Doors are closing fast for Cubans seeking to travel

HAVANA, June 17 (Reuters) – Cuban Miguel Palenzuela, 52, and his wife Ania have been waiting for a thirty day period outside Colombia’s embassy in Havana in hopes of securing a visa to travel by means of the South American country.

Palenzuela, who commutes just about each day from Guanabacoa, outdoors the money, claims he would choose an appointment but the web page crashes. Other embassies are as poor or worse, he claims.

“There are as well several barriers,” Palenzuela says, shaded from the summer time Caribbean sunlight beneath a mango tree. “It really is as if they really don’t want us Cubans to travel.”

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The Colombian embassy informed Reuters its programs had been swamped by the “significant amount” of applicants, and mentioned the country’s impending presidential elections had also slowed services.

Reuters this week spoke with almost two dozen people ready in lines outdoors the embassies of Colombia, Mexico, and Panama, countries generally made use of as leaping-off factors for irregular migration north to the United States.

The Cubans Reuters spoke with either declined to elaborate on the rationale for their travels or explained they ended up procuring or touring for tourism.

But all expressed aggravation as diplomatic and bureaucratic bottlenecks at household and abroad increase for Cubans in search of to depart the island amid a rising economic crisis.

About 140,000 Cubans have been encountered by authorities at the U.S. border with Mexico because Oct, U.S. figures demonstrate, amid the premier migrations off the island in decades.

Cuba blames the United States for priming the pump of illegal migration by maintaining a Cold War-era economic embargo when chopping off consular solutions in Havana for Cubans.

The United States last 7 days agreed to facilitate “authorized pathways” for migrants at the Summit of the Americas, which excluded Cuban authorities representatives. Washington resumed visa processing in Havana in Might and aims to concern 20,000 immigrant visas to Cubans a 12 months. read far more

It is a crack in the door, but even now falls shorter, claimed Michael Bustamante at the University of Miami.

“We ought to welcome the lengthy-awaited restoration of consular solutions at the U.S. embassy in Havana,” he said. “But in contrast to the desire, 20,000 … looks like a drop in the bucket.”

POLITICS Aside

Exterior the embassies of several Latin American international locations in Havana, the diplomatic discourse of modern months is dropped in a haze of heat, very long strains and rapid-altering prerequisites.

With possibilities for lawful migration by means of the United States restricted, numerous opt to fly to Nicaragua, which in November lifted visa demands for Cubans, then test their luck on the risky overland route north to the U.S. border. read more

Soaring expenditures, having said that, have led lots of to look for alternate flights through Panama, Colombia and Costa Rica, between many others.

A selection of visa demands, previous and new, in these countries has led to confusion and annoyance, reported Yaneris Betancourt, 37, who traveled extra than four hours on public transportation from Matanzas, outdoors Havana, for her appointment at Panama’s embassy.

Betancourt claimed she too experienced struggled to navigate embassy internet sites – Cubans frequently have access to the world wide web only by mobile phone with spotty coverage – and skipped two flights because of the delays.

And most recently, a Cuban Central Lender measure prompted some embassies to temporarily halt expert services or charge for visas in pounds or euros, international currencies accessible to Cubans primarily via remittances or the black industry.

“Lots of men and women have experienced to drop every thing simply because they have not had the power to carry on,” Betancourt stated on Monday as she waited in a park near the embassy with additional than 75 other folks.

Exterior the U.S. Embassy in Havana, the only lawful avenue available on-island for migration to the United States, the scene was comparatively tranquil.

Odanis Gonzalez on Wednesday sat quietly on a park bench, waiting around with her daughter to enter the embassy. She stated the U.S. selection to restart consular services on the island was the very best way forward.

“We really should all have the right to this path, the accurate one particular,” she mentioned, “and not have to possibility our lives.”

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Reporting by Dave Sherwood More reporting by Nelson Acosta and Reuters Television Modifying by Dave Graham

Our Expectations: The Thomson Reuters Trust Rules.


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