Castro arrives tonight; expect closures

The leaders of Cuba and Mexico will meet in the History Hall at the Presidential Palace in Merida. Handout photo

The leaders of Cuba and Mexico will meet in the History Hall at the Presidential Palace in Merida. Handout photo

Mérida, Yucatán — The Plaza Grande will be closed tomorrow, as will streets from Parque Mejorada to the Governor’s Palace and Paseo Montejo as Cuban President Raul Castro meets Mexico’s leader, Enrique Peña Nieto.

The world leaders will converse under the gaze of Fernando Castro Pacheco’s murals at the History Hall of the palace, which will also be off limits to the public.

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Castro arrives tonight (Thursday), and the Mexican president will greet him in the palace courtyard on Friday before they meet formally in the History Hall.

Castro and Peña Nieto are expected to discuss immigration and other issues in their latest effort to relaunch ties strained under previous governments. Mexico has been surprised by a surge of Cuban arrivals recently; in October, 1,500 alone crossed the border, many of them headed to the United States on a route that begins in Ecuador, which requires no travel visas, according to at least one news account.

That will be followed by a meal at La Quinta Montes Molina on the Paseo de Montejo. A security staff of 350 will be on guard.

The Cuban leader also has ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal or Chichén Itzá on his itinerary.

Expect security-related traffic disruptions until Castro leaves on Saturday.

{ Related: More on the immigration issue between Cuba and Mexico. }

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