HAVANA TIMES — Ecuador informed on Thursday that it will close its open door to Cubans by requiring a visa as of December 1st. Deputy Foreign Minister Xavier Lasso said the move is geared to curb “the dangerous route” used by Cubans to travel to the United States.
While Lasso said “we are not shutting the door to Cubans,” the move to control “a type of risky migration” will make many Cubans choose a different even more dangerous way to leave the island.
The deputy minister said the decision was made to protect the Cubans and “put a stop to the migratory tendency that puts men, women and children at risk.”
Lasso was referring to the more than 3,000 mile journey north many Cubans undertake after arriving legally in Ecuador. The migrants move from country to country, often guided by people traffickers.
Currently over 3,500 Cubans are stuck in Costa Rica since Nicaragua violently closed its border to them on Nov. 15th, using the police and military.
The Cubans are welcomed in the United States if they can reach US territory, and the route via Ecuador had been seen by many as a safer journey than taking to the Caribbean Sea in rickety vessels.
Most Cubans are routinely refused tourist visas to travel by plane to the US and must find another way to get there to receive the benefits of the Cuban Adjustment Act.
Lasso said the change in immigration policy for Cubans was a commitment assumed by Ecuador at the meeting of foreign ministers Tuesday in San Salvador.
Also see: Cuban Migrant Crisis on Stage One.