The government of Ecuador confirmed Thursday the detention of 63 Cuban citizens who were occupying a park in the capital of Quito, those arrested could be subject to deportation due to the fact they are considered irregular migrants, authorities said.
"All who are undocumented in the country will be deported to Cuba immediately following the legal procedure,” Interior Ministry Jose Serrano said in a press conference.
A group of approximately 600 Cubans had set up an makeshift camp in a park near the historic center of Quito. The interior ministry said in a statement the group did not have permission to be in the park.
General Ramiro Mantilla of the Ecuadorean National Police said the aim of the police operation was to verify the migratory status of those at the park. Only those with irregular status were arrested, the rest were told to vacate the park.
The children who were living in the park were evaluated, together with their parents, by officials with National Police Department for Children and Adolescents. Doctors were also on hand to check on those present.
General Mantilla added that some people in the crowd resisted arrest and a few officiers were injured.
Demonstrations by the Cuban migrants began two weeks ago when a group staged a protest outside the Embassy of Mexico, in the north of Quito. They were demanding visas from the Mexican Government so that they could travel to Mexican border with the United States, cross into the U.S. and apply for residence under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.
They were also demanding the Ecuadorian government pay for a charter flight to Mexico. However, the Mexican government has said it would not provide visas to them and Ecuador said it would not pay for a flight.
Ecuador enjoys friendly relations with the Cuban government, which has also provided ongoing medical assistance the Andean country and sent an emergecy team after last April's earthquake that devastated the coast of Ecuador.
From 2012 to 2016 more than 16,738 Cubans became residents in Ecuador and more than 26,000 obtained a temporary visa.
During the presidency of President Rafael Correa, Cuba and Ecuador have reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations on migration and many other fields.
However Ecuador was forced to implement visas for Cuban vistors after a large influx of Cuban nationals began to arrive as part of their journey to the United States.
The Cuban migrants are worried that with the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, the policy that faciliates Cuban migration to the U.S. will be modified.
The Association of Cuban Residents in Ecuador have urged Cubans seeking to emigrate to the United States from this South American country to “not to be swayed by those who stoke hatred and despair among Cubans.”
The governments of the United States and Cuba are in the process of dialogue for the full normalization of relations, but the organization says Washington has allocated more than US$750 million dollars from the federal budget to fund programs that undermine and discredit the Cuban Revolution.