Magdiel Hernández y Carlos Alberto Espinoza (abajo) son dos cubanos que están detenidos en el Centro de Aprehensión de Extranjeros en Hatillo. Ellos están indocumentados y lo que piden es que los dejen salir, para seguir el camino hacia Estados Unidos. | GRACIELA SOLÍS
Magdiel Hernández is one of nine Cubans being held in the immigration dentetion centre in Hatillo. Photo:  Gracieal Solis, La Nacion

QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica is home for thousands of Cubans leaving the island and the Castro regime. Now, that the US and Cuba are warming up to each other, what do the Cuban expats in Costa Rica think about all of this?

Rodolfo Santos is a Cuban living in Costa Rica for the last 45 years after being a political prisoner for five years, between 1964 and 1969. Along with Eduardo Ulibarri, a journalist who left Cuba in 1966, welcome the news, telling it is impossible for Cuba to stay out of international economic trends and needs to broaden its horizons.

Both, like many others commenting on the social media, say it is too early to really say what will happen. And what they will do.

In the decades past, many Cubans reaching the shores of Costa Rica stayed in the country, building a life here.

For many others Costa Rica was and continues to be a spring-board to the United States.

According to Kathya Rodríguez, director of Migración y Extranjería (immigration service), a total of 3.733 Cubans entered Costa Rica illegally between January and November of this year, entering mainly at the border with Panama.

Currently, there are nine Cubans, in the country illegally, in the Centro de Aprehensión para Extranjeros en Tránsito – the immigration detention centre in Hatillo.

“They arrive undocumented, facing deportation, but having no passport, the process is complicated. We give them an appointment to appear the next day, but they do not appear,” explains Rodríguez.

The immigration director said the nine in detention were caught a second time, trying to outwit immigration police. The main problem for the immigration service is the lack of resources and infrastructure to keep the illegals in detention. The Hatillo centre only has room for 60 detainees. And when it comes to Cubans, the process is slow because the Cuban consulate is slow to respond.

Director Rodríguez added that the massive influx of Cubans increased in 2012 when 2.276 illegal Cubans passed through Costa Rica.

The changes in US policy towards Cuba may change all that.


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