HAVANA TIMES — A multilateral technical meeting to discuss the Cuban immigration crisis, involving more than 6,000 persons stranded in Costa Rica, takes place today in Mexico, after originally being scheduled for El Salvador on Monday, informed the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry.
Costa Rican President, Luis Guillermo Solis, complained of the lack of support from the other nations at a summit of the Central American Integration System (SICA) last Thursday in San Salvador. He then withdrew his country from the forum.
Costa Rica is experiencing a serious migration crisis with the arrival in the territory of nearly 8,000 Cuban migrants in the last month and a half, 6,000 of whom are stranded on a temporary visa.
On Thursday, the government said it would not grant more visas to Cubans who continue arriving at the border with Panama, warning that it would deport those who enter without that document.
However, local media reported over the weekend that the flow of Cuban immigrants to the Paso Canoas border post has not stopped.
The situation has been complicated due to the rejection of Nicaragua first, then Guatemala and Belize, to allow the passage of the Cubans, whose aim is to reach the United States, where they are welcomed under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.
Unlike other immigrants, Cubans reaching US soil by whatever means, legally or illegally, are given government assistance and a fast track to permanent residency. However, ironically, most must arrive illegally, at great expense and often risking their lives, because the US Embassy in Havana routinely denies them a visa so as to arrive safely by plane.
According to the spokeswoman for the Mexican Foreign Ministry, immigration authorities of the countries in the Mesoamerican Corridor would meet today, as well as a representative from Ecuador, and possibly from the USA and Cuba.
The Cuban migrants left the island legally by plane to Ecuador, which starting December 1st opted to require visas for Cubans to stop the flow. Once in Ecuador, they contacted people trafficking groups (coyotes), who in exchange for large sums of money promised to lead them to the United States border.
The long journey entails traveling from Ecuador, through Colombia, Panama, the rest of Central America and Mexico, reaching US soil. While very dangerous, the Cubans consider it a better option than trying to reach the US by sea on makeshift rafts and boats.
However on November 10, Costa Rican Police dismantled a network of smugglers leaving the migrants adrift between Colombia and Panama, so they rushed en masse to the southern Costa Rican border. Costa Rica then issued them short term temporary visas to enable them to continue their journey north.
Nicaragua then called out its army to the border area with Costa Rica to block the passage of the Cubans, stranding them on Costa Rican soil.