MEXICO CITY -- MEXICO CITY (AP) — Leon Trotsky, Fidel Castro, Augusto Cesar Sandino.

All spent time in Mexico, a country that's welcomed waves of political exiles over the decades and is now paying homage to some of the most famous of them.

In 1929, while he fighting a U.S. military occupation of Nicaragua, Sandino received permission to shelter in Mexico from President Emilio Portes Gil. In 1937, Trotsky came to Mexico using painter Diego Rivera as a reference. In 1955, a Cuban by the name of Fidel Castro entered Mexico as a tourist, telling authorities he was on vacation.

The dates and facts are recorded in migration records preserved in Mexico's historic archives and put on display to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the country's National Institute of Migration.

"These are very valuable documents, and they're part of the national patrimony," said Fernanda Garcia Villalobos, director-general of regulation and archives for the institute.

The yellowed immigration documents of 16 notable visitors can be seen at the institute's offices until the end of November. Some are machine-stamped, others filled out by hand. Some include photos, such as one showing a young Castro with a mustache but not yet a beard. Another shows Trotsky, with the white beard, mustache and round glasses that he had until his death at the hands of an assassin in Mexico.

It's a tiny sample of the nearly 500,000 records of foreigners in the migration institute's files. Garcia said the institute hoped to put on a larger exhibit in the future.

While the documents only record the foreigners' entries into the country, for Garcia the documents are "an important part of the story of these people," including some, such as Spanish surrealist painter Remedios Varo, who ended up taking Mexican citizenship.

Castro used his time in Mexico to organize the group of rebels who took a boat to Cuba in 1956 to launch the rebellion against dictator Fulgencio Batista.

On that, the documents are silent.

"We don't have any information on that," Garcia said. Officially, "he was only on vacation, he came as a tourist."

_____

Exhibit is on ground floor of National Migration Institute's main offices, on 1832 Homero St. in Mexico City's Polanco neighborhood, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays until Nov. 29.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Photos of Russian Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky stapled to a migration document are on display as part of the National Institute of Migration exhibit marking the organization's 20th anniversary, in Mexico City, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Trotsky came to Mexico using painter Diego Rivera as a reference. The exhibit of 16 notables include Cuba's revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and Nicaraguan guerrilla leader Augusto Cesar Sandino. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

  • Mexican migration documents of Spanish surrealist painter Remedios Varo are are on display as part of the National Institute of Migration exhibit marking the organization's 20th anniversary, in Mexico City, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. The exhibit of 16 notables include Cuba's revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, Russian Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky and Italian photographer Tina Modotti. All spent time in Mexico, a country that’s welcomed waves of political exiles over the decades and has now decided to pay homage to some of the most famous exiles. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

  • A 1955 Mexican migration document of Cuba's Fidel Castro is displayed as part of the National Institute of Migration exhibit marking the organization's 20th anniversary, in Mexico City, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. The yellowed immigration documents of 16 notable visitors to Mexico can be seen at the institute’s offices until the end of November. Some are machine-stamped, others filled out by hand. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

  • 1955 Mexican migration documents of Cuba's Fidel Castro are displayed as part of the National Institute of Migration exhibit marking the organization's 20th anniversary, in Mexico City, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. The yellowed immigration documents of 16 notable visitors to Mexico can be seen at the institute’s offices until the end of November. Some are machine-stamped, others filled out by hand. All spent time in Mexico, a country that’s welcomed waves of political exiles over the decades and has now decided to pay homage to some of the most famous exiles who have spent time here. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

  • Tina Modotti

    A 1939 political asylum migration form shows images of the Italian photographer Tina Modotti, registered and signed with the pseudonym Carmen Ruiz Sanchez, on display at the National Institute of Migration exhibit, marking the 20th anniversary of the organization's creation, in Mexico City, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. The exhibit of 16 notable visitors to Mexico include Russian Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky and Cuba's revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. It’s a tiny sample compared to the nearly 500,000 records of foreigners in the migration institute’s files. The institute hopes to put on a larger exhibit in the future.(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

  • A 1955 Mexican migration document of Cuba's revolutionary leader Fidel Castro is on display as part of the National Institute of Migration exhibit marking the organization's 20th anniversary, in Mexico City, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Castro, according to historians, used his time in Mexico to organize the group of rebels who took a boat to Cuba in 1956 to launch the rebellion against dictator Fulgencio Batista. The exhibit of 16 notables that include Castro, Russian Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky and Nicaraguan guerrilla leader Augusto Cesar Sandino, is a sample of the nearly 500,000 records that make up the institute's archive. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)