145 Cuban migrants stranded in Panama get permits to continue journey to U.S.

Published February 22, 2016 EFE

  • A Cuban migrant walks to the airport in La Cruz, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP)

More than 100 Cuban migrants from among the 1,300 stranded in Panama on Sunday received immigration permits that early next week will allow them to travel legally to Mexico, where they will be able to continue their land journey to the United States.

The deputy commissioner of the Panamanian Immigration Service, David Rios Duran, told EFE that 145 people are being given free travel permits as a humanitarian gesture to allow them on Monday to travel to the Tocumen International Airport, where on Tuesday they will fly to Mexico.

This is the first group to resume their trek from Panama to the United States after Costa Rica closed its border in December saying it was unable to continue housing the more than 7,000 Cubans who were also trying to make it to the United States but who had been stranded there after being denied passage through Nicaragua.

The 145 migrants chartered a private bus for $14 per person to take them from the city of David, near the Costa Rican border, to the capital airport starting at 5 p.m. on Monday, where early Tuesday morning they will board their flight to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

They began buying their air tickets on Feb. 10 for $523.50 per person.

Another bus - costing $13.50 per person - will await them in Ciudad Juarez, where the authorities will see to it that they arrive in El Paso, Texas, Isabel Cristina Perez, one of the migrants, told EFE.

Once they get to Ciudad Juarez, the Cubans will receive a visitors document as a humanitarian gesture giving them 20 days to cross into the United States, an official with the Mexican National Immigration Institute told EFE last Thursday.