Cubans cross Central America for Mexico on way to U.S.

180 out of 7,600 Cubans are traveling under pilot program

LAREDO, Texas – On their way to the United States, about 180 Cuban migrants boarded a plane in Costa Rica to El Salvador. They were stuck for months in Costa Rica, after Nicaragua turned them away in mid-November. 

After an overnight flight, 109 men and 71 women boarded buses to Guatemala.  Some were on their way to South Florida. Alejandro Ruiz, of Cuba, runs Cubanos en Libertad, an organization that helps migrants once they arrive to South Florida. 

"We need to help these Cubans," Ruiz said.

He added that aside from preparing for the arrival of the Cubans who were stuck in Costa Rica, the organization is also in Central America trying to help. 

After El Salvador, the migrants crossed the Mexico-Guatemala border in Ciudad Hidalgo. Mexican officials gave them 20-day visas. Their goal is to get to  Nuevo Laredo with the help of a pilot program that applies to about 7,600 Cubans in Costa Rica. 

Some will arrive by bus, others by plane. Ruiz was in Mexico hoping to help migrants who have ran out of money or have been extorted by corrupt authorities during their journey. 

"A lot of Cubans are so worried about the Laredo airport," Ruiz said. 

Some Cubans will spend two days being processed for entry in Laredo, Texas. 


About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.