The Bravo River On Wednesday, she returned the bodies of Uruguayan Alexa Patino (25) and her son Ismail (4 years). Both attempted to cross the fearsome river that separates Mexico from the United States and which occupies 1,455 kilometers of the 3,100 km of the line separating the two countries. The current kicked them off their feet and pushed them downstream. This was confirmed in his story to the local prosecutor’s office by Guillermo Alan (33), born in Cuba, Uruguayan partner and sole survivor of the migration tragedy.
Everything went quickly. A few minutes after 6 p.m. (9:00 p.m. in Uruguay), the migrants risked their lives wanting to cross the river from Acuña (the Mexican side) to Texas in the United States. But the flow has been larger than normal since the waters left the Amistad Duo National Dam.
So far in 2022, 15 migrants have already died while trying to cross the border, across the river, in Coahuila state. Local newspaper Zocalo reported 166 victims last year.
The honorary consulate of Uruguay in Monterrey – one of the cities of the state of Nuevo Leon on the border with Coahuila – was working until last night to follow up on the case and contact the Uruguayan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On the Facebook profile of Uruguayan Patiño, it can be seen that she was active on the social network until March 8. On the night of that same day, he posted the phrase: “We all have the same goal: to provide our children with a better quality of life.”
At the end of 2019, and on the same social network, the young woman had participated in those games trying to demystify the future under the slogan: “What two surprises will change you in 2020?” Like a premonition, one of the answers was “a new country we call home” and commented: “Would it be?”.
Alain and Patiño were married last January in Montevideo’s civil registry. El País contacted part of his family, who recounted that “nobody knew they were going to leave…they were doing a great job here (in Uruguay)”.
Since last year, more Cubans have left than arrived in Uruguay. In the past decade it was the other way around. Indeed, since 2017, more people have arrived in Uruguay than those who have emigrated: at the end of the Barack Obama era and the beginning of the administration of Donald Trump, the arrival of immigrants to the United States was restricted and the arrival of immigrants to the United States was restricted. The “southern route” – from Cuba to Guyana, then to Brazil until entering Uruguay through the northeastern border – became the island’s escape route.
But in 2021 – a partial closure of the borders due to the health emergency, and the impact on the living conditions of the newcomers – the trend changed. In the first eight months, 1,816 Cubans entered through immigration centers and 2,687 left, according to statistics from National Directorate of Immigration.
This Cuban exodus in search of the “American dream” is not without obstacles: since the Nicaraguan embassy (the country that gave visas to Cubans and provided a “staging point” closer to the north) left Uruguay, hundreds have crossed the Darien Forest, known as the most dangerous region of Latin America.
But the difficulties do not end there. While crossing through Central America and then across Mexico to the border, many of those who risk their lives are held hostage by smuggling networks. So much so that the adventure of leaving Uruguay for the United States, on average, is about 8000 US dollars.
Why take the risk? Yöndres Lastri, one of the leaders of the Cuban community in Uruguay, explained that Cubans admire democracy, freedom, and the Uruguayan people. But it was always difficult for the Cubans to adapt to the country’s climate and to leave part of their family (on the island). Added to this is that Uruguay is an expensive country, which is often not enough with a single income, and that with the epidemic the economic hardships have worsened.
The desire to leave does not give up: line up at the embassy
The corner of Benito Blanco and Julio Cesar, in the Positos Nuevo neighborhood, has since Wednesday become a place where hundreds of Cubans residing in Montevideo have arrived. Because there is an embassy and consulate of Panama, a country that since March 8 has established a visa for Cuban citizens traveling through Panama to another destination. This supposes another obstacle to immigration in the Cuban population’s attempt to realize the “American Dream”.