Costa Rica to Consider Readmission of Stranded Nicaraguans

The Nicaraguans have been stranded for over a week on the border of Penas Blancas. Photo: Courtesy.

Costa Rican authorities explained to Confidencial the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Immigration authorities.

By Cindy Regidor (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Nicaraguans rejected by Nicaragua may be readmitted by Costa Rica, but for this they must request the annulment of their departure and each case will be assessed according to the person’s migratory situation, the Directorate of Migration and Aliens told Confidencial on Tuesday, July 28, after an official document from the Ministry of Health was released: General Guidelines for the departure of people traveling to the Republic of Nicaragua from an authorized immigration post. In light of the (Covid-19) or LS-SI-022 alert.

The document was published after the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Penas Blancas starting over a week ago, because the Government of Daniel Ortega does not allow the entry of Nicaraguans who do not carry a negative Covid-19 test, nor does it provide tests. More than 500 Nicaraguans are on the border, technically in Nicaraguan territory, but without being able to enter their country.

The Costa Rican guidelines say that “the person who is rejected by the Republic of Nicaragua for any situation related to health issues (presenting symptoms, rejection of the PCR test, or others of this type), may be readmitted to Costa Rica, by virtue of the fact that their departure did not materialize.

“However, for this you must immediately proceed to request the annulment of departure and other collateral administrative acts that have been issued regarding the departure, in the Immigration Office. Without doing so, this institution cannot annul any health measures to prevent the entry issued against the person at the time of their departure.”

“Cases must be assessed, for example, it is not the same for a person who is a resident of Costa Rica, with their ID up to date, who left and is stranded there on the border with Penas Blancas. In that case, the person has a regular immigration status in Costa Rica and their exit stamp can be annulled to readmit them again. It is a case that could happen, reentry could be allowed,” clarified the Immigration Public Relations Office.

“What is indicated is that each particular case will be studied to exercise the re-entry authorization,” the authorities note.

The case of Jessica Salvador and her 10-year-old son

Nicaraguan Jessica Salvador, had been living for 25 years in Costa Rica and was preparing to return permanently to her country along with her 10-year-old son of Costa Rican nationality. They spent four days stranded in Penas Blancas, but managed to re-enter Costa Rica on Saturday, July 25.

“I never bothered to get my residency; I was never interested. When I saw the situation, I spoke with Migration and told them that I had my son with me and he is Costa Rican.” Jessica Salvador last entered Costa Rica in January with a tourist visa, which is normally valid for three months, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the authorities extended its validity until November of 2020. Based on that tourist visa, Migration annulled the exit stamp and now they could stay in the country for four more months.

What will happen to undocumented Nicaraguan migrants?

When asked about the case of those who were rejected for having entered through unauthorized points or for having remained irregularly in the country or in the case of the refuge applicants who desisted from the process, the answer was that “all cases will be assessed.”

There was also no response to the process by which Nicaraguans stranded in Penas Blancas for more than a week could request their re-entry into Costa Rica soil.

Fatigue and weariness among stranded Nicaraguans

“I don’t think we can stand being here any longer. It is too much,” says Carolina Murillo, one of the Nicaraguans in Penas Blancas. Human rights and humanitarian aid organizations continue to provide food to those affected at the site, but fatigue has taken its toll, due to the precarious conditions they are in. Until now Nicaraguan immigration authorities continue without giving them information.

The Nicaraguan Government has ignored the issue. This Monday, July 27, Vice President Rosario Murillo, in her daily monologue to official media, only referred to the Nicaraguans who have returned from Panama.

“Another hundred Nicaraguans arrived from Panama with their negative Covid-19 tests, with all their documents in order, within that coordination program we have with the governments of Panama and Costa Rica, and another group arrives tomorrow. Safe repatriation of our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters, orderly,” she said, although prior to that coordination program, those Nicaraguans had also been stranded for several days and without resources in Panamanian territory.

Jessica Salvador is now at home in Costa Rica with her son, but is concerned about the Nicaraguans who stayed trapped in Penas Blancas. She is glad that some could re-enter Costa Rica so as not to endure the overcrowding, the sun, the rain and the cold. But, she assures, that many of those who remain there cannot return to Costa Rica because they no longer have a place to live, or eat, and all they wish for is to be in Nicaragua with their families.