Cubans and Nicaraguans baffled by the closure of US borders
How to receive “a bucket of cold water”, described the Cuban Daniel – who preferred not to share his last name for fear of reprisals – the measure of the United States to prohibit the irregular entry through its borders to people from Cuba this Thursday, as well as than Haitians and Nicaraguans.
Daniel is the second in his family to decide to try the dangerous path from Nicaragua, one of the few countries with a visa exemption for Cubans, which is why he is used as springboard on the road to the US. “Now I don’t know what to do, I’m kind of stunned, I don’t know what’s going to happen to the money that’s already been spent,” he said.
“Imagine that I had everything ready to travel on Friday, I had paid for the tickets and my family in Miami had sent the first part of the money to the coyote that was going to take us to the border and now I see this,” lamented this young man from Havana.
On the other hand, for Lisbety Arredondo, a young woman who recently graduated from Economics in the central province of Ciego de Ávila, the announcement of the new visa program is “an opportunity” that she will not waste. She told the VOA that he has already asked a friend to be his sponsor and that he is going to try to apply “from now on because there is no time to waste.”
“If I’m honest with you, it was good for me. I did not have the minimum 15,000 dollars that you need to take that trip and it is not the same to borrow that, than to ask that they serve as a sponsor for the visas, ”she said.
I had paid for the tickets and my family in Miami had sent the first part of the money to the coyote that was going to take us to the border.”
Along with Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba are among the countries from where they bring the most migrants to the US.
The island is experiencing a historic exodus, caused by the current serious political and economic crisis, the same is happening with Nicaragua since 2018.
In fiscal year 2022, a record 224,607 Cuban migrants reached the US border, while 6,182 rafters were intercepted by the Coast Guard in Florida waters, the highest record since 2008.
While the number of Nicaraguans found on the southern border of the US during fiscal year 2022 was 164,600, according to official data; And in just two months of fiscal year 2023, the number of migrants originating from this country is 55,279, exceeding the numbers of people from countries in the Northern Triangle of Central America (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Washington’s new measure takes many migrants seeking to reach the US by surprise.
Nicaraguan Marlon Chavarría, originally from the city of Chontales, located about 140 kilometers from Managua, received the news that the United States would “close the border” in Mexico.
Chavarría, 25, left Nicaragua on November 6, 2022 but was detained on several occasions by Migration of Mexico, so he was left stranded while he obtained more financial resources to continue his journey.
Despite the measures announced by the White House, he assures that he will continue his trip. “The truth is, the idea is, at any cost, to get to the United States because I can’t stay here in Mexico or go back to Nicaragua, they’re looking for me everywhere,” this man told VOA by phone.
César López, another Nicaraguan originally from the city of Rivas, south of the capital, indicates that Washington’s actions took him by surprise, since he sold several items to be able to reach the US in the coming months.
“This measure is disappointing, in Nicaragua there are few opportunities now,” said this 30-year-old man.
Those who already managed to reach the US prior to these measures classify the new immigration measures as “very painful” such as the Cuban Francisco Luis Manzanet Ortiz, who arrived in the United States through the border with Mexico in April 2021, after being stranded on the Aztec nation for almost two years.
Ortiz was stranded under the Remain in Mexico program during the Republican Donald Trump administration.
“This situation is actually a bit sad in relation to many people who have been fleeing dictatorial regimes such as Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela,” he told VOA by telephone from the state of Wyoming, where he currently works.
Manzanet, who comes from Baracoa, in the Cuban province of Guantanamo, fled his country to Mexico after belonging to opposition organizations for several years. “This situation now makes it difficult for Cubans, Nicaraguans for Venezuelans because in Mexico there are even kidnappings, they kidnap so that Cubans have to ask their relatives for money here. [en EEUU]”.
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