New route for Cuban exiles

The route to Mexico and for many onward to the US begins in this Cuban western province. After crossing a 135-mile Yucatan Channel, the route ends in Yucatan peninsula ports. The migrants are people who leave Cuba in makeshift rafts. Mexico's Attorney General says organized smuggling rings are bringing in Cubans in speedboats owned by Cubans living in Florida. US Customs and Border Protection says nearly 90% of undocumented Cubans entering the US now travel overland through Mexico. In October, the US counsel in Havana told Mexican authorities that in the last ten years, approximately 10,000 Cubans made it to the US via Mexico. This man says part of the reason is that Mexicans and Cubans have strong cultural links. That man is a Cuban who made it to Mexico. He applied for political asylum and plans to stay. He also says Cubans are using Mexico as a transit point into the US because it's simply much easier. Cubans are admitted into the US under the wet foot/dry foot policy. Cubans who can literally put their feet on US soil are granted residency. The US Coast Guard sends Cubans it catches at sea back to Havana. Mexico detains Cubans for up to 90 days although some are deported to Cuba. After paying a fine of around $900 dollars, Cuban migrants are released and told to leave Mexico within 30 days. That's plenty of time to make it to the US border and asylum. The Cuban man from earlier says there's another reason for the increase. He says, the Cuban regime is a political and economic disaster, no one knows what's going to happen in Cuba so people are desperate not just about their daily needs like clothes or food or shoes, they're concerned about a future that's more and more uncertain. He says Cubans are paying organized rings up to $10,000 dollars and that's just to get into Mexico. Once in Mexico he says the payment continues to others on the way north. He says the Cubans are passed from one group to another and every time they're passed on they're charged more money. In our experience, he continues, corrupt Mexican authorities are also involved. They're the ones allowing the transport of Cubans, but only if the Cubans have paid up. This Congressman is a member of Mexico's Committee on Foreign Affairs. He says, �We're talking about organized crime and that's something we're preoccupied with in our country. connecting a branch of organized crime in Miami involved with smuggling Cubans to drug smuggling in the Caribbean.� He says wherever there's organized crime, violence follows. Recently the bodies of four people the government believes were involved in trafficking Cubans through Mexico were found near Cancun. They'd all been repeatedly shot. This man is a security analyst at Mexico's Center for Investigation and Economics, �The big concern for the Mexican government I think should be what happens if there's a violent transition in Cuba in the following years. You will have hundreds of thousands or maybe millions entering into the country and that will be a real problem.� The Mexican Navy has been ordered to increase its patrols in the Yucatan Channel. But that order will stretch the Navy's responsibilities. Its primary mission remains focused on detecting boats carrying drugs north from Colombia and Peru.

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