A group of 10 Cubans who had been kidnapped while traveling from Reynosa to Nuevo Laredo in Mexico were rescued Wednesday, according to a high-ranking official from Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ernesto Soberón, director of consular affairs at the ministry, known as MINREX, issued a Twitter post Wednesday evening stating that the Cubans were in contact with the Cuban Consulate in Monterrey and that they were in good health.
The Cubans were reportedly kidnapped in Reynosa, across the border from Hidalgo, Texas, last week, after being stranded in Mexico following the end of the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy, which allowed entry to Cubans who made it to U.S. soil.
Several initial reports indicated that 11 Cubans had been kidnapped, including a child, but later reports said it was 10.
The kidnapping was allegedly carried out by organized crime gangs, which inspected buses where the migrants traveled. According to a relative of one of the victims who spoke to local Mexican media, the kidnappers were heavily armed.
Details of the rescue were not made public but reportedly involved negotiations. It is not known whether the Cubans or their relatives had to pay ransom or if any arrests were made in the case.
The Cubans were placed under the custody of Mexico’s immigration authorities, who then released them to the care of a nonprofit organization.
Local media reported that Héctor Silva, the director of the Casa del Migrante organization, said that all 10 wanted to return to Cuba because they “were scared.”
But Miami reporter Alejandro Condis, of Mega TV, who interviewed the Cubans, said the group did not want to return to the island and instead made their way to the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum. However, as they neared the border crossing, the group was detained by Mexican authorities because the documents allowing them to temporarily stay in Mexico had expired.
Condis reported that the Mexican immigration authorities gave the Cubans the option to go back to Cuba or to remain in Mexico. The group petitioned for a humanitarian visa that would allow them to stay in Mexico.