Sunday, October 19, 2008
MEXICO CITY: Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said on Sunday that Mexico has agreed to return Cuban migrants who arrive without documents, a move that may threaten the main exit route for Cubans seeking to leave the island.
Migrants smugglers have increasingly stolen boats in Florida to carry migrants from Cuba to Mexico's Caribbean coast. Most evade Mexican officials and the few caught are rarely deported. In most cases, they are given transit permits that allow them to reach the U.S. border.
Over 90 percent of Cubans emigrants now reach the United States this way, because U.S. law gives them a much better chance of admission to the United States through a land border than by trying to cross the Florida Straits.
"The measures we have agreed on will include a mechanism for the swift return of illegal migrants who try to use Mexico to get to the United States," Perez Roque told reporters on arrival at Mexico City's airport.
He said the agreement, to be signed Monday, would also "allow us to work together to prevent and confront illegal migration, people trafficking and all related crimes."
Mexican officials said they could not immediately comment on Perez Roque's statements.
But Mexico has been struggling with violence associated with migrant traffickers.
In June, gunmen snatched 33 Cubans off a government bus headed to an immigration station in southern Mexico, possibly to extort money from them or their smugglers. In August, smugglers set fire to a boat just off the beach in Cancun, creating a diversion that allowed them to swim ashore and escape. The migrants in both cases were unharmed.
"Mexico and Cuba are victims of this policy that promotes illegal immigration from Cuba," Perez Roque said, referring to the U.S. Cuban Adjustment Act that allows most Cubans who reach American soil to remain in the country and apply for U.S. residency after one year.
Mexico-Cuba relations were strained under former President Vicente Fox, who left office in December 2006.
But Perez Roque said ties have been mended, and said he would invite current President Felipe Calderon to visit Cuba.http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/10/19/news/LT-Mexico-Cuba.php