled that Brazil opened the door to many Haitians but these, at the plight of the South American nation, have decided to migrate to the north. "We overcome the crisis of Cubans, now we face this… we are going to do it with a lot of responsibility", he added.

Colombia has deported to at least 5 thousand 800 irregular migrants in the past two months, the majority of Haiti and Cuba, according to official figures. http://www.prensa.com/sociedad/Llegan-migrantes-Panama-frontera-Colombia_0_4544545671.html

http://www.prensa.com/sociedad/migrantes-varados-Darien-Presidente-dirige_0_4545295443.html

 

 

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Not surprisingly, Cuba has blamed the U.S. for the current migrant crisis in Latin America.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/08/cuba-migration-160807162816047.html

Quote

Cuba blames US for surge in 'unsafe' migration

Tens of thousands have left Cuba in the past two years, taking perilous routes to reach the US.

Cuba has blamed the United States for encouraging illegal and unsafe immigration by tens of thousands of Cubans who have left the country in the past two years.

Havana released a statement on Sunday saying Cubans leaving the country illegally were the "victims of the politicisation of the migration issue by the US government which stimulates illegal and unsafe immigration", Reuters news agency reported.

The US policy of welcoming Cubans without visas contradicted normalisation efforts between Havana and Washington, the statement added.

More than 46,500 Cubans arrived and were admitted to the US without visas during the first 10 months of the US government’s fiscal year 2016, according to the Pew Research CenterThat figure compares with more than 43,000 Cubans in 2015 and just over 24,000 in 2014.

Special privileges 

Unlike citizens of other countries, Cubans who make it to US borders have special entry privileges under the Cold War-era Cuban Adjustment Act, which gives Cuban citizens special welfare benefits and allows them to apply for permanent residency after 366 days in the country.

Under the act, Cubans who set foot on US territory are treated as legal immigrants, while people from any other country are considered illegal.

The large increase in the number of Cubans attempting to reach the US, particularly by overland routes through South and Central America, coincides with the restoration of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana.

There are fears among ordinary Cubans that diplomatic normalisation between Havana and Washington will mean they lose their privilieged entry status to the US.

Regional governments have also responded to the increase in Cubans travelling overland to the US by closing down border routes.

Nicaragua was the first country to close its borders in November to Cubans travelling overland to Mexico and on to the US. Though initially facilitating the transit of several thousand Cubans through its territory, Costa Rica also closed its borders in April as numbers grew.

Nearly 1,300 Cubans are currently stranded in miserable conditions on the Colombia-Panama border after that route was closed.

"We only know they are going to be deported, but we don't know how or in what form," William Gonzalez, a regional Colombian government ombudsman, said last week.

Of the 1,297 Cubans who arrived in the Colombian border town of Turbo three months ago, around 300 are children aged 14 and under, as well as 11 pregnant women.

"What worries us most at this moment is the health and welfare situation of the 300 children," he said, explaining that the Cubans have been living amid insects and rodents in a makeshift shelter with inadequate sanitary facilities.

'Without any pressure or force'

Havana released its statement criticising the US on Sunday to coincide with the arrival of 14 Cubans deported by Colombia.

Colombia said last week that stranded Cubans requesting voluntary deportation would be granted safe passage to their home countries or to the last country they were in before entering Colombia.

For many of them that is Cuba or Ecuador.

"We wanted to handle this," Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said of the stranded Cubans.

The US Coast Guard on Saturday reported that since October, at least 5,786 Cubans have been intercepted at sea trying to reach the southeastern US coast.

 

 

Edited by Keith Woolford
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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to [Illegal] Migration at the Panama-Colombia Border

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