Latest News on the Thousands of Cubans Stranded in Costa Rica

El Salvador Ready to Receive Cuban Migrants from Costa Rica

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The alternative for the migratory situatio of the Cubans in Costa Rica. illstration: Onel

HAVANA TIMES —This past weekend, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador announced that several institutions have made the arrangements needed to transport the Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica over the month of February, DPA reported.

Nearly 8,000 Cubans seeking to reach US soil became stranded in Costa Rica at the end of last year after Nicaragua denied them passage through its territory, sparking off a humanitarian crisis due to Costa Rica’s inability to offer so many people refuge.

At the beginning of January, a pilot or test operation was conducted with 180 Cuban migrants to establish an air and land bridge that could take the thousands of Cubans in Costa Rica to the United States, crossing El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.

Officials from the Salvadorian Foreign Ministry, General Immigration Department, Customs, the Autonomous Executive Port Commission (CEPA), National Civilian Police (PNC) and the International Organization for Migrations (OIM) took part in the preparations to transport the Cuban migrants, as they did at the beginning of January.

The Foreign Ministry announced that the operations will involve two weekly flights, scheduled for February 4, 9, 11, 16, 18, 23 and 25.

El Salvador will receive the Cuban migrants at the Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez International Airport. There, they will be processed by immigration and will be transported by land to the Guatemalan border. From Guatemala, they will be taken to Mexico and then on to the US border.

The Salvadorian Foreign Ministry declared that, with this, President Sanchez Cerez is reaffirming his commitment to guarantee that the new humanitarian operations to transport the Cuban migrants are carried out in an orderly and safe fashion.

Costa Rica Warns Cuban Migrants

The nearly 8,000 Cubans stranded in Costa Rica waiting to be flown to El Salvador, to continue on their journey towards Mexico and the United States, are growing frustrated over the long waiting period and an undetermined number of them has opted to look for “coyotes” and make the journey on their own.

Seven flights (with capacity for approx. 180 migrants each) will be conducted in the month of February, and Costa Rican authorities have announced that it could take as many as six months for all Cubans stranded in the country to reach the United States. The flight to El Salvador and bus transportation to Mexico, both handled by private companies, has a total cost of US $555.

The decision not to wait for these safe means of transportation and travel down routes used by human traffickers to evade Nicaraguan authorities will have serious consequences for those captured by the police or army, Café Fuerte reported.


Cuban migrants who leave the country through illegal means will lose the visa granted by Costa Rica

The Ministry of Foreign and Religious Affairs and the General Immigration Department hereby declare that Cuban migrants who have been granted an extraordinary transit visa by Costa Rica and choose to leave the country through illegal means shall be automatically deprived of the said visa in the event they are returned by the authorities of Nicaragua or any other country.

The National Immigration Council has analyzed this situation and hereby issues this warning to Cuban migrants, so that they will not be deprived of the visas granted by the government of Costa Rica or lose their legal status in our country, making it impossible for them to leave the country through the safe routes established with other countries in the region.

The Costa Rican government has worked to ensure that the Cubans currently in the country can leave in an orderly manner, through safe means of transportation, without having to put their physical integrity at risk in the process.

We therefore invite you to report (anonymously, if required) on any offers made by third persons to leave the country through illegal means, evading migratory controls. Such reports can be made anonymously at 2299-8196 (Professional Immigration Police).

January 28, 2016