Armed men kidnap 34 Cuban refugees in Mexico

June 13th, 2008 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Mexico City, June 13 (DPA) A group of armed men have kidnapped a group of 34 illegal Cuban refugees who were being transported in a government bus in Mexico, the police have said. The incident occurred Wednesday night, when the kidnappers stopped the bus in the southern state of Chiapas, forced the official escorts out of the bus and drove off with the occupants under their command, a police spokesman said Thursday.

The empty bus, operated by Mexico’s immigration department, was found later. There was no trace of the Cuban refugees.

The Cubans had been picked up by Mexican officials along the country’s eastern coast, a common beaching point for Cuban refugees who use the route on their way to the US. Their boats usually take them to the Yucatan peninsula.

Upon arrival on the US mainland, Cubans receive automatic residency rights.

Mexico, which wants to normalise its relations with Cuba, has threatened to send the illegal immigrants back to Cuba.

The 34 refugees were detained late last week by the Mexican Navy on the beach near the resort city of Cancun. They were turned over to the immigration department and were to be transported to Tapachula on the border with Guatemala.

Mexico maintains a refugee camp in Tapachula, where illegal immigrants are detained while they await the official decision about whether they may remain in Mexico or must be deported.

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