May 1, 2016

Cuban Culmination?

Some of the 3,000 Cuban refugees that were stranded at the Paso Canoas border have been transferred to Gualaca, where they are being housed in local hostels and provided with medical attention as needed.  Those transferred included pregnant women and children and other persons in more frail conditions.  

Announcements have been made that the authorities are close to reaching some type of diplomatic arrangement for those 3,000 Cubans that are already in Panama.  At the same time, Panama has taken stronger measures to stop the influx of illegals into Panama without actually implementing a border closure.  President Varela announced on April 28th that new or additional refugees who enter Panama illegally will not be allowed to participate in the process currently being negotiated for the 3,000 refugees already housed near the border.  He stressed that Panama will implement a humanitarian effort to assist these detainees, but cannot continue functioning as a permanent logistical backup for illegal migration.  As of that date, Cubans attempting to enter Panama illegally will be detained and returned. The news of this measure has reached Cuba, I am certain, as I viewed an internet video broadcast in Cuba addressing the topic.  Since the announcement, it was calculated that only 100 additional Cubans have passed into Panama.  They are currently under the control of SENAFRONT and the National Migration Service.

President Varela emphasized that Panama will offer whatever emotional or psychological support measures it can to additional migrants illegally crossing the border, but that these persons will have to leave and need to consider which country they wish to return to.