Saturday, May 28, 2016

Cuban Migrants Criticize The High Prices Of Airfares To Mexico

Cuban Migrants Criticize The High Prices Of Airfares To Mexico /
14ymedio, Mario Penton

Cuban migrants stranded in Mexico wait to buy airplane tickets to Mexico
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 6 May 2016 — Accustomed to standing in
long lines on the island, thousands of Cuban migrants stranded in Panama
were waiting for hours Friday to buy an airline ticket to Mexico. Among
these "middle class rafters" criticism was rising over the high price of
airfares which has reached $805 for an adult ticket.

José Antonio Quesada and his wife, both lawyers, are among those who
were waiting in the sun today to get tickets. As of May 5, the
Panamanian Government authorized the sale of airline for Cuban migrants
and at least 800 of them have already purchased their tickets to
continue their journey.

The two attorneys spent 1,669 dollars in tickets, including the trip by
bus to the airport, the equivalent of more than five years wages for a
in Cuba. Both have managed to raise the money with the help of relatives
in Miami, but they are concerned because they have no more cash for when
they reach the U.S. border.

Quesada and his wife traveled from the island to Ecuador with the
intention of settling there and improving their economic condition.
However, the obstacles to legalizing their residence and finding jobs
pushed them to make a difficult journey through Colombia and the Darién
jungle. They departed with the hope of taking advantage of Cuban
Adjustment Act which grants immigration benefits to all residents of the
island who reach United States.

Now the two professionals are among the lucky ones who have been able to
purchase a ticket for flights starting next Monday to the city of Nuevo
Laredo in Tamaulipas State, Mexico. The cost of the trip by plane for a
child between 2 and 11 years is $332 whereas for a child under a year
the amount drops to $160.

The sale of tickets has been marked by the absence of official
statements from the Panamanian president's office, which arouses
suspicions among migrants, who fear shady dealings with regards to
prices or lack of transparency in the process. "The Government does not
give us information," complains the Cuban Elizander Roque.

As of noon this Friday hundreds of migrants from the island had
undertaken, on their own, to travel to the David's Mall, 25 miles from
the shelters where they are staying in Los Planes, Gualaca, to buy tickets.

The prices have surprised Sisleydis Moret, a 25-year-old Cuban who says
she feels "desperate" at not having enough money to buy them, due to the
expenses of supporting herself during her stay in Panama.

Her companion in the hostel, Keily Arteaga, age 29, is in a similar
situation. "The news was like a bucket of cold water," she says and
comments that, "now we don't have the money they are asking for."

Arteaga, who resides in a house in San Isidro, left Ecuador because she
was not able to legalize her immigration status. She had "a good job"
but she was illegal, which mean that "all the doors" were closed to her,
she explains. She says she has taken advantage of "all of this turmoil"
of the immigration crisis in Central America to reach Panama.

Those who travel accompanied by several family members experience the
most delicate situation. Isleyda Lelle said she was glad to hear that
tickets sales had begun to Mexico, but now she needs to wait for her
mother, resident in the United States, to help her "complete" the cost
of the trip for her, her brother and her sister-in-law.

For Andy Llanes, the situation is more difficult because he says that he
does not have "a single dollar" to buy the ticket. "My journey was very
hard, we were attacked along the way and they stole from us all that we
had." In the trip to Panama he details that his partner "was raped and
now the poor woman is pregnant from the Coyote who abused her."

Llanes says the only thing he owns is the "flip-flops" he is wearing and
says that if he cannot continue the trip, he will stay in Panama because
"I won't return to Cuba even if they threaten me with death."

Alfredo Córdoba, regional head of the National Migration Service in the
Chiriqui province told 14ymedio that he still does not know what will
happen to those Cubans who cannot afford the airfares.

An official source who requested anonymity explained that Cuban migrants
found in Puerto Obaldia have not received their passports yet and so far
there are no specific directions about whether they will or will not be
part of the humanitarian program.

This newspaper has gotten in touch with both the Panama National
Migration Service and the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but so
far we have not received answers to our questions.

Ed. note: Since this article was written the price of the airfare was
lowered and then the sale of tickets was cut off altogether.
Translations of articles detailing these subsequent events will follow.

Translated by Alberto

Source: Cuban Migrants Criticize The High Prices Of Airfares To Mexico /
14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -

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