Costa Rica Shuts Doors to New Cuban Migrants

Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez (standing) announces the political break with the other Central American countries. At the table accompanying the president Luis Guillermo Solis (center), the Director of Immigration, Kattia Rodríguez; and the Minister of the Presidency, Sergio Alfaro. Foto: Gerardo Ruiz/
Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez (standing) announces the political break with the other Central American countries. At the table accompanying the president Luis Guillermo Solis (center), the Director of Immigration, Kattia Rodríguez; and the Minister of the Presidency, Sergio Alfaro. Foto: Gerardo Ruiz/

HAVANA TIMES – The Government of Costa Rica announced on Friday that it will not grant more temporary visas to Cuban immigrants and decided to break with the political forums of the Central American Integration System (SICA) for their lack of solidarity with the migration issue, reported dpa news.

“There was no improvisation, no tantrums or disrespect (…). I have advocated regional integration for 30 years, I am an integrationist President, so the exit is a source of frustration and sadness,” said Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis.

“I do not understand how three countries reached an agreement to stop supporting the other members of the system,” he added.

The Costa Rican director of Immigration, Kathya Rodriguez, announced at a press conference, attended by Solis and Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez, that the measure concerning visas takes effect on Saturday December 19th.

Immigration officials have granted 5,000 temporary visas to Cuban immigrants to their country in a bid to continue their journey to the United States. There is also another 2,000 visas pending. [It is understood that these will be processed but no further ones allowed].

However, given the fact that thousands of migrants are stranded in Costa Rica because other countries in the region refused to allow them to enter and pass through their territories, Rodriguez warned that the Costa Rican government will not grant more new visas starting Saturday.

President Solis confirmed the withdrawal of Costa Rica from the political forums of SICA and justified the decision with the lack of solidarity with the immigration problem facing his country from Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize, who refused to allow the over 6,000 Cuban immigrants to pass through their territory.

The presidents of SICA held a summit Friday in El Salvador, but Costa Rica was unsuccessful in having the migration crisis discussed so as to find a solution.

Both Solis and Gonzalez were “sad and frustrated” by the attitude of SICA and especially Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize, which led them to abandon the summit.

The migration crisis broke out just over a month ago when Costa Rica dismantled a gang of smugglers (coyotes) who contacted the Cubans in Ecuador and promised to lead them to the United States in exchange for large sums of money.

The operation left thousands of Cubans adrift.

Those Cubans had left their country legally to Ecuador, which allowed them to enter its territory without a visa until December 1st. Once in Ecuador, and after crossing Colombia and Panama, they reached the southern border of Costa Rica.

There, the government decided to grant them temporary visas to enable them continue their journey to the United States, which grants special treatment to all Cubans who reach its territory by land.

The crisis worsened when on November 15 Nicaragua shut its border to the Cubans and used tear gas and rubber bullets to return around 850 migrants to Costa Rica.

Then, while Costa Rica sought an alternative humanitarian corridor to allow the Cubans to move on, Guatemala and Belize also refused to receive them.

The problem was addressed by Solis with the president of Cuba, Raul Castro, during a recent visit to Cuba.

Some 5,000 immigrants are currently housed in almost thirty shelters located in various parts of the border area of Costa Rica with Nicaragua.

6 thoughts on “Costa Rica Shuts Doors to New Cuban Migrants

  • I suspect most of them. It’s for that reason that Raul would not send the ships. Can you imagine the optics of any empty Cuban ship leaving Costa Rica because free Cubans refused to return to Cuba. Besides, most of them probably have nothing to return to. They likely sold everything to pay for the trip. Instead, he should take them to Mexico or better yet Corpus Christi, Texas. It’s got to be humiliating on some level. Thousands of your citizens leaving your country under these conditions. You can blame US policy, you can blame the world economic recession, etc. But is this what the Castro revolution hoped to achieve 57 years later?

  • Of course, Cuba could send planes or ships to Costa Rica to pick up the Cuban migrants and bring them home. In your estimation, how many of the migrants would accept such an offer? Isn’t it possible that some of them still hope to reach the US?

  • This post is about the now nearly 7000 Cubans stranded in Costa Rica and Panama. Your attempt to deflect fools no one. The Cuban-American caucus in Congress can do NOTHING to help those stranded Cubans. They are Cuban nationals and remain the responsibility of Raul Castro. Again, if they were from any other country, you would clearly see this. But given your sycophantic support of Castro tyranny, you are blind to the truth.

  • Or better yet, Moses, why don’t the Cuban-American extremists in the U. S. Congress do something, like end Wet Foot/Dry Foot and other discriminatory laws that make the U. S. democracy looked like a Batistiano-era Banana Republic. As always, Cuba is blamed when there is a lot of blame to go around…and around. The impasse on the Costo Rican-Nicaraguan border is a microcosm of the astronomical harm a handful of extremist Cuban exiles/Cuban Americans have done to democracy, and that’s a shame considering the totality of what most Cubans have to offer their homeland, Cuba, and their northern neighbor, America. In a democracy as in a Banana Republic, in my opinion, it is never a good thing when an extremist minority overwhelms the will of the majority.

  • South America can learn much from China. If they organized around economies around education and production economics versus redistribution, immigration would not be an issue. Resources are a giant issue to do anything when income is short. The human thing is to let them stay and work.

  • If Americans were stranded anywhere on the planet, I would expect my President to send a squadron of Air Force C-130s and C-5s to airlift my fellow citizens home. Raul may not have a squadron of cargo planes but even Cuba has a Navy. Why doesn’t he help? I hear about all this solidarity amongst the peoples of Bolivar, blah, blah, blah. Where rubber meets the road, it’s all talk.

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