QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica doesn’t want a repeat of the Cuban migrant crisis that ended this week with the last of the almost 8,000 islanders leaving the country after being stranded here since last November.
President Luis Guillermo Solis said Thursday that the government will not receive the new Cuban migrants accumulating at the Panama border with Costa Rica.
According to reports, more than 1,000 Cubans are at the border waiting to enter the country to continue their journey to the United States, where they can legally enter thanks to the Cuban Adjustment of 1966.
Given the possibility that the situation becomes critical, the President has asked the Fuerza Publica (police) and immigration authorities to step up surveillance of the border to prevent the entry of Cubans. On Thursday, the immigration service (Dirección de Migración y Extranjería) confirmed 60 Cubans attempted to enter Costa Rica illegally.
“We ask the Cuban migrants not to travel, because we cannot guarantee that we will be able to attend to their needs. (…). The government has already ended its humanitarian assistance operation of migrants in the country,” said Solis.
The President says he also asked Chancellor Manuel Gonzales to urge the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to convene next week a regional meeting of deputy Foreign Ministers and Panama’s immigration officials, in order to discuss a possible solution.
President Solis reiterated that his government remains firm in its decision of last December not to issue transit visas to Cuban migrants, to prevent a repeat of the situation the country lived through for months.
Last November, the country issued a total of 7.802 transit visas to Cuban migrants remaining stranded in Costa Rica when Nicaragua closed its borders to them. A total of 5.500 of the Cuban migrants were housed in 44 shelters and arrangements were made to get them to Mexico and the U.S. border.
The first Cuban migrants to fly out of Costa Rica was in January. The flights were to El Salvador, with arrangements for land transportation to the Mexico border with Guatemala. After the initial flights, Mexico let up on its stand not to receive the Cuban migrants directly, allowing flights from Costa Rica to Nuevo Laredo. The last flight of the last of the Cuban migrants left Costa Rica Tuesday morning.