Cuba blames US for rising migrant traffic thru Central America

HAVANA, October 4(Reuters) – Cuba on Wednesday said it had detected “noticeable growth” in the flow of its migrants across irregular routes north through Central America in the past weeks and months, blaming the U.S. trade embargo for stoking economic crisis and a record-breaking exodus.

Thousands of migrants have entered the U.S. from Mexico in recent weeks, as the trek to the U.S. southern border increasingly becomes a global migration route sought by people fleeing violence, economic distress and the impacts of climate change in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The swelling tide of migrants once again includes increasing numbers of Cubans, the communist-run island´s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“During the last months and weeks, the irregular migratory flow of Cuban citizens through the Central American corridor bound for the United States has experienced noticeable growth,” the statement said.

A record-breaking number of Cubans reached the U.S. border last year after migrating north from Nicaragua to Mexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

That flow of migrants ebbed for several months earlier this year as Cubans rushed instead to take advantage of a Biden administration “parole” program that allows a legal path for entry into the U.S.

But Cuba on Wednesday said U.S. efforts to facilitate legal migration were still not enough.

“The economic blockade, reinforced in recent years, causes extraordinary limitations to the Cuban economy and the population’s standard of living, which stimulates the migration,” the statement read.

The U.S. Embassy in Havana did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cuba´s economy is suffering unprecedented crisis, with shortages of basic goods including food, fuel and medicine, a predicament that many Cubans say leaves them with little choice but to leave their home.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador this week lamented the deaths of 10 Cuban migrants in a traffic accident in southern Mexico, calling on countries to address root causes driving migration.

Lopez Obrador, a key ally of Cuba in the region, said on Monday that “sanctions and blockades cannot be maintained,” in an apparent reference to the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

“We have to help the countries with the most poverty,” he said.

(Reporting by Dave Sherwood)

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