Hunger strike in Cuba
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    Cuban migrants stranded in Mexico claim abuse by authorities following protest

    Cuban migrants stranded in Mexico claim abuse by authorities following
    protest
    BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
    ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

    A group of Cuban migrants detained in the southern Mexico city of
    Tapachula have accused authorities of beating and mistreating them after
    they staged a hunger strike — some by sewing their lips together — to
    demand their release.

    The Quadratín news agency reported that the Cubans filed a formal
    complaint against officials of the state of Chiapas’ Public Security
    Department and the National Migration Institute following the alleged
    incidents last week at the Siglo XXI immigrant detention center.
    According to several reports, the Cubans refused to return to their
    cells during a hunger strike to demand their release. They also called
    for an end to their harassment and the extortions of their relatives.

    Mexican journalists reported that some of the Cubans sewed their lips
    together as part of the protest, which was took place on Friday. In a
    separate incident last month, Mexican press reported that some of the
    Cubans at the detention center were beaten when they shouted “freedom”
    and “free Cuba.”

    Many Cuban migrants who were heading to the United States were stranded
    in Mexico when the Obama administration ended the “wet foot, dry foot
    policy” on Jan. 12. Until then, Mexican officials usually allowed Cuban
    migrants who entered through the southern border with Guatemala to
    continue on their way to the border with the United States.

    That is no longer the case: In January, alone, the Mexican government
    deported at least 91 of the Cubans held at the Tapachula center. It is
    not known how many are currently held there.

    Cuba native Olga Lidia González, 52, who lives in Texas, said relatives
    held at the Siglo XXI center told her by telephone after the incidents
    Friday that “a young man had sewn his lips, and there was violence and
    people wounded.”

    González’s daughter and son-in-law — Dayana Suárez, 27, and Yamir Ponce,
    29, – have been held at the center since Dec. 29. She said the couple
    and the daughter’s father Giraldo Villacampa, 53, obtained refugee
    status Friday through the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for
    Refugees but all three were told they would remain in detention until
    they received their residency documents for Mexico.

    Officials at the Siglo XXI center declined to comment and referred all
    questions to the National Migration Institute, which has not yet
    responded to queries sent by el Nuevo Herald.

    González said she has received dozens of phone calls from people in
    Mexico who identify themselves as lawyers at the Siglo XXI center and
    demand money for the release of her relatives.

    A lawyer for the National Commission on Human Rights in Chiapas
    confirmed that the Cuban migrants filed a formal complaint on Monday.
    The lawyer, who declined to give his name, said the commission can take
    two to three months to investigate complaints and issue its findings.

    But “it’s very hard to access the justice system and win reparations” in
    a country where there is “total impunity” for crimes and human rights
    violations, said Salva Lacruz, a coordinator at the Fray Matías de
    Córdova Center for Human Rights in Chiapas.

    The center, which assists migrants detained at Siglo XXI, is supported
    by the United Nations and has Mexican government permission to enter the
    facility once a week. Lacruz said his center will investigate the
    Cubans’ complaints of mistreatment, which is a common complaint at the
    detention center.

    Siglo XXI “is an extremely troubled center where the cases of
    mistreatment are very frequent. There are no guarantees of any type. The
    treatment is terrible and the place is enormous,” Lacruz added.

    In 2015, more than 100,000 migrants of various nationalities were
    detained there.

    El Nuevo Herald tried to reach one of the Cuban detainees currently at
    Siglo XXI by phone but an official who answered the call said the
    detained Cubans could not use telephones. Lacruz said the detainees
    technically do have the right to make and receive calls but officials
    “probably don’t want these people to give out information.”

    Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres

    Reporter Mario J. Pentón contributed to this report.

    Source: Cuban migrants in Mexico claim abuse by authorities | Miami
    Herald –
    www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article138673708.html

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