More than 140,000 Cubans were detained from October to May on the border between Mexico and the United States, in what constitutes one of the largest migrations from the island in decades.
The impressive number exceeds the 125,000 that left the port of Mariel between April 15 and October 31, 1980.
During the last two years, which coincided with a strong economic crisis in Cuba and the increase in repression by the dictatorship, the number of people who left the island grew from 14,015 in fiscal year 2020 to 140,602 from last October to May. this year, according to data from US Customs and Border Protection.
Most Cuban migrants arrive at the Mexican border, although some also arrive in small boats to South Florida.
Cubans found at sea are generally sent back under a migration agreement struck with the Castro regime after the Cuban raft exodus in 1994. However, many arriving by land have been allowed to stay and apply for asylum. .
Washington agreed last week to promote “legal pathways” for migrants at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, where representatives of the Cuban dictatorship were excluded.
The United States resumed a visa processing program in Havana in May, with which it intends to issue 20,000 immigrant visas to Cubans annually.
apart from politics
Outside the embassies of various Latin American nations in Havana, the diplomatic discourse of recent months is lost in a haze of heat, with long lines and rapidly changing consular requirements.
With limited options for legal migration to Florida, many Cubans choose to fly to Nicaragua, which in November waived visa requirements for Cubans who then try their luck on a risky land route north seeking the US border.
However, the high costs have led many Cubans to seek alternative flights through Panama, Colombia and Costa Rica, among other countries.
A series of new visa requirements in those nations lead to confusion and frustration, said Yaneris Betancourt, 37, who traveled more than 4 hours on public transport from Matanzas, on the outskirts of Havana, to reach his appointment at the Panamanian embassy.
Betancourt said that she had also had problems accessing embassy websites. Cubans often only have Internet access by phone with patchy coverage, and she added that she had missed two flights over two months due to delays in getting an appointment.
More recently, a move by the Central Bank of Cuba prompted many embassies to start charging for visa services in dollars or euros, two currencies available mostly to Cubans through remittances or on the black market.