HAVANA TIMES — A technical meeting with representatives from Central American countries today reached a possible solution to the crisis triggered by a wave of Cuban immigrants, of which 8,000 are stranded in Costa Rica, by establishing an air bridge to El Salvador, reported dpa.
At the meeting held in Guatemala attended by immigration authorities, an orderly and controlled air exit for the Cubans from Costa Rica to El Salvador, and from there by bus to Mexico, where the they could continue on to the United States was agreed, explained a note from the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry.
The Foreign Ministry said that this is a “pilot plan” that will allow an “exceptional, safe and orderly” passage and will apply to some 8,000 Cubans within Costa Rica, and those with temporary visas in process in the area of ??Paso Canoas on the border with Panama.
Excluded from the plan will be new immigrants arriving to the southern border of Costa Rica for which the government suspended the issuing of temporary visas as of Saturday December19.
“The Cuban migrants will leave by air from Costa Rica to El Salvador. Once they reach El Salvador they will go to Mexico on buses,” said the official statement, which did not say when the operation will start.
The Foreign Ministry said that coordination among the countries along the way will be constant to ensure the success of the logistics.
“The Technical meeting in Guatemala has concluded with successful results,” said the official statement, noting that some of the participating countries requested “discretion” on the deal, because some technical aspects must be “confirmed by political authorities, especially for the safety of the people who will be traveling.”
“We hope that these agreements can materialize in the short term,” the statement said.
At the same time the government warned that it “does not have the ability to receive and to give transit visas to more people, thus this solution is solely for the people who are already in our territory.”
In Costa Rica there are some 8,000 Cuban migrants stranded in the wake of the crisis, compounded first by the decision of Nicaragua to block their passage and then a similar position from Guatemala and Belize.
It is further estimated that at least another thousand Cubans are currently in Panama attempting to reach the border with Costa Rica.
All these people left Cuba legally to Ecuador, which until December 1 did not require an entry visa. Once there, they contacted people traffickers who promised to take them to the United States, their final destination, in exchange for large sums of money.
The dismantling in Costa Rica on November 10 of a band of traffickers triggered the wave of migrants to be drifting between Ecuador, Colombia and Panama.
At the meeting in Guatemala, which followed another last Tuesday in Mexico that yielded no results, participated authorities of the host country, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said Costa Rican Foreign Ministry .