Ecuador Grants Visas to Cubans with Tickets Purchased Before Nov. 26

Several hundred Cubans protested on Friday at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez
Several hundred Cubans protested on Friday at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — The government of Ecuador decided to grant visas to Cuban citizens who had purchased their airfare to Quito before November 26, foreign minister Ricardo Patiño announced on Saturday.

The decision comes after a large protest Friday outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in Havana, following the announcement on November 26 that Ecuador would require Cubans to have visas to travel to the South American country as of December 1, reported dpa news.

“The Foreign Ministry announces that Cuban citizens who have purchased airline tickets before November 26, 2015 will receive a visa to enter Ecuador,” Patino said today on his Twitter account.

Ecuador was until now one of the few countries that did not require tourist visas to citizens of Cuba. Many thousands of Cubans took advantage of the open door to travel to Ecuador and then attempt the long journey north to the United States.

Once at the US border they would receive special benefits under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, including a fast-track to permanent residency.  The irony is that most of the Cuban migrants have applied for tourist visas to the US but were denied.

The migration crisis came to a head by mid-November on the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, when the latter called out the army and riot police to keep the Cubans out.

Costa Rica reported today they have granted in recent weeks a total of 3,853 temporary transit visas to Cubans. Faced with the blockade from Nicaragua, the Costa Rican government quelled fears of the migrants saying it would not deport any of them to Cuba.

The San Jose newspaper “The Nation” also reported that Panama, another transit point for the wave of Cuban migrants who initiated their trip north from Ecuador maintains retained 850 more  who attempted to cross into its territory in the last hours from Colombia.

Meanwhile, the Government of Nicaragua warned that it will maintain the militarization of its southern border to prevent Cubans from entering from Costa Rica.