Cuban Immigrant Crisis in Costa Rica Nears End

Cubans leaving Costa Rica. Photo: the Costa Rican Presidency.
Cubans leaving Costa Rica. Photo: the Costa Rican Presidency.

HAVANA TIMES — The Government of Costa Rica said today that the migratory crisis experienced since October with the mass influx of some 8,000 Cubans will conclude next week, reported dpa news.

The government noted that two flights to Mexico took place on Friday, another two are set for Saturday, and  the last flight will take place on Tuesday, after which there will no longer be Cuban immigrants in Costa Rican territory.

The departure of the migrants was streamlined in early January, after Mexico agreed to establish an airlift that would allow migrants to travel to the border with the United States, their final destination.

The first route opened up was an air lift to El Salvador and bus journey to the southern Mexican border from where the Cubans were given up to 20 days to reach the US border through any means of transportation. Later the direct air route from Costa Rica to cities near the Mexican border with the US was established.

Despite the establishment of these airlifts, the local newspaper “La Nacion” said today that of the approximately 8,000 Cubans stranded in Costa Rica, about 3,500 were able to travel to the United States by paying large sums of money to human traffickers.

The migration crisis broke out in mid-November, after Nicaragua brought out its army and riot police to block the Cubans from passing through its territory en route to the United States.

The flood of migrants was triggered by the dismantling of a network of traffickers by Costa Rican police on November 10th. This operation left thousands of Cubans adrift in Ecuador, Colombia and Panama.

The Cuban migrants had left the island legally months before to Ecuador, which until December 1 did not require an entry visa.

The fear of an eventual reform of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which provides preferential immigration treatment in the United States to Cubans, is believed to have spurred the exodus.