Between 2010 and 2016, the number of Cubans residing in Mexico increased by 560%, from 4,033 to 22,604. According to the North American Research Center, two-thirds of Cubans born on the island enter the United States through Mexican territory.
Cubans arrive in Mexico by air, through the southern land border, or by sea by means of the Yucatan Peninsula, but those who do not reach their final destination, which is the United States, stay in Mexico in search of other options.
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“The Cuban population in Mexico has grown a lot. There are many Cubans in the hotel industry, there are even dancers,” says Ciro Crombeo, a Cuban choreographer, who, like many Cubans, has been living in Mexico for nine years. Five years ago he married a Mexican and legalized his immigration status.
The first record of Cubans arriving in Mexico dates from the beginning of the past century, after Cuba gained independence, notes Liliana Martinez, coordinator and writer of the book Cubans in Mexico. However, a significant increase began in 1966, when a Cuban adjustment law also known as the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy was issued allowing the islanders to obtain permanent residence in the United States upon arrival in that territory by sea or land.
In the nearly 50 years that the Cuban adjustment policy was in force, an estimated 1,200,000 Cubans left the island, in the process greatly increasing their numbers passing through Mexican territory.
Between 2001 and 2016, an estimated 33,000 Cubans were detained in Mexico, of whom 5,000 were deported, meaning that only 17% were eventually repatriated to Cuba.
“Panama and Ecuador are going through the same situation that we are in Mexico. After ending the wet foot, dry foot policy, a bottleneck has formed in the Central America region. The immigration phenomenon will continue because Cubans want to leave their country in search of a better life and both economic and political freedom,” says Ivan Hernández, secretary general of the Cuban Trade Union Association.
Mexico is no longer considered merely a transit route for thousands of Cuban migrants trying to reach the United States, it has become a final destination.
Source: El Universal