A new group of Cubans, this time of 24 people, is being held at the Belgrade airport. A relative of one of them contacted OnCuba to report the situation.
“All [la documentación] perfect and no one was allowed to enter. They have them held in shelters [sic]. They are desperate, not even an explanation, ”she lamented.
Testimonials from other people have appeared on social media. One of them assures that her family was invited by her Serbian husband, that they have called the authorities and that they confirmed that the documents were in order; but “because of the number of Cubans that came on the flight, they could not let them leave.”
In recent times, these reports of arbitrariness, irregularities, and in some cases violation of rights in relation to citizens of Cuba upon arrival in Serbia. The most recent, this month, when at least 30 Cubans they were held for about a week at the Nikola Tesla airport in Belgrade.
The incident term with some of them deported, while most were eventually able to enter the country. The criteria for allowing or denying entry are not clear, since both claimed to have the documentation in order.
There are dozens of Cubans who arrive daily in Belgrade, thanks to the visa exemption. Not all of them do it for mere tourist interest. A part remains in the country with the intention of settling there or embarking on an illegal overland journey to the west, with countries like Italy or Spain in their sights.
Cubans are not the only ones. Serbia, due to its geographical position, is part of the so-called “balkan route” that hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Burundi have been traveling through in recent years, to try to reach the European Union.
“The Government of Belgrade has taken measures to block the massive entry of migrants, especially Cubans and Tunisians,” Soufiane Adjali, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Serbia, said in an interview with the Italian RAI network. time that he predicted the entry into force of new visa conditions soon.
In the report itself, Nikola Kovacevic, a lawyer for the rights of refugees in Serbia, assured that “close to 8,000 people have been held at the Belgrade airport alone since November, and many of them did not need a visa. Belgrade’s migration policy must change under pressure from the EU”.
According to the agreement between Serbia and Cuba, citizens of both countries can travel and stay in each other’s territory without a visa for up to 90 days, as tourists. This could change. Informed sources in Belgrade assured OnCuba that the visa waiver is about to be revoked; which means that you will need to apply for a visa to enter Serbian territory and that this, of course, can be denied.
The website of the Serbian embassy in Havana does not contain any information in this regard; however, it clarifies what are the additional requirements that Cuban citizens have recently been asked for, which include a letter of invitation from a Serbian citizen and demonstrable financial solvency. In addition, “the person who invites must wait for his Cuban guest at the airport,” in case she needs to verify her identity.
The diplomatic headquarters adds that “due to the abuse of the free visa regime, border controls have been strengthened. The immigration authorities at the borders have the discretionary right to stop the trip and not allow a foreign citizen to enter the country.
When the rumors about the possible elimination of the free entry of Cubans in Serbia have skyrocketed in recent months, some people have communicated via email with the Consulate of that country in Havana. In response, they have received an explanation about the process for obtaining a visa, which includes filling out an application form and providing the invitation letter of a Serbian citizen, as well as paying the consular fee, among others. The process takes 15 days, and it is clarified that for those who have a valid visa from the United States or the European Union it would not be necessary.
Serbia has recently eliminated visa waiver agreements with several countries; among them, bolivian and Burundi. Adding Cuba to the list could be imminent.