Cubans must pay 100 dollars to avoid being held at the Mexicali air terminal

Cubans must pay 100 dollars to avoid being held at the Mexicali air terminal

Whether or not they have residency or have a tourist visa, at the Mexicali International Airport, “Cubans pay a fee or they are detained,” he told 14ymedio Deborah Rodriguez. This woman from Old Havana, who lives in Mexico City, has made three trips this year to the capital of the state of Baja California, which borders the United States: “in two of them I had to give a 500-peso bill to the agent to let me continue”.

Due to her work as an assistant in an audiovisual production company, one of the transfers was made with company personnel. “It was in February, they did not separate me from the group to put me on a wall like a criminal. The agents denigrate you without anyone doing anything.”

The air terminal has a capacity to carry out 18 operations per hour and has charter routes to the US cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco and to the Canadian city of Vancouver. This airport located 20 kilometers from Mexicali has become a route for the arrival of Cubans on their way to the United States.

On April 12, “the arrival of 70 Cubans” was recorded, confirms the municipal president of Mexicali, Norma Bustamante Martínez. The official assures that “these are rumours”, the migrant’s complaints about the extortions. “Alberto Gómez, from the National Migration Institute (INM), denied these accusations.”

Another is the vision of Rodríguez, who says that when getting off the plane, two filters pass before reaching the exit. “The first is from the INM with the review of documents. It is when you put the money between the papers or you do not leave. The second checkpoint is with the Army and the National Guard, they review and give you the pass to the corridors of the commercial area and the exit to the parking lot.

This Cuban native from the province of Granma had permanent residence in Ecuador and a month ago decided to emigrate to the US to try his luck… In Mexicali he had to give 100 dollars to avoid arrest

Despite the fact that the authorities deny it, extortion by Immigration agents reigns inside the airport. Cuban boxer Michel Sarria arrived at the air terminal at the end of March with official documentation to be able to stay in Mexico, according to Luis Felipe, an acquaintance of the athlete. Before they took away his cell phone, the athlete denounced: “They are putting us on a bus, here, at Immigration. I don’t know where they are going to take us.”

A Venezuelan woman, who together with her brother paid 500 pesos each to the agents, called Luis Felipe to tell him that they had been arbitrarily detained and did not want to inform them of the place where they would be taken. “Not everyone has the ability to pay.”

Javier is another native of the Island who was the victim of blackmail by the immigration authorities. The payment of a fee “everyone knows.” Even if you have residence in Mexico or a tourist visa, it is an “obligation” for those who arrive at this airport to “put $100 in their passport for when the agents approach you.”

This Cuban from the province of Granma had permanent residence in Ecuador and a month ago decided to emigrate to the US to try his luck. He arrived in Mexico with a tourist visa that allowed him to move around the country. In Mexicali he had to give $100 to avoid arrest without an argument.

Two other Cubans with permanent residence in Mexico also confirmed to 14ymedio the extortions they suffered. “We know why you come here,” the officers warned them. “Be honest.” They kept them that way until they agreed to pay the extortion in exchange for their papers being returned and they were allowed to leave the terminal.

Another source confirmed to this newspaper that a person with a false visa paid 300 dollars to Immigration at this airport so as not to be arrested.

The Department of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded the arrival of 80,000 Cubans to the US between October 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022. And in Mexico, Migration reported on April 16 the arrest of 15,907 natives of the Island.

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