Cubans rely heavily on Nicaragua


as a new springboard for the United States

File photo inside Managua airport. (La Prensa)

Cubans can now enter Nicaragua without a visa, and many islanders have chosen to fly directly to Managua, as a safer route to the United States. There is also now a growing influx of Cuban travelers entering Nicaragua from Panama.

By La Prensa

HAVANA TIMES – The offer of visa-free entry to Nicaragua for Cuban citizens has motivated thousands of islanders to view the Nicaraguan route as the best way to reach the United States. Increasingly, the decision of the Ortega regime caused Cubans to turn away from the previous option, involving overland routes through South America. Instead, Cubans are trying to book limited flights directly to the Central American country.

According to official statistics measuring the number of foreigners entering Panama irregularly through the Darian Gap, 17,603 Cubans have crossed in this way. The Darien Gap is a 165 mile jungle corridor that stretches from Columbia to Panama. For those migrating by land from South America to the United States, this is considered the most dangerous part of the journey.

Between January and March 2021, some 200 Cuban migrants on average passed through the Darien Gap each month. Over the following months, thousands of people followed this route; by October, the number of migrants had peaked, with 3,108 Cubans entering Panama in that month alone.

Numbers drop in November

These same statistics reflect a drop in irregular crossings in November 2021. During that month, 1,639 Cubans crossed the Darien Gap, 46% fewer than in October. According to the independent Cuba-based website 14ymedio, one of the reasons for this decrease is that residents of the island now choose to fly directly to Managua, regardless of the cost of the flight.

Information from 14ymedio indicates that Cubans residing in Ecuador sell their goods to travel directly to Nicaragua and avoid the Darien Gap.

An article on the website states: “While the flow of migrants will not stop just yet, Cubans are considering new routes that do not involve the jungle corridor. Roger, a Cuban who has lived in Ecuador for seven years, plans to fly from Quito to Managua in mid-January 2022. With the establishment of the visa-free entry policy for citizens of Cuba, Nicaragua becomes the new one. springboard point on the road to the United States.

A Cuban who spoke with the website said a ticket to Managua from Ecuador costs around US $ 480. “The young man gradually sold his goods in Ecuador, in order to be able to collect enough to make the trip and seek asylum in the United States,” the article reports. The man they spoke with also noted that there are hundreds of Cubans in the same situation.

Whatever the price is

There is only one goal: to reach Nicaragua, then cross Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and finally reach the southern border of the United States. Many Cubans are willing to pay whatever the cost. The country’s media claim that some have paid up to US $ 3,300 for a plane ticket to Managua.

“About 200 Cuban passengers were waiting for an Air Century flight to take them from Santiago, in eastern Cuba, to Managua, with a stopover in the Dominican Republic. This, after paying the outrageous sum of 3,300 dollars, ”the media reported. Cubano Directory. According to the article, the plane in which the Cubans were to fly suffered mechanical problems.

The large number of Cuban travelers has been confirmed by Nicaraguans returning home on flights with a stopover in Panama. A passenger consulted by La Prensa said that on their flight from Panama, almost all passengers to Nicaragua came from Havana.

Ortega’s visa-free entry policy

On November 22, the Interior Ministry of the Ortega regime announced the establishment of a “visa-free” policy for all Cuban citizens who wish to enter Nicaragua. The new program, they said, was “aimed at promoting trade, tourism and humanitarian family relations.”

The ministry’s statement said the decision was made in light of the high volume of visa applications the Nicaraguan Department of Immigration and Foreign Affairs had received from Cuban citizens with relatives in Nicaragua. However, they did not provide any data on the actual number of applications filed.

In January 2019, the Ortega regime relaxed the requirements for Cuban citizens wishing to travel to Nicaragua. They were classified as “migratory category B”, which enabled them to obtain a tourist visa valid for a thirty-day stay in Managua.

Since then, Nicaragua has become a shopping destination for thousands of Cubans, who have taken advantage of the ease of travel to come to Managua and purchase rare goods on the island.

According to official statistics, a total of 44,829 Cubans visited Nicaragua in 2019. This represents a huge increase, considering that in the previous two years, no more than 2,000 Cubans had disembarked in Managua.

Learn more about Nicaragua here on Havana Times.


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