TODAY PANAMA – The first of the Cubans stranded in Panama for months, hoping to reach the United Stated under a decades-old law which gives them privileged entry and a fast-track to residency, will be leaving for Mexico today (Monday), confirmed José Donderis, director of Civil Protection (SINAPROC).
The group will travel to a border town between Mexico and the United States, as established by the Panamanian and Mexican foreign ministries, said the official newspaper La Estrella.
In March Costa Rica closed its borders to the Cuban migrants, in an effort not to repeat a similar situation in the country that began last November.
Panama had organized some flights in March but had insisted the operation would not be repeated.
The migrants have been told they have to pay for the flights themselves. The flights will be by way of Panama airline, Copa Airlines.
Panamanian newspapers report said long queues had formed at banks and money transfer shops near government migrant shelters in Chiriqui province as Cubans waited to withdraw cash sent by relatives in the United States to buy their tickets.
Meanwhile, Panama’s Health Minister Javier Terrientes reported that medical care is provided to the 4.000 Cuban migrants housed in Plans Gualaca, near the ridge between the western province of Chiriqui and the Caribbean Bocas del Toro.
The Minister explained that Mexican authorities require evidence of routine checks to allow them to cross their jurisdiction to the United States.
In the Panamanian border there are 4.011 Cubans, according Terrientes, all of which are documented to continue their journey, and assured the good health of the group, but noted that some pregnant may have limitations for air transport.
For decades, Cuban migrants have enjoyed special privileges.
The so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy allows Cubans preferential treatment when they reach US soil.
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