Panama to move Cuban migrants to Mexico

May 09, 2016, 5:29 AM EDT

Panama is set to operate special flights to transport some 3,800 U.S.-bound Cuban migrants to Mexico. For months, Cubans seeking to enter the U.S. have been stranded in Panama without the necessary legal documents after Costa Rica and Nicaragua sealed their borders, thus restricting the migrants from crossing over.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s remark in 2014 about restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba triggered a mass exodus among Cubans, who enjoy special privileges in the U.S. Panama, which operated similar flights in March, had said at that time that the operation won’t be repeated, writes the BBC. Thousands of Cubans have arrived Panama since the first round of special flights was organized in March.

Cuban migrants, who were told to pay for their flights themselves, queued up at banks and money transfer shops near their camps to withdraw cash.

The flights, which will ferry 154 Cuban migrants on each trip, will begin on Monday from Panama City’s international airport, going to Juarez, in Mexico’s north near the U.S. border. Alarmed by the migrant crisis, Panama’s Foreign Minister, Isabel De Saint Malo said that her country needed to “discourage the flow of migrants” by denying access to Cubans, notes The Japan Times.