- Title: MEXICO: Mexico, Cuba reach initial agreement to clampdown on US-bound migrants
- Date: 21st October 2008
- Summary: FLOWER WREATH PEREZ ROQUE STANDING NEXT TO WREATH
- Embargoed: 5th November 2008 12:00
- Location: Mexico
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA63NLD494KJBH51X0IR7FA4LLX
- Story Text: Cuba and Mexico sign an initial agreement to clamp down on the flow of illegal Cuban immigrants through Mexico to the United States during visit by Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.
Cuba and Mexico signed an initial agreement on Monday (October 20) to clamp down on the flow of illegal Cuban immigrants through Mexico to the United States.
Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque arrived in Mexico on Sunday to sign the initial agreement which was also signed by Perez's Mexican counterpart, Patricia Espinosa and Interior Minister, Juan Camilo Mourino, who manage Mexican migration authorities.
A senior Mexican official said 10,000 Cubans arrive each year in Mexico illegally.
The initial agreement includes returning Cuban migrants to their country, a theme which had hampered the progress of talks in the past, which lasted six months.
The document will not have the strength of an agreement, as it will still require the approval of Congress, in Mexico's case.
"It's an effort to prevent a phenomenon both Mexico and Cuba are not responsible for, because illegal immigration from Cuba is being artificially stimulated by the US, due to the existence of regulations and law legislations such as the law of Cuban settlement which gives preference and preferential programmes so that Cubans illegally migrate from Cuba," said Perez Roque.
"It's an effort we'll make, I think it'll help that we both collaborate to confront the illegal immigration and the costs involved for Mexico and most of all to protect human lives and protect the rights of those migrants," he added.
Thousands of Cubans slip into Mexico by boat each year, mostly to the Yucatan Peninsula, without exit permits from the Cuban government.
They then make their way overland to the United States where, unlike other Latin American immigrants, they only have to make it onto U.S. soil and request political asylum to be let in.
If arrested in Mexico, the Cubans are often released, and then they head north.
Cubans seeking to get to Florida traditionally packed into boats and motored across the Florida Straits, but U.S. drug patrols in the area have made it harder to get through. The longer route via Mexico has become more popular in recent years.
Human traffickers are believed to be working in conjunction with drug smuggling gangs that control organized crime and police protection rackets up and down Mexico.
Ties between both countries soured when Mexico became part of NAFTA and former president Vicente Fox voted to condemn Cuba at the U.N. Human Rights Commission in 2002.
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