QUITO – Ecuadorian police on Wednesday ousted dozens of Cubans who had camped out in a Quito public park and were demanding visas to travel to Mexico and, from there, to the United States.
Human rights activists said that the police move was performed with excessive violence and the Cubans were beaten and dragged away to buses and taken to an internment location where attorney Francisco Hurtado said that 104 people are being held.
Interior Minister Jose Serrano, meanwhile, told reporters that 63 people were arrested and none of them had authorization for the “public gathering” in the park.
Police Gen. Ramiro Mantilla said that those Cubans lacking the proper documents to remain in Ecuador will be remanded to the proper authorities for “the judge to determine” what to do with them.
Hurtado told EFE that among the detainees are legal migrants – a fact confirmed by the Cuban Embassy in Ecuador – along with four children and a teenager who, evidently, suffered a broken arm.
He said that these people were “violently dislodged” from El Arbolito Park between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. despite the fact that they had a municipal permit to remain there.
He also said that special police units with anti-riot vehicles participated in the operation and that the detentions were arbitrary, adding that authorities had not specified the motive for the move.
Television images showed the buses that transported the migrants to the detention center and the migrants themselves shouting “Help!”
“They are not asking to stay in Ecuador,” but rather to travel to the United States via Mexico and “they are asking to travel by air,” said Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Guillaume Long at a Quito press conference on Tuesday.
Regarding the migrants’ requests, Long said that the Ecuadorian government “cannot be participating in this illegal migration ... (or) be involved in people trafficking providing airplanes,” and he added that the Mexican government “has been very clear” in saying that it will not “authorize these visas.”