Greece has surprisingly become an attractive hub for Cuban asylum seekers and refugees reports Al Jazeera.
“You’d have to tie me up to take me back to Cuba,” said Carlos a refugee. “Greece as a democracy respects human rights. Cuba has no democracy and no human rights.”
According to the report by John Psaropoulos, authorities in Greece stumbled on the phenomenon on October 28 when some 130 Cubans tried to fly from the island of Zakynthos, in the Ionian Sea, to Milan, in northern Italy.
“It was accidental that so many Cubans met in the same place,” said Pedro, 28, who was among them. “Usually we try to use lots of different airports.”
“When police saw one Cuban passport after another, they put us all in a separate room.”
The list of Cuban asylum seekers reveals that the arrivals are mostly students and professionals below 50, many with children.
“There are lawyers, doctors, civil engineers – we’re not brigands,” said Juan. “We wanted the country that will embrace us to see that we can offer thing to society, we’re not here to extract wealth and go home, but to be part of society and contribute to it.”
Unlike the mostly Middle Eastern and African asylum seekers who set out from Turkish shores in rubber dinghies to reach the east Aegean islands, Cubans do not appear to be shepherded by smugglers.
Pedro and his girlfriend, Laura, flew from Havana to Moscow, where travel is visa-free for Cubans. From there they flew to Belgrade, also visa-free, and took buses and taxis through Serbia and North Macedonia to the Greek border.