Why Mexico is Playing Such an Important Role for Cubans

Now, more than ever, Cubans are fleeing Cuba. But not everyone is opting for the old raft-to-Florida plan. You see, now, thanks to improved relations, if a Cuban person reaches U.S. soil, no matter the point or means of entry, they’re allowed to stay and become legal residents after a year.

This means Cubans are taking advantage of the “safe passage” visas handed out in Mexico. Seven out of ten Cubans now make make the trek to arrive in Mexico, collect their visas and head straight to U.S. borders.

READ: Cuban Embassy Reopens. Cigars, Protests and Food Ensue

It doesn’t mean things are easy.  Rolando Yanes Fabrega, who escaped to Quito, Ecuador from Cuba — Ecuador stopped requiring visas in 2008 — still has to travel through Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala to make it to Mexico. To complicate matters, the U.S. — afraid of the influx of immigration — is supposedly pressuring Mexico to deport any Cuban trying to reach the states.

But these obstacles are not stopping Cubans. “Everyone who is able to leave Cuba is leaving,” Alexy Ribero Martínez told Vice News. “Those who can’t leave now will be stuck there.”

Read more stories of Cubans’ traveling through Latin America to the U.S. here.

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