Havana Cuban police in black berets entered the Mexican embassy early Friday and detained 21 young men who had crashed a stolen bus through the gates two days earlier and asked to be taken out of Cuba.
The unarmed, specially trained police took action after Mexico asked Cuba to remove the men. The detainees, who were seized without putting up any resistance, were rushed away in the pre-dawn hours.
Mexican authorities said they believed the men had no grounds to fear political persecution and there was no risk to their lives. Mexico said the men did not ask for political asylum and wanted to emigrate for purely economic reasons.
"These are young people facing a difficult economic situation, like many in Latin America," said Gloria Abella of Mexico's Foreign Relations Department.
After commandeering a public bus, the men crashed the embassy gates late Wednesday night. Their forced evacuation sent a strong message across the island: Holing up in a diplomatic mission is not a sure ticket off the island.
"The government of Mexico is not going to provide preferential treatment simply because they have invaded the embassy," Mexican Ambassador Ricardo Pascoe Pierce said Friday.