Mexico on Wednesday said it plans to grant 20-day transit visas to a group of 180 Cubans who were chosen from thousands stranded in Costa Rica to continue on their long journey toward the United States.
The Cubans will have to leave Mexican territory after the permits expire, the National Migration Institute said, adding the visas were given for humanitarian reasons.
Last month, Central American countries agreed on a pilot programme to allow stranded Cubans, in closed borders, to allow passage toward the US.
With the closure of Nicaragua’s border in November, nearly 8,000 Cuban migrants were stranded near Nicaragua’s northern border with Costa Rica.
After Costa Rica issued travel visas to more than 1,000 Cuban migrants, it triggered a “humanitarian crisis” in the South American country.
The first group, chosen out of those stranded there, flew to El Salvador on Tuesday, from where they boarded buses and arrived in Mexico on Wednesday.
Central American governments will meet next Thursday in Guatemala to evaluate the first trip of Cubans and see if the transit program should continue, Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez said on Wednesday.
Cuban mass migration to the US first started when communist leader Fidel Castro overthrow the US-backed government of Cuba in 1959 and aligned itself with the communist USSR.