Some 35,000 Nicaraguans Seek Refugee Status in Costa Rica in 2021

Ana Quiros in a press conference in 2018. Photo Uriel Molina/La Prensa

Ana Quiros said Nicaraguans in exile are preparing to petition for political rights in Costa Rica because they no longer want to be seen as beggars.

By La Prensa

HAVANA TIMES – On October 7, feminist and opponent of the Ortega-Murillo regime Ana Quirós said that so far in 2021 more than 35,000 Nicaraguans have applied for refugee status in Costa Rica.

Quiros, who said this statistic is based on official data from Costa Rica, noted that most Nicaraguans seeking refuge entered the country starting in June, the month when repression in Nicaragua increased on the part of the Ortega-Murillo regime.

“We have seen a considerable increase in the number of Nicaraguans entering the country, the only equivalent of what happened in 2019,” Quirós stated at a press conference in San Jose in which a group of exile organizations called the upcoming elections on November 7 in Nicaragua an electoral farce.

During the current election year, the Ortega-Murillo regime imprisoned almost 40 prominent government opponents. Among them are 7 aspiring presidential candidates, journalists and owners of media, student leaders, a banker, businessmen and farm leaders.

They will call for political rights

Quiros also said that Nicaraguans in exile in Costa Rica are organizing to request that their political rights be recognized, because they no longer want to be seen as “beggars only there to ask for handouts.”

“We are encouraging a dialogue among groups of exiles about potential points of unity, and one of the clear positions is that exile be considered a political issue, rather than one of charity. We are neither beggars nor are we looking for handouts. We are people that have been persecuted for being political activists. We need for our opinions and ideas to be considered and need to be acknowledged as political actors,” she said at the press conference.

Nicaraguan regime opponents hold a press conference in Costa Rica

Participating in the press conference were representatives of Nicaraguan civil and political organizations who fled the country due to threats and repression because of expressing their opposition to Daniel Ortega’s regime.

The exiled opposition members called the upcoming election a farce stating that it lacks all credibility because the entire electoral system is under the control of the ruling party –the FSLN—headed by Ortega and his vice-president and wife, Rosario Murillo.

Preparing for a large march in Costa Rica

Quiros also said that the Nicaraguan exile community in Costa Rica is preparing a series of protest activities for the purpose of informing the international community about the situation in Nicaragua.

“We will be carrying out mobilizations leading up to and concluding on November 7, with a massive demonstration here in Costa Rica and in other cities around the world. We will be letting the regime know that we reject its electoral farce, that we don’t believe them. We will ask also the international community and our Costa Rican brothers and sisters, to join us in this repudiation as they have done so many times throughout the history of Nicaragua and of Costa Rica,” she explained.

Quiros is originally from Costa Rica, but had Nicaraguan nationality for over 20 years, during the time she resided there until she was expelled (and had her Nicaraguan nationality revoked) by the Ortega regime in 2018 when the civil protests began.

In April of 2018 the Ortega regime ordered a brutal armed crackdown on civilian protests. Quiros was one of the first victims of the Sandinista aggression at the beginning of the civil unrest in 2018.

In the years following 2018, many thousands of Nicaraguans have left Nicaragua, fleeing Ortega’s repression for having participated in the protests.

According to a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), more than 320 people died in 2018 due to police repression and armed civilians connected to the Ortega regime.

Costa Rica is one of the main destinations for Nicaraguans fleeing repression, because it has a thriving economy and borders Nicaragua.

Civil organizations have estimated that around 100,000 Nicaraguans have emigrated to Costa Rica since 2018, when the brutal armed repression against civil protests began. Panama, the United States and Spain are other destinations for exiles.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.