Panama begins more flights of Cuban migrants to Mexico

5/9/2016 BBC News

The Cuban flagPanama has agreed to transfer 3,800 Cubans hoping to reach the United States to a town in northern Mexico.

The Cubans have been stranded in Panama for months, hoping to reach the US under a decades-old law which gives them privileged entry and a fast-track to residency.

Officials in Panama said daily flights to Ciudad Juarez would begin on Monday. Panama had organised some flights in March but had insisted the operation would not be repeated. The migrants have been told they have to pay for the flights themselves.

Panamanian newspaper reports said long queues had formed at banks and money transfer shops near government migrant shelters in Chiriqui province as Cubans waited to withdraw cash sent by relatives in the United States to buy their tickets.

Last year Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which lie to the north of Panama, closed their borders to Cubans trying to head north overland. The move created a new bottleneck in Panama for the migrants who fly to South American countries, and then walk or take buses through Central America north towards the US.

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