Cuban nationals bound for the U.S. who were detained in Mexican city of Tapachula claim Mexican officials became violent and abused them after they had a hunger strike on March 10 to demand their freedom.
According to news sources, the migrants, who are being held at the Siglo XXI immigrant detention center, filed a formal complaint against the National Migration Institute and the Public Security Department following a series of violent incidents at the detention center.
Reports say the detainees refused to return to their cells during a hunger strike and called for an end to their mistreatment and the extortion of their family members in the U.S. Some of them reportedly sewed their mouths shut as part of the protest.
In a separate report from last month, Mexican news sources reported that some migrants at Siglo XXI were beaten by authorities after they shouted “free Cuba” and “freedom.”
Another report came from relatives of the detainees who are in the U.S. One parent, a Miami resident who asked to remain anonymous, told sources that she had received several calls from Mexican numbers offering to help her get her son out of Siglo XXI for an unspecified amount of money. The woman is reportedly the third person interviewed by new sources to receive calls from people claiming to be Mexican officials and demanding money in exchange for their relatives’ freedom.
Many of the migrants who are in the Tapachula were stranded there after former President Barack Obama ended the “wet foot, dry foot” policy in the final days of his term in office. Before the policy ended, Mexican authorities usually allowed Cuban nationals who entered through the country’s southern border to continue unimpeded to the U.S. border.
“Wet foot, dry foot” was implemented in 1995 by former President Bill Clinton. Under the policy, Cubans who were caught on water between Cuba and the U.S. (“wet foot”) were deported back to the island. Cubans who entered the U.S. across the border(“dry foot”) qualified for residency after one year as stipulated by the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.
Since the policy was ended by the Obama administration on January 12, the Mexican government no longer allows migrants free passage to the southern U.S. border. It now deports any Cubans attempting to enter the U.S. through Mexico. In January alone, Mexican authorities reportedly deported 91 Cubans who were held at a detention center in Tapachula.
Authorities at Siglo XXI didn’t comment on the alleged violence and told news sources to refer all queries to the National Migration Institute. The press did manage to receive confirmation from a lawyer for the National Commission on Human Rights in Chiapas that the detainees filed a formal complaint on March 13.
A coordinator for the Center for Human Rights in Chiapas told sources that it will try to assist the Cubans who are in Siglo XXI. The center has the support of the United Nations and has permission from the Mexican government to enter the detention facility once a week. It plans to investigate the complaints of abuse.