Cuban migrants stranded in Mexico claim abuse by authorities following
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
A group of Cuban migrants detained in the southern Mexico city of
Tapachula have accused authorities of beating and mistreating them after
they staged a hunger strike — some by sewing their lips together — to
demand their release.
The Quadratín news agency reported that the Cubans filed a formal
complaint against officials of the state of Chiapas' Public Security
Department and the National Migration Institute following the alleged
incidents last week at the Siglo XXI immigrant detention center.
According to several reports, the Cubans refused to return to their
cells during a hunger strike to demand their release. They also called
for an end to their harassment and the extortions of their relatives.
Mexican journalists reported that some of the Cubans sewed their lips
together as part of the protest, which was took place on Friday. In a
separate incident last month, Mexican press reported that some of the
Cubans at the detention center were beaten when they shouted "freedom"
and "free Cuba."
Many Cuban migrants who were heading to the United States were stranded
in Mexico when the Obama administration ended the "wet foot, dry foot
policy" on Jan. 12. Until then, Mexican officials usually allowed Cuban
migrants who entered through the southern border with Guatemala to
continue on their way to the border with the United States.
That is no longer the case: In January, alone, the Mexican government
deported at least 91 of the Cubans held at the Tapachula center. It is
not known how many are currently held there.
Cuba native Olga Lidia González, 52, who lives in Texas, said relatives
held at the Siglo XXI center told her by telephone after the incidents
Friday that "a young man had sewn his lips, and there was violence and
González's daughter and son-in-law — Dayana Suárez, 27, and Yamir Ponce,
29, – have been held at the center since Dec. 29. She said the couple
and the daughter's father Giraldo Villacampa, 53, obtained refugee
status Friday through the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for
Refugees but all three were told they would remain in detention until
they received their residency documents for Mexico.
Officials at the Siglo XXI center declined to comment and referred all
questions to the National Migration Institute, which has not yet
responded to queries sent by el Nuevo Herald.
González said she has received dozens of phone calls from people in
Mexico who identify themselves as lawyers at the Siglo XXI center and
demand money for the release of her relatives.
A lawyer for the National Commission on Human Rights in Chiapas
confirmed that the Cuban migrants filed a formal complaint on Monday.
The lawyer, who declined to give his name, said the commission can take
two to three months to investigate complaints and issue its findings.
But "it's very hard to access the justice system and win reparations" in
a country where there is "total impunity" for crimes and human rights
violations, said Salva Lacruz, a coordinator at the Fray Matías de
Córdova Center for Human Rights in Chiapas.
The center, which assists migrants detained at Siglo XXI, is supported
by the United Nations and has Mexican government permission to enter the
facility once a week. Lacruz said his center will investigate the
Cubans' complaints of mistreatment, which is a common complaint at the
Siglo XXI "is an extremely troubled center where the cases of
mistreatment are very frequent. There are no guarantees of any type. The
treatment is terrible and the place is enormous," Lacruz added.
In 2015, more than 100,000 migrants of various nationalities were
El Nuevo Herald tried to reach one of the Cuban detainees currently at
Siglo XXI by phone but an official who answered the call said the
detained Cubans could not use telephones. Lacruz said the detainees
technically do have the right to make and receive calls but officials
"probably don't want these people to give out information."
Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres
Reporter Mario J. Pentón contributed to this report.
Source: Cuban migrants in Mexico claim abuse by authorities | Miami